Real Weddings

A Bespoke Etsy Gown for a Vintage Wedding at Charlton House – Emily and Alex

Sarah Symonds

If you’re looking for a traditional wedding style but with a few unexpected and unusual twists, we’ve got the inspo you’re looking for! Let’s take a look at the glorious day when Emily and Alex tied the knot…

Before we even get started on the beautiful styling of this real wedding, we have to talk about the ALPACAS! Emily decided she wanted Alpacas on her big day and the gal really made it happen! Their gorgeous little wooly faces make for some amazing shots and are certainly a novel way to keep guests of all ages entertained!

We also do love a bespoke gown and, although not everyone can pull it off, Emily stays true to herself again and simply glows in her one-of-a-kind Etsy gown with beautiful detailing, paired with a fabric crown and veil, and a statement red lip for that vintage edge.

Tying the knot in a less-conventional space can add a personal and memorable touch. Emily and Alex opted to have their ceremony in an old library and it made for some brilliant shots amongst the books. If you’re venue hunting at the moment, don’t forget to think a little outside of the box too!

With photography by UNVEILED Network Member Samantha Kay Photography


Emily says: We got engaged in Germany in October 2017, in the place where we had our first kiss. Alex and I met in Germany (although neither of us are German) and we went back to visit my host family. He insisted on taking a walk, while I complained because of the poor weather. He led me through a trail in the forest and by this time it was pouring rain. Eventually we reached our destination which ended up overlooking the spot where we had our first kiss. At this point I knew what was going to happen and started crying. Alex got down on one knee in the rain and mud and asked me to marry him!


We were married on 14th September 2019. We chose this date as we wanted to get married in the autumn time but also didn’t want it to be too cold. The weather in England can be quite unpredictable so we hoped September would still bring us nice weather. September has always been a special month for me (having a birthday just four days after our wedding date) so the month always felt like a new beginning.

We had our ceremony and reception at Charlton House in Greenwich, London. We wanted something that could combine outdoor and indoor elements, and wanted somewhere that felt like us, rather than a typical wedding venue. We loved the fact that the reception room was a gorgeous old library, and that the estate used to be an actual home. The secret gardens were stunning and we couldn’t imagine taking pictures and enjoying our day anywhere else.


Our overall theme was vintage, I suppose. Long before we got engaged I had an idea of wanting things to feel very romantic, and with the library being our reception room, we wanted the theme to work well within the venue.

We mainly used dark reds with hints of light pink and peach, and incorporated metallics in gold and copper. It felt romantic and nice for the time of the year.


I got a custom wedding dress from Etsy! I wanted something that wouldn’t break the bank but was unique and would fit the different elements I wanted. I had tried on dresses at very different places, but none had every element I was looking for. I wanted something that wasn’t too poofy, with a romantic feel that went with our vintage theme. I also love lace and floral details, so I wanted to incorporate this as well.


My partner also went down the custom route and had a three piece suit from a local tailor in London. He went for a dark grey as he didn’t want a black suit

As the groomsmen were spread out in terms of location, we had them all pick grey suits and left it at that. Even though they weren’t all the same, we loved how it turned out! To keep things somewhat uniformed we did get them all the same dark red and floral ties from Frederick Thomas to match the bridesmaids dresses


I never wanted my bridesmaids to wear identical dresses. I wanted them to feel comfortable and beautiful, and to pick out their own dresses in the same colour. It also didn’t make sense logistically as my bridesmaids were from different countries. I gave everyone a fabric swatch and asked it to be full length (since full length is the same length no matter the height!). My sister in law actually had her dress made by my husband’s grandmother, and one bridesmaid had hers custom made while on holiday in Vietnam! I loved that each dress was different and unique to each bridesmaid.


We used Bombshell Makeup UK for our hair and makeup. I found Ali through an app actually, and fell in love with her personality and style. We did a trial for our engagement pictures, and I loved that she really listened to what I wanted and understood I didn’t normally wear a lot of layers of makeup. She made me feel so beautiful on our day, but also like myself. Her attention to detail was amazing and she is such a positive and caring person!


I actually had my photographer drive me to the venue! We had planned on just taking an Uber as we were only a short drive away, but Sam offered to do it. It was a really fun journey, and I’m glad we went with this in the end, as Sam is wonderful so it wasn’t a stranger driving me.


Samantha Kay Photography was our photographer for both our engagement pictures and wedding day. We found her through a Facebook ad and never looked back. Sam is absolutely incredible, and her style of photography is exactly what we wanted. We wanted to tell a story rather than to only have posed photos. I still look at our pictures all the time and can remember what it felt like. Sam is kind and caring, and she sneaks up on you and takes the most amazing pictures without you even realising it. We would highly recommend her to anyone and everyone!


I carried a medium sized bouquet made by the very talented Anya from Bloom East. We wanted our flowers to fit our theme and colour scheme, and Anya more than delivered. My bouquet was a mix of greens with big dark red blooms of peonies as well as smaller roses, and other flowers. It was romantic and looked so beautiful on the day.

Anya created all of our floral arrangements on the day and I couldn’t have been happier. I had a very specific idea in my head for our centrepieces and Anya made this idea come true. Our centrepieces were the main décor and had a moss base with either a copper teapot or gold terrarium on top overflowing with flowers. Each centrepiece also included a stack of books with flowers trailing them on well. They fit in perfectly with the room and theme, and Alex and I collected every item together. The copper teapots were from various flea markets and vintage shops. The terrariums we actually found in Lidl of all places and the books we got from a vintage shop as well. It made everything more special that each item had a story behind it.


Our favours also doubled as our name places. We made everyone’s name out of scrabble pieces and spent hours putting these together. They were a sweet homage to our love of board games and also fit well with the vintage/literary theme


We had a three-layer cake made by London Cakes and Bakes. Viktoriya used to work for one of our favourite chefs, so we knew right away she had talent. We had a tasting and design session with her previous to officially booking and we were more than impressed. The three layers we went with were: passionfruit and coconut, black forest, and strawberry white chocolate and lime. Everyone loved the cake and we were very pleased with the overall design


We wanted to go with a local caterer, and found that our venue worked with a Caribbean caterer from the area. We knew it wasn’t typical wedding food, but from the moment we tasted the food we were hooked. We had many options for our guests including curried goat, fish, jerk chicken, rice and peas and more. We had a mix of sit down and buffet so guests could pick and choose what they wanted. We have many vegan and vegetarian friends so there was definitely something for everyone. All of our guests loved the food in the end which was the most important factor for us.

In terms of wine, we actually wanted to do this ourselves as we both love wine and our caterer was happy for us to buy our own and have her team serve it. We bought wine from a number of different places and it was flowing all night. We stuck to mainly reds and whites and of course had prosecco throughout the day and evening as well.


We had a pianist for the cocktail hour and during the wedding breakfast, and a DJ for the evening. We were very pleased with the assortment of music and everyone danced the night away. We went with Wonderland Events for our DJ, and Wayne knew how to keep everyone entertained.

Special Touches

We had numerous special touches throughout our day. We hid snitches in our centrepieces because we love Harry Potter, and our guestbook was a joke book I’ve had since I was 8 years old. But the biggest one that everyone is still talking about is of course the alpacas! I became obsessed with the idea of having alpacas at our wedding after seeing a picture of a couple with alpacas on Pinterest. I just thought it would be so much fun and something really unique, plus the pictures are something to cherish and talk about forever. We found Vauxhall City Farms, who were great to work with and also local. The alpacas joined us for our drinks in the garden after the ceremony and were the hit of the whole day.

Thanks to

We would definitely recommend our venue to another couple. It’s a beautiful location and having everything in one spot meant we didn’t have to stress about travelling and could relax all day and evening. The gardens are perfect for drinks and pictures, and the people organising everything are great to work with.

One other supplier definitely worth mentioning was our day coordinator, Hannah from Complete Rose Events. Hannah was the reason our day went so well, and we couldn’t thank her enough. From the very beginning of the day, making sure everyone and everything happened on time, to the very end of the night ensuring things were put away and everyone got out of the venue on time. She handled the small and big details of the day and was truly a superhero.

Best Bit

Our favourite part of the day was during our wedding breakfast when the toasts were given. It was incredible to be surrounded by everyone we love, and to hear all of the kind words that people had to say. It felt like all of our hard work had finally come together and we were united as a couple. We looked around and saw our two sides coming together and it was like nothing else mattered. We enjoyed the rest of the evening without a care in the world.


We waited about 6 months to take our honeymoon as we wanted something special. We ended up being incredibly lucky with our planning and got to go before the world shut down. We travelled to both Sri Lanka and the Maldives and had the most incredible holiday. We had a lot of firsts including a hot air balloon ride, and whale watching! It was also a perfect combination of adventure and relaxing and we will cherish that trip forever.


Our top tip would be to stay organised with spreadsheets, and be realistic about what the day can be. Hiccups will happen but ultimately the being married part is the best part. All the rest will fall into place.

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