A child-friendly spring wedding in Devon
18 Jul 2022
Katy Scott wore blue to marry Jonathan Lo in a wedding which harnessed the joys of the season – from the flowers to the catering
How did you meet?
We met about six years ago when Jon joined the amateur theatre group I was in. Our first show together was The Pirates of Penzance. We spent a lot of time together, not just in rehearsals but going out socialising with friends and alone. By the time the show was over we realised we’d really miss each other’s company so we kept up a friendship, which very soon became something more.
Tell us about the proposal.
When Jon proposed we were already living together and expecting our daughter. I’d been suffering from morning sickness for months and it was the first day I was feeling better. He took me to the rose garden in Hyde Park where we’d had a picnic when we were still 'just friends', and where he’d realised that he was in love with me.
He gave me a beautiful diamond ring, then took me for dinner at The Ivy and to a concert by my favourite baritone, Roderick Williams, singing song settings of Thomas Hardy poems at the Wigmore Hall. It was so perfect and just proved how well he knew me and the things that make me happy.
How was your wedding affected by Covid-19?
We were lucky that Covid didn’t really impact our wedding, although it caused us a lot of worry during preparation. When we got engaged in 2019 we were already expecting our daughter so we decided not to get married until she was a bit older. We were incredibly lucky that the date we chose was just after all restrictions were lifted.
It was the first time we had seen a lot of our friends for two years, and the joy of the day was so much greater because it was the first opportunity to celebrate together in a long time. Our venue was very spacious and we spent a lot of time outside, which reduced risks; we also spread the chairs out for the ceremony so that people weren’t too close to strangers. I worried a lot in the weeks running up to the wedding, but in the end not a single guest had to cancel because they were ill.
What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme?
We wanted the theme of the wedding to reflect the setting and the season, and we wanted everything to be sustainable and eco-friendly, so we chose local and seasonal wherever possible. We chose powder blue and champagne as our wedding colours, with touches of navy and gold.
We picked two wedding fonts, which we used throughout the stationery including the website, and we produced most of our own stationery and signage using the website Canva. My mum helped me to track down an image of Dartington Hall by Jane Ray, one of my mum’s favourite artists, and we got permission to use that on the invitations.
What venue did you choose and why did you choose it?
We have friends from all over so we knew we’d be making a lot of them travel wherever we held it, and we wanted to get married somewhere that was already special to us. I’ve been visiting Dartington for years, even before my parents moved to Totnes, and Jon and I had been to concerts and events there before. I’d always thought it would be a perfect venue for a wedding, and the gardens are particularly special in the spring, so Easter was perfect.
I loved being able to give my friends a beautiful, enjoyable day and to introduce them to one of my favourite parts of the world. On our wedding website I wrote a long tourist guide with some of the best things to do and places to visit in the area, and since it was a bank holiday weekend a lot of our friends took advantage of that and stayed on a few extra days in Devon.
We had meals in The White Hart, the pub attached to Dartington Hall, on the night before and the day after the wedding so that we could spend a bit of extra time with our friends.
How did you know you’d found ‘the’ dress?
My dress was a bespoke creation by Tracey of Lady Jane’s Historical Clothing. It was cornflower blue and had an 18th century-style bodice with three-quarter length sleeves and vintage lace trim. Tracey was actually the third dressmaker I approached for different reasons: the first two fell through and I was only four months from my wedding with no dress and no dressmaker. Fortunately, Tracey was amazing; she took all my ideas and turned them into the dress of my dreams.
She also made the bridesmaids’ dresses, and I loved that although they were a different style they had similar elements such as the sleeves and vintage lace, which tied the bridal party together. I never went wedding dress shopping to try on ready-made dresses, but my mum still had a teary moment when she first saw me in my dress at the final fitting. My hair was done at Amanda Marsden Salon in Totnes on the morning of the wedding, and I did my own make-up.
Who were the bridesmaids and what did they wear?
My bridesmaids were my cousin’s daughter, Isobel, and my friend’s daughter, Yssy. I’ve known them both since they were very little and enjoyed watching them grow up, so it was very special to have them alongside me now they are young women.
Jon’s four-year-old nephew Lucas was our ring-bearer and our daughter Matilda was flower girl. Jon’s best man was actually a best woman – his friend, Ayesha – and his brother Ben as usher completed the bridal party.
Where did you find your suits?
Jon hired navy suits for himself, his brother and his nephew from Moss Bros. He had waistcoats and cravats made in a Regency pattern by his friend Eirian Walsh Atkins to tie his look in with my dress, and he wore a top hat.
His best woman, Ayesha, also wore a Moss Bros jacket over a dress from a pregnancy company called Seraphine, as Ayesha was four months pregnant at the time of the wedding. We made the rose-shaped buttonholes from blue and cream wired ribbon instead of using fresh flowers; it meant one less thing for the florist to do at the last minute.
Tell us about your floral arrangements.
My cousin Emma offered to do the flowers for the wedding, but I didn’t want her to be too busy to enjoy the day so I wanted to make sure she had support. I was also really keen to use local and seasonal flowers. I was very lucky to find local florist Holly Bee, who grows all her own flowers and greenery in Dartington village just a mile or two from the hall. She made the bouquets for me and my bridesmaids, and decorated the dining tables with hundreds of bud vases with just a couple of flowers in each; they looked fantastic.
She also supplied three big buckets of her flowers for my cousin to use to make other decorations: flowers on top of poles to mark out the aisle, and floral hoops to go on the wall at the end of the Great Hall. Emma also made cones of confetti from home-grown flowers. I loved that the flowers were perfectly in season and had only travelled a few miles in their lives, that I knew I was paying a fair price for them and no-one had been exploited in their production.
Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day
We took advantage of the beautiful gardens of Dartington Hall. The cream tea reception was in the private garden, and fortunately the weather was perfect and all the spring flowers were in full bloom. In our order of service we included a treasure hunt to encourage our guests to explore the wider grounds, including the tiltyard, Zen garden, churchyard and many scupltures, with a chocolate egg as a prize for anyone who completed it.
We reused the ceremony floral decorations for the reception, and also decorated the long banquet tables with blue table runners from Hope Textiles on Etsy, adding charity wedding favours from Dogs Trust in each place. The tables were named after our favourite musicals, from Half a Sixpence to Bat Out of Hell, and we included some games on each table to help our guests get to know each other and test how well they know us.
We made a slideshow of photos of both of us growing up, and with family and friends, which was projected onto the wall above the top table during the wedding breakfast.
How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?
It was wonderful to enter the Great Hall and suddenly see all the most important people in our lives all together – many of whom we'd not been able to see for years. I decided to walk down the aisle on my own because I didn't like the idea of being 'given away', and I loved being able to see Jon at the end of the aisle surrounded by our families.
How did you make the ceremony personal to you?
Music is very important to us, and we wanted to incorporate it into our wedding day. We met through a Gilbert and Sullivan theatre group, so I walked down the aisle to Bridegroom and Bride from The Gondoliers, and we left to Oh Happy the Lily from Ruddigore.
Since many of our friends are also G&S performers, we asked about 30 of them to sing a medley of songs about weddings and marriage from various G&S operettas, arranged by our pianist, Jonathan Watts, during our wedding ceremony.
What was your most memorable moment?
After the ceremony, once the reception was well underway, our photographer Simon Biffen took the two of us off for a walk around the gardens where we had a chance to spend some quiet time together. Simon got some wonderful, natural photographs ofo us, and it gave us a very welcome chance to appreciate each other during the wedding day.
What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?
We wanted the whole wedding to be very child-friendly, so we had to make sure everything fitted around the children who would be attending, from the timings (we included strategic breaks because we knew our daughter would need a nap and then would have to go to bed earlier than us), to the garden games from Vintage Fun and Games Hire and the crèche provided by Home Childcare Services. The crèche was amazing and kept even the most nervous or shy kids happy and entertained, and several parents told us it was the first time they’d had a relaxed meal together in years without having to worry about their children.
Because of Covid, a lot of our friends haven’t seen us since before our daughter was born, so it was wonderful for us to be able to introduce her to them, and she loved having so many family and friends doting on her.
What was the most important investment for you?
It was very important to both of us that we were able to invite all our closest family and friends, so the venue had to be big enough to accommodate them, and I wanted somewhere beautiful and meaningful. Jon wanted to be heavily involved in choosing the food, and the amazing team at Dartington Hall tried to incorporate all our ideas using local and seasonal ingredients and specialities.
We had a Devonshire cream tea reception: miniature scones with cream and jam instead of canapés and champagne. For the wedding breakfast, Jon came up with a suggested menu including all our favourite foods, and the Dartington team gave it their own twist using local meat, fish and cheeses. Then during the reception they provided a buffet spread of delicious breads, cheeses and meats to keep us going well into the evening.
What song did you choose for your first dance, and why?
We didn’t have a first dance – we wanted to get straight on with singing and dancing with our friends!
Did you have any evening entertainment?
After the meal, our friend Tom Carradine got all our friends singing in a Cockney sing-along. This went down well not only with our friends who had been to his gigs before, but with a lot of our older family members who knew the songs from their childhoods.
After that, we had a Nos Lowen, or Cornish dance. I lived in Cornwall for five years and used to go dancing every week, so I invited my favourite musicians, Davey and Dyer, to perform and lead the dancing. Cornish dancing is very easy to learn so everyone got involved.
After the musicians had finished and the children had gone to bed, we played a Spotify playlist for the last couple of hours and kept dancing until midnight.
Tell us about your wedding cake.
Our cake was made by Lisa Sallis from Boho Cakes. She gave us a huge range of delicious flavours to choose from, and we picked different flavours for each tier: chocolate orange, gin and elderflower, and chocolate and raspberry. It was beautifully decorated with edible flowers and topped with a marzipan model of our cat Toby, which we got from Elite Sugar Tops on Etsy.
If you could go back and change anything, what would it be?
Everyone says they wish the day had been longer because they felt like it whizzed by and they didn’t get to spend as much time as they would have liked with all their guests. I thought we’d taken that into account by starting the ceremony in the morning to give us the whole day, but even so there were plenty of people I would have loved to spend more time with.
Was there anything you wish you’d known before?
If I’d known it was going to be hot and sunny, I wouldn’t have spent ages on wet-weather plans and got cloaks made for myself and the bridesmaids – and I would have put more sun cream on. But that’s something you can never predict in advance.
Where did you go on honeymoon?
Following the wedding we had a week-long honeymoon in Capri and the Amalfi Coast, leaving our daughter with her grandparents. It was wonderful to spend so much time relaxing and enjoying each other’s company in a beautiful part of the world.
Further to our aim to minimise the environmental impact of our wedding, we took the train from London St Pancras, which meant we got to spend time in Paris and Turin as well. It was the perfect way to unwind after a brilliant wedding weekend.
Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages?
I'd encourage you to leave gaps in your schedule. People will appreciate having time to catch up with old friends or reapply their make-up, and if you have a few things that they can do if they get bored, like our treasure hunt and lawn games, or a film room indoors if the weather is bad, then they can go at their own pace.
If you’re planning to invite children to your wedding, a crèche is a great idea for the more boring, formal bits, and it will allow the parents to relax too. It’s also worth checking that the venue has nappy changing facilities, a quiet room for breastfeeding, and/or somewhere for kids to nap, depending on their ages. Their parents will be so grateful for your thoughfulness.
Steal their style:
Photography: Simon Biffen Photography
Venue & catering: Dartington Hall
Bride and bridesmaids' dresses: Lady Jane's Historical Clothing
Hair: Amanda Marsden Totnes
Flowers: Holly Bee Flowers
Cake: Boho Cakes
Garden games: Vintage Fun and Games Hire
Crèche: Exeter Childcare Services
Favours: Dogs Trust
Cockney sing-along: Tom Carradine
Cornish music and dancing: Davey and Dyer
Details from Etsy: Table runners; flower girl dress; cake topper; guest book