J-D & Claire’s unique and eclectic Oxford wedding, with Dale Stephens Photography
So this wedding is pretty epic. I just know you’re going to love it – Claire and J-D make the coolest couple ever, and with the extraordinary creative contributions from family they put on a wedding which is everything. The flowers are glorious, Claire’s dress is stunning, J-D’s outfit is brilliant and inspired, and the photography exquisite. Grab a cuppa, snuggle down and enjoy this beauty of a summer wedding.
Wedding photographer’s website
How did you choose your photographer?
We both knew we wanted natural, unposed shots – neither of us are at our best in posed, traditional photos. Our favourite photos are spontaneous and capture a moment. We spent an afternoon browsing Oxford wedding photographer websites looking for photos with this quality. We loved the photos in Dale’s portfolio. We arranged to meet him to make sure we felt relaxed. We had such a perfect morning meeting Dale that we booked immediately.
Were you pleased with your wedding photographer? Do tell… we love a brilliant review!
Dale captured an eclectic mix of photos – some dramatic, many emotional, others comic, all personal. He was perfect on the day – a calming presence, unobtrusive, and fun to be with to capture a few ‘couple’ shots. We were the last in a large group of friends to get married and they have all said they think our wedding photos are the best (even than their own!).
Tell us about your venue – what made this place special for you?
We were married in the cathedral at Christ Church in Oxford where J-D was studying when we met. I de-camped from my college to crash in his (far superior) room. Our early memories and the college are enmeshed, and we made the decision to get married on the same bench where we had our first kiss.
Did you love wearing your outfits? How was the dress / suit shopping experience?
J-D’s outfit evolved, from a morning suit with silk waistcoat and custom-made silk striped trousers for the Cathedral, to a long coat in the same silk with a linen collarless shirt for our feast in a meadow outside Oxford. We went to the Shibumi workshop and picked the silk together for his 30th birthday, spending a heady few days in the early Summer sun exploring The Cotswolds. A few weeks before our wedding we found his shoes – heeled glistening buckled beauties – in Jeffery West (our favourite).
I saw my dress almost as soon as I started looking – I had a clear picture in my head of what I wanted but hadn’t expected to find it. I spent a day doing the dress thing to try other styles on, and I’m glad I did just for the experience, but I never had any doubts. I bought my dress with my Mum in the Temperley store in Notting Hill, and had bubbles and all the fun. I didn’t love the dress fitting experience really (the flagship shop in Mayfair felt less personal), but the fit was perfect.
Did you hire a florist? Tell us about any floral amazingness
I had a ‘vision’ of the flower crowns and bouquet I wanted but couldn’t find any photos, didn’t really know what colours, and had no idea about types of flower. Enter Sorcha Herbert, wild flowers creative extraordinaire. She patiently listened to my stream of adjectives and interpreted my wild gesturing. I don’t know how she managed it but she turned up on the day with the bouquets and flower crowns I’d imagined – Dale’s photos captured them perfectly.
As cake lovers here at English Wedding we’d LOVE to know who made your cake, and how delicious it was?
We didn’t have a cake as we’ve always resented the cake’s intrusion into the party! Our dream caterer, Nyama, put a beautiful table of desserts out at the end of the meal so guests could help themselves.
Tell us about any special personal touches, or creative projects you made yourselves (we love that stuff!)
My parents were extraordinary. They collected spirit and wine bottles from the local pub to use as water bottles. My mum handmade cushions to go around the fire pits, and blankets for later in the evening. She collected petals from the garden and from her friends and made boxes (literally, boxes) of confetti. Dad made a game of Viking chess, renovated a garden swing and a rowing boat(!). Mum’s friends came and decorated the teepee, rowing boat and meadow with fruit, flowers and foliage. Dad also collected wood and made our wedding favours – candle holders for beeswax candles which doubled up as place names. We made a playlist to play during canapés and games, with tunes for different friends. J-D’s mum and grandma loaned us their amazing collection of hand embroidered napkins (some over 70 years old).
Did you personalise your vows or have any wedding readings? What were they?
We spent a long time picking our hymns and wedding readings. It was important to us to be connected to our wedding service. We picked the Jabberwocky for its playful, lyrical beauty, and because the Alice in Wonderland tree is in the Cathedral gardens. Everyone has to slay a Jabberwock to marry! We picked a beautiful passage from Song of Solomons (2:8-10, 14, 16a:8:6-7a) – it captured our spirit (and J-D’s springing and leaping!). From the Old Testament we had our most traditional Wedding reading from Romans 12-9:21 ‘Love must be sincere’, which J-D’s mum read to us. We kept in mind who would be reading each, and we knew our friends didn’t need to be encouraged to ‘perform’.
What was your first dance song? Why did you choose it?
We’ve never really had ‘a song’ so we had to think through all the different songs which have been our soundscape. We settled on “Stand by Me” which I used to put on for J-D before each of his exams during finals – the sentiment was right and it’s much easier to dance to than The Bare Necessities (J-D is beat deaf…).
Please list any favourite suppliers so other couples can check them out! e.g. photographer, wedding planner, hair & makeup, stationery, entertainers, dress boutique and designer… and any faves you’d like to give a shout out to!
We have had so much pleasure from the photos Dale took of us, and we will never tire of going through them. https://www.dalestephensphotography.com
Nyama Catering were unbelievable. They provided canapés, a banquet of haunch of venison and whole rainbow trout with mountains of fresh vegetables, salads and potatoes, and a dessert table. Our friends continue to rave about our wedding food, which was all down to them.
Finally, the cherry on the wedding pie was Bootleg Boogie Band. They were fantastic – everyone loved them.
We could not have had more fun planning our wedding. Make sure to involve family and friends, and try to do as much of it from a pub/picnic/weekend adventure as possible!