Clare & Matt’s Wedding Photography at Chafford Park

It's not easy arranging a destination wedding. As although this wedding was in England, the bride and groom, Clare and Matt live in Singapore, so had to do everything remotely. My wife and I got married overseas as well, so I truly understand the additional stresses that this provides, and we only had one hour time difference from our destination, not 8 hours like Clare and Matt. However, their plan of bringing a little big of Singapore to England was executed perfectly. Everyone clearly had a good time, but they also all seemed so relaxed the whole day. Perhaps the secret was giving everyone a cocktail before the ceremony ;)

The ceremony / blessing was conducted by Katie Keen from True Blue Ceremonies and was relaxed, personal, and all round lovely. One stand out feature though had to be the song sung by two of Matt's friends. These guys deserve their own Saturday night slot on TV.

Immediately after the ceremony, we saw another feature that Clare and Matt managed to bring with them from Singapore. A nice tropical storm with a downpour followed by gorgeous sunshine. The rain was still falling when we first went out for some portraits but it didn't bother them in the slightest. It's so nice to see a couple that just goes with the flow and not let anything detract from the enjoyment of the day.

I absolutely loved everything about Clare and Matt's "Singlish" Wedding.

Here is more about them and their day in their words:

How did you meet, & how did you become engaged?
"At a seafront nightclub in Brighton – which is surprising as both Matt and Clare hate clubbing and weren’t living in Brighton at the time…"

How long did you take to plan your wedding?
"Longer than we care to remember – we live in Singapore and it’s not easy organising a wedding from eight timezones away! All in all it was 19 months from when we got engaged to when we got married."

What made you choose your wedding venues and how did you decorate them?
"We chose Chafford Park in Kent because it’s a very informal country setting with rustic barns and open fields. It meant it was a blank canvas. We chose to have a giant tipi from Holmsted Events as our venue for the reception and dinner. It was a 1-minute walk from the barn where we had our wedding service."

Chafford Park wedding photographer
Bridal prep photography at Chafford Park
The ceremony barn at Chafford Park ready for a wedding

What inspired you to style your day the way you did?
"We’ve lived in Singapore for coming up to five years – so our theme was “A Singlish Country Wedding”. We wanted to bring a few influences from our life in Asia back to the English countryside – starting with a Singapore Sling reception when the guests arrived! We had lots of tropical foliage, golden waving cats and even a few pineapples. We were really pleased with how it all turned out."

 How did you decide on your dress and accessories?
Clare: "I narrowed it down to one designer than I liked (Justin Alexander)…and then went to one of their stockists to try some of their dresses on. I wanted something with a lace back and a simple design and this was the perfect combination for me. My shoes were Rachel Simpson. I loved the design and they were really comfortable."

How did you decide on the outfits for the groom and groomsmen?
Matt: "I’d be lying if I said a lot of thought went into this… I knew I wanted something informal and a bit more contemporary than traditional wedding outfits. I went with light blue, contemporary suits from Ted Baker."

Groom preparing for wedding at Chafford Park
Bride getting ready for wedding at Chafford Park

Who gave you away / walked you down the aisle? And did you walk down the aisle to a particular song?
"Clare’s Dad, Martin. The song was an instrumental version of “Here comes the sun”."

Would you like to share anything about your vows? Did you tailor your own?
"We were married in the barn. Our celebrant was Katie Keen from True Blue Ceremonies and she was fantastic. We decided to keep the vows very simple: “I promise to care for you above all others // To give you my love and friendship // Support and comfort // And to respect and cherish you // Throughout our lives together”.

Did you have any readings? If so, what were they and why did you choose them?
"One short reading, called “Why”. It’s actually from a film and is totally non-soppy. That’s why we chose it."

Wedding ceremony at Chafford Park
wedding ceremony at Chafford park
Wedding reception at Chafford Park

Please describe your wedding breakfast and the reasons behind it?
"One of the things we love about our life in Asia is the food – and, in particular, the street food in the big cities like Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City. We chose Thai street food because we know it’s a crowd-pleaser. The caterer is a company called ThaiAngle from Saltdean. We were drawn to them because they specialise in Thai street food and cook it in this very old, bright yellow and pink Citroen van."

Please describe your cake and why you chose it?
"It was multiple layers of British and French cheeses. We chose it because Clare is slightly obsessed with cheese – and because we felt that traditional wedding cakes often don’t get eaten. The cheese went within about an hour!"

Alternative wedding photography at Chafford Park
wedding reception at Chafford Park
wedding breakfast at chafford park
wedding speeches at Chafford Park

 What was your first dance track and what did it mean to you?
"Waterloo Sunset by the Kinks. Our first date was in Waterloo…at around sunset. Or, it was sunset when Matt arrived. Clare was an hour and a half late. It was quite dark by then."

What was your favourite part of the day and why?
"Probably dinner. It was great to look around the tipi and see everyone enjoying the food…and then to look outside and see the kids (and perhaps a few adults as well) running around the lawn and messing around on the hay bales. It was exactly the kind of fun, informal day we’d wanted."

What led you to choose Nick from Parkershots as your photographer and please can you comment on the results?
"After a lot of research we chose Nick at Parkershots. He’s incredibly creative with light and his photos are very distinctive. We didn’t want the formal “set piece” wedding shots – we wanted someone who could capture the people and the venue. He actually went above and beyond, almost playing the role of wedding coordinator when we had a tropical downpour just as we were doing the confetti!"

Portraits of bride and groom at Chafford Park
Throwing the bouquet at Chafford Park

On reflection, is there anything you would have done differently with foresight?
"Not worried as much! We kept checking the weather forecast in the days leading up to it and almost hourly the day before. Really, there was no reason to worry. We had a big tropical downpour, which in theory should have put a dampener on things – but it didn’t at all. Everyone was in great spirits and it soon passed. It was also pretty aligned with our tropical theme!

If you could impart any words of wisdom to a bride to be planning her marriage and wedding day, what would they be?
"Pick and choose the traditions you like – but put the rest aside and replace them with things that you actually enjoy as a couple. Even if you haven’t seen them at a wedding before, it is your day and your chance to do things your way! For example, Singapore Slings, Thai Street food, pineapples and gold waving cats are not very traditional items to see at a wedding in Kent – but we like them so that’s what we chose. Also, having a wedding coordinator on the day was the best thing we did. It was such a relief, especially with a DIY-wedding, to hand over all the decision-making to someone else as it made the whole day stress-free."

Is there anything else that you would like to add?
"We made a custom cocktail menu and that went down really well. We chose things that would be easy to make but with our own twist. For example, we love Japan so we had a “Japanese old fashioned” with Japanese whisky and yuzu bitters.

Wedding first dance at party at Chafford Park

The Suppliers:

- Bride’s gown (Designer and boutique): Justin Alexander, from Blessings Bridal in Brighton
- Jewellery (Designer & Boutique)
- Shoes: Rachel Simpson
- Hair Stylist: Toni Todd
- Make-up Artist: Toni Todd
- Florist: Bettie Rose in Brighton
- Rings: Brilliant Earth
- Venue: Chafford Park in Kent
- Décor / Styling: Holmsted Events (Tipis)
- Cake Maker: Various cheeses from Pallant of Arundel
- Caterer: ThaiAngle Catering, Saltdean
- Bridesmaids Dresses
- Groom / Groomsmen suits: Ted Baker from Moss Bros.
- Wedding Planner: Sandra Nemorin-Noel at Every Detail
- Stationery: Clare’s brother, Joseph Downy
- Entertainment: Sedz Wedz
- Photographer: Parkershots

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