I now bring you the beautiful wedding of Clare and Benjamin from last October near Tunbridge Wells. Clare and Benjamin celebrated most of their day at Chafford Park (one of my favourite venues) with their ceremony held a short distance away at St. Mary’s Church. They met through church at Loughborough University and the church still remains a good part of their lives. They talk with great fondness about the friends they have there and the fun they’ve enjoyed at events. That close community feel of their church is something that was easily noticeable at the wedding.
I’ve had the pleasure of photographing over 200 weddings over the years, & although I have noticed less couples are opting for a church ceremony these days, more of the couples that do, have a genuine and cherished connection to the church. Clare and Benjamin go to a modern church & I truly love photographing modern church weddings – they’re so full of energy, love, and happiness. It’s impossible to not smile when you’re at one.
I’m not a church goer myself, & based on my experiences of church as a small child, I had this idea that people that go to church may be, how to say it…a little quiet..a little old fashioned… a little too serious…a little boring maybe. Well, getting to know Clare and Benjamin totally changed this outdated perception. Here is a quintessential example of how – their first dance started in a nice slow dance, but then separated on the dance floor and went into a full on rap battle using their own words to Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Dance Wiv Me’. It was a beautiful thing to watch. They clearly enjoyed themselves and everyone watching was loving it too.
Clare and Benjamin are such a great couple and I felt very thankful that they chose me to photograph their wedding.
Here is more about the couple and their wedding in their own words:
How did you meet, & how did you become engaged?
“We met at Loughborough University through Open Heaven Church in 2010 at a Christmas party.
“We got engaged on our 7-year anniversary at sunset on Camber Sands beach. We got stuck in traffic so It was a race against the clock to make it in time for the sunset…… we made it just in time!”
How long did you take to plan your wedding?
“One year – this was the perfect amount of time for us. It did not feel rushed or dragged out.”
What made you choose your wedding venues and how did you decorate them?
“Clare always wanted a rustic feel to the wedding. That coupled with an autumn wedding, the barn (a Chafford Park) was a great option. Aside from the lights we sorted all of the décor ourselves through a variety of suppliers and the creativity of our friends.”
What inspired you to style your day the way you did?
“A lot of pintrest! Our love for travel, family and keeping things simple.”
How did you decide on your dress and accessories?
“I (Clare) always had in mind an idea for my dress, wanting it fitted with a low-cut back and long train. A cathedral veil wasn’t in the original plan, but suited the dress well. I originally found the dress online and then went to the boutique with my mum (no bridesmaids). This was one of the best decisions that I made as I was able to have a moment of quality time with my mum.”
How did you decide on the outfits for the groom and groomsmen?
“The men, right from the beginning, knew they wanted to wear blue. Choosing the colour of the ties however was the hardest decision, as we wanted to have an orange, autumn-inspired colour scheme. Martin at The Kent Wedding Centre was amazing and helped us finalise our colours. We ended up with navy blue ties and orange socks! Benjamin wore tails to stand out from the rest of the men and has a different waistcoat which matched Clare’s dress.”
Who gave you away / walked you down the aisle? And did you walk down the aisle to a particular song?
“Clare’s Dad Peter walked her down the aisle. The song sung by our friend Nicki was Elvis Presley ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’. This was chosen because it was one of Clare’s sister’s favourite artists as well as being a very fitting song for a wedding.”
Would you like to share anything about your vows? Did you tailor your own?
“We kept it simple and went for quite traditional vows.”
Did you have any readings? If so, what were they and why did you choose them?
“Two of our closest friends read our readings. We selected two from the bible however did not pick the classic one (Corinthians). We ended up choosing Colossians 3:12-17 and Proverbs 3:3-6.”
Please describe your wedding breakfast and the reasons behind it?
“Food was a very important part of the day for us as we like to eat! We chose food we like after going to our caterer Stephanie’s house one Sunday to try out her menu. Our guests had a choice of their starter, main and dessert. For starter there was melon or baked camembert, for main either beef, chicken or vegetarian risotto, and dessert – apple crumble, chocolate brownie or pavlova.”
Did you provide wedding favours? If so, please provide details or what and where you sourced them
“As big sweet lovers, we chose to have a sweetcart instead of having individual favours. We bought all the sweets online in bulk and borrowed jars from our friends and family. This helped us keep the cost down.”
Please describe your cake and why you chose it?
“We had a 4 tier, semi naked cake. We kept it very simple with a few orange flowers to decorate. We did however have 4 different flavours including a vanilla and chocolate marble, carrot, vanilla and a lemon to top it off.”
What was your first dance track and what did it mean to you?
“The first song was the introduction to Wretch 32’s ‘Something’, before we rapped our own version of Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Dance Wiv Me’. Ben is hopeless at dancing, so wanted to do something different. So we changed the words of the song to reflect our own story of how we met.
What was your favourite part of the day and why?
“Ben’s was the rap – he found it fun and our guests loved it! It was the talk of the town for a while after the wedding, Clare can’t decide – she smiled and laughed her way through the whole day. She loved the ceremony in the church as it was made of precious moments. Getting ready in the morning with the bridesmaids and just seeing all of our friends and family in one place as wonderful.”
What led you to choose Nick from Parkershots as your photographer and please can you comment on the results?
“For Clare, choosing the right photographer was up there with choosing her dress and the food! She did a lot of research, initially on Instagram, then looking at websites. We liked the variety of photos that Nick takes (not solely focusing on the bride and groom). The photos are amazing, bright, colourful and everyone is capture in their natural beauty.”
On reflection, is there anything you would have done differently with foresight?
“Ben would have spent less time in the evening faffing with the music playlist and left it to someone else!”
If you could impart any words of wisdom to a bride to be planning her marriage and wedding day, what would they be?
“When planning, go with your gut instinct when making decisions. The longer you leave decisions, the harder it gets.
Clare is super organised and had a spreadsheet! If you know her this will be no surprise.
On the day, every now and again just take a step back and stand in awe of your wedding day.”
– Bride’s gown (Designer and boutique): Boutique – Dress me Pretty, Leicester. Designer – Stella York https://www.dressmepretty.co.uk/ Contact name – Amy (or any of the girls to be honest)
– Seamstress (dress): Miss Kay Seamstress, Tunbridge Wells https://www.misskayseamstress.co.uk/ Contact name – Martine
– Jewellery (Designer & Boutique): Sisters bracelet. Earrings and necklace from Accessorise
– Veil / Headpiece: Boutique – Dress me Pretty, Leicester. https://www.dressmepretty.co.uk/
– Perfume: Hugo Boss – The Scent (Bride)
– Hair Stylist: Hannah Sargeant (work colleague)
– Make-up Artist: Laura Dolan (work colleague)
– Florist: Arranging Flowers https://www.arrangingflowers.co.uk/default.aspx Emma Catt
– Rings: Burrels https://www.burrells.co.uk/
– Venue: Chafford Park Estate https://www.chaffordparkestate.co.uk/ Sarah Swiderski
– Cake Maker: Helen Aldridge (family friend) Instagram – louhcakes
– Caterer: Leave it to us https://leaveittous.co.uk/wedding-catering/ Stephanie Jenkins
– Drinks: Porter & Lloyd https://porterandlloyd.co.uk/ Simon
– Bridesmaids Dresses: Wedding Belles at The Kent Wedding Centre https://www.thekentweddingcentre.com/ Mollie
– Groom / Groomsmen suits: The Kent Wedding Centre https://www.thekentweddingcentre.com/ Martin
– Stationery: Invitations – Vista Print. Name tables, name places etc all hand made
– Entertainment: DJ – Casey Heyburn (work colleague)
– Transport: Sovereign Cars http://sovereigncars.com/ Graham
– Photographer: Parkershots www.parkershots.com
– Honeymoon: Kuoni – Mauritius