A mansion setting puts one couple's London affair on the map

One thing is for sure: Cynthia Rowand and Jason Ralph's love for each other knows no borders. She's a native of Seattle and he's from London—and the two met in Canada, married in England, and honeymooned in Scotland. For their August, 13, 2005, wedding, Cynthia and Jason rented the Dartmouth House, an Anglo-French-style mansion in a posh London neighborhood that perfectly captured the urban yet historical look they envisioned. "The venue was so stunning," says Cynthia, who moved to the U.K. six months after meeting Jason. "We wanted it to speak for itself." Floral designer Mary Jane Vaughan took this into account, creating just one decorative element for the ornate wood-paneled room where the ceremony would take place: an ivory, pink and green arrangement of lilies, roses, dendrobium orchids, hydrangeas and hypericum berries, which cascaded over the mantel at the end of the aisle.

Following their civil ceremony, where Cynthia and Jason recited vows they had written themselves, the couple and their 68 guests (20 of whom flew in from the States for the event) moved to the reception in a light-aqua drawing room, another of the mansion's charming rooms. At the end of the meal—a Mediterranean buffet that included lamb and tomato, cucumber and mint salad—Jason's best man gave an ultralong speech, which is typical at English weddings. Guests actually placed bets on how long it would last, and the best man didn't disappoint: He concluded his salute to the newlyweds (and roasting of the groom) after 18 minutes. The winner of the bet, one of Jason's Scottish pals, celebrated his victory by performing a jig in his formal kilt as the crowd cheered him on.

Creating the perfect atmosphere was key for the couple. Though in a magnificent mansion, Cynthia and Jason wanted their guests to feel like they were celebrating out on the town. The young and funky DJ set the mood by playing a mix of both U.K. and U.S. pop and hip-hop songs. "We continue to hear about how much fun everyone had on the dance floor," says the bride, whose guests didn't leave the Dartmouth House until 12:30 a.m. (which was about an hour later than the newlyweds' departure). CD favors, featuring a selection of Cynthia and Jason's favorite songs from the DJ's playlist, still have guests dancing.

Learn From Cynthia and Jason
Give a proper welcome: Jason's mother hosted an English tea three days before the wedding, the perfect greeting for Cynthia's American family.
Make an initial impression: Cynthia and Jason embellished their cake with a delicate silver R (their shared initial) in lieu of a traditional topper.
Meet and greet all of your guests: Because the couple's rehearsal dinner was a small family affair, they met the rest of their gang at a pub afterward.
Donate to a special charity: Cynthia and Jason made sure that each guest received a yellow Livestrong wristband (the sales of which go to the Lance Armstrong Foundation). "This was a big hit with everyone," says Cynthia, "and we were happy to donate to such an important cause."

Simple centerpieces atop white linens allowed the grandeur of the Dartmouth House to take center stage.

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