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Real Wedding

Sarah Chadwick and Stuart Flaherty


How did you meet and where was the proposal?

We met at work – both of us work as town planners at a Local Authority. Stuart proposed to Sarah on Calton Hill, Edinburgh in June 2021 during a holiday to Scotland.

Did you have a theme for the wedding and why?

Not as such. We both were receptive to new ideas and neither had any grand visions as to what the wedding would entail. We were both frankly learning on the job!

Did you already know the style of outfits you wanted?

Sarah’s dress was from Ghost Bridal – Viola dress. She wanted an elegant, stylish yet understated dress to suit her usual style. Stuart was pretty sure he wanted to wear a dark blue suit with tan brogues and found this at Moss Bros.

With regards to Sarah’s dress, she didn’t particularly relish the idea of going to a traditional wedding dress shop and trying on lots of dresses that weren’t really her style. Sarah’s dress was from more of a high street option.

Who created your floral arrangements; which flowers were used and how did you decorate the venue?

Rachel from Green & Gorgeous Flowers. She grows her own flowers and they’re all seasonal – so for our April wedding we had ranunculus, anenomes, daffodils, hellebores, and fritillaria.

Two of Sarah’s bridesmaids had made the wedding sign, table plan and table numbers with their own artwork. The table numbers were illustrated versions of childhood photos of Stuart and Sarah. We had floral centrepieces and teal table runners, as well as artificial candles as we couldn’t use real ones in the venue.

Tell us about your ceremony.

The ceremony was in the Old Library at Oxford Town Hall. We had Stuart’s niece and nephew as our ring bearer and flower girl, Sarah’s friend Oli played the harp during the ceremony and as we walked down the aisle. Sarah’s ring was her grandmother’s ring, carrying on a family tradition. We also had two readings by friends (Scaffolding by Seamus Heaney and The Art of Marriage). We didn’t see each other on the day of the wedding until the ceremony itself. This was partly owing to Stuart wishing to see Sarah walk down the aisle in her dress.

Where was the venue for your wedding reception?

The reception was in the Assembly Room at Oxford Town Hall (right next to the ceremony room). This was a beautiful setting in a Grade II Listed Building in a part of the world we are both very fond of.

What did you serve your guests?

Our food suppliers were excellent – Elegant Cuisine. We had a trio of salmon to start, lamb rump for the main and a trio of chocolate desserts. We had a series of zoom calls with our caterer in the lead-up so that we could have a clear idea of what we wanted and build up a rapport with Elizabeth who was there in attendance on the night to run things in addition.

How about the cake and the favours?

We had two cakes – one was a two-tier (one lemon, one Victoria sponge) with buttercream and floral decoration from Becky at Bishop’s Bakes in Banbury. We also had a cheese “cake” from The Oxford Cheese Company for later in the evening. A common thread for all of our suppliers is that they were all very local: something we were keen on.

Our favours were wildflower seeds and jam made from raspberries grown by Sarah’s mum and the jam was made my Sarah’s grandmother.

What music and entertainment did you have, and what was your first dance?

Our first dance was to Fleetwood Mac’s Songbird. We had a local band, Under the Covers, play two sets and we also keen to play our own system off Sarah’s phone for the remainder of the evening, via a PA system from a local company. A DJ didn’t really suit our plans so this was a more attractive option.

Do you have any budget or top tips or advice for other brides and grooms-to-be?

From a logistical point of view having the whole wedding in one (city centre) venue worked really well as guests could get there easily and it meant no time was lost travelling between different locations. There were also plenty of hotel options.

We were diligent in keep note of all wedding expenses throughout. A budget to spend on your wedding and the means through which you choose to fund it are very personal and different for each couple. Keep some sort of diary as to what needs to be paid and when.

On a more personal note, having our bridesmaids do some creative touches with the tables numbers and table plan was a meaningful element that we’re glad we included. An unintended bonus was that this saved a bit of money, and their creations are things we will keep and treasure long after the ceremony.

Another thing which may sound strange to say but if you go round the room, post-ceremony and dinner, wishing to speak to each and every guest, you will likely not spend enough time with each other. Ensuring we had some time together was something that was recommend by friends and family. You simply will not be able to spend time and talk to every one of your guest, without neglecting time that could be spent with each other on what is ultimately your day.

Did you have any special touches or moments that you’d like to share with us?

We had a number of little touches and moments, of which most were of a private nature during the day. Simple little touches that were special to the both of us.

Where did you spend your wedding night?

The Randolph Hotel in Oxford. Another perk of having the wedding in a central location as it was so near.

Where did you go for your honeymoon?

Lake Como, Italy.

If we could do it all again, we’d

At the risk of sounding smug, neither of us would change a thing. You quickly realise as the day approaches that smaller things such as final choices for table runners and such do not really matter in the grander scheme of things.

Suppliers and Links


at the alter cvd4jq
Mon 13 May 2024

14 October 2023, St Leonard's Church, Wallingford and afterwards at Fison Barn, Earth Trust, Little Wittenham.

miamia dress
Mon 13 May 2024

It’s not easy for a designer to stay cutting edge for 25 years, but Marguerite Hannah is one of a kind. As the designer behind both the Alan Hannah label and sister brand MiaMia, her expert pattern skills and exquisite eye for detail have remained consistent and modern, and she is revered in the industry for creating the kinds of dresses any bride would want to wear.

trish peng ehgqxn
Thu 9 May 2024

Whether it is in the fit or the styling, these beautiful pieces each, in their own way, allow the bride to shine, reflecting individual style and letting the emotion of the day take centre stage.

Gold Old Cut Diamond Ring jmifpc
Thu 9 May 2024

A Diamond is Forever It was the famous diamond company De Beers who coined the immortal words, a diamond is forever, as part of an advertising campaign back in 1947. A junior copywriter, Frances