There were so many aspects of Hope & Ed's wedding that made it a stand-out for me. They're clearly a lovely couple and had picked beautiful venues, but it was their choices, attention to detail, and in how much of themselves they put into their day that I loved so much. The motif they had designed of a crossed thistle and hops was a beautiful touch and I was very keen to utilise it on their album design for them - it looked amazing printed on both the box cover and album cover.
I've been a wedding photographer at Penshurst Place a couple of times now and am looking forward to returning there again this summer. It's amazing venue with so many beautiful locations for photos, around the manor and in the extensive and varied gardens. It's one of those venues where a photographer could easily spend an entire day just taking portraits of the bride and groom in different areas. I also found out during the Groom's speech, that it was the location for one of the final scenes of my childhood favourite film, The Princess Bride, which made me love it that little bit more.
For Hope and Ed's wedding, they were keen to have the groom preparation photographed as well as the bridal preparation, and with them being at different locations, I needed to source a 2nd photographer. I was keen to find someone with a similar style to my own and be someone that I knew Hope and Ed would get on with. Thankfully, David from David Burke Photography was perfect and available for the day. He provided the groom preparation photos seen below as well as 2nd shooting for the ceremony and up to the first dance. He was a pleasure to work with and I'd utilise his skill again without hesitation.
Now, here are a few words from Hope about their wedding and some of my favourite photos from the day:
How did you meet, & how did you become engaged?
"We met through a dating website called My Single Friend and after a classic first date at the pub, went from there!
The engagement was a carefully planned extravaganza; Ed arranged a weekend away at a surprise location. We arrived in Northumberland late one night, and after a couple of days of exploring the beautiful countryside, visiting Northumbrian attractions such as Lindisfarne and Alnwick, and indulging in some really very good food, Ed excelled himself with the day itself. After Ed had snuck out to telephone my father for his blessing, we set off on a magical mystery tour, heading north to Scotland for a lunch of my favourite food (haggis) overlooking the River Tweed, and then went back down into the Northumberland National Forest via a few stop-offs in the Borders. Northumberland is home to Europe’s largest area of protected dark sky in the form of the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park, where you will find the Kielder Observatory. The day was perfectly arranged as my degree was in Astrophysics, i'd studied at St Andrews in Scotland, and the engagement all took place on St Andrew’s Day!
After a fascinating, informative and thoroughly enjoyable evening of stargazing - with the help of hot chocolate – Ed popped the question at midnight atop a hill in the middle of the forest, with no-one but a galaxy of stars as witnesses."
How long did you take to plan your wedding?
"18 months, proposal to ceremony."
What made you choose your wedding venues and how did you decorate them?
"We very nearly went with the church and a venue near to where I grew up, but when we saw Penshurst Church and Penshurst Place, they were so well suited to our tastes and requirements, there was no doubt. Sadly Clandon Park, the runner-up venue, burned down a few months later. We really felt for the couples affected and the National Trust for the loss of such a lovely stately home. Penshurst is close to where Ed grew up and it has an unique, ancient beauty; glorious gardens; useful layout and thoroughly helpful and friendly staff. The Baron’s Hall with its central fire and soaring stone walls is stunning and the whole feel of the place exactly matched our desire for a classic wedding - with flair. As we were not marrying in Scotland, it was important to bring my Scottish heritage to the day, and this was clearly achievable with Penshurst’s imposing stone walls and the addition of some appropriate styling. Finally, the Leicester Arms pub across the road sealed it for us, as it meant Ed and our guests could prepare and relax in a gorgeous old Tudor pub, which does great food and is so close to the church and reception venue."
What inspired you to style your day the way you did?
"We wanted to have a memorable wedding that really reflected our personalities and style, and highlighted the uniting of our heritage - Scotland and Kent. Our wedding motif - a crossed thistle and hops - featured in everything from the invitations to the cake. Kent gave us many a merry afternoon, exploring the various vineyards that are successfully growing vines to produce luscious sparkling wines, and we eventually chose Hush Heath for our fizz. Hops were out of season in June so our florist arranged for huge quantities of the previous season’s growth to be dried and kept at Penshurst, and in her own house. Dried hops develop a lovely warm golden hue which looked wonderful in the light from the fire. Scottishness came from various quarters including the traditional piper who led everyone round from the church to the reception, my family tartan (particularly in the chair tie-backs, banner and favours), the thistles, my entry to the melody "Highland Cathedral", and the wedding breakfast."
How did you decide on your dress and accessories?
"There was no question that I would have a ‘proper’ wedding gown - something time-less and elegant. After visiting a few boutiques I had established what I wanted from the gown (acres of silk train and dozens of delicate buttons), and chose to have a custom gown by Sassi Holford, whose dresses are handmade in England. I was guided through the creative process by the lovely ladies at The Pantiles Bride in Tunbridge Wells and Sassi herself. Although I had never seen the final design in the flesh until the first fitting, I was right to trust that it would be glorious. It had a fabulously long train and suited my shape perfectly. The veil had appliqué lace to match the bolero jacket and I took them off for the evening for a change of look. My shoes were a bespoke Harriet Wilde London design in my tartan, and my earrings were made by G. Collins & Sons in Tunbridge Wells (they also made the rings) in sapphire and pearl, to match my inherited necklace which conveniently covered both my ‘something old’ and ‘something blue’! I also wore a hair comb depicting the thistle part of our motif picked out in seed pearls."
How did you decide on the outfits for the groom and groomsmen?
"They wore traditional morning dress, nothing else was ever considered, and they had a happy ‘boys afternoon’ choosing their waistcoat colour – followed by celebrating their achievement in the pub, of course. Ed’s buttonhole was a Scottish thistle and English rose. My father wore a thistle, and Ed’s father and the ushers all wore roses. Ed wore silver sixpence cufflinks for luck."
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 to ‘Highland Cathedral’ played on the Church’s organ, which was meaningful, beautiful and stately."
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 went with the standard modern vows and the Rev. Tom Holmes’ address concerned the nature of names - various King Edwards, and a meditation on the meaning of ‘Hope’!"
Did you have any readings? If so, what were they and why did you choose them?
"We had two readings, Romans 12: 1-2; 9-13 read by Ed’s brother Henry Smith, and an extract from Les Misérables by Victor Hugo, read by Hope’s old friend Giles McKean. The former offered good marital and life advice, and the latter powerfully declaimed on love and its all-conquering importance – with a delightfully apt reference to a star!"
Please describe your wedding breakfast and the reasons behind it?
"Our wedding breakfast was Scottish in theme, with a starter of smoked Scottish salmon, a main of guinea fowl and a whisky-soaked cranachan with shortbread for pudding. Serving haggis to everyone may have been a little controversial but we had to have it somewhere, so we had a haggis canapé!"
Did you provide wedding favours? If so, please provide details or what and where you sourced them
"I love to make macaroons, so with the help of my future mother in law, made and decorated dozens and dozens of them filled with Scottish raspberry jam and lemon curd. Each guest had a brace of flavours in a box tied with tartan ribbon."
Please describe your cake and why you chose it?
"Our cake was a triumph, a glory, a work of art. We were so happy to meet the utterly lovely and talented Liz from Sylvia’s Kitchen after interviewing quite a few cake makers. She really listened to our ideas, flower choices, venue and motif (plus a paint chart from Farrow & Ball) and sketched a cake that, on the day, looked as though it ought to be in the Uffizi and later graced several pages of Wedding Cakes magazine. The stunning bouquet of sugar-work flowers on top looked entirely realistic. The cake tasted as they do in your dreams but so often fail to do so in reality; with delectably moist chocolate and Ed’s favourite vanilla cake inside - it was a joy to eat and almost a tragedy to cut."
What was your first dance track and what did it mean to you?
"Our band, The Hot Keys, sang "Birdy’s Wings", and we danced a routine we’d had bags of fun practicing for a couple of weeks. It’s a wonderfully potent track, slow but anthemic, with meaningful lyrics - especially the references to stars."
What was your favourite part of the day and why?
"Our favourite part of the day was the ceremony itself; the act of marrying one another - formally committing to each other in front of our family and friends. The whole ceremony, with our carefully chosen hymns and poems, was more special and symbolic than we had imagined. A powerful lasting memory of the day. We were almost a little surprised that this was the most meaningful part of the day, as it was one of the most straightforward parts of the wedding to plan."
What led you to choose Parkershots as your photographer and please can you comment on the results?
"Nick was in fact the first photographer we met when we started our search at a wedding fair. We were instantly impressed with his work on display and he was really friendly and helpful in giving us different venue suggestions for what we were looking for (including Penshurst Place). After we had taken Nick’s details, we thought that we should still meet with a number of other photographers to make sure our instincts were right, but every subsequent photographer we met failed to match Nick’s quality, professionalism and value, so the choice was simple. Nick is naturally one of those trustworthy people who inspires confidence and puts you at ease and he gave great advice leading up to the day, going through the things we would need to consider, from timings on the day to facilitating a second photographer. We are very organised people and that’s something that we really appreciated. At our engagement shoot and on the day itself, he was invaluable in keeping everything calm and helping to move the day along smoothly. His ‘fine art’ style photos are breathtakingly beautiful and we love our unique album, which is of the highest quality. Nick clearly doesn’t ever take shortcuts, settle for ‘that will do’ or rush the edit in his pursuit of perfection."
On reflection, is there anything you would have done differently with foresight?
"By taking our time and researching thoroughly, we were able to plan the wedding that we truly wanted. We wouldn’t change a thing!"
If you could impart any words of wisdom to a bride to be planning her marriage and wedding day, what would they be?
"Do plenty of research, take the time to plan calmly and carefully and don’t let anyone else’s ideas or unsolicited advice, no matter how well-meaning, sway your choices if you are not 100% in agreement. Ultimately, a wedding day is about the couple making the commitment to one another for the rest of their lives."
Is there anything else you would like to add?
"We’d have all of our suppliers again without hesitation. Taking your time and only hiring people you trust is critical."
• Bride’s gown (Designer and boutique): Sassi Holford https://sassiholford.com
• Designer: Sassi Holford https://sassiholford.com
• Process handled by: Alex at The Pantiles Bride www.pantilesbride.com
• Veil: Sassi Holford https://sassiholford.com
• Jewellery (Designer & Boutique): Evie Reid at G. Collins & Sons www.gcollinsandsons.com
• Shoes: Ruth Shaw at Harriet Wilde www.harrietwilde.co m
• Headpiece: Donna Crain www.donnacrain.com
• Perfume: Estée Lauder Private Collection ‘Tuberose Gardenia’
• Hair Stylist: Sharon Roberts, Wonderful Wedding Hair www.wonderfulweddinghair.co.uk
• Make-up Artist: Kristina Gasperas (www.kristinagasperas.com)
• Florist: Lisa at Lily & Myrtle (http://www.lilyandmyrtle.co.uk/)
• Rings: Evie Reid at G. Collins & Sons www.gcollinsandsons.com/
• Venue: Nikki at Penshurst Place https://www.penshurstplace.com/wedding-event/
• Décor / Styling: Bows Hire http://www.bowshire.co.uk/ Penshurst Place
• Cake Maker: Liz Chatfield at Sylvia’s Kitchen www.sylviaskitchen.co.uk
• Caterer: Andrew Hawkes of Leith’s at Penshurst Place https://www.penshurstplace.com/wedding-event
• Bridesmaids Dresses: Coast www.coast-stores.com
• Groom’s suit: Hackett https://www.hackett.com/
• Wedding Planner: Nikki at Penshurst Place https://www.penshurstplace.com/wedding-event/
• Stationery: Gee Bros. https://geebrothers.co.uk
• Entertainment: The Hot Keys, via the Alive Network www.alivenetwork.com/
• Transport: Ivan Odds at Odds Car Hire www.oddscarhire.co.uk
• Videographers: Jo and Gary at Gorgeous Films www.gorgeousfilm.co.uk
• Photographer: Nick at Parkershots (Only the best would do)!! With David Burke from David Burke Photography providing groom preparation cover and 2nd shooting up to the first dance.
• Honeymoon: Java, Bali and Lombok in Indonesia, arranged by Karl at Selective Asia. www.selectiveasia.com
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