I honestly couldn't believe my eyes when looking around Lullingstone Castle with Ness and Paul before their wedding. It's incredible - truly a photography gold-mine. When you arrive, you drive down a small lane with farmland sloping up on your right (the sun sets behinds these fields making them perfect for evening portraits). You are greeted by a 15th Century brick gatehouse, which pulls you into a wide open grass garden where a stunning Manor House faces you behind a large turning circle. To your left is beautiful flint walled Norman church (I loved the look of this from the first moment I looked up the venue online). To your right is a large fishing lake that stretches into the distance and is surrounded on all sides by lush trees. The lake was particularly appropriate as Paul, his brother, and his father are all keen at fishing. Behind the church on the left is the 'World Garden', which as the name suggests, has plants from all over the world arranged into areas for the countries they're from. The venue is open to tourists and I encourage you to check it out.
So, as you can guess, I was really looking forward to this wedding. However, not only was the venue amazing, but Ness and Paul were a total pleasure to work with. They are such nice people with a love of photography who gave me plenty of time (and trust) to use different areas that I'd picked out for their photos. They'd also decorated the marquee beautifully with lots and lots of details and little touches that I loved photographing to tell the story of their day.
They are also a very lucky couple as only a select few are allowed to get married and celebrate here. I sincerely hope that I'll be back to photograph another wedding at Lullingstone Castle again soon.
Here are a few photos from their wedding along with some info about the wedding in their own words:
How did you meet, & how did you become engaged?
"We met 14 years ago working down our local pub in the village where Paul lived with his parents.
Paul proposed to me wilst on holiday in Venice in May 2015. We were staying in a beautiful hotel on the glass making island of Murano, which is very quiet in the evenings. We’d had a lovely, traditional meal in a local trattoria and Paul proposed on the waters edge close to midnight after I said it had been a perfect day. He made it even more perfect!"
How long did you take to plan your wedding?
"Unlike a lot of people who start looking immediately at wedding locations as soon as they become engaged we didn’t want to spoil the moment of the proposal. We were in an absolute bubble of happiness and spent two months telling all our friends and family face-to-face our happy news.
We booked Nick first in January 2016 and got married in July 2017."
What made you choose your wedding venue and how did you decorate it?
"Lullingstone Castle and church is a special location to us, as it was close to where we met and we used to spend a lot of time walking around this area when we first started dating. We wanted to reference elements of our engagement in Venice, and being a summer wedding we also wanted the area to speak for itself - as it’s a beautiful location. We therefore kept it simple with a palette of whites and green foliage with green box ball trees, long green garlands down long tables, rustic wooden/bark discs with jam jars of white flowers, lots of lavender to reference the lavender fields down the road in Shoreham, and herbs to naturally scent the marquee. The marquee was supplied by Camelot and we chose ‘maxclear window panels’ along the entire length of the marquee to enhance the view and keep it clear with clean lines, not the traditional Georgian arched windows which we thought were a bit old fashioned now and simple inside linings – no 90s swags!
We chose long tables specifically as a memory of the meal we had had earlier in the day before Paul proposed. We had visited a very traditional Italian family run restaurant for lunch that day and it was so lovely to see families eating together passing plates of food down the table. We wanted to share this experience on our wedding day and seeing that Italian food and antipasta our some of favourite foods, we had sharing platters of antipasta as our starter to pay homage to that memory of that very special day we got engaged."
How did you decide on your dress and accessories?
"I wanted a very traditional white wedding dress with delicate lace ensuring my shoulders were lightly covered - seeing that we got married in a church, i felt it appropriate. I wanted to keep my accessories very simple and delicate also."
How did you decide on the outfits for the groom and groomsmen?
"Paul likes and looks good in blue, but seeing that he and James are identical twins, we wanted them in two different shades of blue to avoid any confusion to the other guests!"
Who gave you away / walked you down the aisle? And did you walk down the aisle to a particular song?
"My father walked me down the aisle, with my niece and nephew in front, and my sister (my maid of honour) behind me. We had the organist and choir. I walked down the aisle to Canon in D (Johann Pachelbel).
Whilst we were signing the registers the choir sang ‘All you need is love’ by The Beatles, which the guests loved and were singing along to!"
Would you like to share anything about your vows? Did you tailor your own?
"We chose the Marriage Service from the Common book of Worship 2000 edition, which has more modern language than the 1900’s version which didn’t befit us.
We attended 3 sessions of marriage preparation at the vicars’ house with all the other couples getting married in 2017. These sessions were designed to help us construct the marriage service, the hymns, the readings and entrance and exit music, but most importantly taught us the value of marriage and respectful relationships.
We chose the hymns: I vow to thee my country (Jill Jenkins) and Jerusalem (Willaim Blake)."
Did you have any readings? If so, what were they and why did you choose them?
"A best friend read Corinthians 13.
My niece and nephew read A.A Milne Winnie The Pooh extract from “we’ll be friends forever” "
Please describe your wedding breakfast and the reasons behind it?
"Nocella olives, grissini and ciabatta with olive oli and balsamic vinegar to nibble on through speeches. Antipasta sharing platters to start. Followed by rare rump of lamb or seabass with new potatoes, peas, salsa verde, girolles and celeriac puree. Dessert of hazelnut sponge, chocolate sorbet, cream and caramelized hazlenuts.
We wanted to draw on our favourite foods, pay homage to the food we had in Venice when we got engaged, and keep it light and summery. We devised this menu with our caterer Amuse who were fantastic throughout. We wanted to offer guests a choice of a fish or meat main, but as we were in a marquee with limited supplies we therefore devised the menu so that the elements of the main would work with lamb or fish."
Did you provide wedding favours? If so, please provide details or what and where you sourced them
"We hand made small bottles of mint infused olive oil, and lavender infused olive oil keeping with an Italian theme. The bottles had cork stoppers so we were able to slit the tops slightly and insert place card names into them too."
Please describe your cake and why you chose it?
"I enjoy baking and thought it was a total waste of money to buy a cake so I made it! I got some advice from the local cake craft world shop, made a large fruit cake base several months before which got fed with brandy, then I made two smaller tiered sponges of lemon drizzle and carrot cake which I made approximately 1 month before the wedding day, and froze and then iced the week leading up to it. To keep a simple, rustic and loose Italian theme, I used lavender rosemary and olive branch sprigs from the garden to decorate it."
What was your first dance track and what did it mean to you?
"Frank Sinatra I’ve got you under my skin. It’s a very happy, romantic song with lovely lyrics."
What was your favourite part of the day and why?
"To be honest we loved the whole day, but the church service was the most important, significant, poignant and emotional part of the day, so we’d say that was our favourite part."
What led you to choose Nick from Parkershots as your photographer and please can you comment on the results?
"We were given Nick’s business card when looking around at various venues. We then looked him up and fell instantly for his photography, the light, the detail and the grading of his photos capturing the landscapes and the mood of the photos perfectly. He is an incredible photographer. We’ve received many remarks on our photos and who we used. We couldn’t be happier with the photos he took!"
On reflection, is there anything you would have done differently with foresight?
"Nope! We couldn’t improve upon the day! Even the weather was perfect!"
If you could impart any words of wisdom to a bride to be planning her marriage and wedding day, what would they be?
"Enjoy the day!! The wedding ceremony is the most important bit, not the reception, and don’t get swept away with unnecessary fickle things which no one apart from you is even aware of!
Take time on the day to reflect and look at your guests happy faces.
Plan thoroughly beforehand and make a detailed timings and task list and pass this to your caterer, photographer, (planner if having one) and best-men so they know what to do and at what time so not get behind. We have been to many weddings where the bride and groom were visibly stressed by timings going awry and this is not what you want."
- Bride’s gown (Designer and boutique) Bridedress revisited, Otford, Kent.
- Jewellery (Designer & Boutique) Same as above.
- Shoes – John Lewis
- Veil / Headpiece. Veil was hand made by dress alterations lady.
- Hair Stylist – Lydia Pilbrow, kent
- Make-up Artist – same as above.
- Florist – Denise Thompson, Otford.
- Rings – Bill Foreman.
- Venue – Lullingstone Castle and St Botolphs Church.
- Décor / Styling – all by us!
- Cake Maker – yours truly again!
- Caterer - Amuse
- Bridesmaids Dresses – Reiss. Flower girls and page boy outfits were from John lewis and M&S.
- Groom / Groomsmen suits – Moss Bros.
- Wedding Planner – yours truly again!St
- Entertainment Steve Moon DJ.
- Photographer - Parkershots
- Honeymoon – Ischia!
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