A dreamlike Cotswolds wedding day with surprising celebrations for guests

From a wedding that sent sparks flying, to planning a dream day of their own, Ellie Mainwaring and Alex Mullins created a magical big day in the Cotswolds, packed full of surprises to entertain family and friends.

By Emma Luther  |  Published
St Mary’s Church in Fairford was the perfect backdrop for a very special day for Ellie and Alex.

The lowdown

The happy couple: Ellie Mainwaring, 31, a senior global communications manager for IHG Hotels & Resorts and Alex Mullins, 37, a personal trainer and owner of ADM Fitness, from Fairford in the Cotswolds.

Wedding date: Friday 28 April 2023

Ceremony and reception venue: The ceremony was held at St Mary’s Church, Fairford, followed by an Original Marquee on the lawns of Fairford Cricket Club, within walking distance of the church.

The suppliers

Photographer: Chloe Ely Photography

Videographer: Robin Bradshaw of Bullit

Flowers: Blue & Bohème

Dress: A custom Phoebe design by Sassi Holford, purchased from Carina B Couture

Groom’s outfit: Moss Bros

Cake: Dumbledarts Bakery

Catering: Fosters

Stationery: Emerald Paper Designs, All Dunn, Ross Press

Entertainment: The Oomparty Band, The Alley Catz, Undercover Artists

Rings: Sophie Cudworth

Marquee: Original Marquees

The details

When and how did you first meet?

It was the cliched personal trainer and client relationship that began it all. While the perfect ingredients for romance were there, it took four years for me to get Ellie’s heart racing from more than just cardio.

I fancied Ellie from the start, but it took four years for Ellie to recognise my flirtatious signals. It wasn't until I invited Ellie to be my plus one to a fellow PT’s wedding that the match was lit. Sparks finally started flying and we both quickly realised love was in the air.

Who popped the big question and how did they propose?

In October 2021, after buying a house in the April, our bank accounts had been emptied, leaving Ellie without expectations of engagement.

Me, Ellie’s mum and one of Ellie’s closest friends and bridesmaid, Sophie Cudworth, a jewellery designer, had other ideas with a 2.26ct antique European cut diamond sized plot up our sleeves.

I found the diamond in an antique store on Cheltenham’s Promenade, its beauty disguised by a clunky, overbearing original setting.

The brief for Sophie was to create something more delicate to allow the diamond to shine bright.

I'm described by friends and family as a bit of a loveable rogue, so it was a serendipitous twist of fate that when the diamond was sent to be worked on, a small imperfection in the shape, unseen to the naked eye, was found on the stone. I later described this to Ellie as akin to me being her ‘diamond in the rough’.

In September 2021, I formally asked Ellie’s parents for her hand in marriage over drinks at their local pub, The Bull. We all had so many drinks we almost forgot the reason for the meeting. I also took a quiet moment at Ellie’s nanna's grave in St Mary’s Church graveyard to ask her too.

It was in October 2021, during a Mainwaring family trip to Falmouth (Ellie’s university town), that I dashed down in Friday night traffic to catch the sunset as my four hour journey turned into a six hour one thanks to traffic. I rushed Ellie to the beach, whilst wearing my coat to disguise for the awkward shape of the ring box in my pocket on a warm day, palms sweating profusely. Ellie bypassed the offer of a beer, much to my disappointment – I could have done with the Dutch courage.

On one knee, at Gylly Beach cliff path in Falmouth, I popped the question to a round of applause from clifftop ramblers.

Afterwards we both agreed it couldn't have been more perfect.

How long did it take you to plan your wedding?

It was a swift 18 months. Ellie has always been a believer that engagement is the start of the next chapter in a relationship and having seen close friends navigate relentless reorganisation and uncertainty of Covid-19 restrictions in previous years, we were determined to enjoy the process.

Events are a big part of Ellie's day job, she's also a big planner and wanted to make sure she could do wedding planning justice around a full-time job. The 18 months also gave us enough time to save up the budget.

How important was it for you both to be legally married? 

Very! It’s something we’d both been open about from the early days of our relationship and with both sets of parents still being together more than 40 years later, it set an example that marriage is for the good times and tougher times.

We are quite traditionalist in that sense, and value what it takes to maintain our partnership.

Why did you choose your venue?

We went for St Mary’s Church, Fairford, which is Ellie’s family church. It has fond memories from her childhood of harvest festivals, carol concerts and her brother’s christening. It's also the place where her nanna’s ashes were laid to rest. The church is also within walking distance of Ellie’s parent’s house — the former White Hart pub on the High Street — which is where the bridal party got ready on the morning of the wedding.

As a little girl, Ellie had always dreamed of walking up the High Street to get married at St Mary’s, so really there was no other option. From a practical point of view, it also meant our wedding was walkable for guests and bridal party alike, as we didn’t like the idea of a relocation after the ceremony to another venue. We felt you lose some of the hype from the ceremony in the travel between the two and we wanted to continue the good vibes and party on! 

Was there an inspiration or theme for your wedding?

A pallet of neutrals with gold hues. I have a bumblebee tattoo, in Ellie's honour, on my chest over my heart – it's a tattoo I had done when we'd been together nine months. We settled on a similar, more delicate, illustration on our stationery and subtly around the venue.

Did you hire a wedding planner or was it a DIY affair?

Unlike with work events where Ellie has a team of support and healthy budgets on her side, planning a wedding was something else.

We could never have imagined how emotionally invested it would be and how the costs scarily stack, quickly blowing the budget out of the window.

Weddings are a big investment, so we would recommend couples prioritise investments that allow you as a couple to enjoy your day.

We were so grateful to have found ADDO Events, which allowed Ellie to focus on being the bride. The attention to detail, the creativity and sounding board these guys bought to the table was invaluable.

It was the best money we spent and worth every penny. It will enhance your enjoyment of the entire wedding, allowing you to fully experience your wedding.

It made us feel like we had a real team behind us and gave us confidence to relax and enjoy the excitement of the lead up, knowing the day would be executed with meticulous precision. Making something look so simple takes skill and we're so grateful we found such a wonderful group of people who made our day possible.

What song did you walk down the aisle to?

Craig Armstrong’s Portuguese Love Theme.

What did you have for your wedding breakfast?

Giffords Circus’ Circus Sauce has a special place in our heart and in a past life working at Silver Ball PR, Ellie had the privilege of working on many shows.

Ols is a dear friend of ours and was there on the day. We love the family feasting vibe of Circus Sauce and wanted to recreate this vibe for our wedding breakfast. We adore the atmosphere of sharing great food, in great company, whatever your walk of life.  

What kind of cake did you go for?

We had a very simple, elegant design, which we served for dessert. The three tiers were three different flavours; summer raspberry and white chocolate; curious carrot cake and rich chocolate.

What was your first dance song?

Someone Exactly Like You by Van Morrison.

What was your favourite part of your wedding day?

Easy! Seeing each other’s faces at the end of the aisle. It goes without saying, we’d expected it to be one of the many highlights of the day, yet words cannot describe how spellbindingly dreamlike that moment was.

As we caught each other’s eye, as Ellie began to walk down the aisle, it felt as though it was just the two of us in a church filled with people.

In that moment, nothing else mattered and the friends, family and flowers filling the church faded out of focus. Despite our nerves, we each saw our best friend looking back at us and knew everything was right with the world.

Despite the day being about us, it was important the celebration be for our guests. My brief was 'I want a party', and with events being part of Ellie's working remit, she took great pleasure in planning plenty of surprises for me and our wedding party throughout the day.

The first began in the church – a surprise brass band springing from the congregation to accompany our final hymn – Bring Me Sunshine, popularised by Morecombe and Wise. Disguised as members of the congregation, the expressions of pure joy on our guests’ faces and my own amazement was something else. The band went on to lead our wedding party in a traffic-stopping street procession from the church to the marquee, with local villagers looking on. Richard Curtis himself couldn’t have written it!

Did everything go to plan?

Effortless take a whole lot of effort and it is thanks to ADDO Events that things ran seamlessly. And if there were any hiccups, nobody noticed. 

What advice would you give anyone planning their big day?

Focus on memorable moments and save sweating the small stuff. Consider how you want to leave people feeling on top of the world at the end of your day – what will be the hangover conversation over breakfast the next day? Trust me, it won’t be the colour of your napkin, but it could be your choice of entertainment! The Brass Band in the church was exactly this for us.

Is there anything you know now that you wished you’d known before the big day?

Trust word of mouth recommendations. Your suppliers are your army! Particularly if you’re working with a planner like ADDO Events, its recommendations are tried and tested, and whilst your preferred supplier may have a super sexy social media, they may not deliver on the day.

And finally, where did you spend your honeymoon together?

We have plans for an international mega-moon next year. After the wedding, we escaped on a mini-moon to Nymetwood Treehouses in Devon for a few days to recharge. They were blissful days hunkered down within the rolling Devonshire countryside. We spent our time star gazing through the bedroom skylight, sinking into bubbling balcony baths, and detoxing from the digital world, whilst basking in the warmth of the wood burner and wedded bliss. It was the most idyllic start to married life.

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