I was looking forward to photographing Charlotte and Alex's wedding from their very first enquiry. It's hard to adequately describe how much their enthusiasm and happiness leapt out of every word on their email and made me smile. When we met for the first time at Hendall Manor Barns to go through things, it felt like meeting old friends and I couldn't wait for their big day to arrive.
Here are a few words from them about their day and a selection of my favourites images:
How did you meet, & how did you become engaged?
"Alex and I knew each other from school. He was a few years above me but we were always friends. Our social groups knew each other too so we became friends that way. Alex tried to get me on a date with him for at least 3 years before I actually decided to go. Persistence really did pay off. We were together for 4 years before he actually proposed, I guess it was his turn to make me wait.
The engagement was a total surprise. We went for a dog walk on a sunny August Sunday morning at Buxted Park. This wasn't unusual as we walked the dog there a few times and always admired this one huge tree by the lake. It was as we got to this tree that Alex told me he had brought me here for a reason and became very serious. He went very quiet and then bent down on one knee, I crouched down thinking he was upset about something at which point he produced the ring and I quickly stood back up. Alex then asked me to be his wife. I honestly could not believe it, I was so happy!
He had then organised a complete surprise engagement party at my mums house with both of our entire family. It was one of the most special days of my life and I will never forget that feeling."
How long did you take to plan your wedding?
"We decided to enjoy the engagement for a while before planning our wedding and so from the engagement to the wedding was roughly 18 months."
What made you choose your wedding venues & how did you decorate them?
"We didn't know where to start with wedding venues, however we knew we wanted a relaxed, friendly interactive style wedding. We also wanted somewhere local so our friends and family didn't need to travel too far. We wanted somewhere that you could have the ceremony and reception in one place.
I found Hendall Manor online and had a very good feeling about it. Alex and I decided to go and view the venue and instantly fell in love with the place. Although it was our first venue we viewed we knew immediately we didn't need to look elsewhere and booked the venue then and there.
This venue and the owners knew exactly the style we wanted and were so informative about how things could be done and decorated. We kept things very simple as the venue spoke for itself really."
How did you decide on your dress & accessories?
"Keeping with the laid back approach to planning our wedding, my sister decided it was time to start looking for a wedding dress. This was one aspect of planning that I was not looking forward too. I don't like fuss and being fussed over, so the idea of tying on millions of dresses to find "the one" was terrifying.
My sister booked an appointment at our local bridal shop Fross in Uckfield. I invited my mum, my sister, and my mother in law to be to come and help me.
I had a rough idea of what I wanted but the owner of the shop helped tremendously and directed me towards the style I had shown an interest in. I picked one dress from this particular style. Meanwhile my mum, sister and mother in law to be all went about picking dresses they liked.
I went into the dressing room and started with the dress I had picked. I knew from the moment I saw my reflection in the mirror that I had found "the one". I opened the curtain to show my family and they all got tearful. I humoured everyone and tried on all 7 other dresses but we were all in agreement that the first dress was the perfect dress. The theme here seems to be us loving the first thing we see."
How did you decide on the outfits for the groom and groomsmen?
"The groomsmen and grooms outfits were left up to the groom. He wanted his suit made, so went to a shop in Brighton called Hugo Morris. I went with him to pick materials, but after that he went to all of the fitting and tailoring appointments on his own. After all it is nice for the bride to have a surprise on the day too. He looked gorgeous."
Who gave you away / walked you down the aisle? And did you walk down the aisle to a particular song?
"Like many people, my parents are no longer together. I have a very close relationship with my mum, so I decided that both my mother and my father would walk me down the aisle. It was a very special few minutes having both parents by my side supporting me on a massive occasion like this. It again is a memory I will never forget. Not to mention our amazing photographer capturing this moment beautifully.
We walked down the aisle to Christina Perri- thousand years. We chose this because of the lyrics and as I said previously we both waited a long time to get to that moment. I will admit I listened to this song for months before the wedding to accustom myself to it so that I didn't cry walking down the aisle..... it didn't work, I couldn't help the emotion spilling out when I saw Alex in his suit."
Please tell us about your ceremony
"We had a very straightforward ceremony, it was friendly and relaxed and not too long. It suited us perfectly. One of the readings by my sister was very close to my heart. It was an E.E. Cummings poem called "I carry your heart". This poem is special to us as we have always read it to each other whilst growing up and always said we would read it at each other's weddings. As you can imagine the tears flowed again."
Please describe your wedding breakfast and the reasons behind it?
"Our wedding breakfast was in keeping with the relaxed vibe we wanted. With both of us being massive foodie people We chose The Secret Restaurant to host our meal. Nicola Whistle was in fact the first and only caterer we contacted because we just knew she used quality ingredients and matched the style of our wedding. Nicola Whistle met with us and helped us decide on the meal choices along with an incredible meal tasting. We had a selection of grilled meats (red wine blackened steak, balsamic glazed lamb, salmon, pork belly with crackling) all presented on huge boards and placed in the middle of each round table of 10people. We had a selection of salads and cooked vegetables to accompany the meat as well as roasted potatoes. We decided this was more interactive and people could eat as much or as little as they liked. There was enough meat for everyone to have a little of each.
People still talk about how amazing the food was at our wedding and we have to agree. Nicola Whistle was so helpful and efficient and the food was truly amazing.
Please describe your cake and why you chose it?
"We decided to have our wedding cake as our dessert. That way we knew everyone would get a piece of cake and there wouldn't be any waste.
My best friends mum who makes wedding cakes made our amazing cake. Again we kept things simple with a plain sponge with a vanilla buttercream and strawberry jam. We also had very thin slices of fresh strawberries placed between the buttercream and jam. It was decorated with white buttercream and roses that matched my bouquet as cake toppers. It looked beautiful and tasted even better.
We chose to again keep things local by using a local florist shop in Uckfield high street called The Flower Shop. They were brilliant and helped match the roses to the bridesmaids dresses."
Did you provide wedding favours? If so, please provide details or what and where you sourced them
"Our wedding favours were very fun, we decided that our wedding involved all of our very closest friends and family and we wanted the favours to reflect that. We decided that we would have friendship bracelets as our favour. That way everyone would wear them, not waste them. We have now run a competition with everyone. Whoever is the last Person still wearing their bracelet wins a bottle of champagne. We are now 8 months married and people STILL have their bracelets on."
What was your first dance track and what did it mean to you?
"Our first dance track was not your typical first dance song. We had Tenerife sea by Ed Sheeran. We chose this because of the lyrics again. It was perfect and we loved that not many people knew the song before the wedding which keeps it quite special to us."
What was your favourite part of the day & why?
"It's very hard to pick one part of the day that was the best. I know it sounds cliche but our wedding was truly incredible from the very moment I woke up (4am). I will hold fond memories of having my mum, sister and brothers around me whilst we all got ready. The first look at alex in his suit waiting for me at the end of the aisle. Alex seeing me in my dress with both parents by my side. The "I do" part of the ceremony of course. The small exchanges of "oh my god we did it" and "I love you" between having our photos taken. Moments of calm looking across a room full of all of our loved ones whilst they ate and drank and celebrated. The first dance as husband and wife. Above all else celebrating our wedding with the people we love."
Tell us about how you sourced your photographer and any comments about their work
"I spent months trawling the internet looking for a photographer that took natural photos. I came across lots that used props and had gimmicky ideas and we didn't want that at all. We also didn't want really posed traditional wedding photos because we knew we would feel uncomfortable posing for those type of shots. It is no exaggeration when I say I must have easily scrolled through about 70/80 portfolios.
When I came across Nick Parker at Parkershots I fell totally in love with his style, originality, care and attention to detail. I remember sending an email to Nick asking if in fact he was free on the 30th April 2016 (baring in mind it was April 2015). After a very short wait I got an email from nick letting me know he was in fact free and able to capture our wedding. I cannot explain how happy we were and how impressed we were with Nicks efficiency and professionalism.
We met with Nick about 4/3months before the wedding at our venue, and to our surprise the venue owners already knew Nick and also love the way he captured their venue. (Always a good sign).
After a short chat about our own style etc, we left feeling 100% confident that Nick knew exactly what we wanted from our photos. On the day Nick took charge of everyone when needed for the odd group shots, but mainly and more importantly Kept alex and I completely calm and comfortable. When you are surrounded by friends and family it is very easy to get distracted but nick kept us on track. He knew where the best shots would be taken regardless of the weather and we trusted Nick completely. With gentle direction, nick got the best out of us on one of the most important days of our lives.
Nick surpassed the already high expectations we already had on the day and we will forever be grateful. Our photos are incredible!!
For anyone who is looking for an amazingly talented wedding photographer, then honestly look no further. You will not be disappointed. We are still having people comment on how brilliant our wedding photos are and we are almost a year on.
The last thing to add is just again another huge thank you to Nick for producing a perfect story in photographs of our wedding day!"
• Brides gown - Mori Lee from Fross boutique Uckfield
• Jewellery - Classic pearl earrings, necklace and bracelet from various jewellers in Uckfield.
• Shoes - Fross boutique
• Veil - Fross boutique
• Perfume - Hugo Boss 'Deep Red'
• Hair & Make-up stylist - Danielle Porter (my sister) but qualified profession hair and makeup artist. She specialises in weddings
• Florist - The Flower Shop in Uckfield
• Rings - Number 10 in Brighton.
• Venue - Hendall Manor
• Decor/styling - ourselves.
• Cake Maker - Lorraine Leslie-Johnson (best friends mum) who does wedding cakes
• Caterer - The Secret Restaurant- Nicola Whistle
• Bridesmaid dresses - House of Fraser
• Grooms suit - Hugo Morris Brighton
• Wedding planner - Nicola young (venue owner)
• Stationary - ourselves
• Entertainment - Rich Lown local professional singer and southern Dj's for evening disco
• Transport - ourselves
• Videographer - Anneka Ireland
• Photographer - Parkershots
• Honeymoon - Maldives.
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