One Couple Said "I Do" to an English Countryside Wedding

"We always knew we wanted a countryside wedding by the sea," the bride says of their romantic celebration.

Updated 03/08/17

Photo by Imogen Xiana

Jessica Vince met Byron Bedford during their third year studying at Royal Holloway University of London in 2005. A decade later, Byron pulled off an epic surprise proposal. While Jessica was in Paris for Fashion Week in March 2015, he arranged for her colleague (who was actually in London the whole time) to make plans to meet Jessica at a stunning hotel. “I was taken up to a suite, and Byron was there, suited and booted and surrounded by roses and balloons. It was very romantic,” Jessica shares.

The pair envisioned a countryside wedding on England's Jurassic Coast. “Byron and I would often visit for minibreaks, so when it came to picking a location, this seemed like the obvious choice,” Jessica says. They invited 100 guests to join them for a ceremony at St. Michael’s and All Angels Church in Kimmeridge, Dorset. For the reception, the couple chose Smedmore House, where they could host a large celebration but still provide an intimate space for the bridal party to stay. (It’s a private home!) Jessica planned the rustic seaside wedding, which took place on July 30, 2016, on her own and tapped photographer Imogen Xiana to capture all of her hard work.

See every charming detail below!

Photo by Imogen Xiana

Photo by Imogen Xiana

Photo by Imogen Xiana

Photo by Imogen Xiana

Jessica’s search for a wedding dress turned into choosing a custom creation. She started with a fitted ivory Charlie Brear gown, then added a layer of lace on top, along with cap sleeves, a belt, and a lengthy veil. "I didn’t want to take it off," she remembers of the finished product. "It felt so special, and yet I was so comfortable in it. My best friend burst into tears when she saw me in it." She paired the Charlie Brear ensemble with embellished Jimmy Choo pumps.

Her bouquet was the perfect match for the charming wedding Jessica had envisioned. The mix of soft pink and white garden roses, hydrangeas, Queen Anne's lace, and astilbes was all tied with a flowing natural ribbon.

Byron wore a navy suit with a crisp white collared shirt underneath. For a pop of color, he wore bright-red socks with his black dress shoes.

Photo by Imogen Xiana

Photo by Imogen Xiana

Jessica's bridesmaids wore teal dresses from Zara. “I loved that they were so relaxed and floaty,” she says. Each woman held a smaller version of the bride’s bouquet. Groomsmen wore mismatched suits and ties to play off the relaxed feel evocative of the countryside.

Photo by Imogen Xiana

Photo by Imogen Xiana

Photo by Imogen Xiana

The bride and groom chose to keep the ceremony decor simple, bringing in only white flowers in clear vases and bunches of blooms to hang from the end of each church pew. Jessica’s talented friends formed a gospel choir and sang Florence and the Machine's "You’ve Got the Love" as the bride made her way down the aisle. It was important to Jessica and Byron that their ceremony be peppered with readings that felt unique and special to them as a couple, so they ended up pulling together several phrases from literature they both loved, and Byron’s aunt read it all aloud.

As the couple exited the quaint country church, friends and family showered the new Mr. and Mrs. with white flower petals.

Photo by Imogen Xiana

Photo by Imogen Xiana

Photo by Imogen Xiana

Byron’s parents have a flower farm in Tanzania, so their home-grown carnations served as the main inspiration for the reception decor. The space had a fire pit in the center, with fairy lights hung on shepherd hooks to help set the mood. “I loved the idea of a Midsummer Night’s Dream–inspired party, illuminated by twinkling lights and with a roaring fire in the middle,” the bride says. Rustic wooden tables were dressed with ferns and topped with clear vases filled with bunches of carnations.

Photo by Imogen Xiana

Photo by Imogen Xiana

Despite a slight panic after their caterers fell through at the last minute, Jessica and Byron managed to find Crab Apple Caterers, who pulled off a fantastic feast. “It goes to show that you can turn things around quickly when you need to,” Jessica says. Menus were printed on stationery designed by Jessica’s cousin and her husband. Guests sat wherever they pleased and enjoyed a delicious meal of salmon, vegetables, beef, and pasta.

Photo by Imogen Xiana

The pair kicked off the party with a first dance to Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody," performed by the groom’s mother. “We’d always spoken about her doing it, but she’d get too emotional if it was anything too gushy," the bride says of her mother-in-law's performance. "We wanted something upbeat that people could dance along to, and this was perfect all around.” Then the One Hit Wonders, a karaoke band, brought the energy up even more. “Byron and his family are particular fans of karaoke, and it certainly brought an original twist!”

Photo by Imogen Xiana

To thank their friends and family for joining them on their special day, the bride and groom offered up potted-jam favors that were finished with adorable tags reading "Spread the love."

Photo by Imogen Xiana

Photo by Imogen Xiana

Photo by Imogen Xiana

In remembrance of the car Byron owned when the pair first met, the bride and groom rented an antique Fiat 500 to drive off in as husband and wife. On the day of, after Jessica's bridesmaids dutifully decorated the adorable automobile, the car wouldn’t start! “It made for a brilliant moment when all the groomsmen rallied around and gave us a push start!” Jessica says. Now those are some wonderful friends!

To couples currently planning a wedding, Jessica says, “Don’t sweat the small stuff! Most things can be fixed, and if not, it makes for a good story in hindsight.”

Ceremony Venue: St. Michael & All Angels || Reception Venue: Smedmore House || Bride's Wedding Dress & Veil: Charlie Brear || Shoes: Jimmy Choo || Hair & Makeup: Alice Theobald || Bridesmaids' Dresses: Zara || Groom's Attire: Jonathan Quearney || Flowers: Nomad || Music: One Hit Wonders || Catering: Crab Apple Catering || Rentals: Coastal Tents || Photographer: Imogen Xiana

Related Stories