Laura & Alex’s Wedding Photography at Chafford Park

There are so many reasons why I loved photographing Laura and Alex's wedding at Chafford Park so much. When I met them before the wedding at Chafford Park to go through things and do their pre-wedding portrait session, I knew their wedding was going to be amazing. These two have obvious amazing chemistry which made the portraits easy, but they're also such nice people and a pleasure to work with. They barely stopped smiling the whole time and consequently neither did I.

In discussing their wedding plans, I found myself getting more and more excited about the big day, picking up on their energy but also loving the sound of everything they had planned. They both very creative people and put a lot of thought into all aspects of their wedding. It was absolute joy for me to photograph and stands out as one of my absolute favourites. Their choices for decorating the venue were both extensive and in keeping with the venue, showing extremely good taste and eye for detail. They'd interjected plenty of their personalities into the day and also created a beautiful relaxed summer party vibe that I know their guests thoroughly enjoyed. And it didn't falter at any point in the day or evening. The day was perfect and I was truly honoured to be their wedding photographer.

Here is a selection of photos from their day, along with lots of info about their wedding, including some great tips for anyone planning their big day:

How did you meet, & how did you become engaged?
"We met on an evening out through friends who had got together a month or two before. As soon as we started talking it felt so right, and from there the rest is history.

Laura has always admired Claudé Monet's art ever since she studied fine art at uni, in particular Monet's Bridge and his Water Lily paintings. She works as an Air Hostess now and while away on a flight I told her I'd booked a few days in France for us to do a bit of camping at a beautiful riverside location. Driving through France she was a little jet lagged so didn't ask too many tricky questions about where we were staying but I had made up a whole cover story to keep her from guessing the true reason for our little romantic break. We pulled into the driveway at La Dime de Giverny located in Giverny, just 500 metres from Monet House and gardens. This B&B is set in a renovated 18th-century Chateau, Laura was shocked! we went inside and met the owner who's greeting was warm and friendly. Laura was surprised and lost for words as she had no idea of what was going on.

The Chateau was so picturesque and with Laura still reeling from the shock of our new sleeping arrangements, we freshened up and headed out for dinner. The next day we took a short walk and arrived at the side entrance to Monet's garden, unbeknown to Laura I had arranged for us to have the water gardens to ourselves for 15 minutes at the very end of the day after tourists had gone, so we went in and were shown to the bridge overlooking the lily covered lake which was reflecting the sunset. It was then I dropped down on 1 knee and asked her to marry me!

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After she said yes I had one more surprise left, we went back to the chateau for a 3 course meal cooked by the owners, they had laid up a table for 2 in the garden with champagne, a bouquet of flowers and candles."

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How long did you take to plan your wedding?
"We had a two year engagement, which gave us plenty of time to plan our wedding just the way we wanted it to be."

What made you choose your wedding venues and how did you decorate them?
"We fell in love with Chafford Park instantly. It felt very calm & with stunning views. We met with Sarah the owner and she gave us a tour of the grounds, including a converted barn that sleeps 10 people, which proved great for our immediate family on the wedding night. This is situated next to the lily covered pond and the main lawn at the front of the old house. Just beyond the lawn is the field and its Granary barn. At that time the barn was fairly basic but as soon as we heard it was to be renovated we both looked at each other and said yes! We both enjoy the outdoors and when we realised that we could hire Bell tents, it was a huge plus and made our dream day complete.

We both wanted to create the majority of the decorations ourselves as we both have creative backgrounds. We used Pinterest a lot for ideas and we found ways to create them ourselves. The lighting was very important to create the evening atmosphere, we used a canopy of twinkly lights from Bows Hire company. This hung over a gloss black dance floor so that the bulbs were reflected back up again, this also helped create a clear dance zone area once the 3 massive chandeliers had been turned off.

With the barn being such a large area to fill, this meant any small decorations would have been completely lost so we decided to opt for huge statement pieces dotted around the room, we bought two 9ft Olive trees which brought the outside feel in and complimented the colour of the bridesmaid dresses - we gave these some evening sparkle by adding hanging tea lights.

Alex handmade all the light-up signs, the 'BAR' sign in particular was a big hit with our guests and everyone commented on how amazing they looked! They really brought the wow factor to a dark corner of the room and with each letter standing 4ft high and covered in bulbs it provided enough light for the bar staff to work from.

The festoon lighting continued outside and encircled an area with a fire pit at its heart, we dotted around hay bales to sit on as well as a mix of ingenious tables and benches remade from reclaimed wooden pallets by the nice guys down at the Grain Soup company.

The table decoration was another opportunity for us to accentuate the Bridesmaids dresses, so rather than opting for large vase like centre pieces we decorated some wooden crates from Ikea and filled them with a selection of herbs chosen for their tones. If like us, you have friends that enjoy cooking these double up as great kitchen herb box gift for all those friends and family who helped us in the build up to the big day!

Other decorations consisted of various jam jars, tea lights and candles. For anyone thinking of asking people to save their empty jam jars in the year building up to the wedding, I would say not to bother as they take up lots of space and are a nightmare to clean, after all that we bought them online and were surprised how cheap you could find them for."

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What inspired you to style your day the way you did?
"Laura was gifted a huge quantity of wedding magazines, many of which were Creative Brides magazines, we sat down together flicked through them and made a note of all the ideas we liked, we then created a mood board to see what the overall picture looked like and from there we gradually refined the ideas down to the final result. This then prompted us to look at barn venues and from there it was a case of using the French grey colour and Rustic Elegance theme to influence any further decisions."
 How did you decide on your dress and accessories?
"I wanted a dress with sparkles, I knew I didn't want a traditional bridal dress. When shopping, I tend to know when I like something, even without trying it on. So shopping can be very quick or hard if nothing stands out. My dress was by the designer Jenny Packham - I fell in love with it straight away and when choosing the head piece there was only one that was meant to be and worked perfectly. This was also designed by Jenny Packham. I didn't want a veil as I felt it would hide the detail on the back of the dress and would be too busy."

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How did you decide on the outfits for the groom and groomsmen?
"The Grooms outfit was such a treat, our best friend Becca gave us an amazing gift; Becca's brothers are Tailors with their own business called Jones and Jones Bespoke Tailoring. It was such a fun day going to their shop, choosing the fabric, colours and design of the suit whilst being treated with a glass of wine or beer. We were made to feel really comfortable and relaxed, we made a day of it and it's a day we will never forget.

For the Groomsman we wanted a colour and fabric to compliment Alex's suit. We did a lot of searching for Groomsmen suits that would closely match the quality and cut of Alex's bespoke suit then we found the one. We found it in House of Fraser. They were lucky enough to be in the sale and after a big mission and hunt to find all the correct sizes across all the stores we did it and it paid off really well. Our three groomsman and both our dads were all really happy and they have all gained a suit which they've all worn since."

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 Who gave you away / walked you down the aisle? And did you walk down the aisle to a particular song?
"There was only one person and that was my dad. It was such a special and emotional moment we shared together. The piece of music we chose was Canon in D Major- Johann Pachelbel. It is quite a traditional piece of music for a church wedding, but in my mind it was the only real choice."
Would you like to share anything about your vows? Did you tailor your own?
"We were traditional with the vows and said the ones used in the church which just felt so right."
Did you have any readings? If so, what were they and why did you choose them?
"We had two bible readings 1 Corinthians: Chapter 13 and Mark: Chapter 10, verses 6-9. These were also accompanied with the reading of two poems."

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Please describe your wedding breakfast and the reasons behind it?
"Myself and Alex are real foodies. From the beginning we always wanted to have a relaxed feel wedding breakfast and as a starter for us it had to be antipasti. A selection of salami, prosciutto, chorizo, chargrilled courgettes, sunblushed tomatoes, artichoke, roast sweet peppers, olives, fresh mozzarella and extra virgin olive oil dressing served with rustic breads olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It's our favourite.

For the main another love of ours is lamb. So we chose Roast rump of Mayfield lamb marinated with rosemary and mint, on a spring vegetable salad of asparagus, baby spinach, broad and fine beans, with a shallot and herb dressing, accompanied by rosemary and garlic roasted new potatoes.

The dessert was a tricky decision as we don't really have a sweet tooth, so we asked our parents what they loved and with different answers we decided to go for a Triple Delight... Rich chocolate truffle, French lemon tart and Summer fruit pudding."
Did you provide wedding favours? If so, please provide details or what and where you sourced them
"Where do I start? We had seen so many different ideas on Pinterest but none that related to us. Then we saw that you could buy small Succulent plants and use them as wedding favours, we like the fact that the plants once potted up nicely would also double up as table decor and this was also inline with other elements that brought the outdoors in. Alex managed to source these from Etsy then we added our own cute little tags attached with Twine and the each individual name was hand written name in a Calligraphy style."

Please describe your cake and why you chose it?
"Now this was an easy decision for us because we're not big fans of cake generally, so the perfect choice was a Cheese wedding cake. It was amazing and decorated with Figs and wild flowers - we served it as part of our evening food."

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What led you to choose Nick from Parkershots as your photographer and please can you comment on the results?
"As soon as Alex proposed it was Nick from Parkershots without a doubt - you'd be mad not to.

As a family we have got to know Nick so well; he was the photographer at my sisters wedding and the photos were outstanding. He then came to my parents house and took some great family photos for my Nan and Grandads 60th wedding anniversary, and he also took some family portrait shots of my sister and her first daughter which was so special as she's a little miracle.

Nick is the kindest man you'll ever meet, he makes you so calm and relaxed and is really interested in getting to know you as a couple to build a relationship. His attention to detail is just flawless and you feel like you have gained a friend. The compliments we get about our wedding photos are endless and I honestly can't thank Nick enough for capturing the most amazing special memories we will keep forever."

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On reflection, is there anything you would have done differently with foresight?
"Absolutely not, it was exactly how we dreamed it would be, nothing could have made it more perfect."
If you could impart any words of wisdom to a bride to be planning her marriage and wedding day, what would they be?
"Above all, remember the bigger picture, and not to waste time worrying about those little decisions that can get in the way. Relax and enjoy every minute during the build up.

You get one shot at it, so take all the moments in, even if there are stressful parts. Work as a team and try and agree on everything where possible, so you can look back and say WE DID IT!
If you're planning to create your day from scratch, start an Inventory list of every item you think you might need, that way you can purchase items or delegate the collection of that item to friends and family. It's also satisfying to see each item ticked off as you get closer to the big day."

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The Suppliers:

- Please can you provide the company name, contact name, and website for the following suppliers of your day.
- Bride’s gown (Designer and boutique): Jenny Packham from Pantiles Bride, Tunbridge Wells
- Jewellery (Designer & Boutique): Earings - Swarovski. Headpiece - Jenny Packham from Pantiles Bride, Tunbridge Wells
- Perfume: Jimmy Choo
- Hair Stylist: Susan Butler
- Make-up Artist: Anne Marie O’Brien
- Florist: Daisy Chain Florists, Elaine Garrod
- Rings: G.L. Bicknell & Sons
- Bespoke Flowergirl dresses: Sew Design Studio, Holly Bevan 07734 888 849,,
- Venue: Chafford Park, Sarah Swiderski
- Lighting:
- Caterer: Super Event company, Tony and Chrystelle
- Bridesmaids Dresses: House of Fraser
- Groom / Groomsmen suits: Jones and Jones Bespoke Tailoring, Sam Jones/Ben Jones
- Stationery: I Do – Invitations, Katie Blake
- Entertainment: Mint Djs, Tim Cullen
- Transport: CMW Wedding cars, Mob: 07956993122
- Videographer: Oliver McNeil
- Photographer: Parkershots Photography, Nick Parker
- Honeymoon: Kuoni Travel
- Rustic recycled tables and chairs from: Grain Soup, Neil Sidaway / Si Bryant

And of course, not forgetting me...
- Light up Letter signs: Alex Daniel

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