And the lion roared… {Benj & Claudia}

“You have brought us together as your community, uniting your friends and two very lucky families.”

Benj’s father Jethro, celebrant on this wedding day.

The sun glittered through the lush green forest, creating nothing short of a magical backdrop for this Dartmoor Zoological Park wedding. Benj and Claudia are both zoologists, so the setting couldn’t have been more perfect. The wedding guests, who had put on one incredible show with their animal outfits the night before, spent the morning wandering around the zoo, greeting the animals, and getting ready in a very fancy changing yurt in the wedding campsite. Their animal costumes were so good that it was hard to believe these people were the same penguins, tigers and insects from the previous evening, though their familiar smiles and laughs betrayed them.

The day was full of handmade elements, all created by the bride and groom with help from their friends and family. Curled peacock feathers, delicate beading, leaves and 250 meters of blue and green handmade bunting adorned marquee and reception room. The attention to detail in the bouquet, button holes and the headpieces that Claudia made was truly exquisite. And the brownies, that floated on tiers to create the wedding cake, made by Claudia’s aunt Rosie, were polished off in about 10 minutes.

As for the rest, I almost don’t know where to start. Benj and Claudia have become very dear to me in the run up to their wedding, and we were treated with such care and respect by everyone. It was one of the most joyous days. There was such a sense of togetherness and of a singular purpose, to celebrate the life and love of two very special people.

Claudia and Benj asked family to share readings that were meaningful to them during their ceremony. Benj’s brother Noah read a thoughtful passage from E. O. Wilson’s Biophilia, and Claudia’s grandmother read a passage from Dr. Seuss ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go!’, a favorite of mine. Benj’s sister Sophia gave an incredibly beautiful performance of a poem written by their grandfather, which she had set to music for the occasion, while Claudia’s brother Max’s rendition of ‘I like you’ by Sandol Stoddard Warburg left not one dry eye in the house. Oh, and then there was the lion. The lion who lives very close to the clearing where the marquee was piched. The lion who decided to roar throughout the ceremony.

That’s a new one.

It was a beautiful, moving day, personal to them and full of personality. I am so incredibly grateful to have met Claudia and Benj and got to know their family and friends. It is such a privilege to have been able to document these celebrations.

I’ll begin with a video story…


The stills that follow share more of the day with different moments and memories.

Benj & Claudia’s Dartmoor Zoological Park Wedding details:

Claudia’s dress: Pronovias, “Flash”, fitted and altered by the Bridal Box, Oxford
Claudia’s rings: Engagement ring designed by Benj, wedding rings designed by Claudia, created by Ingle and Rhode Ethical Jeweller
Benj’s rings: Tungsten Affinity
Claudia’s hair: Skin Deep, Plympton
The Bridesmaids dresses: Dresses from Etsy shop BoutiqueALaMode
Claudia’s and Bridesmaids’ hair pieces: made by Claudia
The bouquets: made by Claudia
The Buttonholes: made by Claudia and Benj
Benj’s suit: T.M. Lewin
Cravats made by Bridget Gray, Waistcoats from Austin Reed
Stationary: all designed by Claudia
All table decorations, marquee decorations and reception decorations have been made by Claudia and Benj, Bridget Gray, Rosie Johnson and Leonora Langstaff (Claudia’s cousin)
Chef – Anton Piotrowski from the Treby Arms, Sparkwell, Devon
The cake: Made by Rosie Johnson (Claudia’s aunt)
Friday opening party music: Bambino dell’Oro, Howard Johnson, Sophia Pettit and Luke Twyman.
Reception: Jessica and the Rabbits
The marquee is from Really Good Marquees, Devon

A special thank you to Howard Johnson for the audio recording of the ceremony.