Amalia + Peter by Daria Iershova

Instead, we fell in love from opposite ends of the office – a Romeo & Juliet or West Side Story vibe (minus the warring families and death at the end!).

Tell us a little about yourselves, what you do, what you love…

About Peter: Peter is half Irish, half English, and loves dogs, travelling, and a nice steak.

About Amalia: Amalia is half Greek, half Irish, is allergic to dogs, gets car sick whilst stationary, and is vegan.

A match made in heaven!

How/where/when did you meet – and what were your first impressions?

A recent Forbes article published a survey that found that 43% of people marry someone they met at work. We’re *THAT* couple. We met five years ago when we were working at the same law firm. We’re lawyers, and mercifully, we specialise in different areas of the law and worked in different departments, so there were no awkward situations where we had to work directly together. Instead, we fell in love from opposite ends of the office – a Romeo & Juliet or West Side Story vibe (minus the warring families and death at the end!).

When we first met, Amalia thought that Peter hated her (he has a naturally furrowed brow). And Peter thought that Amalia was “intensely studious” (it turns out Amalia also has a naturally furrowed brow too – clearly meant to be!). We first started to speak to each other, expanding on the cursory “Morning, how’s your day going?” by the coffee machine at a firm drinks event, and the rest is history.

When did you first realise that this was someone you’d like to spend the rest of your life with?

For Amalia, it was after our third date. We went to the cinema to see a film, and we went back to Peter’s flat, and Peter cooked us dinner – delicious pasta! As a Greek woman, the way to Amalia’s heart is through food. Amalia remembers going home that evening and telling her best friends that this was the boy she was going to marry. It should be noted that at this point, her friends thought she was insane and that this was too fast, but she proved them wrong.

For Peter, it was similarly early on. He remembers reading something some years ago that pointed out that relationships have one of two endings – either a break-up or a marriage. Peter remembers thinking that he would never want to end things, and so Amalia was the one he was going to marry someday – provided she felt the same way!

Was there a proposal? Tell us a little about it…

It was during lockdown, so Peter had to get creative. We weren’t living together at that point, and during Covid we had both gone back to live with our families. Peter became part of Amalia’s family bubble, and when the restrictions opened up a bit more, he came to stay for Easter weekend in 2021. Amalia’s sister and Peter decided to plan an Easter Egg hunt around Amalia’s parents’ house involving Amalia’s parents, her sister, her sister’s fiancé, and Peter (to throw Amalia off the scent that it was going to be a proposal). Eggs and chocolates were hidden in every room. The aim was obviously to collect the most eggs but with the ultimate goal of finding the ‘Golden Egg’. The person with the Golden Egg at the end of the hunt was going to win an ‘extra prize’. As if by chance (or rather the incredibly intricate and mathematical planning that had been carried out by Peter, with the assistance of Amalia’s sister – it involved spreadsheets and an ‘egg quota rota’), Amalia ended up with the Golden Egg – shocker! The Golden Egg was a container that opened to reveal a small jewellery pouch. Inside the pouch was…. a riddle! The riddle led Amalia to another room in the house – her childhood bedroom. When she entered the room, she found Peter and a wooden box and inside the box was the ring! 30 minutes of ugly crying (on Amalia’s part) later, and we were engaged!

Tell us about the vision you had for the mood or style of your wedding.

We both love the drama of winter. The frost on the trees, the moodiness of the sky at dusk and roaring fires. We knew very early on that we wanted a winter wedding. When we found our venue, Berkeley Castle, we fell in love with the grandeur of the Great Hall and the design ideas that this could lend itself to. We wanted to flood the Hall with candlelight so that when our guests entered, it would give the feel of something magical.

For our ceremony, we had a ‘living aisle’ where 10ft trees lined the walkway to create an enchanted forest aesthetic. Then for the wedding breakfast, the trees were moved into the archways of the stained-glass windows, and candles were dotted around to flicker and sparkle the night away. We wanted to create an atmosphere that was unique and unlike anything, our guests would have seen before whilst paying homage to the history of the venue, which we hope was helped by the fact that we also had a castle tour during the cocktail hour, which gave our guests the chance to explore the grounds and then come back into the warmth and festivities of the reception.

What was one element you were happy to splurge on?

The food. We are big foodies. Coming from Greek, Irish, and English backgrounds, food has always played a big part in our lives and our relationships. We love trying new cuisines both at home and when we travel. Therefore, we wanted to serve a meal that our guests would talk about afterwards. Our caterers were exceptional, and they took all of our ideas and requirements on board to create a bespoke menu that was incredibly special to us. We started with pan-roasted monkfish, which is underfished and sustainably caught – we’re very big on sustainability. For the main we had local venison with a glorious potato dauphinois. For dessert, our motto was: why have one when you can have three?!

Amalia is vegan, so we wanted to make sure the alternative menu was just as special as the mainstream options. Winter vegetable consommé with garlic dumplings kicked off the show, followed by a potato and celeriac stack with vegan cream. To end, we had vegan versions of the trio of desserts – not a fruit salad in sight! We didn’t want our guests with dietary restrictions to feel like an afterthought. We loved the idea of using seasonal, local produce to create a wonderful winter banquet. We are happy to say that people still come up to us and say how much they enjoyed the meal!

Did anything happen on your wedding day that you laugh about in hindsight (even if it was stressful at the time)?

Dealing with the great British weather! Picking a November wedding date, we knew we weren’t guaranteed a clear, bright and sunny day. But we didn’t expect thunderstorms. The morning of the wedding dawns, and the rain is torrential. Our biggest concern was getting from our accommodation and into the castle without looking like drowned rats! We hadn’t booked a wedding car because the walk from our accommodation to the venue was exactly 2 minutes down the road. However, there was no way we could walk up to the castle without ruining everyone’s hair, make-up, and outfits.

Thankfully, our amazing family friend (Amalia’s sister’s fiancé’s dad! Absolute legend!) came to the rescue, offering up his car and impromptu chauffeuring services to get everyone to the venue still looking glamorous. Not only that, but he even braved the rain, alongside Amalia’s mother and uncle, to decorate the car with wedding ribbon – nothing was done by half!

As if by magic, the rain stopped, and the clouds cleared when Peter and his Groomspeople were making their way to the venue. Then the rain started again! But the sun shone through when Amalia needed to get into the makeshift wedding car and up to the castle – and we were even treated to a beautiful autumnal sunny spell that allowed us to capture some gorgeous photos outside as the sun started to set! It felt magical, and we wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Tell us about your main outfits, what was unique, is there a story?

The dress. The dress will always be incredibly special to us. It, along with the Bridesmaids’ dresses, was designed by Amalia’s sister as a wedding gift. All of the main gowns used in the wedding were entirely bespoke and one-of-a-kind. It was a privilege to wear something that has been designed and crafted completely with love.

To anyone who knows them, the Neenan sisters are extremely close. Amalia has always said that her sister knows her better than she knows herself, and this was abundantly clear when it came to designing the dress. Amalia didn’t need to give any indication of what neckline, skirt style, fabric type or colour she had been thinking of. Her sister just knew what Amalia wanted – unspoken sister intuition! A lifetime of playing dress-up paid off.

When the first sketches were completed, Amalia fell in love with the design immediately. The dress needed to fit the splendour of the castle venue but not swamp Amalia. The aesthetic we were going for was old Dior combined with modern opulence. One of the key concepts Amalia and her sister wanted to capture was the sense of cohesion between the wedding dress itself and the Bridesmaid dresses so that all gowns would essentially become one collection. This is something that Amalia had not seen in her research before deciding to go down the bespoke route. Therefore, Amalia’s sister ensured that there were key elements carried across both the wedding dress and the Bridesmaids’ dresses. For instance, Amalia’s sister designed the dresses to be simple but with high levels of structuring in the bodices and in the folds of the fabric in the skirts. A repeated motif across both designs was the box pleats that enveloped the sides of Amalia’s skirt and the back of the Bridesmaids’ dresses. Additionally, the materials were chosen to enhance the beauty of the wedding dress and the Bridesmaids’ dresses respectively. The wedding dress was in ivory duchess satin to add warmth to Amalia’s pale skin tones, and the Bridesmaids were in a pearlescent grey/silver poly-duchess satin. The pearlescent colour of the Bridesmaids created the effect of shimmering water, which, when the Bridesmaids walked down the aisle, led to an ethereal entrance.

However, the main event (which seemed to take on a life of its own) was Amalia’s train. Amalia was adamant that she wanted a huge train, but was also worried about the restriction it would make to her moves on the dance floor! However, when she had tried on wedding dresses in Bridal boutiques before, it seemed that the only way this could be achieved would be through a train that would attach via a belt. Amalia did not like that look at all, feeling that it would truncate her torso. Therefore, Amalia’s sister, along with the incredible pattern-cutter and seamstress who were brought in to construct the gowns, devised a mechanism that allowed for the train (which was 3m long and 2.5m wide) to be detachable without the need for a belt. When Amalia removed the train before dancing, the guests were astounded and kept asking where half the dress had gone – having not realised that the train was not part of the dress as a whole.

It was hands down the most magical garment Amalia has ever worn or probably ever will wear. To have something crafted to fit her body exactly was truly special. Amalia will treasure the dress and the opportunity to work together with her sister on this project forever.

CEREMONY + RECEPTION Berkeley Castle, Berkeley, Gloucestershire, @berkeleycastleweddings PHOTOGRAPHER Daria Iershova, @dariaphotographs STATIONARY Lythia Nicole Neenan FLORIST, STYLING Sorori Design Events, @sororidesignevents OFFICIANT D C Burchett, Deputy Superintendent HAIR + MAKEUP Laura Adkins Hair & Makeup, @lauraannemakeup BRIDAL DRESS Lythia Nicole Neenan HEADPIECE Halo & Co, @haloandco NECKLACE Lovett & Co, @lovettandco EARRINGS Liberty in Love, @libertyinlove_style RINGS Samara James SHOE BASE Light in the Box SHOE EMBELLISHED Goldbrick Fabrics, @goldbrickfabrics CAKE Cake Daydreams, @cakedaydreams BRIDAL/GETTING READY HQ Brook House, part of the Berkeley Castle, Berkeley, Gloucestershire, @berkeleycastleweddings