A Whimsical Outdoor Garden Destination Wedding in England

Lara and Oliver

Aneta Mak

Lara Snider had been working for Anthropologie, visually directing their store openings across the globe, when she decided to move from New York City to London. Soon after, a visiting friend convinced her to go to a pub with some of her buddies, one of whom was Oliver Curry, a postdoctoral researcher. They were drawn to each other instantly, and just 48 hours later went on their first date. And so, their romance began.

To celebrate their three-year anniversary, Oliver, now an anthropology lecturer at Oxford University, wanted to take Lara, currently a visual retail consultant, to Budapest, but when the volcanic ash of 2010 clouded his plans, an alternate trip was quickly scheduled: a long weekend in Bath, England, an idyllic country town not far from London. He proposed in the walled garden at Babington House, and on June 16, 2011, they wed in an outdoor ceremony. Now friends joke that every ash cloud has its silver lining.

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The Invitation

Aneta Mak

Friends and family helped the couple bring their wedding vision to life by lending helping hands (and suitcase space for supplies sourced in the States). One of Lara's chums, Kristen Ekeland, designed her stationery using the wedding's "The Secret Garden" theme (it's Lara's favorite childhood book, after all) with a touch of old Hollywood glamour as inspiration.

The invitation suite incorporated natural elements like ferns, birds, and trees, and the response postcards were inspired by vintage English wallpaper. Another pal, Jenna of Love*Jenna, did the calligraphy, and Letterpress Chicago provided the letterpress details.

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The Location

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Lara and Oliver considered more than 25 venues before deciding on Barnsley House in the Cotswolds. "It stole our hearts," Lara recalls. "It was glamorous without being too over-the-top." The house and property, previously owned by a world-famous gardener and her architect husband, had been meticulously restored, and the picturesque grounds were perfect for their garden vows.

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A Room of Their Own

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The couple chose not to see each other until the ceremony. Instead, the groom, who got ready in the aptly named "Secret Garden" room, sent little love notes to his bride-to-be, who was in a different suite.

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The Fashions

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Lara chose a strapless, modified A-line gown, with duchesse silk bands and sweetheart neckline, from the Vera Wang Luxe Collection, having found it at Selfridges. "It was breathtaking," says the bride. "I honestly couldn't breathe, or speak, and once it was on, I didn't want to take it off!"

The showstopper was accessorized with Benjamin Adams grass-friendly wedges that sparkled with Swarovski crystals.

Oliver looked just as dashing in his bespoke suit by Dress2kill, Spencer Hart shirt, and Paul Smith silk tie.

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The Finishing Touches

Aneta Mak

The bride's "something borrowed" came courtesy of Oliver's cousin. She lent Lara their grandmother's diamond drop earrings for the ceremony. Later, the bride changed into BHLDN's "bygone" earrings (shown here) for dinner and switched to pearl earrings for dancing.

Lara completed her look with a dash of pretty color -- Tom Ford's Private Blend Lip Colour in True Coral.

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The Bouquet

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Charlie Ryrie of The Real Cut Flower Garden created the bride's bunch from fragrant 'Boule de Neige' roses, honeysuckle, 'Philadelphus Belle Etoile' and 'Philadelphus Coronarius' mock orange, asparagus fern, and bupleurum. Lara's best friend gave her a brooch in her favorite color to pin to its base.

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The Bridal Party

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Bridesmaids chose between two J.Crew dresses and wore the same nude shoes.

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The Flower Girl

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These little ladies wore Crewcuts dresses, Vertbaudet slippers, and headpieces made by the bride's mother using vintage millinery flowers and ribbons. Here, Maia, one of four flower girls, and the daughter of the best man, holds Lara's train. "She may have watched the royal wedding one too many times," Lara jokes.

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The Page Boy

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The young lads wore outfits from Vertbaudet.

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A Noteworthy Gift

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At the bachelorette party, Lara's friend Mary (who introduced the bride to the groom) gave her a limited-edition "My Mr. Darcy's" book by Laura Davidson. It was a nod to the couple's engagement in Bath (Jane Austen's hometown) and to Lara finding her soulmate, her Mr. Darcy (the character written by Austen in "Pride and Prejudice").

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The Ceremony Decor

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Lush ferns and satin ribbon bows adorned the chairs. The aisle was strewn with rose petals from Country Roses.

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A Vintage Touch

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Years ago, the bride started the tradition of giving her beau a handkerchief on special occasions. Since this was an occasion of utmost importance, she decided to extend the practice to all 86 guests, and placed a vintage handkerchief on each ceremony seat. Immediate family and the bridal party received customized ones: The mother-of-the-groom's cloth boasted her first initial and a crown, and flower girl Daisy's was embroidered with her namesake blossom.

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The Programs

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All guests received a tri-folded program detailing the order of the wedding service. Small glassine envelopes filled with heart-shaped rice to shower over the newlyweds were also handed out.

Lara gave her groom a monogrammed handkerchief before the ceremony. Hand & Lock Embroidery in London, a company commonly called on to make items for the royal family, created the keepsake.

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The Ceremony

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After a solid week of rain, the sun came out the morning of the big day. Lara entered the lush garden to a violin and bass playing "Lara's Theme" from Dr. Zhivago, the movie after which she was named.

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Special Readings

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An excerpt from "The Secret Garden" by Frances Hodgson Burnett was recited by Lara's longtime friend Shannon. To appeal to Oliver's sensibilities, a selection was also read from the classic anthropological text "The History of Human Marriage" by Edvard O. Westermarck.

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Happy Greeters

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Young attendants gleefully swarmed the pair when they reached the top of the aisle. As everyone exited the ceremony and walked to the tower of coupe Champagne glasses awaiting the bride and groom, violinists played the Beatles' "Good Day Sunshine."

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Forever Blooming

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The dried-flower and hand-dyed paper-leaf boutonnieres -- or buttonholes, as they're known in England -- were made to last for years to come. Lara spotted the colorful foliage on Papier Valise and her florist incorporated it with everlasting hellebore blooms.

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Cocktail Hour

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Trays adorned with calligraphed signs carried appetizers including Lara's mom's mac and cheese, mini hamburgers, and mini Waldorf salads. Refreshments included Prosecco, rose wine, and local ale.

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Escort Cards

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Lara wanted the tags to mimic the royal oak tree's leaves, under which the ceremony took place. She made a stencil and traced it onto bronze paper, and with help from her bridesmaids, hole-punched and cut them out. After each one was calligraphed by Love*Jenna, they were laced through the paper straws in glasses of lemonade.

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Aneta Mak

Photographer Aneta Mak captured the couple at various locations on the property.

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Aneta Mak

The newlyweds also posed in the poppy fields.

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The Menu

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The menu included an heirloom tomato salad with Windrush Valley goat-cheese curds and pesto dressing; roasted Great Farm chicken; Cotswold lamb with seasoned vegetables and roasted potatoes; pea and mint risotto; and snacks of cheeses, grapes, chutney, and biscuits.

The groom, using Jenna's scrolling script and Kristen's graphics, designed napkins for the seated dinner. They were screen printed by a friend as a wedding gift to the couple. A local seamstress added buttonholes so the male guests could attach them to their shirts. Guests took them home as keepsakes at the night's conclusion.

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The Reception

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The tented dinner was served family-style to encourage guests to interact as much as possible.

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A Festive Change

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During the reception, Lara swapped her Vera Wang veil for a feather headpiece made by her friend Tatshana Tran, a milliner in London.

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Faux Photo Booth

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Guests posed with props made by friend Sophie Barr, and signs calligraphed by Love*Jenna in front of a remote-controlled camera perched on a tripod.

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Familiar Faces

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Jenna and her husband Jon smile for the camera. Their wedding was equally inspirational.

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Special Signage

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The new Dr. and Mrs. Curry had their own banner crafted. It made a wonderful prop for photos.

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The First Dance

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The couple danced to Billie Holiday's "Comes Love." The old tune fit in with their wedding's glamorous vibe perfectly.

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The Cake

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The pair picked a Victoria sponge cake with fresh cream and strawberries made by Kelsie Hall of The Sugar Box. It was topped with sparklers from Fortnum & Mason, which "got everyone's attention," Lara recalls fondly.

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The Sweets

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Smaller cakes, including red velvet and chocolate Guinness (for the Irish guests), were displayed on vintage stands.

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Aneta Mak

Photography: Aneta Mak

Location and Catering: Barnsley House

Stationery: Kristen Ekeland

Calligraphy: Love*Jenna

Cake: The Sugar Box

Hair: Kim Westwood

Makeup: Kim Jacob of Angelique

Child Care: Elf Sitters

Engagement Ring: Abrahams Diamonds

Bride's Wedding Band: Simon G. from Aaron Faber

Tent and Rentals: Space Intense

Flowers: The Real Cut Flower Garden; Country Roses (ceremony aisle)

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