A Perfect Day
10 Jul 2013
A Perfect Day
Homemade touches and a week spent with their guests on an island before their big day amounted to the perfect wedding for Tom and Rosi Gentry
Tom and Rosi Gentry
Where: St Marys and Bryher, Isles of Scilly
Photography: David McNeil
How we met
We met at work. Both of us had just moved to London and were working as interns in Parliament. The parliamentary researchers we were working alongside met for lunch and took us along. We then really clicked at an away day and, with our first meetings taking place against a backdrop of Westminster bars and Big Ben, romance ensued. We both knew we were onto something special from the very beginning.
This took place on the Isles of Scilly, off the coast of Cornwall, where I grew up. Buoyed up by the celebrations of my sister’s wedding earlier that week (also on the Isles of Scilly), we went on a walk around the island of Bryher’s coastal path, and at the rugged north end of the island took a break. Perched against a rocky outcrop we discussed our future. Tom suddenly said ‘I really want to marry you’ (having just had the thought). I said ‘I really want to marry you too’. We then sealed this with a ring made from a blade of grass.
It took us 14 months in total but most of it was done in the last four to six months. We were keen to give our guests plenty of notice as we got married on the Isles of Scilly – which almost doubled the population of the island of Bryher during the wedding week. I spend a lot of time organising events as part of my day job so went to town on a colour coded gantt chart while Tom led on the creative side and the honeymoon. As we were planning the wedding from a distance and many elements of the day were homemade, we had lots of great input from our lovely family and friends.
I searched high and low for a wedding dress. I didn’t have much luck at the local wedding dress boutiques as the traditional long, flowing wedding gowns swamped me, so I looked further afield and found an independent wedding dress designer, who designs and makes the dresses in her beautiful garden summerhouse. The shorter style was ideal for the beaches and dirt tracks of the Isles of Scilly, although the volumous skirt made for some interesting wardrobe moments on our blustery big day. With a sparkly ribbon to tie in my hair and some silver heels on my feet, the outfit was complete.
Tom opted for a posh grey suit, tie shirt and a blue and white tie. He did it his way, opting for some stylish red sneakers rather than dress shoes which proved very practical on the day itself – for scaling quays, beaches and boats.
The flowers were one of our favourite parts of the wedding. My aunt, who lives on the Isles of Scilly, arranged all the flowers for us, with help from my cousin Charlie. The results were incredible. The bouquets and buttonholes included lily of the valley, cheerfulness and myrtle. There were also wooden boxes stuffed with spring bluebells dotted around the Wesleyan chapel, where we held the service and our reception space, which was also dotted with jam jars of gypsophila and flowerpots with grape hyacinth, rosemary and heather.
Our registrar, who I knew well from my time on the islands, made our service so personal and unique to us as a couple and was very generous with her time ahead of the service making sure every last detail fitted with what we wanted. Our readings included an extract from Woody Allen’s Annie Hall and a poem, ‘After the lunch’ by Wendy Cope. We walked up the aisle to ‘To Build a Home’ by the Cinematic Orchestra. The defining feature of the ceremony were cheshire-cat-wide smiles all around.
The reception was on the island of Bryher in the Community Hall. We had a drinks party, meal and speeches with close family and friends then further drinks and dancing into the early hours, open to all the islanders of Bryher. The Community Hall was a blank canvas and we feel very blessed to have had support from both our families (particularly my mum) in dressing the venue and making our ideas spring to life. We decorated the ceiling of the Community Hall with different-sized round white paper lanterns and the tables with flowerpots and jam jars of spring flowers. We named the tables after politicians that we’d worked with, with framed photographs on each, resulting in a reception-wide game of guess who. The napkins were made out of artist canvas and tied up with parcel string. The nametags were created with a specially made blue postmark stamp marking the day and the name of the wedding guest.
We shipped in our caterers from Cornwall but they had manned the catering for my cousin’s wedding on the Isles of Scilly so knew what to expect. They surpassed all our expectations with the tremendous job they did. We served canapés and fizz, then our guests sat down for lobster, with Cornish new potatoes and a spring garden salad.
This was followed by wedding cake for dessert. We then finished up with coffee and Veronica Farm fudge (which was a given – my parents run the local fudge business). When guests got hungry later, we were at the ready with a leg of Serrano ham and our favourite South West cheeses with local artisan breads
The wedding cake was lemon chiffon, locally made and decorated with local garden flowers and herbs, including rosemary. Tom and I transported all three layers back from another island making for some rather interesting logistical challenges – wedding cakes are a lot heavier than they look! Following the seafood, we wanted to keep the flavours fresh and light – it was totally delicious.
We opted to keep things simple - just an ipod, with an inspired playlist chosen by one of our ushers, Felix. He did us proud, with thoughtfully chosen songs from a range of decades. He even managed to coax us up for a first dance to ‘Every time we say goodbye’, by Ella Fitzgerald. And the dance floor was full from start to finish – job done!
We chose our photographer, David McNeil because we knew his photos would capture the way we are as a couple, day in day out. He photographed my sister’s wedding and was a consummate professional, while putting everyone around him at ease. Every time we look at our photos, we cannot stop smiling.
Most memorable moment
There were so many. On our voyage to the Isles of Scilly, my sister arranged for a ‘good luck wedding announcement’ over the ferry tannoy. It was a great way to arrive on the islands. Spending the best part of a week with most of our guests presented lots of great opportunities for special moments together including a bride vs groom five-a-side football match and getting together for pizzas baked in my sister’s shoreside wood-fired oven.
On the day itself, one of our favourite moments was being crammed with all our guests in the boat cabin on our way back from the service to our reception, sheltering from the elements. It just shows that all the worry about the weather beforehand can be flipped upside down on the day itself. The box of disposable ponchos proved very popular.
We had some pockets of brilliant sunshine and some memorable, private moments together when taking our photographs. And then there was the walking down the aisle moment and saying our vows together, the perfect celebration of everything that had come before.
We had originally been planning a trip to Scotland for our honeymoon but after a particularly long and bleak winter, we changed tack and decided to head for the sunnier climes of California, for a dream road trip. Tom spent lots of time plotting our stop offs and choosing our places to stay.
We jetted off from Heathrow, a few days after our wedding, for San Francisco where we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge for our first leg of the journey into the wine country, sampling amazing Californian grapes and soaking up the beautiful countryside.
We then drove down the spectacular Highway 1 to the Big Sur where we stayed in a luxury yurt overlooking the Pacific (or it would have been if we weren’t shrouded in fog). We then drove inland for a few days walking in Yosemite, taking in the stunning waterfalls and giant redwoods while I kept an ever careful watch for bears. We had hoped to drive through Yosemite onto Vegas but late snow meant we had to travel south instead. This turned out to be one of our favourite parts of the trip – the Mojave dessert with its joshua trees and dramatic long straight roads was one of our highlights. Our final stop was Vegas and a helicopter tour over the grand canyon and hoover dam. Then back home for our new life, as newlyweds.