Elopement wedding at Hotel Endsleigh, Devon
On Top of the World
Ashley and Keith's wildly romantic elopement at Hotel Endsleigh
A chance meeting in the USA was all it took for LA-born Ashley to fall for Surrey-based Keith. "We both knew immediately that this was our forever, so much so that for our first date I flew all the way to England," says Ashley. "We carried out a long-distance relationship for several months, until our next holiday, when Keith proposed in Paris."
Deciding on an elopement-style ceremony for just the two of them - with a bigger church blessing and reception for their families in the future - Ashley and Keith set about planning something with all the elements of a proper wedding, but minus the guests.
"We decided to sort of 'run away' to a wild and romantic land that neither of us had ever been to, but both were familiar with due to its mystical legends and incredibly rugged and gorgeous coastline," says Ashley. "Cornwall was perfect for us, and at some point during our planning, I discovered what a shell grotto is. They are typical of the Victorian era, with lots of ornate beauty and romance behind them. I began searching for shell grottos around Cornwall, and found one just on the border of Cornwall and Devon, at Hotel Endsleigh."
With all of the old-world charm you would expect from a manor house, Hotel Endsleigh was a hidden gem for Ashley and Keith to escape to. The couple used elements from the sea and all things ethereal in their styling, incorporating dainty pearls and oceanic details alongside a colour scheme of off-whites and creams with muted golds and a very pale seafoam. "Our basic colour palette was inspired by that sheen that you see on a seashell - lots of understated iridescence," says Ashley, who owns a styling company.
Wearing a 1920s-style sheath dress with dozens of added strings of seed pearls, Ashley's gown was paired with a soft English tulle veil, reminiscent of a sea siren. A traditional Celtic handfasting was followed by the couple taking their handwritten vows in the shell house, which was decorated with anemones, ranunculus, and sweeping trails of eucalyptus.
"We then went to the Duchess Lounge for champagne, canapes and our amazing cake," says Ashley, of the two-tiered confection that incorporated the 1920s and mermaid-inspired details with the divine flavour combination of elderflower, lemon and sugar pearl details. A windswept trek to the medieval St Michael's Chapel on Rame Head made for stunning photos, as well as a dramatic moment thanks to a surprise visit from wild ponies.
"Honestly it was one of the most incredible moments of my life," remembers Ashley. "It was just so unexpected and so utterly romantic. The winds were so strong, it took us ages to climb to the top of the hill, and once we arrived, we hid from the strong winter wind in that little chapel. I remember feeling so entirely alive in that moment."
Their first meal as a married couple back at Hotel Endsleigh saw the newly weds dine in a private room filled with flowers and candles, and a roaring fireplace. Reflecting on their romantic wedding, Ashley has advice for other nearly-weds. "The most important tip is to make the day about you two as a couple. It's not about anyone else. Don't let other people's ideas for what your wedding 'should' be get in the way of what you want. We dreamed up a vision, created it, and lived it out, and it turned out to be the dreamiest day of our lives."
Photography Enchanted Brides enchantedbrides.photography
Venue Hotel Endsleigh hotelendsleigh.com
Videography Baxter & Ted baxterandted.co.ukCelebrants Cornish Celebrants cornishcelebrants.co.uk
Styling A Belle & A Brit abelleandabrit.comFlowers Loulabel loulabelfloraldesign.com
Hair Arena Creative Hair arenacreativehair.co.uk
Make-up Amy Pike Makeup Artistry amypikemua.comCake Peboryon peboryon.com
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