A shared loved of the countryside and laid-back lifestyle helped cement the bond between Charlotte and James. They’d known each other for years and had been in the same friendship group since going to Kesgrave High School together.
They kept in touch through mutual friends and met up socially, but it wasn’t until after Charlotte graduated from university and moved back to Suffolk, that they started dating.
Romance blossomed, they bought and renovated a house together, got their black Labrador puppy Rocco and just as James was thinking of popping the question, Covid threw a spanner in the works. He was then unexpectedly faced with the challenge of planning the proposal during lockdown, without Charlotte catching on.
The magical moment happened while out on a romantic, snowy walk with Rocco in January 2021. "It was a complete surprise," reveals Charlotte. "While I was trying to get a cute photo of Rocco in the snow, James decided it was the perfect time and place to get down on one knee!" He was obviously right because she said 'yes'!
When it came to choosing her dream dress, Charlotte knew immediately when she found the one. "It was the only dress I tried on and I fell in love with it straight away, which was a relief considering all the shops having to close during the pandemic," she recalls. It had lace and pearl details, a small train, flowing sleeves and she completed the look with earrings and a necklace from Oliver Bonas and a gold and pearl bracelet passed down through the family.
The bridesmaids, Charlotte's sisters Jess and Anni, wore dusky pink dresses while James looked dashing in a navy tail suit with the two bestmen, his brother Elliot and best friend Jacob, and both dads in suits to match. As an extra personal touch, they provided a selection of homegrown floral handmade buttonholes or corsages for people to choose from as they arrived at the church.
Their wedding rings were especially meaningful as they made them themselves at the Woodbridge Jewellery Workshop using gold from rings inherited from James' great grandmother. Charlotte recalls, "We had such a wonderful time and learnt so much from both Rick and Maggie, who run it. We loved the romance of creating each other's rings and enjoyed it so much that we booked in again and James made my engagement ring while I made cufflinks for him to wear on the big day."
"The theme for the wedding centred around my love of growing flowers, with dahlias being a firm favourite of mine. I grew most of the blooms at home, which we then arranged in large clusters for the table centrepieces and also used for the buttonholes, bouquets and to decorate the altar," explains Charlotte.
The windowsills and entrance of the church were decorated with baskets of living herbs including fennel, mint, rosemary, thyme and myrtle, a traditional favourite for weddings. Drawing inspiration from their Mediterranean holidays, the aisle was also lined with olive trees. "We felt this suited the atmosphere of St Peter's Church with its rustic brick flooring, white-washed walls and wooden seating inside," adds Charlotte. The trees were later given as gifts to members of the main wedding party. In keeping with family tradition, they lit a unity candle during the ceremony, as Charlotte's parents had done at their wedding. "They lit their family candle, and we then took the flame from that to light ours,"
The reception was held on a neighbour's plot of land, just a short walk away from the church. A long, banquet-style table was set up in the centre surrounded by festoon lighting, paper lanterns, tall arches and the olive trees which had been transported from the church.
Through their links with scouting, the couple were able to borrow marquees as a wet-weather backup, but luckily the rain held off so they could dine outside. Charlotte says, "To complement the relaxed, boho-style feel we opted for woodblock-printed tablecloths and napkins, which my mum and I made, wicker placemats and bottle baskets, coloured glass goblets and big jars of homegrown flowers. The festoon lighting and an array of coloured candles added to the ambience during the evening."
The food was a delicious mix of Mediterranean and Greek influences with sharing platters of local meats and cheeses, homemade bread, chutneys and an Eton Mess buffet for dessert with homemade meringues, chocolate brownie torte, fresh seasonal fruit and cream. In the evening they had a Greek barbecue of marinaded lamb and spatchcock chicken served with salads and flatbreads. Charlotte adds, "Our family friend Janet Cox ran a catering company and when we met to discuss menus, we knew immediately that we were on the same page and had a shared love of al fresco dining. We were incredibly lucky to secure a booking with her as it turned out to be the last wedding she catered for before retiring!"
Guests were given packets of wildflower seeds as favours to reflect Charlotte's passion for gardening and as a big sweet-lover too, they also provided a table of jars filled with a selection of all their favourites for everyone to enjoy.
James' mum Pauline made the three-tier cake, based on her much-loved Christmas recipe, and Charlotte helped decorate it with textured royal icing and a ring of olive leaves on each layer. It was topped with a small crystal vase from her parents' wedding cake, the cake knife was an heirloom too, used at family weddings and christenings along with the lace tablecloth and round table.
Charlotte adds, "We had a long and leisurely lunch with lots of chatting and laughter and it was lovely to see each other after not being able to socialise much over the previous year. After dinner, James and his bestmen had curated a playlist which kept us dancing long into the night."
Jewellery and accessories
Tables, chairs, fridges,
Wedding and engagement rings