I've been a wedding photographer at Gravetye Manor many times over the years, and am always amazed at how beautiful the gardens look in all seasons. Georgina and Martin's wedding was the first time though, when the blueblells had been out! I'd actually been at the venue to photograph a birthday celebration there on the Monday before and had seen the bluebells then, so was looking forward to the wedding even more. When I told Georgina and Martin, I was very happy to hear that they were equally enthused by the prospect of doing photos surrounded by the bluebells, and not even a little rain and some less than ideal terrain for wedding attire and high-healed shoes (hers not his), would stop us. Just as we were finishing the photos to return to the manor in time for the wedding breakfast, the rain started to fall, and from out of nowhere a Gravetye Manor 4x4 appeared to rescue us from the fast-worsening weather and return us to the manor in time and dry - now that is 5* service!
Here is some info about their wedding in their own words:
How did you meet, & how did you become engaged?
"We were together for nearly 7 years prior to getting engaged. Martin is a close friend of my brother, so we first knew each other during secondary school, but didn’t start dating until after I’d finished university. Martin proposed one evening at home (very romantically) and then took me away for the weekend to celebrate!"
How long did you take to plan your wedding?
"We were engaged for nearly 2 years so had plenty of time to plan the wedding."
What made you choose your wedding venues and how did you decorate them?
"We did a lot of research online and visited a few venues prior to choosing Gravetye Manor. As soon as we first visited Gravetye we knew it was the right venue, as it perfectly suited our requirements – it’s a stunning hotel in a secluded countryside setting. As the hotel is not too large (only 17 rooms), they offer it on an exclusive use basis, which was also important to us. The staff members are all very friendly, helpful and attentive. They have their own Events Co-ordinator who acts as your wedding planner throughout, which was extremely helpful. We used Gravetye’s in-house florist to decorate the venue – this included specific decoration for the ceremony room (candles, ivy and a large centre-piece matching our colour scheme). Fortunately, the hotel is always decorated throughout the year with seasonal flowers sourced from the hotel’s own gardens, so we used this option for the dining room."
What inspired you to style your day the way you did? E.g. a particular era, muse, colour etc. or were you guided by religious or cultural values and preferences?
"We did not have a specific theme, although our wedding did have a ‘classic’ feel about it. We were quite relaxed about the colour scheme – we chose navy blue and gold as we liked these colours and used them for Martin’s suit, my bridesmaids’ dresses, the flowers, confetti and cake."
How did you decide on your dress and accessories?
"My Mum came with me to try on wedding dresses. We visited a couple of shops in Kent and Sussex and picked out a variety of styles until I narrowed down what I liked and didn’t like. I also had in mind what Martin would like and that definitely influenced my decision. We chose a dress that was going into the sample sale and then had it altered to fit me – we used an in-house seamstress and she did an excellent job at altering the dress to fit me perfectly. I had multiple fittings to get it right and chose my veil and shoes towards the end."
How did you decide on the outfits for the groom and groomsmen?
"We both agreed that we didn’t want to hire traditional wedding suits, instead opting for 3-piece suits for Martin and his best man (we didn’t have groomsmen). We chose navy suits and gold ties to match our colour scheme."
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 and I’d chosen Pachelbel’s ‘Canon in D Major’ as it’s a particular favourite and isn’t too fast paced."
Would you like to share anything about your vows? Did you tailor your own?
"We chose our vows and additional promises from a list of suggestions provided by West Sussex County Council as we liked them and they covered all that we wanted to say."
Did you have any readings? If so, what were they and why did you choose them?
"We wanted to keep the ceremony short and simple so we chose not to have any readings."
Please describe your wedding breakfast and the reasons behind it?
"About two months prior to our wedding day, we enjoyed a food and wine tasting afternoon at Gravetye and this was a great way of choosing exactly what we wanted. To start, everyone had the ‘Gravetye Spring Garden Salad’ and a glass of Pinot Grigio. For the main, the meat option was ‘Roast Loin and Braised Shoulder of Southdown Lamb’ and a glass of Tannat. The vegetarian option was ‘Potato and Thyme Pressing’ and a glass of Chardonnay. To finish, everyone had ‘Salted Caramel Fondant’ followed by coffee and petits fours."
Did you provide wedding favours? If so, please provide details or what and where you sourced them
"We spent a long time deciding what we should do for our wedding favours. In the end, we opted for ‘Words of Wisdom’ cards for our 3 round tables, which included custom pencils for the guests to keep. We liked this idea as we had something to keep, as did the guests. They were purchased from a company called ‘Camdeco’ on Etsy’s website. On the top table, we used organic chocolate gifts from a local shop where we live (Cocoa Loco)."
Please describe your cake and why you chose it?
"Our cake had 3 round tiers and each tier was a different flavour – chocolate, carrot and fruit. It was fully iced and decorated with handmade sugar flowers (in our colour scheme) and thin navy ribbon around the bottom of each tier."
What was your first dance track and what did it mean to you?
"We chose Tom Baxter’s ‘Better’ as our first dance, as we have always liked the song and felt that the words suited us as a couple."
What was your favourite part of the day and why?
"We don’t have a favourite part because the day went so well and we enjoyed it all! If we had to choose, we enjoyed having our pictures taken in the gardens and amongst the bluebells after the ceremony (all the nerves had gone by this point!) and the wedding breakfast and evening entertainment."
What led you to choose Nick from Parkershots as your photographer and please can you comment on the results? .
"We chose Nick at Parkershots for a number of reasons. He is one of Gravetye Manor’s recommended suppliers, so we knew he’d be familiar with the venue and the best places to take photographs. After viewing his work online and meeting him in person, we quickly made the decision to book him. He’s very creative and produces beautiful pictures. We felt at ease whilst having our pictures taken thanks to his calm and relaxed approach. He was also very discreet – sometimes we were completely unaware of his presence and were pleasantly surprised by some of the moments he managed to capture."
On reflection, is there anything you would have done differently with foresight?
"Fortunately everything went to plan and we can’t think of anything we would have done differently."
If you could impart any words of wisdom to a bride to be planning her marriage and wedding day, what would they be?
"Allow as much time as possible to plan your wedding – do things in stages and try to enjoy each part. Things will get a bit stressful as you get nearer to the day, but having friends and family to support you is always helpful. When the day finally arrives, enjoy every minute!"
- Bride’s gown and boutique: Ariana by Ellis Bridals, purchased at Fross Wedding Collections, Uckfield, East Sussex (http://frossweddingcollections.co.uk/)
- Shoes: Rainbow (https://www.rainbowclub.co.uk/)
- Veil/headpiece: purchased from Fross Wedding Collections, Uckfield, East Sussex (http://frossweddingcollections.co.uk/)
- Perfume: Romance by Ralph Lauren
- Hairstylist and make up: Amy Prifti (http://www.bridalmakeupbyamy.co.uk/)
- Florist: Gravetye Manor’s in-house florist Sue Flight (http://www.gravetyemanor.co.uk/content/sue-flight)
- Rings: Richard Talman at RTFJ, Wivelsfield, West Sussex (https://www.rtfj.co.uk/)
- Venue: Gravetye Manor (http://www.gravetyemanor.co.uk/)
- Cake Maker: Raspberry Ribbon Cakes (http://raspberryribboncakes.co.uk/)
- Bridesmaids Dresses: House of Fraser (https://www.houseoffraser.co.uk/wedding-boutique/women/bridesmaid-dresses)
- Groom’s suit: Kenneth Cole, purchased from House of Fraser (https://www.houseoffraser.co.uk/brand/kenneth-cole/0.0.0.0034174.0.0)
- Wedding planner: Gravetye Manor’s Events Co-ordinator, Amber James
- Entertainment: Shine On Wedding and Function Band from Brighton (http://www.shineonband.co.uk/)
- Photographer: Parkershots (https://parkershots.com/)
- Honeymoon: Trailfinders (http://www.trailfinders.com/)
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