A moment of pure perfection at Blackwell Grange

From a martial arts meeting made in heaven to an elegant wedding without a hitch, Elissa and Ben Bonthuys adored bringing loved ones together for a Cotswolds celebration to remember.

By Emma Luther  |  Published
From the moment Elissa and Ben walked into the Thatch Barn at Blackwell Grange, they knew it was the venue for them.

The lowdown

The happy couple: Elissa Bonthuys, 30, a quantity surveyor, and Ben Bonthuys, 30, a company director, who are from Andover.

Wedding date: Monday 16 May 2022

Wedding theme: Traditional and romantic

Ceremony and reception venue: Blackwell Grange in the Cotswolds

The suppliers

Photographer: Poppy Carter Portraits
Videographer: Shona Nolan Photo and Video
Flowers: Jo at Solihull Wedding Creations
Dress: Stella York from Caroline Clarke Bridal Boutique
Groom’s outfit: Custom designed suit from Suit Supply
Catering: Blackwell Grange
Cake: Caroline at Daisy Blue Bakehouse
Rings: Engagement ring from Calleija and wedding rings from Goldsmiths 
Entertainment: Wedding String Quartet for the ceremony and drinks reception, Tim's Wedding Piano for the wedding breakfast and Rob Lawes Entertainments for the evening
Favours: Personalised fortune cookies from Maple Molly’s

The details

When and how did you first meet?

In January 2018 at Ben's family’s Martial Arts World school in Andover.

Who popped the question and how did they propose?

Ben orchestrated a surprise proposal at Danebury Iron Age Hillfort near Andover, which is one of our favourite walking spots. Ben had pre-recorded a video, guiding Elissa to meet him at the centre of the hillfort. When Elissa arrived, she saw he'd set up an aisle using fairy lights and handwritten signs. Ben was waiting at the end of the aisle to pop the question!

How long did it take to plan your wedding?

Fifteen months.

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


Why did you choose your venue?

We fell in love with the intimacy of the venue, the romantic atmosphere and the personal touches throughout Blackwell, from Didi and William’s family history. From the moment we walked into the Thatch Barn, we knew it was the one.

Was there an inspiration or a theme for your wedding?

For us, it was all about simplicity and elegance, with a few personal touches to complement the already beautiful venue.

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

It was a DIY affair; however Jo at Solihull Wedding Creations was instrumental in bringing all of our ideas to life.

What song did you walk down the aisle to?

Pachelbel's Canon in D. The string quartet played this beautifully.

What did you have for your wedding breakfast?

For our starter, we had potato and leek soup with crusty bread and another option of asparagus, chickpeas and paprika hummus.

Mains featured a fillet of beef with dauphinoise potatoes, green peppercorn sauce and green beans, as well as a vegetarian lasagne, and we had mushroom à la grecque with thyme roasted baby leeks, pickled fennel, mouli and shallot salad.

Our desserts were triple chocolate brownie with vanilla ice-cream, or dark chocolate fudge cake with a vanilla and cherry compote.

Our food and the service during the wedding breakfast was exceptional.

What kind of cake did you go for?

We had a three tier semi-naked cake made up of two tiers of Victoria sponge and one tier of lemon with blueberry jam.

What was your first dance song?

'Stand by Me' by Ben E King.

What was your favourite part of your wedding day?

The ceremony – it was just perfect.

Did everything go to plan?

Perfectly, without a hitch!

What advice would you give to anyone planning their big day?

The day is about you; choose a venue that you trust to take care of your day, so you can fully enjoy it.

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

Not really, we were well informed by the team at Blackwell Grange about what to expect on the day, which allowed us to be more organised.

And finally, where did you spend your honeymoon together?

We flew to Rome, where we had a few nights exploring the beautiful city. We then boarded an NCL cruise ship, which took us to Santorini, Athens, Corfu, Sicily, Naples, Malta, Florence and Cannes. We had such an incredible time creating some wonderful memories; it was the perfect way to close our wedding celebrations.

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