Dana & James’ Oxford elopement wedding on a rainy day in march this year was a lovely day to be part of. I’ve been blessed to be part of a couple of very very small weddings and it is such a privilege. I am always very aware of my presence at any wedding and how I, as a photographer and supplier have the ability to make or break a wedding day. I feel it just as much with large weddings as with small and I never take that for granted. It’s why I hope I never stop crying during the vows and grinning madly throughout the speeches.
Dana & James’ family were lovely to spend the day with and also total troopers for wandering around Oxford in the cold and rain. I made a point of suggesting Ben’s Cookies as a stop in Oxford’s covered market, if you have never had one (there are a couple of shops in other cities too) you REALLY should, they are delicious! We went to 1855 Wine Bar, Oxford covered market, The Rose & Crown Pub and then walked from there through Port Meadow to The Perch. All in the rain and all with smiles on our faces.
Dana & James have been kind enough to talk about their wedding day down below under their gallery. Do take the time to read!
Words of Wisdom
“I would say don’t worry about it too much! If every single thing goes wrong, if the weather is terrible, if the food is bad or your shoe broke or your dress got muddy (like mine did!), at the end of the day you’ll be married to the person you love. And that’s an amazing gift. Everything else is just icing on the cake.”
James and I met in Oxford just before we started our master’s programs, he for Social Policy and me for Film Aesthetics. We were at an orientation event on the River Cherwell and, somehow, we ended up in the same boat (literally!). I remember immediately feeling a strong connection with him as we made our way down the river and two weeks later we were dating! Because I’m American and he’s British, we’ve spent plenty of time worrying that eventually we’d be pulled apart by borders or law, so it was with enormous joy that we decided to get married in 2017. James brought his grandmother’s ring on holiday with my parents in Italy, and he gave it to me in a field above the valley our villa perched over. We were only engaged for a few months, during which time I had to return to the US to obtain my visa, but we were finally reunited in January of 2018 with a few months to throw together our perfect wedding in the city where we met.
One day, both my Mom and James made the suggestion (separately, I might add) that we get married in Oxford. I’d always thought I was a romantic, but I couldn’t believe I hadn’t considered it before! We had such lovely memories of Oxford and felt so lucky to have this gorgeous and historical city as the backdrop to the beginning of our life together, and it just seemed natural to go back there to start this next chapter. We spent our graduate experience tripping joyfully all over the town, so we just wanted to visit those places again to really immortalise Oxford in our lives. Even the pouring rain was perfectly reminiscent of our early days together!
I found the choice of dress overwhelming, so many silhouettes and materials and colours! Eventually I turned to my Mom for help and, incredibly, the first dress she showed me felt like MINE. Trying it on the day before the wedding (I’d only tried it on once before and it was too large, so my mother brought a different size from the states) was such a lovely experience and I felt so excited to wear it. I also had these incredible all-white doc martens to wear when my feet just couldn’t handle heels anymore! James went with his parents to choose a suit and decided on a whim to go for a jacket with tails! We initially decided to keep our day-of outfits secret from each other, but I eventually cracked and asked him to send me a picture of what he’d be wearing. He looked so adorable and happy to be wearing it, and my aunt offered to give him a tie and handkerchief that would match my dress that we could keep secret until the day itself. He also wore a watch I gave him the night before our wedding, and I wore a gold bracelet he gave me at the same time.
Decor & Styling
I knew I wanted a pink, green, and white colour scheme with some rustic accents, so we made use of eucalyptus and baby’s breath as well as burlap and glass in our decorations. While I was doing hair, makeup, and nails around town in the week before the wedding, my Mom and sister took some inspiration photos and found the perfect accoutrements around town and on Etsy.
Our ceremony at the registry office was so much more personal than we expected! I think we thought it would be quite legal and unromantic, but the officiants were absolutely lovely and warm and we have such wonderful memories of the care they took to make it feel special. My sister read a Shakespeare sonnet that I’ve always loved (weirdly, my friend read the exact same poem the next night at our reception!) and I was so happy to have her present and part of the ceremony. Seeing James in tears when I came in was completely unexpected and wonderful, usually I’d be the one crying and he would have to comfort me! It was such a moving moment that I’ll remember forever, and I know we were both overwhelmed with love for all of our closest family members being in the same room at last.
In The Evening
Just food, drink, and the gorgeous architecture of Oxford!
We had our reception the following evening, but we did feature some Bowie, Nick Cave, and Nat King Cole during our ceremony. At our reception our first dance was Bill Is Dead by The Fall followed by Into My Arms by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds (because we couldn’t pick just one!!).
Our favourite part of the day
I loved walking through the field because that’s where it really started to sink in for me. I was so grateful that James was willing to indulge my dream of walking to The Perch as newlyweds, and the rain and mud made me feel happy to be alive. James’ favourite part was the dinner at The Perch, which was set up so thoughtfully and where both of our dads made heartwarming (and tear jerking) speeches after a delicious meal.
About our photographer
Larissa was exactly what we needed at our wedding. After a thorough Skype session during which we discussed our hopes and expectations for our wedding photos, we knew we had found someone who took it just as seriously as we did, and more! Her photography style is intimate, airy, and rich, and we were very much looking forward to seeing our special day immortalised in her work. The actual day of the wedding was quite a bit rainier than we were hoping, but Larissa was so creative and flexible that we really didn’t miss out on any of the shots we would have wanted. She also brought a ton of ideas for photos that we never would have thought of, and they have all turned out gorgeous.
If you’re wondering if Larissa’s the right photographer for you. she is! Just book her already!
Dress: Alfred Sung
Shoes: Vince Camuto, Doc Martens
Suit: Moss Bros
Florist: The Garden of Oxford
Venue: Oxford Registry Office, 1855 Wine Bar, Oxford Covered Market, Rose & Crown, The Perch Inn
Cake: Patisserie Valerie
Confetti + just married signs: Etsy
Candle holders: GlassyBaby