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An Octopus was the Unofficial Mascot of this Whimsical Wedding Weekend in England

By Shayna Seid | Photography by 

Taylor & Porter

|Planning by 

The Bijou Studio

Saskia and her future-husband, Ross, met by chance on a street corner in London. After seven years together, he proposed on a hike in the Hudson Valley with a ring he designed with their good friend, Asher Hoffman. “Asher made the ring by hand, which made it so much more meaningful and special to me,” Saskia shares. “I get compliments on it every day.”

Once engaged, the New York-based bride-to-be rang her friend from primary school, Sophie, who owns Aynhoe Park. The venue ticked all their boxes for their August wedding—it was close to Heathrow, had lots of bedrooms for overseas guests, was fully-serviced, and completely unique. They chose Louise Brotherton of Taylor & Porter to capture all the beautiful moments with her camera. “She was such fun to work with and was such a positive presence throughout the day,” Saskia says. “We would heartily recommend her to anyone considering a wedding photographer.” To help plan everything, the couple hired Alexandra Merri of The Bijou Studio, and for stationery that set the tone of the day, they chose EG Lettering.

The rehearsal dinner’s theme was “smart bohemian” with a festival aesthetic. There was a fortune teller, glitter face paint and a photo-booth from The Pixie Booth, retro games, fancy dress, and live music—including a set from the bride’s friend, who performs under the name Molteno. Saskia wore all Ralph Lauren, and the night ended with Aynhoe Park‘s hot tubs being turned on.

The bride’s wedding dress was a lovely design by Katherine Tash, found at Lovely Bride. And for the evening reception, she changed into a Rasario look with Stuart Weitzman heels to get her party on.

For the wedding weekend, the bride worked with hairdresser Michelle Garwood, who is now based in Perth, Australia. On Saturday, they played around with a fun hairstyle with pearl accents, and Michelle also weaved ribbons into the bridesmaids’ hairstyles. Louise Seymour perfectly handled Saskia’s bridal makeup. “I was a little tearful saying goodbye to Michelle and Louise at the end of the night,” the bride remembers.

Bridesmaids complemented the bride in Needle & Thread gowns—they all coincidentally chose designs from the same label. And the groom and his groomsmen wore custom suits by Ross’s favorite tailor in NYC, Seize Sur Vingt. James and Gwen, who own the business, also made him a fabulous smoking jacket for Friday evening, which he loved.

In a local church with their couple’s signature wedding scent from The Scent Styling Co. wafting through the air and florals by Early Hours London on either end of the altar, the two were married in a traditional ceremony with personal touches. “My father, Rachel, is transsexual, and walked me down the aisle as her true self, which was important to me,” Saskia says. “It was just so special to see all our friends and family gathered for the first time in that place.”

Once announced as husband and wife, guests took vintage, red double decker buses to Aynhoe Park, where the cocktail hour on the lawn with a jazz band from Sternberg Clarke started up. To mix things up, the couple arranged for a surprise performance by traditional Morris dancers around a maypole. “It was such fun to share some quirky British traditions with my foreign guests,” Saskia says. 

After the delicious seated dinner reception, guests moved to the Orangery for his and hers cocktails and to cut the magical cake by Tattooed Bakers. “I wanted the cake to look like a traditional tiered wedding cake from one side and have an octopus exploding out of the back—another surprise for guests,” Saskia explains. “The groom loves the sea, so we chose the octopus as a sort of mascot for the weekend.” 

A live band and DJ kept the energy up on the dance floor, and personalized cocktails and temporary tattoos from Doris Loves added some fun. At the end of the night, the newlyweds surprised their guests with an after-party in a secret underground wine cellar decorated with sea-inspired props and wave lighting, where they celebrated until dawn.