Georgina, Tom & Occasion Queens!
In April, we had the pleasure of hosting Georgina & Tom’s fabulous wedding reception, a fun-filled affair with a silent disco and TV show screening incorporated! They held their ceremony in Oxford Town Hall, drinks reception at the Examination Schools and then finally they came to the Bodleian for their dinner and dancing. Their day ran smoothly with the excellent help of Nina from Occasion Queens, an on-the-day wedding management service. I caught up with both Georgina & Tom, and Nina, to reminisce on the day and learn from their experienced wisdom.
G&T, where did you find your wedding inspiration?
We did a slightly embarrassing level of stalking of people who had either got married in the Divinity Schools or had other things in common with us then ruthlessly stole their ideas! I really recommend following different potential or actual suppliers on Instagram early on – not only do you get a sense of them but they often profile other weddings they’ve worked on. We also worked with Occasion Queens (as mentioned below) and Nina does an inspiration session with you early on in the process – that’s how we found our excellent cake maker.
G&T, at what point in the wedding planning process did you contact Occasion Queens and why did you decide to use them for your wedding?
I was one of those obnoxious brides who thought she could plan everything herself having never planned a wedding before, and Tom was one of those terrible grooms who didn’t call me out on this misguided assumption. When we made the decision to delay the wedding due to Covid around Christmas 2020, we were determined not to repeat our slightly disorganised mistakes of the past year. We’d seen Nina speak at the virtual Bodleian showcase and she appealed to the kind of wedding planners we were – we wanted to keep the overall creative control but needed someone to hand the reins over to on the day to stop us worrying for the whole wedding! I couldn’t recommend them enough for that – from the moment we arrived at our reception Nina and her team were on hand to deal with anything from making sure we were both fed and watered, to coordinating a massive group shot with our photographer out of a first floor window.
Nina, how can couples benefit from an on-the-day planner?
Let’s face it, we have all heard the horror stories of things going a little wrong on a wedding day.
Perhaps you have been a bridesmaid, groomsman, or best person and ended up running around like a headless chicken trying to do it all? That is not fun for anyone! Having a professional co-ordinator on the day ensures that you, your partner and all your guests make memories in the right way.
Everything that you have put your heart and soul into planning is passed onto someone who cares just as much and wants everything to be perfect for you, with the added bonus of knowing everything there is to know about running weddings.
G&T, why did you choose to use each different venue and do you have any advice for other couples looking to combine Oxford venues?
We’d been to the Town Hall before for our friends’ wedding and the location/vibe was exactly what we were after – beautiful and old but while still doing civil ceremonies. But we still had a gap between ceremony and reception starting time which we were determined to fill with champagne, so we wracked our brains. In the end we remembered that Exam Schools actually has a gorgeous quad – despite not doing weddings very often they were super helpful and flexible.
Our advice: (1) pray that all of the different timings will fit together, (2) think about how your guests will get from each of your venues – Oxford is super walkable, and our route had the benefit of delightful strolls through both Christ Church Meadow and along Queen’s Lane, but we relied on excellent ushers and guests who knew Oxford well, and (3) make sure there’s someone – either a planner or someone in the bridal party – who has an overview of all of the venues and timings and is communicating with the next one in the chain so they know when everyone is about to descend on them.
Nina, what are the perks of using multiple venues in your wedding?
Using multiple venues means you get to explore, it means you get to showcase your personality, it means you get to bring to life all the different aspects of your time together. Whether that be colleges you went to, pubs you frequented or towns you have lived. Every building allows your guests a new and different experience that becomes a new talking point and a new memory is created.
The time travelling between venues can be a moment for you two to escape the bustle for 15 minutes and have time to yourself whilst getting some beautiful couple photos too!
G & T, the silent disco was a great addition to your chilled wedding. Why did you opt for this over a traditional DJ/band, and how did it go down with your guests?
It was amazing! Neither Tom nor I are particularly musical people and we’re definitely not dancers. We’ve also both got excellent memories of silent discos at college balls, so we knew really early on a silent disco would be great. It had the advantage of giving us total creative control over the playlists. We had three channels – one playing a Spotify playlist curated by Tom, one playing one curated by Georgie and one playing back to back episodes of This American Life (see above on us not being musical). The competitive edge of seeing whose playlist people preferred (the lights on your headphones would be a different colour depending which channel you were on) was an added bonus. We were slightly worried without loud music the entire reception would be a weird silence, but luckily our friends are all drunk singers and the atmosphere was great.
Nina, have you seen any other unique evening entertainment ideas which you loved?
Georgie & Tom nailed it with their evening entertainment as it was just so them! I think it is really important to not feel the pressure of what is expected of a wedding and make sure you do you!
Maybe look at having a percussion and saxophonist accompany your DJ – this is a great mix of having live music whilst not needing to have a full band. Or I recently had a couple do ‘bandeoke’, a great mix of having live music but where your guests can come up and perform karaoke style! It was so interactive for everyone and certainly memorable!
You transformed Convocation House into the ultimate TV show haven, with a sweets table and comfort shows streaming throughout the evening. What inspired this idea?
As above, both of us are normally the people at a wedding who will be gossiping over wine in the corner rather than lighting up the dance floor, so we knew we wanted a more chilled out space at our wedding. Having both the Divinity School and Convocation House at our disposal for the wedding created the perfect opportunity to turn Convocation House into somewhere people could sit and chat away from the dance floor. Luckily the Bodleian team, OFD, TEC and Occasion Queens were all really on board with the idea and turned it into pretty much our dream Saturday night location. Sitting with some of the people we love most in the world watching the end of an episode of Frasier (the Ski Lodge, what else?) at the end of our reception is one of both of our favourite memories from the day.
Which part of the wedding planning process did you not expect to love as much as you did?
Handing over control to other people on the week/day of! Planning a wedding is such a strange experience because you’ve got this baby you’ve been working on for – in our case – more than two years, and at the end of it you just have to hand it all over to your suppliers! I thought I’d spend the whole day stressing that the tables didn’t look how I planned, or that people didn’t have enough to drink, or that the tech wasn’t working properly, but thanks to our truly wonderful suppliers I had none of that. Dare I say it, it looked and worked better than I’d pictured. If that’s a cop out of an answer because it’s not really planning, then I’d say the menu tasting – I knew it would be a fun experience, but it was a really excellent day out in its own right!
Do you have any words of wedded wisdom for couples looking to get married in Oxford?
Do it, obviously – if you’ve got lots of friends in London then it’s nice and convenient for them, but it’s also a treat for family and friends coming from overseas who haven’t seen the city before. Our main advice would be to book hotels/Airbnbs for everyone early though – the city is big, but it can be very small when you’re competing with thousands of tour groups, arriving/departing students and 56 other weddings … !
Thank you Georgina and Tom for sharing your experience of your unique wedding day. If you fancy having a Bodleian wedding, please get in touch on email@example.com .
All photography in this post by Kari Bellamy.