I think every time I photograph a wedding at Wadhurst Castle, I fall in love with it just a little bit more. I mean look at the view below - how amazing is that?! And that's in addition to the castle itself plus some stunning gardens.
Becky, her bridesmaids, plus mum and dad got ready at Wadhurst Castle, split between the bridal suite and the cottage. Once everyone was ready, I joined the bridesmaids in a VW Camper to go to St Peter and St Paul Church in Wadhurst before it returned to the castle to pick up Becky & her father. There's something special about VW Campers and the bridesmaids were smiling the entire journey - although in retrospect this could have also been down to the imminent event. 🙂 - nah, it was definitely the VW.
Once the ceremony was over, and the confetti had been thrown and then fallen to the ground, everyone departed for the castle where drinks and snacks were served. An acoustic guitarist (Lewis Ross) played beautiful background music (being a budding guitarist myself, I am loving hearing more acoustic guitars at weddings lately), and taking full advantage of the incredible weather, the wedding speeches were carried out on the steps by the lawn. Then it was off to the barn for the wedding breakfast (catered by Touchay's). Our luck with the weather lasted through the whole day, and between main and dessert, I took Becky & Dom out to the field below the castle lawn for some photos with that incredible view behind them, enjoying an amazing sunset.
After that, it was time for the first dance and party thereafter. And just when I was about to leave, the 21 year old castle cat made an appearance. I quickly grabbed Becky & Dom and we managed a photo of them with the cat before it disappeared. It seemed remarkably unperturbed by the loud music at the time, but I suspect it was off to somewhere more peaceful afterwards.
Here is more info about Becky & Dom & their wedding choices:
How did you meet, & how did you become engaged?
"We met on our first day at university in September 2010. We lived in the same halls, then in a house share with friends until 2013, and both moved home for a few years before we moved in together in Tunbridge Wells in 2017. We got engaged on holiday in Thailand in 2018. It was a beautiful time to be there as it was the Loy Krathong lantern festival in Chiang Mai when we got engaged."
How long did you take to plan your wedding?
"We originally planned our wedding for May 2020, so it should have been 18 months from when we got engaged. However, in March 2020 we had to postpone the wedding due to Covid, so it was nearly 3 years from when we got engaged in the end."
What made you choose your wedding venues and how did you decorate them?
"We fell in love with Wadhurst Castle from the minute we arrived. We viewed it on a cold, grey January day and even then the view and grounds looked beautiful, so we knew it would look even better in spring/summer. When we first visited they were converting the carriage barn and it was a building site, but we were keen to use it for our wedding breakfast just based on the drawings of the proposals. The castle really doesn’t need much in the way of decorations – it speaks for itself!
In the main castle (where we had the dance floor) we had some pictures of us strung up on frames with our guest book and a polaroid camera for guests to use. We also had little chalkboard arrows so people knew where the dance floor / loos / pizza buffet were. We dotted gin bottles with fairy lights in and flowers around the drawing room and bar in the evening, and had a chalkboard bar menu with fairy lights around it in the bar. The bar in the orangery looked amazing with all the plants and uplighters – it really doesn’t need any more decoration.
In the barn we kept the tables nice and simple with clusters of 3 jars of flowers, place cards, table names on stands and menus on stands. Dom’s sister made some beautiful menus for us which matched the place cards. Outside we had little IKEA lanterns on round tables for people to sit at during the drinks reception and evening. There were also 6 large lanterns on the steps outside the bar, leading down onto the terrace. We had a basket of blankets outside in case people got chilly. A family member made us a wooden doll’s house which was a postbox for cards and gifts, which looked really cute in the garden in the day and in the castle in the evening.
We had the ceremony at Wadhurst Church. We had small bunches of flowers on every other pew end, tied with string. Outside the church we had two big milk churns of flowers which we re-used back at the castle in the barn. Some helpful guests helped put them in the camper van when we left the church – they were really heavy!"
What inspired you to style your day the way you did?
"We tried to keep it simple and classic, with no particular theme. The flowers were natural and wild-looking and we relied on fairy lights and lanterns to create a nice cosy atmosphere. We didn’t want to end up buying loads of props and decorations which we wouldn’t use again. Our table names were vintage-style postcards of places we have been, which added a nice personal touch as we love to travel. Becky made a world map table plan on a pin board, with pins and string pointing to each place on the map and connecting to the list of names for each table. The covers of the orders of service matched our invitations too, with a simple green leaves border."
How did you decide on your dress and accessories?
"I picked my dress in April 2019 and luckily still loved it by the time we got married in September 2021. I wanted something fairly simple and straight in silhouette with some lace. My dress was actually in the sample sale at Go Bridal, having come from the Pantiles Bride – it was still in the packaging and hadn’t been tried on which was lucky! I wanted a simple veil and found one which showed the back of the dress through it at Go Bridal too. I chose some teal velvet shoes to mix it up a bit from the usual white shoes, as I will wear them again at any opportunity. I also wore a bracelet my grandparents got me for my 18th birthday, a ring from my parents which my sister also has, and some earrings Dom bought me as an early wedding present."
How did you decide on the outfits for the groom and groomsmen?
"We bought Dom’s and his brother’s suits in early 2020, thinking we didn’t have long to sort them before the wedding in May. In the end we needn’t have worried as they then sat in the wardrobe for 18 months! We bought the suits in Moss Bros and they chose their own ties and shirts separately. We also had an usher, Joe, and he wore a navy suit which went well with the others. We were very relaxed about the suits and didn’t want everyone in matching ones. Becky’s dad picked a lovely grey checked suit which complemented the navy ones well."
Who gave you away / walked you down the aisle? And did you walk down the aisle to a particular song?
"My dad walked me down the aisle. This was the part I was most emotional about, and I could not stop crying in the morning or in the camper van on the way to the church every time I thought about it! I held it together somehow though! We walked down the aisle to Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major played by the brilliant organist at Wadhurst Church. It was nice and slow and a familiar piece of music to lots of people."
Would you like to share anything about your vows? Did you tailor your own?
"We didn’t tailor our vows – we had a Church of England service which we think said it all. The church service went so so quickly and it’s all a bit of a blur! When we signed the register the fountain pen leaked black ink all over our fingers – I didn’t realise I had touched the back of my dress before noticing the ink was on my fingers so there was a splodge on the back all day! Everyone agreed not to tell me apparently and I didn’t realise until the early evening when I tied the train up to dance. It’s come out at the dry cleaners and you can’t see it in the photos – Nick worked his magic! Luckily my cousin had baby wipes on her so we all cleaned our hands up at the alter which was quite funny."
Did you have any readings? If so, what were they and why did you choose them?
"Dom’s sister read 1 Corinthians 13, and Becky’s sister read an extract from ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ (Becky’s favourite book and a common wedding reading)."
Please describe your wedding breakfast and the reasons behind it?
"We didn’t have canapes during the drinks reception – instead we put out hampers of packets of crisps for everyone to help themselves to. This saved some money and people also loved that they could choose what they wanted and go back for more! The drinks reception was really nice and relaxed – we had an acoustic guitarist, Lewis Ross, who created a lovely, chilled atmosphere.
Our starters were smoked salmon with pea shoots or a tomato, mozzarella and avocado salad for vegetarians. The mains were beef with dauphinoise potatoes, mushroom, spinach and leek pie with crushed potatoes, or sweet potato curry (vegan). The dessert was cherry and vanilla cheesecake with clotted cream. We had a vegan alternative for the starter and dessert too. We had a tasting session with our caterer, but we had to choose what we wanted to try before we went so had kind of already chosen before the tasting. It was all really tasty though and we decided to just do all the options we had tried and asked our guests to choose their food when they RSVP’d.
In the evening we had the Safari Pizza Van which was fab – everyone loved it. They cooked the pizzas outside the castle and bought them into the bar on sharing boards. We took one in the taxi with us at the end of the night to eat at our hotel!"
Did you provide wedding favours? If so, please provide details or what and where you sourced them
"Dom’s mum and sister made some grapefruit and raspberry gin and put them in mini bottles with cute labels on – we had them in a basket with fairy lights on in the hallway so people could grab one on their way out at the end of the evening."
Please describe your cake and why you chose it?
"Becky’s school friend Alice made our cake – she had recently started up her own baking business and we were really impressed with her cakes we had seen and tasted at people’s birthdays throughout the year. She made a beautiful two tiered cake: one tier was lemon and the other vanilla. It had our initials embossed in gold on the front which looked great. Our florist provided some extra flowers to decorate it with. It was so special to have a close friend (who was also a guest) make our cake and she did an amazing job!"
What was your first dance track and what did it mean to you?
"If I ain’t got you’ by Alicia Keys. This song was being played by a band in the bar in Thailand when we met my dad (he was there on business by coincidence!) and told him we had got engaged. It’s also nice and slow so we just swayed a bit and made everyone join in after the first verse!"
What was your favourite part of the day and why?
"We really can’t say – the whole day was just perfect and went so well. It was such as relief after all the Covid chaos to have everyone there together having a lovely time. Greeting everyone outside the church after the ceremony was a lovely moment – everyone was congratulating us and hugging us and it was so great to see everyone together for the first time in ages. The speeches on the steps outside the castle were lovely too and really emotional. We also had a lovely 20 minutes or so when we went off for some couples portraits with Nick in the field at sunset – it was nice to have a bit of time just the two of us to chat and pause for a moment. Nick was quite far away from us and it felt like we were just having a nice walk on our own!"
What led you to choose Nick from Parkershots as your photographer and please can you comment on the results?
"We loved Nick’s photography style from his website and Instagram page – he takes such lovely, natural photos rather than all formal or posed. Nick blended seamlessly in with our guests and put everyone at ease - we honestly didn't even notice him during the church service, but he somehow managed to take the most beautiful photos from every angle. He had an ability to be everywhere at once and capture every moment, including our guests' reactions to the speeches and service whilst also taking photos of us at the same time.
We were worried that our couple's portraits might feel a bit awkward, as we had not booked an engagement shoot, but Nick put us at ease straight away, chatting to us and making us laugh throughout - as a result the photos are so natural and spontaneous and we had nothing to worry about!
We absolutely love our wedding photos and have no idea how we will choose which ones to put in the album – we think we will have to print photo books of all the ones which don’t make the cut in the formal album!"
On reflection, is there anything you would have done differently with foresight?
"We definitely bought too much drink for the meal and bar and ended up with about half of it left over! It’s not a bad thing though as we gave a lot to family and friends and are stocked for Christmas!"
If you could impart any words of wisdom to a bride to be planning her marriage and wedding day, what would they be?
"I know everyone says this, but just enjoy it and don’t worry about the little details on the day – everything will run smoothly and fall into place (especially if you have your wedding at Wadhurst Castle as the wedding team there are great). Try to take a bit of time out for just the two of you to catch your breath and take it all in, as it goes so fast.
When planning the day, definitely have a spreadsheet so you can keep track of your budget and what you have spent so far. If you are stocking the bar yourself, have a drinks spreadsheet too so you can work out what you need to buy (although we massively overestimated what we needed). Don’t feel pressured to buy or hire decorations or props if you don’t think you need them at your venue – sometimes simple is best."
Congratulations Becky & Dom! Wishing you a very happy marriage together!
- Bride’s gown (Designer and boutique) Pronovias, Go Bridal
- Shoes: Whistles
- Veil / Headpiece Go Bridal
- Perfume Jo Malone pear and freesia
- Hair Stylist Beckie’s Bridal Hair
- Make-up Artist Becky’s sister Sara – there’s no one I trust more!
- Florist The Homegrown Flower Company – grown in her field down the road in Mayfield
- Rings Toulson Jones, Tunbridge Wells
- Venue Wadhurst Castle
- Cake Maker Alichay’s Bakes
- Caterer Touchay’s, Safari Pizza Van
- Bridesmaids Dresses TFNC, Asos
- Groom / Groomsmen suits Moss Bros
- Stationery Invitations and place cards – Papier. Menus and orders of service – Dom’s sister Annabel
- Entertainment Lewis Ross (guitarist) for drinks reception, Odyssey Disco in the evening
- Transport Buttercup Bus – Basil the VW camper
- Photographer: Parkershots!
- Honeymoon TBC – hopefully we are going to Costa Rica in January 2022 but we will see…!
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