As previous students at the Exeter College, Elli and Tom were to marry in the beautiful Chapel, right in the middle of Oxford. They were in good company, as J.R.R. Tolkien was an undergraduate at the College, as were Alan Bennett, Martin Amis, and former President Kufuor of Ghana!
I traveled down the day before, got an early night and woke early to have a dummy run to their reception venue first, then straight on to the college. It really was in the middle of Oxford – I was surrounded by tourists, bikes and sightseeing buses! The college’s Chapel was hidden away through an almost secret doorway – the kind you’d find on an old castle – walking through it I felt like I’d stepped into another world – the hustle and bustle of the outside gave way to peace and tranquility.
I’d seen photos of the Chapel online, but nothing quite prepared me for just how beautiful it was, and an impeccably manicured lawn stretched out in front of it – incidentally, the fictitious Inspector Morse collapsed on this very lawn!
Tom and his ushers were busy preparing the Chapel when I arrived, then when they disappeared to get changed I took the opportunity explore and photograph the locations they’d told me about.
It was baking sunshine and really hot outside, but the Chapel provided respite from the sun just as the choir were practicing – the acoustics in the Chapel were unbelievable, and the organ was stunningly beautiful. I knew we were all in for a musical treat!
The service was fantastic, with lovely readings and the Chapel was filled with love – you could almost touch it! When Elli’s sister Victoria was overcome with emotion she went to comfort her, which is one of the loveliest moments I’ve ever seen. Skipping down the aisle they left the Chapel as husband and wife, and Tom gathered Ellie in his arms and swept her off her feet, much to the delight of the bridal party looking on.
After the service we took some group photos on the front quad (a special treat as normally nobody is allowed on the grass!) then as the guests rushed off to catch their wedding coach, Ellie and Tom went for a walk to the Fellow’s Garden and terrace for some photographs and a little time out to themselves. The view overlooking Radcliffe Square was beautiful, and although the sun was harsh we worked with the light, and I was treated to an impromptu song and dance, it was just like watching Fred and Ginger 🙂 I loved it!
Elli had arranged a surprise vintage car for Tom, and they toasted to their marriage with a glass of champagne while I hurriedly loaded my car up and dashed out to their reception venue ahead of them, ready to photograph them as they arrived.
After some milling around it was time for the receiving line (my longest yet, at just over 100!) followed by the speeches. It turned out that Tom was also a fan of My Little Ponies, as his best man revealed, presenting him with his very own pony. I think it may have been Pinkie Pie, but I’m not 100% sure so Tom, I’m sorry if this isn’t right! My own My Little Ponies were definitely much older than this one so my knowledge is pretty rusty!
All too soon it was time for them to settle down and eat, and I hit the road to come back home with a pocket full of memory cards and my heart full of happiness.