I’ve lived and travelled around the world and let me tell you, we’ve got it pretty good here in England. The history is rich, and with that comes lots of incredible buildings from the past. And what an amazing thing it is that you can get married at some of these places. In my pre-wedding meeting at Leeds Castle, and again when I took my family there for some test shots, I fell in love with this stunning venue. The grounds are massive (I could easily spend a day there just going between portrait locations with a bride and groom), and it has to be one of (if not) the, most impressive castle in the country. I absolutely loved Janine and Aaron’s wedding at Leeds Castle, and hope to return there again soon.
Here is some more information about their wedding in their own words:
How did you meet, & how did you become engaged?
“Aaron proposed whilst we were skiing in Meribel, in the Alps. We had stopped on the mountain for a rest and he got down on one knee. He didn’t propose with a ring as I had always said that I wanted to choose my own (I’m very fussy!). He had carried around a bottle of champagne in his rucksack, so after I said yes we drank that on the mountain.”
How long did you take to plan your wedding?
“We were engaged for 18 months but it didn’t take that long to plan the wedding. As soon as we got engaged we booked the church, Leeds Castle, the photographer, the DJ and the car etc. as I knew from friends that these can get booked up far in advance. It wasn’t until about 6 months before that we really started to plan the details.
What made you choose your wedding venues and how did you decorate them?
“The church where the ceremony took place is our local parish church in the village where we bought our first house together, so it had meaning to us. We didn’t want the venue for the wedding breakfast and reception to be more than half an hour’s drive away from the church and we wanted something quite traditional so after doing some research on the internet we found Leeds Castle. The castle was beautiful inside and out and the backdrop was stunning so we knew almost straight away that this was the venue for us. It was the only venue that we looked at. We kept decorations to a minimum throughout the day and this was mainly because the church and castle were already heavily decorated inside. In the church, we had an arrangement of flowers that matched my bouquet at the front of the church and some decorations on pew ends, which my mum made. In the castle, we didn’t have any additional decorations apart from centrepieces on the table in the banqueting hall where the wedding breakfast took place. The centrepieces were gold candelabras decorated with flowers. Again, the flowers matched my bouquet and we chose these as they suited the venue and the rest of the décor in the castle.”
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 wanted a traditional day, which was why we chose a church ceremony followed by the castle. I’m not really a fan of bright colours so I knew the wedding would have a neutral theme, which worked well in the church and castle, which already had a lot of colour going on inside.”
How did you decide on your dress and accessories?
“I spent a lot of time looking on the internet at different styles of dresses but ultimately I knew that I needed to try some on. I knew that I didn’t want a strapless dress but other than that, I went with an open mind. I went to two different bridal shops and tried on about eight dresses until I found ‘the one’. Apart from my veil, which I bought at the same time as the dress, I didn’t think about my hair or accessories until sometime after I had bought the dress. I looked on the internet for ideas and eventually bought some earrings and a headpiece in a local bridal shop.”
How did you decide on the outfits for the groom and groomsmen?
“We spent some time looking on the internet for ideas and eventually we decided on a dinner suit. We hired the groomsmen’s suits in the end but bought the grooms suit from a different shop.”
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 gave me away and we walked down the aisle to ‘Bridal Chorus’ by Wagner.”
Would you like to share anything about your vows? Did you tailor your own? Please feel free to include an extract. People love to be inspired by how other couples tailored their own vows.
“We didn’t tailor our vows. We had a church ceremony so we had use the traditional Church of England vows.”
Did you have any readings? If so, what were they and why did you choose them?
“We had one reading, which was done by the vicar – 1 Corinthians Chapter 13. My cousin also sang ‘A 1000 years’ by Christina Perri during the service.”
Please describe your wedding breakfast and the reasons behind it?
“Our wedding breakfast took place in the banqueting hall in Leeds Castle. We chose to have two long tables instead of round tables as we felt this suited the room and was different from what we were used to. We sat on the top table, which was at one end of the room along with both sets of parents. The wedding breakfast was coordinated by our toastmaster. The speeches took place after the three courses and were done by dad the groom and the best man. Following the speeches, we cut our cake, which was on display in the banqueting hall.
Please describe your cake and why you chose it?
“Our cake was a traditional four tier round cake, the bottom tier was false the second tier was fruit, the third tier was sponge and the fourth tier was chocolate. The cake was decorated with white icing, lace and roses that matched the ones in my bouquet. The cake was fairly plain and neutral, as I wanted it to tie in with the rest of the wedding.”
What was your first dance track and what did it mean to you?
” ‘You’ve got the love’ by Florence and the Machine – We wanted a fairly lively first dance plus it was a song that reminded me of Aaron when we first met.”
What was your favourite part of the day and why?
“My favourite part of the day was the ceremony as that is what I first picture when getting married and the evening reception as I could finally relax! Aarons’s was driving his Aston Martin 😉 “
What led you to choose Parkershots as your photographer and please can you comment on their work? (If possible, I would like to use your answer here on the testimonial section of my website).
“Nick was recommended to us by another photographer that several of our friends had used for their weddings, so we thought if a photographer is recommending him then he must be good!
Included in our package was an engagement shoot which we did about six months before the wedding and this was the first time we met Nick. We would highly recommend the engagement shoot as if you’re like us and have never had you’re photo taken professionally before, it really prepares you for the big day. Nick made us feel relaxed and answered all of our questions. When we received our photos from the shoot we loved them and was really excited for the wedding photos.
The next time we met Nick was a month or so before the day. As Nick hadn’t photographed at our venues before (Upchurch church and Leeds castle) he visited them with us to familiarise himself with the settings. He then went back to Leeds castle a couple of weeks before the day by himself to check out the sun and the light at that time of year so our pictures would be perfect. This service far exceeded our expectations and we were really impressed with the time and care Nick took over our wedding. We felt like our wedding was important to him rather than just his job.
On the day Nick was punctual, professional and friendly. He somehow managed to blend in to the background but capture the whole day in detail.
The day after the wedding Nick sent us a teaser photo then over the next couple of weeks he sent us a few more. This was a really nice touch because the next day you can’t wait to see the photos. We received the full album less than a month after the wedding which we thought was excellent as we know people who have waited three months.”
On reflection, is there anything you would have done differently with foresight?
“I thought the day ran smoothly and everything went to plan so I wouldn’t have changed anything there. I probably wouldn’t have chosen my dress so far in advance and perhaps tried on more as by the time the day arrived I felt like my dress wasn’t new anymore.”
If you could impart any words of wisdom to a bride to be planning her marriage and wedding day, what would they be?
“Just to try and enjoy every second of it because the day goes so quickly!”
Is there anything else you would like to add?
“I would definitely recommend having a videographer and toastmaster, we were unsure about both but the day goes so fast it’s good to be able to watch it back and slowly take it all in again. Also the toastmaster was great at coordinating the day and keeping everything together, there were no awkward moments when we or guests didn’t know what we were doing or what was next. He was also helpful in gathering guests for group photos.”
- Bride’s gown (Designer and boutique) – Mirri by Sophia Tolli purchased from Isabella Grace in Tonbridge Wells – http://www.isabellagracebridal.com/
- Jewellery (Designer & Boutique) – Earrings purchased from John Lewis
- Shoes – purchased from Rainbow Club – https://www.rainbowclub.co.uk/wedding/wedding-shoes
- Veil / Headpiece – Veil purchased from Isabella Grace, Headpiece purchased from Dressed to Wed in Chatham – http://dressedtowed.co.uk/
- Perfume – coco mademoiselle by Chanel
- Hair Stylist – Vicki Lord – http://www.vickilord.co.uk/
- Make-up Artist – Claire Webster – http://clairewmua.webs.com/
- Florist – Flowers in the castle were done by Leeds Castle, My bouquet, bridesmaids bouquets and button holes ect were done by my mums friend
- Rings – Alexis Jewels, Hatton Garden – http://www.alexisjewels.com/
- Venue – Leeds Castle
- Décor / Styling – Leeds Castle
- Cake Maker – My mum’s friend
- Caterer – Leeds Castle
- Bridesmaids Dresses – Ghost – https://www.ghost.co.uk/
- Groom / Groomsmen suits – Grooms suit purchased from Charles Tyrwhitt – http://www.ctshirts.com/uk/home Groomsmens suits hired from Slaters in Canterbury – https://www.slaters.co.uk/
- Wedding Planner – Janine Peacock J
- Stationery – Janine Peacock J
- Entertainment – DJ by Discologic –http://www.discologic.co.uk/ – Toastmaster was Peter Thomson – http://www.southeast-toastmasters.co.uk/
- Transport – Aston Martin DbS hired from http://www.astonmartincarhire.com/
- Videographer – family friend
- Photographer – Parkershots
- Honeymoon – Safari in Tanzania followed by Zanzibar