Inspiration is to be found in the most unlikely of places. So it was when I was wracking my brain trying to find a way of tying together all the disparate bits of nuptial loveliness – the cake, invitations, flowers etc – into an elegant, coordinated whole. Clearly, what was needed was theme which could underpin my purchasing decisions and give A Warwickshire Wedding an identity. But settling on that theme was no easy matter.
Those of you who were with me at the inception of A Warwickshire Wedding may remember The Arrival of Zilla, Queen of the Brides, when I told you all about our trip to Somerset when we were pursing our dream of being transported by steam train from a wedding service at Dunster church to a reception in the hall at Hestercombe Gardens. At that stage my vision had a strong vintage bias: village fete type bunting, long trestle tables and recycled jam jars stuffed with wildflowers and old style roses. You get the picture. It was a vision fuelled, in part, by photographs of the simply gorgeous floral arrangements created by The Traditional Flower Company.
When the practicalities of distance intervened to derail the Hestercombe Express idea and we started to look at venues nearer to home, a different theme emerged. Influenced by both our decision to have a wedding at Harvest Festival time and the possibility of hiring a barn for the reception, I flirted, albeit briefly, with something altogether more bucolic, involving bales of hay, a barn dance and decorations crafted from seasonal flowers, fruits and berries.
But that all changed the day we stepped out of the car into the grounds of Compton Verney in Warwickshire. Designed by Robert Adam and sitting admist Capability Brown gardens, Compton Verney is a neo-classical gem which, for us, blew the competition clean out of the water. Not only did its elegant, but restrained grandeur offer the most beautiful aesthetic backdrop to our wedding celebrations, but the fact that it now serves as a public art gallery dovetailed perfectly with our own interest in art history. It imbued our wedding with a sense of connection, making the venue meaningful to us in a way that a village hall, barn or hotel, however lovely, could never have done.
As we crossed the bridge and gazed across the undulating land towards the house, my spirits were ‘in a high flutter’, just like Elizabeth Bennett when she first spied Pemberley, and I couldn’t help but think of ways in which we could infuse our wedding with a regency theme. I could just picture myself wearing one of Johanna Hehir’s empire line wedding gowns with ballet flat pumps and my hair styled like a Jane Austin heroine. MoH could, I thought, wear something similar, but in that shade of blue made so popular by Wedgwood’s Jasperware.
I soon realised that I was not the only bride with a penchant for all things Georgian: a quick search of the internet revealed several wedding cakes, including one by Dreamworld Cakes, decorated in a Jasperware style and I even found, a stationery company called Bird and Banner pays homage to that 18th century love of silhouettes by crafting invitations which depict the facial profile of the happy couple. And, in one of my more fanciful moments, I even fantasised about all of our guests dressed in gorgeous regency garb hired from Essex based Artisan Costume Hire.
It was all very tempting. But my enthusiasm waned a little as I acknowledged that I was in danger of creating some sort of Jane Austin tableau which, whilst reflecting one of my passions, had far less significance to my H2B. At this point it occurred to me that the ‘right’ theme would be one which like the venue itself, expressed something of us as a couple: something which had Pamela and John at its very heart.
As I mused upon that enlightening thought, my gaze settled on the empty bottle of Perrier-Jouet champagne which we’d kept because of its beautiful enamelled art nouveau style decoration. Always attracted to the Belle Époque, our love of Perrier-Jouet had been sealed when the Company issued a special edition box set which included two elegant champagne glasses, each one bearing an entwined P&J. We’d joked that they must have been made just for us and that the P&J didn’t stand for Perrier-Jouet at all, but for Pamela and John.
At that moment, I realised that the theme for A Warwickshire Wedding had been starring me in the face, through the glazed doors of the cabinet, for weeks. The perfect theme would be one based upon a monogram of our initials, and what better source of inspiration than the Perrier-Jouet motif itself? So now you understand why Mr Moore and I really can claim that we found inspiration for A Warwickshire Wedding’s theme in a bottle. Like I said, inspiration is to be found in the most unlikely of places.