Real Wedding: An Elegant Occasion at Clevedon Hall
The couple tied the knot at striking mansion Clevedon Hall, surrounded by 105 friends, all there to bear witness to Leonora’s classically beautiful Stewart Parvin dress.
As well as lashings of lilac, Leonora and Ben’s big day had a charming birdcage theme, with subtle nods to the style spotted all around the venue.
For a lovely and unique touch, the newlyweds opted to have the guests blow bubbles for them rather than throw confetti, creating a truly magical photo opportunity.
Photographer | Jamie Dodd
How they met
Despite the happiest of endings, Leonora and Ben's romance was quite a slow-burner.<br /><br />"We met online on Plenty of Fish and chatted for six months but never actually met up. To be honest, by his profile, I thought he might be a bit short for me," reveals Leonora.<br /><br />Ben remembers the start of their love story the same, commenting: "I had seen Leonora's profile on Plenty of Fish and was immediately struck by her beautiful blue eyes and just had to get in touch. We exchanged a few messages but didn't end up meeting up."<br /><br />A short while later, the couple ran into each other at a pub, while Ben was on a first date with somebody else. <br /><br />"When I returned home I had a message from Leonora on Plenty of Fish asking if my date went well. I told her it was OK but there wouldn't be a second date as she paled into insignificance compared to her, and that if she and I went on a date we'd definitely go on a second!" Ben shares.<br /><br />"Leonora didn't agree and said that she thought I was attractive but not tall enough! I was gutted; since our first exchange of messages I couldn’t get her and her beautiful blue eyes out of my head."<br /><br />Things soon starting looking up for Ben though; several weeks later Leonora was holed up at home with a broken leg watching TV show Dinner Date, when she spotted Ben on the show.<br /><br />"Leonora got in touch with me and said she'd seen the show and thought I came across well. I was absolutely ecstatic that she'd got back in touch, thankfully she agreed to meet and go on a date. After the first date there was a second date and the rest as they say is history!" Ben beams.
"On my 30th birthday Ben arranged for us to go to Bath for a tour of the towers of the cathedral, which I thought was an unusual activity for Ben to organise," recalls Leonora. <br /><br />"A very enthusiastic and happy guide gave us our own private tour before leaving us at the top to enjoy the view, and that was when he asked me," she continues.<br /><br />"I was completely overwhelmed so it took me a minute or two to say yes! Ben had then booked a lovely engagement meal at the same restaurant where we celebrated our first anniversary together."<br /><br />Ben admitted that he was very nervous for the whole day, explaining: "I had a speech prepared of what I wanted to say during the proposal but I completely forgot it on the day! Instead I said it all to her on our wedding day."<br /><br />After Leonora accepted, the tour guide returned with a bottle of champagne for the happy couple to toast their engagement.
Choosing the wedding venue
After falling in love wth the country feel of the house and the stunning grounds, Ben and Leonora chose Somerset mansion <a href="http://www.hitched.co.uk/wedding-venues/clevedon-hall_5438.htm" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Clevedon Hall</a> as the setting for their wedding day.<br /><br />"We knew that we wanted to stay local because we’ve got so many friends and family in Bristol, but we also wanted a venue with accommodation for those travelling in," explains Leonora.<br /><br />"We really liked the idea of an outdoor wedding, which Clevedon Hall offers, although the weather drove us indoors on the day itself," she continues.<br /><br /><br />
Leonora's column gown was tailor made by <a href="http://stewartparvin.com" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Stewart Parvin</a>; it has a sweetheart neckline, with a silk kick skirt at the back. <br /><br />Ever practical, Leonora had the bustle made removable to make it easier for her to perform her first dance in style, yet still look striking while she walked down the aisle. <br /><br />Leonora accessoried her wedding dress with a cathedral length two tier veil with diamante detailing.
Leonora added elegant jewellery to complete her wedding day style. <br /><br />"I wore tear drop pearl and diamond earrings and a necklace and my wonderful husband got me a bracelet to match them both as my present on the morning of the wedding," she explains.<br /><br />The bride wore her hair in a sophisticated up-do, and worked a chic make-up look of natural lips and deftly lined eyes.<br /><br />In a further personalisation of her wedding dress, Leonora added an ivory belt, creating a gorgeous silhouette.
The bridal party's attire
Leonora's five bridesmaids wore full-length <a href="https://dessy.com" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Dessy</a> dresses in African Violet, with nude shoes.<br /><br />Their hair and make-up looks were created to mirror Leonora's, as she explains: "As I had a plait in my hair I wanted the girls to have something similar but not the same, so they all had a small plait going down one side of the hair with it then tied to the side, coming over one shoulder and then curled at the bottom."<br /><br />The bridesmaids' outfits were completed with a purple pearl bracelet that Leonora gave to them as thanks for being part of the day.
The groom and groomsmen outfits
Ben wore a tailor made suit on his wedding day, courtesy of <a href="http://brownintown.co.uk" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Brown in Town</a>. To set his attire apart from the groomsmen, he added a gold cravat, pocket square and a double breasted waistcoat.<br /><br />The groomsmen wore traditional morning suits with grey waistcoats hired from <a href="https://www.moss.co.uk" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Moss Bros</a> with purple cravats and pocket squares to coordinate with the bridesmaids.
The wedding colours
As you can see from the bridesmaids dresses, the colour scheme for the day was purple, with hints of ivory and white.<br /><br />"I would’ve gone with claret and blue because I’m a West Ham supporter!" jokes Ben. "I knew that purple was Leonora’s favourite colour, though, so I was very happy to go with what she wanted."<br /><br />"Purple been my favourite colour for years so it wasn’t a hard choice," confirms Leonora. "I knew it was a diverse colour that would suit all my bridesmaids, and I liked the different shades of purple flowers you can get and the way it contrasts with the cream in the bouquets."
The wedding theme
Ben and Leonora's main theme for their wedding day was birdcages, which they incorporated into lots of decorations around their venue.<br /><br />"We picked birdcages because we felt they looked elegant and are so diverse in the way you can decorate them. They looked lovely along side the flowers," comments Leonora.<br /><br />"We decorated our tables with rustic birdcages with a large candle inside. Our florist, <a href="http://www.emmadesignerflorist.co.uk" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Emma Petersson</a>, then did an amazing job of creating a floral wreath to go around the base of the birdcages all displayed on top of a rustic log," she continues.<br /><br />The wedding breakfast was hosted in a decadent library style room at the venue, with frothy purple bows adorning the chairs to help to tie in the colour scheme.
The wedding cake
Ben and Leonora's striking wedding cake came courtesy of <a href="https://www.prettyamazingcakes.co.uk" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Pretty Amazing Cakes</a>, and was inspired by a bake that Leonora spotted on Pinterest.<br /><br />"I arranged to meet Ann from Pretty Amazing Cakes to discuss how she could recreate the cake, but with her own spin on it," explains Leonora.<br /><br />"Ben and I were thrilled with the cake on the day! It was four tiers high, with three different flavours of sponge and one layer of fruitcake. The cake itself was purple with diamond trimming on each tier, and there was also a white ribbon design wrapped around too."<br /><br />"Ann also created some beautiful sugar flowers for decorations on each layer." <br /><br /><br />
The most memorable moment
"My most memorable moment was definitely seeing Leonora walking down the aisle," reminisces Ben. "She looked so beautiful, I couldn’t have felt happier or more proud."<br /><br />Leonora is in agreement, adding "For me the most memorable moment has to be walking down the aisle and seeing Ben’s face. He doesn’t ever get embarrassed, nervous or emotional but, much to his own surprise, he was quite emotional when he saw me."
Forever blowing bubbles
Rather than be showered with confetti on the way out of their ceremony, Ben and Leonora opted to have their guests blow bubbles to herald in their new life together.<br /><br />"The main reason we went for bubbles is that one of the readings we chose was called ‘We are the Bubbles’ and also because my favourite drink is prosecco and Ben is a very big West Ham supporter so we thought it would tie in nicely," Leonora explains.
The first dance
Ben and Leonora did a first dance with a difference, deciding to have a confetti cannon go off to surprise their guests with a glittering explosion.<br /><br />"We were particularly nervous about our first dance so we wanted a little something to distract from ourselves and that would look nice in photos," Ben explains. "We decided to do a short dance routine followed by a confetti explosion, before inviting all of our bridesmaids and groomsmen on to the dance floor to join us."<br /><br />"The idea worked perfectly and our photographer managed to catch the exact moment the cannon went off."
Advice for brides-to-be
After pulling off such a beautiful and enjoyable day, we wondered what advice Leonora would give to brides-to-be.<br /><br />"Don't stress about the weather, it really isn't the end of the world!" she says. "Although I hoped for glorious sunshine on the day, I made sure I came prepared in case it did rain with white umbrellas and we managed to get some really nice photos."<br /><br />"Despite the fact it rained for most of the day, our photographer was brilliant at keeping an eye on the weather so we managed to snap some shots outside while the sun was making a rare appearance."