Tom and Elsa met in the mid-noughties' coolest way: on MySpace. "We spent two weeks 'dating' by going to the local bakery on our school lunch break!" Elsa remembers. She was attracted to Tom's honesty and happy energy, while Tom was drawn in by the mystery of the new girl at school. After discovering a strong connection and easy-flowing conversation, the pair made it official when Tom asked Elsa to be his girlfriend.
It was eleven years down the line when the time was right for Tom to pop the question. The pair were finally settled in their new home after years of a long-distance relationship while Elsa was studying to become a vet. “The proposal was a long time coming, so I was in anticipation of it,” Elsa tells us. “To get around this, Tom had to work out a way to surprise me.” He did this by arriving home early on a random Thursday evening so she wouldn’t suspect a thing. “One moment I was watching TV, the next the lights were off and Tom was on one knee! It certainly was a surprise.”
The pair soon set the date for 9th May, 2020 – but for obvious reasons that couldn’t go ahead – so after an agonising wait they finally tied the knot on 17th April, 2021. We caught up with Elsa to find out how they did it…
The whole wedding day was planned around the stunning Orangery at Goldney House. "Before we were engaged, I fell in love with the venue when we saw it on the BBC's Sherlock, when Dr Watson got married there," Elsa explains. "The rest of our wedding plans snowballed from this beautiful building and gardens." Leigh Court is just a stone's throw away, so the couple chose it for their ceremony venue. "It was perfect with its grand staircase, glass roof and sandstone pillars," the bride says. "The two venues together gave us everything we could ever want."
The pandemic meant that the couple's original date had to be postponed almost a year to April 2021. "Throughout the planning it felt like we had to change everything," Elsa says. "When it came down to it, the main thing that changed was the number of guests – going from 90 people to 13. To fit with restrictions, we had to hire a marquee to eat outside at the Orangery, and we weren't allowed to stay there all evening, which is where our third venue, Clifton Observatory, came in."
The pair chose a beautiful springtime palette of blue and yellow, with the florals centred around Elsa's favourite flower: forget-me-nots. They wanted to add a gorgeous scent to the day, so they had garden roses and freesias woven into the design. "The only thing that didn't match was the arrangement for the top table," Elsa says.
"We chose a red poppy, pink carnation, white rose and ears of wheat – each representing a departed grandparent so that they were with us on the day." The simple two-tier cake had a timeless look, making the cake toppers the main focus. "Carole's Cakes made these with great detail to mimic our exact outfits," Elsa smiles. "We were even accompanied by our two cats, Tembe and Django."
The table plan was designed on a gorgeous vintage mirror to look like a cocktail menu, while the place settings were made from corks with luggage tags attached. Elsa and Tom love cocktails and are often found hunting out speakeasy bars and throwing cocktail parties for friends and family, so it seemed only right that they should name their tables after their favourite tipples. "I designed the table names with detailed cutouts of cocktail glasses on one side and a cocktail recipe on the back," the bride says. A nod to their love of all things vintage, the pair swapped out champagne flutes for old-fashioned champagne saucers, and they also used a vintage floral suitcase for their cards.
After the ceremony, guests dined on a delicious bespoke menu from Fosters Events, which included baked camembert, duck with potatoes Anna and a red-wine jus, followed by decadent banoffee pie. Not allowing the restrictions on parties to dampen their spirits, the couple had garden games for their guests to enjoy, with the space hoppers being a huge hit!
When it comes to dresses, Elsa loves simple, classic styles; when she saw Barcaza by Pronovias she knew it was the one. "The dress had it all," she says. "It appeared simple but with a racer-cut back, dropped waist and beautiful buttons it was detailed too. I felt like a princess with the weight and feel of the mikado fabric." Elsa accessorised her vintage-style look with bespoke duck-egg blue suede shoes by Emmy London and a pretty hair vine, which incorporated forget-me-nots, from Hermione Harbutt.
Tom wore a navy Ted Baker suit with a bespoke pale blue double-breasted waistcoat, which made him stand out from the groomsmen. The men all wore yellow socks for a burst of colour and to coordinate with the colour scheme. Elsa's bridesmaids looked stunning in ice-blue V-neck chiffon dresses.
The stresses of the pandemic made wedding planning exhausting, but the couple knew it was all worth it in the end. "So many emotions came into play, from stress and anxiety to fear and disappointment," Elsa explains. "With the constantly changing rules it felt like we planned four weddings along the way, not just one! However, when the day arrived the sun was shining, all the little details fell into place and having our loved ones around us was a dream come true. We're also planning a big celebration at Tom's family farm in July with all of our friends and family!"
In the morning Elsa couldn't sit still with excitement. "My whole body was abuzz with butterflies!" She says. "The whole day felt like a dream; it was so full of overwhelming joy, relief and love." So what parts stood out most for the bride? "Sharing a quiet moment with my dad before the ceremony was wonderful," she says.
"Everything was perfect, from saying our vows outside in the sunshine at Leigh Court, to arriving at Clifton Observatory in the evening to be faced with that breathtaking view of the Clifton Suspension Bridge at sunset! All of our suppliers came together so beautifully to make our vision a reality."
Elsa's words of wedded wisdom: "Throughout the day, take moments to step back, drink it all in and commit it all to memory with your new spouse."
Hair and make-up