Surely one of the most romantic wedding venues in the England, The Orangery of Longleat House looked incredible in the September sun. Built for the 2nd Marquess of Bath in the early 1800s, the building is charm itself. The walled perimeter encloses the love labyrinth rose garden, where guests arrive before making their way past the wrought iron hearts and up the steps to the Orangery, entering through the huge French doors.
Gillian and Tom chose Longleat because of their love of animals and being regular visitors to the famous safari park, they wanted to stay true to themselves and have their day their way, in a place they loved. Thankfully, Gillian and Tom had always planned an intimate wedding with their nearest and dearest and so despite the pandemic, they were still able to have a 2020 wedding. Their ceremony was meant to be held within the quirky Banqueting Suite in Longleat House but out of respect for the late 7th Marquess, the house was closed. As a result, their venue was upgraded to the beautiful Orangery and surrounding gardens.
The bride and groom made sure to try and employ local suppliers where possible. Gillian’s stunning wildflower bouquet, as well as the buttonholes and corsages, were sourced from ‘Brother’s Farm’, an organic blueberry and flower farm close to the couple’s home in Dorset, and arranged by Becca Franklin. These were collected the day before the ceremony on the short journey north, along with the most delicious animal themed cupcakes from ‘PiliPala Cakehouse’ in Poole. The wedding transport was Gillian’s favourite vehicle - a VW camper van, owned and chauffeured by family relatives who live in the area.
As guests started to arrive, they were greeted by Tom in his smart tartan trews, to honour Gillian’s Scottish heritage. The excitement was captured by photographer, Duncan Ireland, who had travelled from Scotland after impressing Gillian and Tom at a family wedding the previous year. (The one supplier who was way out of area!) Duncan’s relaxed and enthusiastic style put everyone at ease, and his vast experience and skill meant that their day was captured perfectly.
To keep the ceremony low key, Gillian and Tom opted not to have any bridesmaids or groomsmen, instead Tom’s dad, Richard, looked after the rings. But, true to tradition, Gillian was accompanied down the aisle by her dad, Brian. The processional music was very fitting, ‘The Circle Of Life’ from ‘The Lion King’!
Gillian’s entrance from the far end of the Orangery made everyone emotional. Months earlier, Gillian visited Poole’s Oxfam wedding department with her mum, Lynn, after receiving recommendations from friends. She found a gorgeous new designer dress for a fraction of its RRP and the proceeds went to charity! The dress was a perfect fit and coupled with a tartan stole that matched Tom’s trews, looked stunning. She is a natural, outdoorsy person who rarely wears make up so, keeping true to herself, Gillian did her own hair and stayed make up free on her big day.
The ceremony began with Tom’s mum, Patricia, reading an excerpt from ‘The Amber Spyglass’ by Philip Pullman before the congregation heard a little about their life together which had brought them to be standing in front of them on that day. Just before we had the traditional style vows, Gillian and Tom read their personal messages to one another. They included lots of humour in their words and had everyone in stitches at certain points, but their heartfelt words also brought a few happy tears.
After the vows and exchange of rings, we paused for the traditional photos to be taken with the marriage certificate before Gillian’s mum, Lynn, read Pam Ayres famous wedding reading, ‘He Never Leaves The Seat Up’. Gillian and Tom made their way back up the aisle as husband and wife to rapturous applause whilst George Ezra’s ‘Paradise’ played, and their ceremony was complete. On they went to celebratory drinks, a sumptuous afternoon tea and their Longleat Safari VIP tour where they got up close and personal with the animals!
Gillian and Tom chose to have a celebrant led ceremony meaning they were able to personalise the words to truly reflect their relationship and hopes for their future life together. Despite the pandemic restrictions, it was their perfect day.
Photographer, Duncan Ireland, said;
"Although I'm based in Scotland, I love the adventures that wedding photography takes me on, all over the world and it was hard to imagine more of an adventure than Gillian and Tom's wedding day. I photographed Gillian's brother's wedding in 2019 and first met Gillian and Tom there - so I was thrilled when asked if I'd come to Longleat for their own wedding day - of course, I agreed without needing to think about it.
They're such a lovely couple - we shared a fantastic day in the Lake District for a pre-wedding shoot when lockdown ended and with their ease in front of the camera I knew they'd be a joy to photograph in such a special location. Every wedding is a unique experience, but this amazing setting and scope for creativity made the day a wonderful highlight to the year. After all the struggles of 2020 I was so pleased for Gillian and Tom; their day was perfect.”
© Ellie Lomas 2021