Cowley Manor Wedding Photography
I always like to ask our clients to tell me about their day. I am a Cowley Manor wedding photographer rather than a creative writer so to make my life easier and to make a more personal story I’ll let Karina tell you about their Cowley Manor Wedding. It’s much more interesting to hear about the day from her perspective than mine. Unusually for a blog, I’m going to show the photography first and then put her words in after. It’s quite lengthy you see, and well worth the time to read but you might not get to the photos if I just paste it here. So settle in for a long read and see their beautiful Cowley Manor wedding photography.
“Kevin was fantastic – a really relaxed laid back approach to photographing us on the day as well as on our engagement shoot. We loved our photos and were stunned to receive over 900 pictures! We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to our friends.”
A Wedding At Cowley Manor
Don’t forget to read the full wedding story at the end of the photos –
The Wedding Story
How did you meet and how long have you been together?
We met online (not through a dating site) with spareroom.com. I was looking for a room to rent in Cheltenham after my job was moved from Bath to Gloucester hospital. Guy opened the door to his house and I liked him straight away. He had a gorgeous smile and was so open and friendly and the his house was lovely. I agreed to move in a few weeks later. He was such a gentleman; helping unload all my boxes from the car, bringing them up the stairs and even bought (and assembled) a new wardrobe when I broke the existing one with the weight of my clothes…
Over the next few months he introduced me to lots of lovely places in the area – cycling trips to nearby pubs, scenic walks, local cinema and restaurants, cooking classes, hidden away cocktail bars. These started to feel more and more like dates, rather than ‘things room mates do together.’ Gradually I fell head over heels for him. However I wasn’t sure if the feeling was mutual or if he was just very friendly as I explained to my sister. She came over for the weekend to help assess the situation on my birthday. He’d baked a cake, organised dinner for the three of us in the Daffodil, a gorgeous art deco restaurant, and bought some lovely gifts. Despite this she also thought he was ‘just being a nice guy’!
Finally, Guy thought he’d make his feelings and intentions completely clear and I reciprocated. We’d gone from roommates with a crush on each other to living with your girlfriend/boyfriend overnight and unsurprisingly things moved quickly after that, and he proposed just over a year later.
Tell us a little about the proposal.
The proposal was a complete surprise. Guy had done the traditional thing by asking for my parents’ blessing a few weeks earlier – however as my family live in Holland this was done over Skype. They kept this a secret when I was them for Christmas before I flew out to meet him for a week of skiing in Chamonix.
The evening before I remember him being oddly jumpy and nervous – so much so I told him to go out for a run to get rid of the nervous energy. It was doing my head in. On the day itself – 27th of December 2016 – we took a bus to Courmayeur in Italy for a day of skiing. We had a bad start (losing some ski poles, difficult ticketing system and long queues) so I put his odd mood down to that.
Finally we had a gorgeous, empty red ski run to ourselves. He went ahead and I stayed behind a bit to tighten my boots for a few minutes. When I caught up he seemed oddly worried and anxious that I’d fallen or injured myself before I reassured him.
He suggested going to an area slightly off the main piste to show me where he’d done some ski touring. We were admiring the beautiful scenery and I was convinced he was going to persuade me to do some tricky off piste through some trees. In my head I was saying “No way am I saying yes to this.” At that point he got down on one knee and said how happy he’d been since he met me. It was only once he popped the question and opened the jewellery box, with a gorgeous 1920’s ring, that I realised he was proposing. Of course I said yes, and he opened the bottle of champagne and bag of patisseries to celebrate.
Location of ceremony and reception
We were married in the small church of St Mary, Cowley which is in the grounds of Cowley Manor. The reverend happened to be a friend of a friend and we instantly hit it off. I wanted wedding bells and a great organist, luckily both of which St Mary’s has. The reception was held in Cowley Manor, a contemporary country house hotel just a few miles from home in the glorious Cotswold countryside. The gardens feature natural springs, lakes and Victorian cascades which I knew would be a great setting for photos.
What made you decide to get married at Cowley Manor?
We wanted to marry in the Autumn of 2017 and there was a limited amount of places available in the Cotswolds. I knew I would struggle to organise everything if we went for a marquee or barn, and was concerned about what these places had to offer if it was bad weather. We’d cycled past Cowley Manor a few times and I loved the setting – it has the mix of modern luxury and traditional which we wanted for our day.
Describe your vision for the day
We wanted a relaxed, fun filled day which was personal to Guy and I. As some of our guests (especially my family from Holland) were coming from afar, we wanted to have the event over the whole weekend to be able to spend a day or two before and after catching up with everyone.
Why did you choose us for your Cowley Manor wedding photography?
I was very keen to have two photographers to fully capture the day from different angles and perspectives. Looking online extensively, narrowing my choices down using Fearless photographers and other wedding blogs. but ended up choosing Kevin Belson photography after I realised he had photographed three of my friends’ weddings – Al, Caitlin and Lara.
After asking their opinion I arranged a meeting and didn’t look back.
Tell us about your dress/accessories/shoes
The dress was the Lyla gown by Caroline Castigliano, from Carina Baverstock Couture in Bradford upon Avon. I had spent countless appointments trying on over 50 dresses but couldn’t find what i wanted – something very simple, elegant and without any ‘fussy’ details. I dislike lace, beading, diamante, strapless or flounces which makes up 99% of wedding dresses. This dress was just what I wanted, and also had pockets!
I had a cathedral length veil, borrowed my mother’s drop pearl earrings, my mother-in-law’s pearl necklace and fresh flowers in my hair. In all honesty the shoes were an after thought – bought online from John Lewis with low heels so I could dance all night. I knew they wouldn’t be seen under my dress so didn’t see the point in splurging. And my underwear? A gorgeous little ‘something blue’…
The suit, the ushers and bridesmaids
Guy had insisted from the start he’d only wear a morning suit – much to my dismay. I thought it would look old-fashioned and ill-fitted and tried to persuade him several times to have a nice three piece suit made to measure. He stuck to his guns, and rented a dark blue slim fit morning suit from a local family business, Horace Barton & Sons. He chose a blue tie, with a cheeky nod to the Dutch national colour; orange socks. As you can see from the photos, he looks great in it and I had to concede – reluctantly – that I was wrong.
The best man, ushers and fathers all wore the same suit but had an orange tie. The bridesmaids were my sister and two future sisters in law and my (heavily pregnant) best friend Abi was maid of honour. I couldn’t settle on a dress that would suit all four of them so suggested the ‘mismatched’ bridesmaid trend where I asked them to choose a dress themselves. It had to be V-neck, blue and knee-length but otherwise no further restrictions. This solved a lot of problems as everyone chose a dress that suited them best, they would hopefully wear again and meant I didn’t have the headache of picking them.
Did you have a theme?
We both love cycling and so our save the dates, photo-booth and stationary had bicycles on them. I wanted to include some Dutch touches so the groomsmen had orange ties and socks, and the bridesmaids had orange floral hairpieces. We’d both describe ourselves as feminists so my mother walked me down the aisle, and my best friend gave a ‘best woman’ speech too.
Fortunately the hotel was already decorated beautifully, with lots of vivid colours, contemporary artwork and lighting, interesting statues, candles etc. This saved a lot of work on my behalf and I only needed to organise flowers. These were done fairly last minute after I contacted Stephanie Saunders, a local wedding florist. She immediately understood the look I wanted – lots of natural foliage, and soft pink flowers with a very subtle hint of coral/orange as a nod to the Dutch theme.
To keep the price down for table decorations she used hurricane lamps with candles in the centre with a ring of flowers surrounding them. Her ‘piece de resistance’ was the floral arch hanging over the entrance of the church. This provided a beautiful backdrop as we were leaving the church and was a testimony to her ingenuity – she only had one nail and some crumbling brickwork to hang this off!
Cake and catering
Catering was provided by the chef from the hotel, who had recently been appointed. He was incredibly flexible and after we’d met him for a tasting evening a few weeks previously had been blown away by the cooking. The canapes were beautifully presented and our meal was fantastic. We had a starter of beetroot, goats cheese, pickled pear & salsa Verde; main of lamb rump with fricassee of broad beans, peas and gem lettuce; dessert of cinnamon ice cream, walnut pannacotta & apple strudel before a cheese course later in the evening.
My friend Abi made the wedding cake – a delicious confection of red velvet sponge, icing and flowers. This was presented on a wooden cake stand made by my father from the apple tree that had fallen down in our garden a few weeks previously, with Guy and Karina and our wedding date carved into it.
We had a fantastic band, recommended by our friends, Bloomfield Avenue. The singer had such an amazing range and covered Adele, Rag and Bone Man, Pharrel Williams and others with ease. The hotel itself had a huge billiards table, two swimming pools and spa that we enjoyed earlier in the day.
Personal touches/stationery/Any DIY that you did yourself?
We’d made our own save the date cards, designed the invitations and stationary ourselves on canva. My mother bought and cut over a hundred roses she’d bought at a Dutch flower market to make beautiful rose confetti for guests to throw. My friend Nat lent me handy wedding signs to point guests in the right direction and her husband kindly made a personalised one for Guy and myself. My sister-in-law Victoria practiced her calligraphy skills by writing all the guests table places.
My father made a personalised wooden cake stand from the apple tree that fell down in a storm from our family home in Noordlaren. The family made over a hundred jars of apple chutney from the aforementioned apple tree which were the wedding favours. My brothers were instrumental in setting up the photo booth with a balloon, bunting and clog decorated traditional bicycle as a back drop. We also had photos of our family members wedding days – all our grandparents and parents scattered around.
What were your highlights of the day? Were there any surprises?
I really enjoyed getting ready in the beautiful ‘best room’ at Cowley with my bridesmaids, flower girl, maid of honour and mothers. There was so much natural lighting and space that we all enjoyed getting our hair and make done whilst having a glass or two of champagne with Victoria’s playlist on in the background.
Another was standing just outside the church, knowing everyone was waiting inside. I can’t remember why but we all burst out laughing (and later realised this was when everyone inside was quietly reflecting in prayer…)
The vows were the most emotional part of the day for me. I kept crying and really didn’t think I would, but managed to get the words out in the end. I loved throwing the bouquet – sadly my skills failed me twice – but it revealed which girls were ready and waiting to catch it with enthusiasm!
We both loved the speeches and the best man and best woman did us proud – they were funny, touching and heart felt. Finally – my last memory of the night was being asked by the barman if we wanted to have our last dance of the night on the top of the bar table. Obviously (despite the large train on the dress) we leapt at the chance and boogied the last few minutes of the night away.
What advice would you give to other couples planning their wedding day?
Delegate, delegate, delegate. I was working ridiculous hours in the months and weeks preceding the wedding so got really stressed with all the planning. Guy was fantastic, taking on loads of the to do list. Everyone who I asked for help far exceeded my expectations and were truly fantastic. And the team at Cowley were true professionals – once the day started it all went seamlessly.
The other bit of advice? I’d hesitate to say it but… elope! And spend all the money on the best honeymoon instead 😉
..and the Honeymoon?
We went to Bali for two weeks – gorgeous weather, food and loads to do. We hiked a volcano, went horse riding, paddle boarding, yoga, cooking classes, snorkelling… We were also lucky to enjoy lots of lovely upgrades when we said it was our honeymoon – whether it was the flights or hotel rooms, everyone helped make our holiday even more special.
All food and drink from Cowley Manor
Carina Baverstock couture for dress and veil
Weddings at Cowley Manor
Cowley Manor is a luxury Cotswolds wedding venue. Although it is a countryside hotel it can cater for any size wedding. You can hire it for exclusive use for larger weddings from 60 to 200 guests. For smaller weddings up to 30 guests the garden room is ideal. You can even put a marquee out on the Top Lawn.
Luxury Cotswolds Venue
On the outside the house is timeless and elegant, on the inside it is bright, stylish and on trend. It feels very much like a boutique hotel. It is located just outside Cheltenham in the heart of the Cotswolds. The house though is only half the story. The beautiful grounds of the manor are yours to explore. Your guests can spend time exploring the gardens with their lakes, streams tree collection and sculptures there are things to do and see all day long. It truly is a spectacular wedding venue.
Your choice of ceremony all in one venue
Not only can Cowley Manor weddings take place in the house, there is a gorgeous small church within the grounds. St. Mary’s church dates from 13th century whereas the main house that you see today is just over a hundred years old. It really is a delightful church and being next door to the main house is only a short confetti walk to the garden and drinks reception.
For smaller weddings Cowley Manor can accommodate up to 30 guests in the garden room and billiard room. It’s perfect for more intimate weddings with it’s own private terrace. Of course you and your guests will also be able to roam the grounds if you wish.
Larger weddings can take place in the striking panelled ballroom or if you prefer a humanist ceremony can be performed outdoors by the cascade.
In the evening you and your guests can party the night away in the lounge bar and if anyone gets hungry, burgers, sandwiches and other yummy comfort food can be devoured before night caps and bed.