Anthea Gerrie meets an American couple who had a Truly British wedding
EMILY AND Justin Mandel are both American — but they chose an idyllic English country setting for their wedding.
“After settling here for a few years, we really wanted to bring our families together in the place which was our home and show them why we love it so much,” explains Emily.
Coworth Park, part of the Dorchester Collection, was a natural choice for a late summer wedding, says Justin, project manager for a group of strategy consultants. “We were looking for a venue that had beautiful grounds for an outdoor ceremony and a marquee reception, but could also accommodate hotel guests for a few days, since we had many visitors from the US.”
A Californian by birth, Justin met Emily, business development manager for Knightsbridge Schools, when both were in the same study group at Columbia Business School, New York.
The couple made the most of Coworth to showcase the romance of an English summer wedding to family who came from America and friends who flew in from France, Switzerland and Spain:
“We held the ceremony in the field of wildflowers, with a long procession through the middle to the chupah at one end in a clearing,” says Justin.
“Cocktails were held on the terrace by the main house and we had the reception in the marquee in the Lime Grove. We also held a rehearsal dinner on the Barn Terrace.”
A whole weekend of festivities was planned, in order to make the most of the location, Emily explains.
“It started with afternoon tea on Friday, followed by a pub dinner, a tour of Windsor Castle for guests next day and ended with a farewell brunch on Monday. More than 100 of the 125 guests stayed over, included us, and we took over the whole mansion house.”
A string quartet during the ceremony helped reinforce the bucolic idyll. This was followed by a jazz reception and more traditional music by Gilev at dinner.
Even the famous British weather did not let the couple down: “It looked like it was about to pour and ruin the outdoor plans, but it passed, and the sun came out just at the end of our ceremony, lighting up the flowers,” says Justin.
The couple honeymooned in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, expect their first baby in February and are hoping to buy a home in London.
“We feel very at home with the culture, especially as we live right in the heart of the action in Notting Hill,” says Emily.
Emily and Justin in the grounds of Coworth Park
The weekend of celebrations allowed guests plenty of time to let their hair down