A Summer Wedding in the English Countryside
The founders of Pacific Northwest design brand Grain curate their dream nuptial celebrations in a quaint Cotswolds town
Nearly 10 years ago, Chelsea Green and James Minola, both students at the Rhode Island School of Design, signed up for a winter semester class in Guatemala that changed their lives forever. They met, discovered that they had several things in common (a Southern California upbringing; families that resided a mere six miles apart near Seattle; and a shared major, industrial design), and started dating not long after. Their courtship lead to the launch of Grain, a sustainability-focused design business based on Washington’s Bainbridge Island, and a proposal in 2012, at Manhattan’s Morgan Library after their collaborative designs were spotlighted as part of New York Design Week. “I was so surprised and excited and exhausted. I was really feeling all the feelings,” Chelsea says.
When it came time to choose a wedding location, Chelsea’s mind wandered to England’s Chipping Campden—a historic market town in the Cotswolds, 90 miles northwest of London—where she spent time as a child visiting her paternal grandparents. “When I told my mom, she started crying and said, ‘That’s the first place I took you when you were a baby. Let’s figure out how to do it,’” recalls Chelsea. “I didn’t have a global wedding in mind when I got engaged, but I knew we had to make it happen.”
The couple’s background as designers came into play during the process. “I took it on like [it was] a work project,” says Chelsea. Because the planning had to take place from overseas, she created detailed mood boards for all of her vendors, many of whom she didn’t have the chance to meet before the wedding. “[Organizing details from a distance] was actually good,” says Chelsea, “because there’s only a certain amount of time you should fuss over this stuff. When I showed up, maybe [the decor elements] weren’t exactly what I had in mind—but they were beautiful and they were there and it was done.”
Keeping the focus on the picturesque event locations—the medieval St. James’ church for the ceremony and a beautifully rustic barn at Mickleton Hills Farm for the reception—and using locally sourced materials were high priorities. “Chipping Campden is such a magical place. We just had to try not to distract from what was already there,” says Chelsea, who described her wedding aesthetic as “relaxed English country.” She encouraged her florist to use gathered wildflowers and foliage from hedgerows for the arrangements. And because many of their guests were visiting the Cotswolds for the first time, the couple requested a menu that drew on regional ingredients, including Gloucester Old Spot pork and Bibury trout.
On the day of the wedding, Chelsea, who was staying at a Landmark Trust house just steps from St. James’, got ready to the sounds of church bells ringing, which she recalls as one of her fondest memories. She wore a kaftan-style Alice Temperley gown and a crown of flowers, which also served to keep her veil—a vintage Italian style borrowed from a close friend’s mother—in place. James, sticking with the English theme, donned a Paul Smith suit. The couple left the afternoon ceremony, which took place on an uncommonly warm and sunny day, to guest showering them with flower petals.
For the reception dinner, two long parallel tables, lit with plentiful candles, sat beneath draped garlands of hand-harvested foliage. The couple opted for local summer pudding with crème fraiche for dessert, rather than a traditional wedding cake, and followed the dinner with dancing—their first song was Johnny Cash and June Carter’s If I Were a Carpenter. “I love the line, ‘I gave you my onliness. Give me your tomorrow,’” says Chelsea. Another of the bride’s favorite moments came at the end of the evening as the party of 72 started to dwindle. The remaining guests grabbed the rest of the champagne bottles and a huge basket of cheese for the ride back to town—a fitting ending to the thoughtful yet unfussy wedding that James and Chelsea had planned together.