Romy and Stuart got engaged in Italy and chose to hold their wedding at Bowcliffe Hall in 2016. In one of the most elegant occasions we’ve had the joy to help organise and host, super-organised project manager Romy orchestrated every moment of her perfect day with help from the Bowcliffe team.
Inspired by Italy, and images of Audrey Hepburn, Anne Gunning and Jean Patchett for Vogue, the entire day was beautiful, simple and uncomplicated. The couple and their guests had the entire estate at their disposal, dining in the elegant Bowcliffe Room and dancing into the night in the Drivers’ Club.
We spoke to the couple about the lead up to their day and the most special moments from their time spent at Bowcliffe…
A little about you, what did you want from your wedding?
I really believe that a little girl thinks about her wedding day from an early age, no matter what they tell you. My only absolute was that I wanted it to be elegant, simple, and for all our family and friends to have a wonderful time.
What style dress did you want?
Sticking with the simplicity theme, I wanted it to be silk, white and uncomplicated. I originally designed my own dress, but as the years passed my tastes changed somewhat, although there were still some of the same elements there. I love the photographer Norman Parkinson and his images of Audrey Hepburn, Anne Gunning and Jean Patchett for Vogue really inspire me. They ooze elegance.
I spent a weekend in London with my mum and maid of honour. It was fantastic. Visiting Browns Brides and all the amazing boutiques, you feel really special as a bride-to-be. My dress turned out to be the first I tried on. I think we all knew but still carried on as it was so much fun.
Mum found my veil in Browns Brides and instantly she knew it would work with the dress, handmade by a little old lady in Rome, designed by Peter Langham for Dior, it was so delicate. I then found my shoes, a pair of Valentino Rock studs. I felt complete.m
Tell us the story behind the way you and your husband met and how he proposed?
We used to work together and it was only when I left the company and met him at the gym with his brother that we really started talking. From there we started dating and two years later he proposed at the Colosseum in Rome.
How long had you been engaged?
We saved for 18 months before the big day.
What was the vision for the day?
Amazing food and slightly Italian inspired given we love Italy.
Tell us about the story of how you both met…
We worked together and she was unbelievably annoying. But it’s her enthusiasm for her work that I love.
How did you propose and how much planning did it take?
It was hard to plan as she usually knows everything that’s going on, have you ever tried keeping a secret from a project manager?! I had mentioned to her that I was going to propose with a toy ring when the time was right but that didn’t go down very well. She showed me a picture of what her ideal style would be and I made sure I locked that image in my mind. I visited a small jewellers in York to have her ring designed and made, as I thought it would feel more personal and I felt more involved. She was completely unaware. We then planned a holiday to Rome and I thought it would be perfect to do it there, originally my friend (a pilot) was going to fly us out and she made a joke about how it would be terribly embarrassing if she was proposed to over a plane tannoy. Not my plan, but, I thought she knew, so I was a little worried. I visited her father the day before and asked his permission. I think he was overjoyed and shed a tear.
In Rome, I wanted to find the perfect place to propose. We had visited the Colosseum during the day and she wanted to go back at night, I thought that would be perfect. IT TOOK TWO DAYS TO GO BACK! I was a wreck waiting but it was fantastic, all lit up and quiet. Shaking I got down on one knee, only for her to ask me ‘gosh are you ok?’ I told her to shut up for a second and asked her. That word every man hopes for squeaked from her mouth…’Yes!’
What did you want from the wedding day? Were you both in agreement?
We were in agreement! It started with us discussing an Italian theme and her showing me all these stunning locations she had shot in and it went from there.
What did you want to wear and was it an easy decision?
Tails and yes because I’ve always wanted a very traditional style of outfit and it had to be something I wouldn’t normally wear. Of course, Romy had to have an input and I wanted something that would pull me apart from the ushers so she bought me a tie from Liberty with a nice print, and the same blue as the bridesmaids’ dresses. I also wanted a really nice pair of shoes, wedding fever got the better of me and I bought two pairs, Geoffrey West and Church’s. They still didn’t cost as much as her one pair!
What’s your day-to-day style as a couple?
Casual, she makes me dress up from time to time. But she’s really a Dubarry wearing country girl.
What did you want from your venue and how did you come to choose Bowcliffe?
We visited a number of places and got fed up of being told about ‘options’. Silver gets you this, Gold a little extra and Platinum… We just wanted our wedding, not a menu that everyone else has already tried and tested.
My father had been to Bowcliffe for the Old Farts’ event. He said “Romy, you need to speak to them”, so I looked online and we made an appointment. Annie met us and she was as mad as me. We then met Michael and he was organised and all about the finer details. I loved it!
Was it an easy decision and what factors made you realise it was the perfect place for your wedding?
The car history was amazing and this is something close to mine and my dad’s heart so that was a factor. Most of all it was the atmosphere and those words, ‘what do you want?’ followed by ‘we will make it happen’.
Which part of the venue did you love the most?
The Drivers’ Club. But honestly you could put me in any room and it felt comfortable.
Did you need to do much to the venue to get it to the style you wanted? What did you add?
We didn’t touch the décor to be honest. As soon as I saw the rooms and table arrangements I knew we didn’t need to add anything. The motto ‘less is more’ was said a few times and the venue speaks for itself.
Was any of it DIY?
We mirrored the ghost chairs with thick clear acrylic numbers and table plan, the idea of having something there but it blending in was ideal. I work in the design industry so very quickly visualised the room and understood we didn’t need to cover every surface. The small details that Jonathan (Bowcliffe owner) and the team have incorporated into every room may not be noticed by everyone but I was overjoyed with them, the history and the story behind every aspect. It’s what makes Bowcliffe Hall memorable.
I originally wanted peonies but given the time of year they were not readily available. I’m not a huge flowers girl. Our garden has an abundance of rosemary and lavender as that’s the only thing I’ve not killed… Yet!
So I spoke to one of my colleagues, whose sister is a florist and she came all the way from Wales, based on a brief; I didn’t really want anything in the rooms, nothing on the tables, my bouquets and the bridesmaids to be similar, but different sizes. When Becca and Gina came over they understood why, the venue just didn’t need it.
So I had large roses in a soft butter white to match the colour of my dress and pale pink to match my shoes, these had small bursts of honeysuckle because I love the smell. The bridesmaids’ were the same without the honeysuckle and Stuart wore a buttonhole with one rose, honeysuckle, and rosemary. All the ushers had one single rose.
The arrangement over the fireplace was roses, honeysuckle, and rosemary – and it smelled fantastic!
We had two, that’s my lucky number and I like symmetry. It just so happened Charlotte and Sarah are very similar in appearance and the same dress size. They are stunning so it was easy shopping for them. The bridesmaid dresses were by Ghost. My mum shops at Ghost a lot and found out about their dye to order, I looked at the styles and thought if they wanted a different style they could still be the same colour, it just so happened they each came out in their favourite dress Salma in Sky Light.
We were married at our local Church, which is St Mary’s in South Milford. John the vicar is lovely and made everything so personal. I had to walk down the aisle to Wedding March, as it’s a classic. We had 54 people in total to both the ceremony and reception. However, a few more distant friends and family also attended the church, which was lovely.
Who walked you down the aisle, were they emotional?
My father. He kept his cool.
Did you have any readings?
My cousin, Saku, read ‘Forever’ by Emma Dodd and made everyone cry. He was fantastic. Jan, a good friend and wife to one of the ushers, read 1 Corinthians 13 again she was amazing and it meant so much to us. We wanted something personal and knowing John the vicar and him knowing us, it was just that. Everyone commented on how wonderful it was and I think everyone shed a tear. The whole service was memorable, watching peoples’ faces, sharing that moment and hearing my parents-in-law say ‘they are not losing a son, they’re gaining a beautiful daughter.’
We really didn’t need any. Bowcliffe had so much to offer with its grounds that there was enough to take in. Our first dance was Hall & Oates, ‘You Make My Dreams Come True’, chosen by Stuart, which took place on the terrace. He even had a few simple jive lessons from my maid of honour’s fiancés’ mum!
Did you have a band?
We didn’t have a band, just a playlist that covered everything we love, mainly Motown and classics. We’re clearly old at heart, with eclectic taste.
What was your favourite moment during the entertainment?
Everyone on the dance floor singing, and the final dance to Foy Vance, ‘Shed a Little Light’, which was my first dance choice.
We had an amazing meal from Bowcliffe’s executive chef, John Topham.
To start – crab and scallop lasagna
Main – tournedos fillet Rossini with triple cooked chips
Dessert – vanilla panna cotta, with freeze-dried and fresh fruit, strawberry sorbet, and meringue shards
It was stunning and we have been told by every guest it was divine, and wonderfully constructed.
George Coppock captured every moment of our day. He is a friend and I’ve worked with him on a number of projects so feel very comfortable with him, which I think is really important. Photographers have such a hard job, they can’t be everywhere and he has provided an amazing collection of shots. He even sent select images to us on our honeymoon so we could relive the day and remember the whirlwind. When we returned they were all ready and we had a full evening with Prosecco going through them. It felt personal and told us the story of our day.
Dress – Bridal Rogue Gallery, Pronovias
Shoes: Mine – Valentino. His – Geoffrey West and Church’s
Groomsmen outfits: Youngs
Venue: Bowcliffe Hall
Bridesmaid dresses: Salma Dress in Sky Light, Ghost
Transport: Audi and a Jaguar provided by Jonathan Turner, owner of Bowcliffe Hall
Catering: John Topham, Bowcliffe Hall