A classic wedding at Cowdray House

Fairy lights, candles, crystals and pearls created Sophie and Tom's elegant fairy-tale wedding day in West Sussex

Cowdray House Sophie and Tom ceremony

Photography: Caitlin Mogridge at Pink Daisy Weddings

Cowdray House was familiar to me, not just because it’s famous for its polo, but I also grew up nearby,’ says Sophie. ‘I never thought in my wildest dreams we could afford it on our budget, but once we’d viewed it, nothing compared – we had to make it work.’ 

‘We said our vows in Buck Hall, the same stunning space where we had dinner later. It has a vaulted, church-style ceiling, stained glass windows and a huge fireplace which we filled with candles as a backdrop for our ceremony.’ For her big entrance, Sophie chose The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba by Handel. ‘I wanted something upbeat and energising which that certainly was!

‘After the ceremony – which included readings from my mum and Tom’s dad that left everyone in tears ­­– Tom and I left Buck Hall to be met with a glass of Champagne and a moment together to reflect on being married. I’m so glad we did because then all our loved ones came through to the library for drinks and we’d lost each other within ten minutes!’ Alongside the fizz, guests were also served Tom’s signature cocktail, a Mojito; Sophie kept her favourite, an Espresso Martini, for after dinner to encourage everyone on to the dance floor.

Keeping things classic

A colour palette of white, green and gold, featuring white roses and hydrangeas, was accented by touches of yellow gold from the lanterns and candelabras. ‘Growing up on a farm I was convinced we’d always have a rustic barn wedding but actually that wasn’t right for us,’ says Sophie.

‘Many guests have called it our ‘fairy-tale wedding’ which I think we achieved at Cowdray House. We knew we had to go classic. I’ve seen too many old photos of weddings with a trend-based theme. In a few years it looks so dated. I’d say don’t just look at what you’d usually pin on Pinterest, and don’t be afraid to make things fun, either. For the ceremony stationery we added ‘kiss the bride’ to the itinerary!

‘We didn’t go crazy with decorations, although we did buy tiny, battery fairy lights in the sales from The White Company to use in foliage over the fireplace, plus loads of lanterns and candles from Ikea. It was important that everything was reusable or biodegradable, even down to the straws in the cocktails.’

The tables were named after the couple’s favourite places and the wedding favours included mini bottles of Bombay Sapphire Gin or Baileys.

Cowdray House Sophie and Tom kiss
Cowdray House Sophie and Tom canapes

Sophie’s maids wore multi-way Monsoon dresses and when it came to her dress, Sophie had the budget very much in mind. ‘I live in London where most shops charge for appointments, so I started my search at Proposals in Chichester. I loved the fifth dress I tried on and bought it there and then. They even offered me a small discount as the dress would have been in a designer sale a few weeks later, so they matched this price for purchasing on the day.

‘I’d say, always negotiate. Even when companies or venues say they don’t negotiate, they often do. You don’t need to be forceful, but do keep asking! Getting married in autumn meant we got a great rate for our venue and Amber and Suzie at Cowdray really did give us the wedding of our dreams.’

Cowdray House Sophie and Tom wedding cake
Cowdray House Sottero and Midgley wedding dress


Venue cowdray.co.uk
Photography pinkdaisyweddings.com
Bride’s dress Sottero & Midgley at proposals.co.uk
Groomswear marksandspencer.com
Flowers spriggsflorist.co.uk
Bridesmaids’ dresses uk.monsoon.co.uk
Stationery Sweet Pea Illustrations at etsy.com
Catering jacarandacatering.com
Cake marksandspencer.com
Topper Letter Loft at notonthehighstreet.com
Entertainment fraudioband.co.uk; Pacifico Strings, bandsforhire.net
Make-up Just Bee Beauty