Flora Vesterberg Wove Her Love of the Arts into Her London Wedding at St. James’s Palace

Photo: Hugo Burnand

Flora Vesterberg, a curator with a masters degree from The Courtauld Institute of Art and contributor to Vogue Scandinavia, and Swedish financier Timothy Vesterberg were introduced by their best man Alexander Danielsson, who the bride had met in Paris during an internship for Sotheby’s. “He had studied with my husband in Stockholm and then cleverly brought us together in London a few years later,” Flora remembers. Timothy visited an exhibition that Flora, the granddaughter of HRH Princess Alexandra, The Hon. Lady Ogilvy, had curated at Connolly. An evocative ink drawing by Alba Hodsoll sparked an initial conversation that led to their ultimately falling in love and becoming engaged.

Timothy proposed at the couples’ favorite meeting spot in London. “It was a serene and beautiful moment for both of us,” Flora says. The pear-shaped diamond in Flora’s bespoke engagement ring is Victorian—from the late 19th century. Timothy worked closely with the British jewelers Hancocks in Burlington Arcade to encase it with two smaller diamonds and place it onto a contemporary gold band. The two celebrated becoming engaged in Milan with a few nights at Palazzo Parigi while also taking time to visit the contemporary art collection at Fondazione Prada.

“A poignant moment [during our courtship] was when I gave a lecture with my friend Rosa Park of Francis Gallery. I fell in love with a Korean moon jar by Kim Sang In made of two hemispherical porcelain halves, which are forever bound together,” Flora remembers. “I had observed that Timothy was equally drawn to the piece when he spoke particularly eloquently on the subject. Upon enquiry, it had sadly already been sold, and so I commissioned another by Jago Poynter. However, our thoughts were aligned as my then fiancé and I ended up giving our respective moon jars to one another on the same morning.” Now their moon jars are on display side by side, and art collecting remains a focus for the couple.

“A few months after our engagement when planning was underway, the pandemic struck, and we put our plans on hold,” Flora says. “My parents worked closely with our friends Peregrine and Caroline Armstrong-Jones of Bentleys Entertainments, and they were all brilliantly agile.”

On September 26, 2020, Flora and Timothy married privately at The Chapel Royal, St. James’s Palace with the idea that they would also do a blessing of the marriage with more of their loved ones a year later, if protocols surrounding the pandemic would allow for it. 

“My mother, Julia—who looked radiant in a pink silk dress by Beulah and ivory hat by the British milliner Rachel Trevor Morgan—recently studied at Harvard Divinity School and expertly planned services for both our wedding ceremony and marriage blessing that interwove Swedish traditions,” Flora says. “The wedding ceremony was a very emotional and intimate experience that Timothy and I both feel incredibly grateful for.” To commemorate their nuptials, the newlyweds’ close friends Isabel and Gigi Ettedgui of Connolly gave them a triptych of mid-19th century porcelain Japanese sake vases. “It is now a cherished piece in our collection that ultimately inspired where we want to go on our honeymoon,” Flora says. 

On September 26, 2020, Flora Vesterberg and Timothy Vesterberg married privately at The Chapel Royal, St. James’s Palace.Photo: Hugo Burnand

For this intimate ceremony, Flora wore a structured ivory dress by Emilia Wickstead with a ballerina hemline. “I often wear Emilia Wickstead’s pieces to give lectures at The Sotheby’s Institute of Art or for galleries like Ordovas in London because they feel empowering,” Flora explains. “Traditional and yet contemporary, the neckline is reflective of an iconic dress worn by my great-grandmother HRH Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent many years ago,” Flora says. “She was a devoted philanthropist and patron of the arts.”

Flora’s grandmother HRH Princess Alexandra, The Hon. Lady Ogilvy lent her a delicate pair of diamond and pearl earrings. “I felt very grateful to have these pieces of historical significance close to me during that pivotal moment for Timothy and me,” the bride says.

Almost exactly one year later, the blessing of marriage took place at noon on Friday, September 10, 2021. The morning started with a traditional ushers’ breakfast at Franco’s on Jermyn Street. “They were led by my stylish and vivacious brother Alexander Ogilvy, who had recently flown in from New York and ensured they all looked immaculate ahead of departure to St. James’s Church,” Flora says. They all wore ivory rose and orchid boutonnières, which aligned with the bride’s bouquet and were designed by Izabella of Giverny Flowers Ltd.

“With my grandmother’s tiara as the reference, I worked with British couturier Phillipa Lepley to bring floral motifs of orchids, stephanotis, and jasmine as well as pearls into the embroidery of my wedding dress and veil. It was a pleasure to work with Phillipa. She thoughtfully interwove my references and involved me in the design process. Our fittings were always serene and yet productive,” Flora says. “The embroidery was influenced by the knowledge of botany that my landscape designer father, James, had taught me. He always finds beauty in subtle details, which has inspired me in my own life. The silhouette of my dress was inspired by my grandmother’s wedding dress as well as the oeuvre of the late photographer George Hoyningen-Huene, who I recently profiled for Vogue Scandinavia. A subtle element of structure brought a sense of modernity.”

For this occasion, HRH Princess Alexandra, The Hon. Lady Ogilvy lent her granddaughter the intricate pearl and diamond tiara that her late husband, Sir Angus Ogilvy, had given her as a wedding present in 1963 and is often referred to across historical archives as the “Ogilvy Tiara.” She wore it to a ball given a few nights before their wedding at Windsor Castle.

Sir Angus Ogilvy, HRH Princess Alexandra, The Hon. Lady Ogilvy, and HRH Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent leaving Kensington Palace to attend a ball at Windsor Castle in their honor.

Photo: Getty Images

Jimmy Choo designed bespoke ivory satin heels with Flora’s marital initials embossed in gilt, which were worn for her wedding last year at The Chapel Royal as well as for her marriage blessing.

Flora’s beauty look was created by her cousin Phoebe Coleman, an art historian with a penchant for YouTube tutorials. Her hair was done by Hugh Green. The bride carried a bouquet made with the same roses, just as she had done for her wedding ceremony at The Chapel Royal, St. James’s Palace, as well as orchids and celestial stephanotis (the latter of which was included as an homage to her grandmother’s wedding bouquet). Izabella of Giverny Flowers Ltd. worked closely with the bride’s mother, Julia, to create it as well as boutonnières for the groom and the best man, ushers, and fathers. The bridesmaids wore delicate headbands woven with ivory roses and orchids. 

Timothy wore a bespoke morning suit designed by the British tailor Richard James on Savile Row. “He was closely involved in the design process and was impressed by their contemporary approach to a traditional concept,” Flora says. “The delicate mother-of-pearl buttons of my husband’s waistcoat were added to complement the pearls in my grandmother’s tiara and embroidered throughout my dress. He wore the woven silk tie that we were married in with a boutonnière that aligned with my bouquet. He was lent a diamond tie pin designed for my late grandfather Sir Angus Ogilvy.” 

Flora’s cousin and maid-of-honor Lady Marina Windsor wore a structured dress in lilac silk of ballerina length that referenced the unique neckline worn by her grandmother HRH Katherine, Duchess of Kent’s wedding dress in 1961. “She looked exquisite and was incredibly supportive throughout both our wedding ceremony and marriage blessing,” Flora says. “Her dress was designed by the British couturier Suzannah London who ensured that she looked as chic as ever as she led our three bridesmaids up the aisle.”

The bride’s younger cousins Maud and Isabella Windsor served as bridesmaids along with Victoria, the daughter of friend and interior designer Nina Litchfield, who wore Emilia Wickstead for the occasion. 

The ceremony took place at St. James’s Church. “I was particularly drawn to it because the architect Sir Christopher Wren designed it alongside the architraves of the State Apartments of St. James’s Palace, where our reception was held,” Flora says. They often hold services for leading cultural institutions such as the neighboring Royal Academy of Arts, where Flora also gives private exhibition tours. “It is truly breathtaking because you step through a rather unsuspecting doorway and are immediately transported by the sheer opulence.” The Reverend Lucy Winkett, who married the couple at The Chapel Royal, led the service. “She was formerly canon of St. Paul’s Cathedral and the first woman priest to be appointed there,” Flora says. “She is devoted to supporting her community and her commitment to philanthropy is very important to both of us.

The Chapel Royal Choir gave a performance of Prelude in EB “St Anne” BWV 552 by Johann Sebastian Bach and La Réjouissance by George Friedrich Handel during the marriage blessing. After their performance, the groom’s sister Emmy read “Till Brudparet” by the Swedish poet Siv Andersson. Attendees sung the hymns “Be Thou my Vision, Love Divine, and All Loves Excelling,” which the bride’s grandmother had at her wedding at Westminster Cathedral in 1963. “My parents-in-law and wider Swedish family brought so much joy to our marriage blessing,” Flora says. 

The reception was held in the State Apartments of St. James’s Palace. For decor, the couple chose subtle ivory orchids and roses to complement the vivid color the wallpaper designed by William Morris. The bride’s grandmother HRH Princess Alexandra, The Hon. Lady Ogilvy held her reception there in 1963. 

After the reception, a more intimate celebration was held at Claridge’s for guests who had travelled from Stockholm, New York, and even further afield. Their team thoughtfully incorporated ivory orchids and roses into their decor to align with the bride’s bouquet. “I am a devotee of sourcing vintage with my friend Elle McPherson-Yoon in both London and Paris and found a bejeweled pink gown from the sixties to wear for the evening,” Flora says. “Our friend and sculptor Jenny Hyejung Min travelled all the way from her New York studio with a delicate piece that she gave us later that evening, and we were incredibly moved.” 

Now, with their wedding ceremony and marriage blessing behind them, the couple is planning their postponed honeymoon to Japan, timed to next year’s cherry blossom season. They’re looking forward to exploring the museums like the Sumida Hokusai Museum in a country whose art they’ve both grown to love and that’s become an integral part of their collection.