A rather unusual first wedding dance | Royal College of Physicians

You may have read on our blog recently the story of how Tamsyn and Jamie first met. With a story like that setting their relationship off, it might not surprise you to hear that their wedding day for also a little different from the norm. Starting with Tamsyn’s dress – electric blue Angelina Colarusso gown dripping in glamour and then a rather unusual first “dance”… As a couple, Jamie and Tamsyn like to get creative and do things in their own style, and so wanted to apply the same approach to their wedding.

So first, the proposal. Tamsyn & Jamie can’t resist an adventure trip, and had loaded their kit into a canoe for a few days paddling and wild camping along the Thames river. When they reached the idyllic Temple Island at Henley, which was glinting gently in the last rays of sunshine, Jamie suggested they stop to enjoy the moment and admire it. As they pulled alongside the ‘Temple’, he scrambled up the canoe and asked if Tamsyn would be his team-mate for all of life’s adventures. Once Tamsyn had manage to compose herself after a touch of joyful blubbing, she accepted. As Tamsyn told us”it was perfect, even when the heavens later opened and we spent the first night of ‘almost married’ life in a wonky, flooded, smelly tent trying to stop the pots and pans from floating away!”

Tamsyn knew she wanted a dress that was completely different, and coloured rather than white, but found finding something that fitted the quirky criteria was surprisingly challenging. She told us “I was starting to despair when Mum and I came across Angelina Colarusso – I loved the architectural style and sculptural elegance of her designs, and was overjoyed to meet Angelina and find she was happy to apply her considerable artistic talents to creating something a little on the wild side! As an added plus, the full skirt detaches to convert the whole thing into a slinky evening dress – I may have refused to take it off at the end of the night if I thought I’d never get to wear at least part of it again!”

Tamsyn asked us for a hair stylist recommendation and we suggested contacting Lidia Attino at Volume Hair. Tamsayn told us she “did a fantastic job on our bridesmaids’, Mum’s and my hair. Vicky Cameron stepped into the breach to do our make-up after I was quavering from a disastrous trial elsewhere, and I was so pleased to have found her – she made us all feel absolutely gorgeous. Amazingly all the hair and makeup looks lasted not only all day but throughout some very warm and energetic hours of ceilidh dancing in the evening!”

Tamsyn and her Dad walked down the aisle to the Flower Duet from Lakme, played by the brilliant Cairn String Quartet, who also flawlessly accommodated their more offbeat request to perform Guns N’ Roses, Sandi Thom and Metallica for our registry signing. The guests loved their performances before and after the ceremony as well.

Buildings with history and plenty of character have always appealed to Tamsyn & Jamie They felt The Royal College of Physicians, with its classical library and vibrant Great Hall, had those in abundence. Tamsyn told us “it has an ‘Alice in Wonderland’ quality; everywhere you go a contrasting style and colour unfolds before you, and as Jamie put it, we wandered round like ‘twa bairns the night afore Christmas’. The team there were also incredibly helpful and organised, both throughout the planning and on the day, and didn’t bat an eyelid when we proposed staging a swordfight in their priceless building!” The wedding day was rainy but it didn’t matter as the interior of The Royal College of Physicians is so stunning.

The first dance was a tricky one for Jamie and Tamsyn. As they told us “neither of us are dancers, and we dreaded three minutes of awkward shuffling to something traditional. So we decided that we’d choose the mushiest tune we could think of (step forward Celine Dion’s Titanic theme), shuffle briefly – then stop the music and launch into a ‘first swordfight’ instead! As we started to practise our fight in the weeks beforehand, we did wonder if we’d bitten off more than we could chew – I used to fence internationally but had never performed, and Jamie was a professional musician so is used to stages, but had never fenced. Plus we’d be doing the whole thing in full formal dress (including enormous skirt, train and heels for me), having to remember detailed choreography on top of all the excitement of the wedding day, and trying not to run each other through, as we wouldn’t be wearing any safety gear. We kept the whole thing secret (apart from a handful of helpers), and snuck nervously away for a quick practice beforehand (which Mark also photographed). But once the swordfight music started (Pirates of the Caribbean theme tune!), and we smiled at each other across our raised blades, all the nerves melted away and the whole fight was the most immense amount of fun.”

Jamie and Tamsyn decided they needed a more ‘them’ alternative to flowers. Tamsyn’s Mum was asked if she could help with, “you know, stuff that will look cool, um, maybe with peacock feathers”. She designed and made all the ‘bouquets’, buttonholes, bridesmaids fascinators, table plans and markers, and bookmark place-settings (for which they’d chosen an individual quote for each guest) – and Tamsyn & Jamie were blown away by her imaginative ideas, and how fantastic the finished results were.

The couple also made their own centrepieces, by building stacks of books then planting artificial trees in them. Tamsyn told us “these caused a few fraught moments with midnight book-drilling and disembowelling topiary balls and trying to stuff fairy lights into them, but they were worth it in the end!” The wedding cake was blue, green, and purple cupcakes from Liggy’s Cakes described by Tamsyn as “yum!”.

Jamie hadn’t owned a full kilt outfit previously as he’d never felt comfortable in the buttoned-up traditional style, so he eagerly seized on the opportunity to put together his own style entirely. He created his own tartan, and then had his kilt made up in this newly-minted family pattern. The rest of his sleek black outfit was then designed around it.

Tamsyn told us that ceilidh band Two Left Feet were a “huge hit, and got everyone from the oldest to the youngest on their feet, with enthusiastic calling for our many novice English ceilidh-ers (bride included)! One of the best unexpected pleasures of the day was seeing all our diverse gang of family and friends dancing merrily away together.”

Other suppliers worthy of note for the couple were the Humanist celebrant Lesley who “worked with us to put together a very personal ceremony, and was a huge support and calming presence throughout” and caterers Prestige Scotland, who “not only provided fabulous food but were great in helping us plan, and in running an immaculately tight ship on the day”.

So why did Jamie and Tamsyn choose Archibald Photography. Tamsyn told us “we’re passionate about travel, and were initially captivated by Mark’s travel photography, with galleries of the sort of travel shots we’d love to have taken ourselves, if only we were that talented! Plus Archibald Photography’s ethos of reflecting the individual styles of people they work with, rather than fitting a traditional ‘wedding’ mould, really appealed. Mark is a lovely character in person as well, and we knew he’d be great at putting all our most photo-shy guests (including us occasionally!) at ease. We’re still struggling to choose favourites. There are so many beautifully dramatic ones against the RCPE’s stunning backdrops, but we also love the really personal shots that have vividly captured all our favourite moments. And there were so many of those! All the various aspects of the ceremony, including exchanging rings (and giggling as we struggle to get them on), speeches, the swordfight (and our joy and amazement afterwards that we’d actually managed to pull it off without someone losing an eye!) – and I could go on, there are countless others. Also, the way Mark’s captured all the character and personality of our wonderful families and friends. We felt carried along on a tide of their thoroughly infectious enthusiasm, and without them the day wouldn’t have been the joyful and exuberant celebration it was.”

A final note from groom Jamie who “remembers having to pinch himself throughout the day, because not only had we actually got married, but we’d done so in a way that felt entirely true to ourselves, and we and our families and friends were having a fantastic time into the bargain.”