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An Amaranthine Wedding

An Amaranthine Wedding

Weddings are a magical time, and hopefully only happen once in your lifetime. Where they started out as simple affairs, they have become lavish celebrations which treat the couple’s friends and family to fine dining and entertain them in opulent surrounds. I can’t say we quite escaped this description (being that our tastes on a day to day basis run quite lavish as it is) but we chose to separate our vows from the celebration. The former being an intimate declaration of love to begin a marriage rather than just a wedding and the latter a celebration on a scale rivalled only by our love for one another. But the burning question is, did Lady Amaranth, Gothic Model and Tim Chandler, Gothic Musician have a Gothic Wedding? Well read on ;)

Abbey House and the town it is located in is steeped in history. Once the site of an Iron Age fort, Malmesbury is the oldest borough in England, created around 880 AD by charter from Alfred the Great. The Abbey itself was founded in 675 and was home to the very first church organ in England. By the 12th century the current Abbey was completed and enjoyed the status as the third most important religious centre in England after Canterbury and Winchester. It was then with the arrival of Abbot William of Colerne in 1260 that a building programme was begun and Abbey House was completed as the Abbots new lodging. The foundations of the house itself date back to Roman times which a fact that is supported by the excavation of a coffin from the grounds in 1997. Ian & Barbara bought Abbey House in 1994 to make it their home and in 1996 decided to create the fantastic gardens which are now renowned among the best in Britain. All these facts in themselves made for a wonderful choice of venue, but it was Barbara herself who sealed the deal for us. A creative and quirky person it felt like she opened her home to us and went above and beyond in making our day truly special. After looking at venue after venue of cold conveyor-like weddings with officious event managers, Abbey House was a breath of fresh air. We really couldn’t have chosen a better venue. I urge you all to take a visit of the gardens if you’re in the area.

We never really went for a theme as such and just weaved in things we loved such as our obvious goth tendencies and our appreciation for the finer and more extravagant elements of history. But to say we had a goth wedding may be a bit of a misnomer – depending how you look at it. There were no spiders or bats and a distinct lack of velvet, but our guest book was actually a condolences book and we cut our cake with a sword. The following celebration had a few more goth elements – but more on that later. We decided on a black and gold colour scheme. This reflected the elegant, opulent and period feel we wanted to go with while still giving it the quintessential “wedding” feel. I felt it was important that this wasn’t just another party and although I didn’t want to be restricted with “traditional”, a wedding is a once in a lifetime occasion and it’s nice to bring in elements of tradition and give it the feel of an event unique to your timeline. The centrepieces consisted of cracked glass vases filled with pebbles from Brighton beach and branches which were draped with beads and hanging jewels from South Africa. This tied in with my love of nature and worked beautifully with the room which was full of wood and large glass windows bringing the outside in (it was my dream since being very young that I would get married outdoors in a magical garden and this came very close).

My dress carried through the theme. Already owning a number of wedding dresses in various colours, I wanted to avoid the obvious white, and the usual goth colours of red and purple. I opted for a gold satin embossed with a subtle vine pattern mixed with shimmering chiffon. The diaphanous sleeves, tiered skirt and flower trim echoed the romance and magic of the garden and occasion. My bridemaids (my two sisters) wore dresses akin to my favourite style, a flowing medieval sleeved overdress. I then chose a full cathedral length veil and a spray of sparkling gold flowers. All these were of course artfully created by my mother. My betrothed wore a black coat based on a 1850’s 7th Regiment New York National Guard Officer’s Tunic with gold buttons and embroidery beautifully tailored by Paul Garside. After walking down the aisle to music composed by Tim based on a song he wrote for me when we first started dating, and a recital of “A Thousand Years” by my sister, it even brought a tear to the Registrar’s eye who exclaimed she felt as though she had been transported back in time.

As we chose to have a very intimate midweek ceremony but still wanted to be able to celebrate with all our friends and family, a grand Ball was called for. We chose Old Finsbury Town Hall in London. This Grade II listed building is a grand example of late 19th century Civic Architecture. Evans Vaughan’s design of the Town Hall’s brick and stonework is “free Flemish Renaissance”. There are obvious Baroque influences, but also many internal and external details are heavily influenced by Art Nouveau – quite a radical statement considering when the Town Hall was built. The Hall exudes opulence and glamour and is a building with true character; an art-deco entrance canopy, a sweeping staircase, beautiful stained glass and the Grand Hall adorned with chandeliers and watched over by the famous Islington angels. It is a vintage building that is real, ornate and unique.

It was beneath those beautiful angels that our friends and family danced to the music weaved by the finest DJs the goth scene has on offer (Martin Oldgoth from Recollection, Bat and Dave from Invocation, Ben from Tenebrae, Psyche, and DJX from Tanz Macabre). Adorned in their finest it was the celebration of beauty I had hoped for, with an opening set by The Eden House – such music and attire is made for such an environment. Our first dance was perhaps to a slightly unexpected tune, but one whose words both ring true to us and flood us with reticent memories… “I won’t disappoint you as you fall apart. Some things should be simple, even an end has a start…”

Where my wedding ceremony dress had a more flowing feel, I wanted my Ballgown to be more opulent, while still maintaining the essence of the dress in which I said “I do”. The sleeves were more Baroque in style, beads were added to the trimmings and a satin bustled overskirt completed the look. I also adorned my head and neck with specially made pieces by the fabulous S-moon-S.

This wedding ended up being everything we’d dreamed of – a truly personal celebration of beauty and our lives together: past, present and future. Tim and I designed and crafted all the elements to reflect all we love and brought in the talents of our loved ones who added even more to it than we could have hoped.

Photographer credits: Starkall, Taya Uddin & Simon Topp