Francesca and Toby’s Oxford Riverside Wedding with a Third Generation Wedding Dress by Captured by Katrina 

We head across to Oxford today for this soft, romantic and laid back spring wedding that took place last year. Francesca and Toby chose to get married close to their home in Oxford and fell in love with ‘The Perch’ after finding out it had its own jetty. This meant they could transport their guests by boat from the ceremony to the reception. With pretty spring flowers and lots of DIY details and decorations, this is a really chilled out and homespun affair. As the couple are big on food, their wedding breakfast played  big part in their day and after this a good old knees up! A fun-filled wedding from Captured by Katrina that I’m sure you are going to love.

A simple wedding made hugely enjoyable and memorable thanks to the unique setting and the wonderful guests.  It was a real celebration of our individual pasts, our existing relationship and our future together.

Francesca and Toby were married on 20th May 2017 at Oxford Town Hall with the reception at The Perch, Binsey. ‘After searching for venues in my (Francesca’s) home town we had no luck finding anything that was quite right.  We decided to look closer to our home, Oxford.  After visiting The Perch, one of our favourite pubs in Oxford, everything came together. The Perch is also located right on the river Thames, so when Deirdra announced that the pub had it’s own jetty, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to transport our guests by boat from the city centre to the pub. The Oxford Town Hall, with its history and prestigious architecture, and located just a  short walk from the river, became the obvious choice for our ceremony venue. We had 75 guests for the ceremony and meal and an additional 30 guests in the evening. It took 18 months to plan, we were engaged in September 2015 and married in May 2017

How they met
We met at university halls in autumn 2006.  We were both living in Derby Hall at Nottingham University and as a member of the only all girls block in the Halls, D block, I become an honorary member of ‘C Block’ next door.  I’d spend hours hanging out in Alice’s room in our first year in university getting to know everyone in the block.  Towards the end of our first year at university and over the following summer holidays, something changed between Toby and I and we found ourselves spending more time together.  It was then in our second year, out of halls and living like ‘real grown ups’, in separate houses that we started dating in autumn 2007, and the rest is history.

The proposal
After a stressful drive to our secluded hut on the most westerly point in Portugal, Copa da Roca, we relaxed with some local rose wine and a fresh fish BBQ dinner.  After clearing away we settled in to the hammock in the seating area by the pool of our little hut.  While taking in the last rays of the sunset, Toby proclaimed his wish to spend the rest of his life with me, and with a Haribo heart in hand he asked me to marry him.  After a few days in our hut we were due to spend the last 2 nights of our holiday in Lisbon where we chose an engagement ring together.

How did you allocate your budget?
The priority for me was to keep up the Tiller tradition of parties alive – great food and plenty of it.  So this was something we were always willing to spend a reasonable amount on.  After deciding on our venues and setting our hearts on using boats to transport our guests, this again was a really important element to keep in the budget. After food and the boats, everything else was worked out.  Fortunately, I had the honour of wearing my mum’s wedding dress, which had actually been hand made by my grandma for her own wedding back in the 1950s – so that was a big money saver in the budget.  We hired suits for the groom and groomsmen – not only did it work out a little cheaper, it turned out none of them would wear it again if we had bought them because of their various jobs don’t require suits to be worn! Having a band was important to us so this was something else we made sure we accommodated.

Where did you splurge and where did you save?
Splurge: boats for guests, good food, hotel on the night of the wedding
Save: dress, favours were made by my mum, we didn’t put money behind the bar – we had 2 glasses per guests of prosecco for the boat ride and a glass of fizz on arrival, and then half a bottle of wine per person on the tables.  Flowers – although we spent nearly £300 on flowers that was a very small amount compared to what we could have done.  Using Buckets & Bouquets from Green & Gorgeous meant we could have some of the key flowers displayed for usbut we could then do the arrangements ourselves on the tables at The Perch, saving ourselves a significant amount of money.

How did you choose your photographer?
We didn’t have anyone to ask for recommendations in the area so we only really had the internet and google to help us find a photographer.  We found Katrina’s website and found that she had photographed another wedding at The Perch a few years previous.  The photos seemed natural, great colouring and seemed to tell a story of the day, so we got in touch. After a phone call I felt confident that Katrina would capture our day and not just come and take photos.  On the day Katrina did exactly as she said she would and simply mingled with the guests, taking non obtrusive photos, and we were delighted when we saw the photos from the day.

The dress
My dress was handmade by my grandma ‘Oma’ in the 1950s for her own wedding.  It was later worn by my mum for her wedding so it was a huge honour to be able to wear it on my wedding day as well.  For the sake of preservation, I bought myself a Ted Baker dress for the evening bit so I could enjoy dancing without worrying about the dress.  The shoes I wore for the ceremony were simple gold sling back from Zara, and the silver sparkly dancing shoes I had for the evening were from Monsoon – recycled from being a bridesmaid at my brothers wedding.  My earrings and necklace were my ‘something borrowed’ from my mum, and the organs shawl I had for the day was simply ordered from Amazon!

The suit and bridesmaids
We hired suits from a local suit shop. The bridemaids dresses were from Zalando and were Espirit.  They each wore their own shoes.  We couldn’t find a date when all the bridesmaids could get together to do a group shop so online shopping was the best way forward!

Theme or colour scheme 
We had a loose colour theme of orange and blue.  Blue for the bridesmaids dresses, orange for the flowers.

The most beautiful Icelandic poppies!  The weeks leading up to the wedding we had some really wet weather which is the opposite to ideal weather for these poppies.  Because Rachel at Green and Gorgeous tends to only pick what she grows, and avoids buying in flowers for her bouquets, it was touch and go whether there would be enough poppies for the day or not.  Rachel did a wonderful job of making the most of what she had and the bouquets and arrangements that my mum organised looked stunning.  We also used eucalyptus for a blue hue and the men’s button holes were orange peonies.

Simple.  At the town hall we had one small table display of flowers on the top table.
On the boats we had homemade bunting (orange and blue)
In the marquee at The Perch we had a few arranged stem flowers in fever tree type bottles on the tables, mum had made 2 large vases that sat in two of the corners of the marquee with a larger flower display, and then we had some fairy lights and homemade strings of pom-poms around the indoor seating area.  All the other decoration was down to the wonderful Deirdra at the Perch who just has great taste!  That was another helpful factor when choosing the venue – we didn’t need to do much work to make the venue looked brilliant.

The best wedding feast!  Each table shared plates of food and served it up themselves from the table.  For starters we had crayfish cocktail, smoked duck and asparagus and quails eggs.  All accompanies by excellent fresh bread and butter.  For the main course, we had whole roast chicken (carved by the guests at the table), canoed sea bass, and a summer vegetable stew with feta.  And the desert, was an orange posset with the most gorgeous lavender shortbread.

Wedding Cake
I baked LOADS of chocolate brownies and had a tower of brownies for the guests to help themselves.

The boats worked out to be part of the entertainment for the day, and in the evening we had a band Toby and I discovered at Uni together – Maniere des Bohemiens.

Who supplied the stationery
we designed all our own stationery – Toby as lead designer – and printed it locally.

Personal touches
Lots!  The favours – which were handy boat bags we gave to guests as they got on the boats with a little snack and some water to keep them going until the main meal – 2 of the vases we used, the bunting, the strings of pom-poms were all handmade by my mum.  The invites, order of service, table plan and brownies were made by us.

Special moments 

  • The taxis were organised by my dad – a project manager at work – and so I was possibly the first bride in history to arrive EARLY for my own wedding!  I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way – following my dad’s footsteps as a project manager!
  • Having our 12 month year old niece and 18 month year old nephew lead me into the ceremony and down the aisle was hilarious and created just the perfect atmosphere of ‘non-serious’.
  • When the registrar asked if anyone had any reason that we shouldn’t be married, toby’s niece made some sort of loud outburst which again supported the care free atmosphere we wanted to promote.
  • As we left Oxford on the boats, the rain came plummeting down, we were safe under cover on the boats luckily.  And then as we entered port meadow on the boats the rain seemed to suddenly stop and the sum come out and the image of the opening out of the meadow and the sun was really special.
  • The band were incredible and brought back great memories of our uni days.
  • We had some photos taken out in the meadow and the lighting was so special, the rain clouds created a really dramatic setting.
  • Playing human hoopla with hula-hoops!

Advice for other couples 
It was really important that we both played a part in planning the wedding – it was our day.  This meant that we could spread the tasks, reduce the pressure on either of us, and ultimately enjoy the process together.  18months seemed to be the ideal amount of time, any less it would have felt rushed, any more we would have felt like we were waiting for our wedding day.  We booked the key things – venue, registrar, photographer, well in advance and then left everything else to the 6 months before the day.  This meant we could plan how much we wanted to spend and save what we needed to.
I did do the typical bride thing of sending out a spreadsheet of tasks about 3 days before the wedding, for the day itself.  This did mean that on the day itself I was really able to relax and enjoy the day in the knowledge that so long as everyone we wanted to be there was there, there wasn’t anything else to be done!  Toby had a slightly less relaxing time of it as he had the groomsmen to organise in the morning, but after that it was all relatively straightforward.


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