The society wedding of the Hon Sasha Weld Forester and Nicholas Connell
PUBLISHED: 00:16 30 December 2011 | UPDATED: 20:29 20 February 2013
The occasion of the wedding of The Hon. Sasha Weld Forester to Nicholas Connell was one of Shropshire society's gatherings of the year. Society Correspondent Howard Franklin, who designed the bridal bouquets, was among the guests
Introducing the Bride: The Honorable Sasha Weld Forester, the third and youngest daughter of the late 8th Baron Forester and his wife Catherine, Lady Forester, of the Willey Estate, daughter of the 10th Viscount Cobham of Hagley Hall, Worcestershire.
Introducing the Groom: Nicholas Connell, the son of Dr and Mrs Peter Connell, from Bristol.
The bride and groom had a choice of five churches for their marriage ceremony, all within the Willey estate. They settled on the delightful St John the Baptist, at Willey, a tiny hamlet with a handful of estate cottages clustered around the historic Willey Old Hall.
The church has very early foundations dating to about 1291, although the present building is mainly Victorian from 1880 when Alexandrina, Lady Forester, lavishly restored it in memory of her husband the second Lord Forester.
How delightful the church looked on this special day, simply decorated in the palest shade of blue and ivory coloured flowers, skilfully designed and arranged by Charlotte Williamson from Cressage.
The brides mother Catherine, Lady Forester, looked poised and elegant in a couture navy and peacock blue melange Jacquard coat with the deepest shade of peacock blue silk georgette skirt and top, and a matching full brimmed hat.
The church was packed to capacity with more than 200 guests from near and far. Among them were the brides godparents, the Viscount Cobham, Mrs Michael Scott, Timothy le Blanc Smith, and Jean Louis Revon.
The trumpeter, Cecil Hayward, proclaimed the arrival of the bride, and the organist and director of music, the very talented Brendon Quinn from Much Wenlock, played the majestic Prince of Denmark March by Jeremiah Clarke.
The bride was given in marriage by her brother George, the present Lord Forester, who accompanied her to the chancel steps. He has never looked finer and I feel sure his late father would have been very proud of him.
The bride wore a beautiful couture gown of ivory Thai silk with an overjacket of French corded lace, created by award winning designer Jenny Tyler. Her full length antique family veil was of the finest silk tulle, held in place by a diamond and pearl diadem of exquisite design and heritage. The crescent bridal bouquet was of white Orchids, Stephanotis, white freesia and white moss roses.
Following came a retinue of tiny bridesmaids, Amy Stoker, Emma Graham, Annabelle McGivern, and Candida McNair-Scott, who all looked enchanting in dresses of ivory dupion, overlaid with crystal scattered silk organza with peacock blue, made by Joan Harvey. Their posies were of mixed herbs, white moss roses, freesia, pale green solanum berries and paper white narcissi. The two pages were Thomas Stoker and Benjamin Marland in complementary outfits.
The service was conducted by the Rev Prebendary Michael Kinna and followed a modern format, which was very moving and beautifully orchestrated, including the Blessing of Hands, and the most perfect rendition of I would be true sung by bridesmaid Amy Stoker.
The first lesson from Philippians chapter 2 v 1-9 was beautifully delivered by Catherine Aird, a Durham University friend of the bride, who was the niece of the late Sir Alistair Aird, private secretary to the late Queen Mother and who I had known well.
The service concluded with the famous hymn Immortal, Invisible, God only Wise and the Prelude from Te Deum as the Recessional.
The happy couple left the church to a peal of bells and guests came out into brilliant sunshine.
After the ceremony guests headed to Willey Hall, where the grand hallway was decorated with classical urns of flowers arranged by Sheila Whittles from Broseley.
Formal photographs were taken in the State Drawing Room by society photographer Charlotte Bromley Davenport.
Willey Hall is one of the principal seats of Shropshire. It was designed by Lewis Wyatt, with a 300 ft frontage and a Corinthian portico to the full height of the building. The interior is lofty, spacious and has a sophisticated elegance like no other grand house in the county. Passing through the two storeyed hall with its double staircase and open gallery, guests came out of the conservatory and descended a flight of shallow steps from the terrace into the reception marquee, where a further 200 guests joined the celebration. Champagne was served with canapes by Roger and Jane Murphy from Davenport House.
Speeches were effective, amusing and light hearted, with several poignant and emotional moments. The cake was cut and glasses raised to the happy couple, who later honeymooned in Costa Rica.
Driving home to south Shropshire after a wonderful day, I thought of the Forester family motto: Always the Same. I am sure this couple will live by that maxim; their love was tangible, and may it always be so.