Lisa and Dan - Chawton House Library - Saturday 17th December 2016

The fog lay thick around Chawton House Library on the morning of 17 December when Lisa and Dan pulled up in a taxi dressed in their Sunday slouching gear to get married. Their wedding would prove unconventional to all but them, keen as they were to eschew the traditional trappings of matrimonial tradition and experience the entirety of their day together.

Dan was still in training as a Naval officer when his ship was sent to Scotland and he met Lisa in the local waterfront town. On learning that she was a History teacher he attempted some rather awful jokes about dates but, fortunately, was discerning enough to know to stop that nonsense fairly quickly. Between work, outdoor Top Gun screenings and Lisa’s disinclination to even bother showing up the likelihood of their ever going on a date began to look rather slim, but fortunately for both of them, show up she did, and the two were so engrossed in each other’s conversation at the brilliantly named Rhu Inn that Dan forgot to pay for his gin and tonic. Their first conversation took in their disparate tastes in music, their mutual esoteric love of the macabre and, perhaps most importantly, literature and coffee. From there they made the most of the limited time afforded by the Navy to jaunt across to Edinburgh and Aberdeen and sample various breakfast joints in Glasgow; by the time Dan flew out to join a ship on a far-flung deployment barely two months later, their affections were fairly well cemented.

Fast forward a year and they had found a cottage in Hampshire to call their home, from whence they made frequent forays to London, Winchester and Oxford. It was in Winchester that Dan had planned to make a grand proposal over breakfast at their favourite café; ultimately though, he couldn’t find the perfect moment to do it and the ring bought two months earlier remained in his jacket pocket until several nights later when, with a lack of occasion that was far more in keeping with the couple’s modus operandi, he whipped it out on the staircase of their cottage and failed to even give his spiel before it was out of its case and on Lisa’s finger.

Several days later, they realised he hadn’t actually asked her the Question, and, lest she should be seen to be wearing merely a fancy accessory, he duly asked her to marry him, and she agreed that this was quite a good idea.

Lisa had long since stored Chawton House Library in her mind as a possible venue and after a visit there together, they began preparations for a winter wedding in late 2016.  The day was as unconventional as the method of Dan’s proposal. Their two favourite meals – breakfast and afternoon tea – gave structure around the civil ceremony itself, and the macabre wedding cake supplied by Choccywoccydoodah sat prominently on display throughout. Table decorations embraced their love of literature and coffee, as well as Dan’s Naval career and Lisa’s expensive taste in shoes. The day abounded with references to Jane Austen, whose brother lived at Chawton House and whose Persuasion had been fashioned into Lisa’s bouquet and (along with a quote from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre – Lisa’s other favourite Jane!) adorned the heels of her shoes. When the two disappeared off to their honeymoon hotel in a white Hackney cab the guests departed with favour bags that included a Penguin Classic paperback and a Lego figure.

Perhaps their favourite part of the day was after the ceremony when Joanna had them out the front for photographs with Dan’s friends in the Navy. The laughter that ensued when first the bride and then the groom were picked up, swords and bouquets swapped and various ridiculous poses struck sticks out in their minds as the whole day’s atmosphere in microcosm. They could not have asked for a better day, nor for a better photographer to immortalise it.

Blog written by the couple - Lisa and Dan