After Brooks Reitz, a restaurateur, proposed to Erin Connelly, a fashion designer, on a trip to London in 2015, the two celebrated their engagement in the English countryside at the Olde Belle, a coaching inn in Hurley, Berkshire. "It was the most relaxing few days, and we fantasized about bringing our family and closest friends there to share the experience with them," she says. So they did! For their July 23, 2016, wedding, the Charleston-based pair flew back (this time, with 34 guests in tow) to host a weekend full of long walks by the Thames, signature cocktails, and great pub food.
Keep reading to see how photographer Olivia Rae James captured the beautiful, intimate event, as planned by Revival Rooms.
The couple's venue, the Olde Belle, is located on the River Thames, so the bride and groom kicked off the weekend's events with a welcome boat cruise. “It was a wonderful bonding opportunity on a beautiful old boat, with our closest friends and family and a lot of rosé,” she remembers.
For her dress, Erin turned to one of her favorite designers, Roland Mouret. "I wanted something tailored and white and knew I didn't want an actual wedding dress," she says. She found that in her cap-sleeved viscose-crepe dress, which she first spotted online and then tried on at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City. "I tried it on and bought it on the spot—one and done!"
Erin paired her gorgeous gown with a flowing veil and her late grandmother’s diamond earrings and pendant. “That was really special for me, to feel like she was with me,” she says.
The bride carried a romantic bouquet of long-stemmed English roses, a fitting choice for her venue.
The groom wore a navy tuxedo with black trim from George Bass, an iconic clothier and haberdashery in New Orleans. He accessorized with green velvet shoes (his favorite part of the assemble!) and a white rose boutonniere.
For their wedding party, Erin and Brooks mixed things up. The bride asked her girlfriends, who she calls her "doves," to escort her family down the aisle and sit up front, dressed in whatever they felt great in! Erin's brother joined her at the altar as her "man of honor," as did the couple's adorable niece, who served as the flower girl. For his crew, Brooks tapped his seven-year-old son as his best man and their 10-year-old nephew as ring bearer.
The ceremony took place in a cozy room inside the inn, where the bride made her entrance arm-in-arm with her mother as a quartet played. The groom's father led the ceremony, in which the couple exchanged traditional vows in front of an ornate fireplace covered in lush greenery and flowers. "The room has so many flowers, it smelled sweet," says the bride.
Miranda Hackett brought the couple's floral vision to life for the reception. She created asymmetrical and loose arrangements, mixing English roses, greenery, and herbs in vintage pewter vessels. The long wooden tables were topped with the colorful arrangements, along with vintage candlesticks and scattered fruit, to create a supple, organic feel.
As a nod to their English venue, the couple served cucumber gin and tonics as the signature drink and a traditional dinner of meat pie and potatoes.
After dinner, the real fun began when the dance party turned into a wig party. At midnight, Erin and Brooks surprised everyone with a second dinner—this time, a curry feast!
Looking back on the big day, the bride says she's happy that they kept their guest list short and their party intimate. “We wanted it to be small and personal and have a ton of booze and great music,” she says. "All of that happened!"
Ceremony & Reception Venue: The Olde Bell
Planner: Revival Rooms
Flowers: Miranda Hackett Flowers
Bride's Dress: Roland Mouret
Groom's Attire: George Bass
Photography: Olivia Rae James