A simple, but elegant wedding pre-lockdown
19 Jan 2021
Clara Garbat and Robert Cox were lucky to have the wedding of their dreams in Bedfordshire just before the shape of weddings changed for 2020
What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme?
We didn’t have a theme as such, however we wanted simple yet elegant. Our colours were white and green with lots of foliage.
What venue did you choose and why did you choose it?
We chose the House at Shuttleworth as we really liked the character of the house and the grounds surrounding it. The house is so stunning and elegant with beautiful period features and we felt we didn’t need to mask or decorate it as the beauty was under one roof.
We also wanted a venue where we would be able to use our own caterers and also wanted to factor in how far the location was for our family members. We never knew we had such a lovely venue so close to home until we started searching online.
Tell us about the dress
I was very lucky with my dress and managed to find something ‘off the peg’. I was so laid back about searching for my dress I only actually started looking about three to four months before the wedding! All my friends were like “Clara you really need to start thinking about dress shopping.” So I thought I better get a wiggle on. I did take advice from friends, they said don’t go to hundreds of boutiques and try on hundreds of dresses as it will just confuse you and stress you. So, my mum and I went together to a few bridal stores and tried on maybe three or four dresses in each shop. I will be honest with you, I really didn’t suit wedding dresses, I would look at myself in the mirror and say to my mum “I just don’t look right as a bride." I tried one on which I thought in my head I would love, but when I put it on it just looked terrible on me.
My mum picked out a dress for me, designed by Phil Collins (not the singer!) I straight away turned my nose up and said “I don’t like it”. It was high neck and a definite ‘no’ as it was a style I would never wear. My mum said “please just pacify me and try it on even if you don’t like it.”
When I tried on this dress, I could not believe it, I fell in love with it. It needed quite a bit of altering but it was just perfect. I then rang my sister and got her to meet me at the shop to see what she thought, she loved it and had a cry.
It makes my heart happy when people ask about my dress. I feel proud to say my mum picked it out for me. It’s so cliché when they say you will know when it’s the one, because it’s so true you really do.
Who were the bridesmaids and what did they wear?
My maid of honour was my sister, her dress was bought from Coast online. It was an elegant navy-blue floor-length dress and was beautiful. My bridesmaids were my sister-in-law, my niece and best friend. I wanted the girls to feel comfortable in their bridesmaid dresses so I got them to choose out of four different styles, fortunately the girls chose and liked the same dress, so went with that. They were simple but elegant, floor-length blush pink dresses with lace detail and they looked gorgeous.
My niece’s dress was different, it was from a local bridal store, hers was ivory to match me, she was my princess for the day.
What did the groom wear?
Rob wanted simple but timeless with his suit and the groomsmen’s suits. He didn’t want to go for the traditional morning suits as then it got complicated with cravat colours and it not all matching etc. Also, because the groomsmen were all different shapes and sizes, he wanted everyone to feel comfortable and feel good. In the end Rob decided on black tuxedos, simple but classic and the guys loved them and felt comfortable. My nephew even said he felt like James Bond!
We hired all the suits and bought my nephew’s online, but Rob’s suit was tailor made - he was not sure how to be different from the other guys and stand out as the groom. He tried on different bow ties, jackets, colours etc and wasn’t keen. In the end he went for a white dinner jacket. I am so glad he did as he looked amazing and it really suited him. A nice personal touch were our initials and wedding date embroidered inside Rob’s dinner jacket.
Tell us about your floral arrangements
With flowers again, I wanted simple but effective and elegant. It can be really difficult with flowers as there are so many to choose from and colours etc and they are expensive. But in my head, I thought you can’t go wrong with simple. So I decided on green and white with lots of foliage which I love. We used a local florist and she was amazing so helpful, calm and kind.
We had beautiful avalanche white roses, gypsophila and loads of eucalyptus, ivy and other green foliage everywhere. Our centrepieces were candelabras with green and white floral displays, our top table was a beautiful foliage garland with roses in-between. Our wedding cake also had the same flowers/foliage displayed on it.
The bridesmaids all had white gypsophila bouquets and Rob and the boys had white avalanche roses as buttonholes. My bouquet was all the flowers and foliage combined; it was so beautiful.
Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day
Between me, my sister and my mum, we did quite a lot of handmade bits to add little special touches. We made our wedding favours and bought everything online. We chose salt and pepper pots which were in a shape of two peas, and the holder was a pod. We made the boxes and wrapped them with personalised ribbon with a little thank you heart attached, and sweets inside. We also made little envelopes for everyone and popped some forget-me-not seeds inside to sow.
With name place settings, instead of using little cards with names I wanted something that guests could have as a keepsake. So I ordered mirrored hearts with everyone’s name engraved on them, I then added magnet strips to the back so they could use them as a fridge magnet. The guests loved them. We had little activity packs for children to keep them busy too.
My sister also made my welcome sign and table plan display as well as decorating the entrance foyer. She ordered artificial foliage and roses in keeping with my flowers and made it look amazing and elegant. My mum made homemade limoncello and chilli oil which we put on the tables. She decanted them in little bottles with personalised labels. We had a sweetie cart as everyone knows how mad I am on sweets. As well as a chocolate fountain and light up love letters.
How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?
I was nervous initially as the thought of everyone looking at me made me feel a bit anxious. But my dad soon made me feel at ease, he was so calm which kept me calm and he was so happy for me and made me laugh. As soon as I linked arms with him I felt fine, at ease and so happy, I had to try hold back happy tears.
How did you make the ceremony personal to you?
We had a couple of hymns that we chose and liked and also had my cousin do a lovely reading for us.
What was your most memorable moment?
I will never forget walking down the aisle seeing everyone smile and Rob at the end of it. My dad’s speech was pretty impressive too considering he didn’t write anything and just said what he felt on the day and from the heart. We were so lucky for our wedding to go ahead as three days after we went into a national lockdown. We were so blessed to have all our family and friends with us all together, and for that we are forever grateful and a day we will never forget.
What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?
Believe it or not I didn’t find the whole planning and build up to the wedding challenging. It went pretty smoothly and was stress free. I had a lot of help and advice from family which we are so grateful and thankful for. There are times it can get overwhelming as a lot of people have a lot to say, but I say take it with a pinch of salt and be polite, as people are only trying help.
The table planning was a bit tricky with some guests not being able to attend at the last minute, but in the end with the help of my sister and a bit of shuffling tables around we managed it.
I really enjoyed the whole process. I think sometimes keeping things simple is best and don’t put yourselves under pressure. You can only do what you are able to do and with what means you have.
What was the most important investment for you?
Being from an Italian background the food and drink was very important to me and my family, and I wanted to make sure our guests all had happy bellies and were well watered!
Another really important investment for us both was our photography and videography, these are the only memories you will have to cherish forever after your special day. So, if I have to give one piece of advice it would be to invest in both, especially the videography which some people don’t choose to have. You really relive your day by watching it. Also seeing people who are no longer with us makes is even more special.
What song did you choose for your first dance, and why?
We both decided on Tennessee Whiskey by Chris Stapleton, we loved it as it’s not your typical wedding song a bit different, and it meant something to us.
Did you have any evening entertainment?
Yes, we hired a friend of ours he is an incredible DJ, he and his friend provided us with awesome tunes which everyone partied the night away to. We also had a friend who sang during our wedding breakfast, such a talented beautiful woman.
Rob and I also wanted to add a couple of extra surprises for our guests so we hired an amazing local saxophonist for when the party started, he was incredible! Also, a local magician who blew our guests away with his magic. We also had a wonderful local pianist who played at the drinks reception some really cool live lounge music.
Tell us about your wedding cake
Our wedding cake again, was simple but effective and tasted delicious. I went to a local cake shop with my mum and spoke to the owner who was so helpful and great with advice. In fact, she actually helped cement my choice in terms of wedding flower colours as I still wasn’t sure at this point. We didn’t want to over spend on the cake, but still wanted something elegant and looked the part and taste good.
We went with a white iced three-tier cake with fresh flowers. We had some flavour samples to take away with us. They were all delicious, we decided on a lemon and elderflower cake with a Sicilian lemon filling. Divine!
A little tip to save on cost, our top tier was a prop iced cake and not real. We didn’t compromise on the look of our cake, but without the extra price tag!
Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages?
Communication is key. Enjoy the process, shop around and find the best deals. Hand make things, and if family and friends offer help take it. Everyone will want to give advice - accept it graciously, it’s your choice whether to take the advice or not, but you’ll be surprised some of it might help.
Try not to get stressed out and have faith in your suppliers and your wedding venue co-ordinator.
While everyone is having their meal have a moment, just you and your husband, to stop what you are doing and look around you and take it all in seeing all your family and friends around you enjoying your special day.
Steal Their Style
Photography & Videography: Kam Assi, Abraxas Photography & Video LTD
Venue: The House at Shuttleworth
Dress: Phil Collins
Make-up: Reena Thind – MUA
Bridesmaids’ dresses: Maid of Honour, Coast; adult bridesmaids, Chi Chi London; small bridesmaid, Kate Joseph Bridal
Groom’s outfit: Moss Bros
Stationery: Sixpence Paperie
Cake: Seventh Heaven Cakes
Flowers: Harpur Centre Florists
LOVE Letters & Sweet Cart: La’Marri J Events
Lighting: Light Up Your Love, 07930 309976
Caterers: Bella Italia Caterers
Transport: Wedding Car Hire
Entertainment: DJ, Karlito Boukhrisa; saxophonist, Dom Plays Sax; singer, Sophia Soul; magician, Lee Smith