Christina & James’ Wedding Photography at Wadhurst Castle

Christina and James first met over 10 years ago on the school bus. Their relationship survived the challenge of long distance when they were at universities in opposite sides of the country, and in their own words, they have been "inseparable ever since". There is something extra sweet & romantic about couples that got together young and have survived all the challenges that those following years can bring.

They are both from this area of the South East of England, and Christina's family in particular has a strong connection to the church that they selected for their ceremony - St. Thomas Catholic church in Sevenoaks.

After the ceremony, they travelled in a classic Rolls Royce to Wadhurst Castle for the wedding reception. They enjoyed drinks and canapés from Amuse Catering on the lawn before moving to the barn for the wedding breakfast and speeches. Christina's father talked with obvious pride about his daughter. James brought up how he had felt like he had another home with Christina's parents from the very first time meeting them, & then James two younger brothers (the best men) did their part. The bond between these three brothers is evidently very strong - as is how much the connection they feel to Christina, who although may only just officially be their sister-in-law, I think it's fair to say they've looked on Christina as a sister for many years now. The youngest brother mentioned how he has now known Christina for half his life.

They started their evening party off with the cake cutting (cakes made by mum & one gran) & then they had their first dance to 'The One' by Kodaline which switched up a gear part way through to 'One More Time' by Daft Punk. The transition between songs was marked by the newly weds donning sunglasses and welcoming everyone onto the dance floor. This went down very well.

I had a great time photographing the wedding of this incredibly sweet couple and wish them lots of happiness together. Congratulations Christina & James!

Here is lots more information about Alex & Jamie & their wedding choices, plus photos from throughout the day.

How did you meet, & how did you become engaged? 

"Christina and I (James) met each other in 2011 on the school bus. We were at neighboring schools and our families lived close to each other and naturally our relationship grew. We were separated by university, with Christina at Durham and I at Sussex but having successfully navigated the long-distance relationship, graduate jobs and Covid, we moved in together in East Dulwich in May 2022. The engagement plans had already been made before we moved in together so now that the ball was rolling, it was time to piece the bigger plan together.

"Our family has always holidayed in South Devon near Salcombe and this became our special place when we stayed at Gara Rock Hotel in 2017. We returned year on year, and it was only right that this be our spot for the engagement. I had booked a cottage in Salcombe overlooking the estuary for the week and on the Thursday morning, I asked Christina to pack her bags as we were moving accommodation. We had lunch booked at the hotel we used to stay at, the sun was shining, and we sat at our favorite table. We finished lunch, got back in the car and drove up the lane, and putting a random destination in the Satnav pretended we had a little drive ahead of us. I did a 3-point turn at the top of the lane, handed Christina a room key for the Hotel and broke the news that we were staying at Gara Rock. We unpacked and I had booked Christina in for spa treatment to give me an hour to turn around and set up for the proposal. Gathering everything I needed; candles, blankets, picnic rug and champagne, and leaving a note in the room for Christina to meet me on the beach at 6pm, headed off to ensure I was set up in time for sunset. Christina arrived, clearly knowing something was up, and as the sun set, in our very special spot, over our favorite beach, I asked Christina to marry me."

How long did you take to plan your wedding? 

 "We got engaged in October 2022 and started planning our wedding in November. The wedding date was set for the 16th of September 2023 so around 11 months. We must say that this was more than enough time, and to anyone who says it can’t be done in under a year anymore, it’s just not true; why prolong the wait to one of the most exciting days of your life!" 

Wedding Photography of mother of bride helping bride into her dress in Kent
Bridesmaids seeing bride in dress for first time and portraits of bride by Parkershots

What made you choose your wedding venues and how did you decorate them? 

"With so much beautiful countryside in the surrounding area to our family homes we knew we wanted to keep it local. Our vision was a traditional English country garden wedding which Wadhurst castle embodied completely. We loved the grandeur of the castle itself, the surrounding rolling Kentish countryside and separate spaces around the castle creating a ‘flow’ to the day, retaining that excitement all afternoon. We were married at St Thomas church in Sevenoaks, Christina's family church. 

"Again, in keeping with the more classic theme, we decided not to over decorate but simply work with the beautiful spaces we had. We used Wadhurst flowers who helped curate our floral vision for the day and gave them the artistic license to put together the most beautiful bouquets, table pieces and pedestal arrangements we could have asked for. Extra additions came in the form of photos of family members on their wedding day dotted around the venue to help connect the space, which is still a family home, with our family." 

How did you decide on your dress and accessories? 

"I knew I wanted a very classic dress and quickly discovered that the Spanish designers offered what I was after. After one visit to Rosa Clara I knew I had found ‘the one’. A cap sleeve crepe gown that had a youthful twist with polka dot lace and buttons down the back, it felt so comfortable and just so me. My jewellery was all Monica Vinader which is my favourite jewellery brand." 

Photos of the groom and groomsmen before the wedding ceremony at St Thomas Catholic Church in Sevenoaks
Photos of the bride's arrival at the church and pictures outside the church
Photos from wedding ceremony at St Thomas's Catholic church by Parkershots
Confetti blessing photo of couple outside St Thomas' church in Sevenoaks

How did you decide on the outfits for the groom and groomsmen? 

"It is not often in this day and age that men get to dress up in full formal attire, so we wanted to make sure the opportunity was seized. The groomsmen were all brothers and therefore it was straightforward in orchestrating the hire. Morning suit with dove grey waistcoats, single waistcoats for the groomsmen and double breasted for James, thus helping differentiate the party members. To finish the look, top hats helping really create that sense of occasion."

Who gave you away / walked you down the aisle? And did you walk down the aisle to a particular song? 

"My Father gave me away and we came down the aisle to ‘Rondeau’ by John-Joseph Mouret on the organ." 

Would you like to share anything about your vows?

"We used the traditional church vows"

Did you have any readings? If so, what were they and why did you choose them? 

"Following the traditional Catholic wedding service format, we had two readings, a Gospel and a set of bidding prayers, each read by a family member and the priest Fr. Piotr. The Bible readings, taken from both Old and New Testament and including the ever familiar, “Love is always patient and kind” all speak of a deep rooting of love and faith in poetic fashion and beautifully summarizing the promise of marriage and our commitments to each other and to faith; “…for love is strong as death… Its flashes are flashes of fire, the very flame of The Lord. Many waters cannot quench love neither can floods drown it”. 

Portraits of bride and groom with wedding car on arrival at Wadhurst Castle
Candid photos of guests enjoying drinks at Wadhurst Castle
Candid photos of wedding guests and canapes at Wadhurst Castle
Photos of the bride and groom with bridesmaids and groomsmen at Wadhurst Castle by Parkershots
Portraits of bride and groom at Wadhurst Castle

Please describe your wedding breakfast and the reasons behind it? 

"Fortunately, Wadhurst Castle work closely with only 4 caterers and so picking Amuse, based on their exceptional repertoire and experience was a no brainer. Sarah and Mike worked closely with us to curate the perfect menu following various consultations and a tasting. We wanted something refined but also offering familiar flavours to the less adventurous eaters of the party. What we landed on was nothing short of perfection and was greatly enjoyed by all!" 

Starter: Smoked Trout with Toasted Hazelnuts and Fine Beans, Hazelnut Emulsion and Micro-Watercress 

Main: Breast of Guinea Fowl with Crispy Prosciutto, Artichoke Hearts, White and Broad Beans, Wild Mushroom and Taleggio Arancini with a Crème Fraiche Sauce 

Dessert: Traditional Lemon Tart with Kentish Raspberry Sorbet 

"Delicious! And we haven’t even mentioned the Canapes!" 

"Wines were brought in by us with an offering of a 2022 Waitrose No1 Cederberg Chenin Blanc and a 2018 Vina Alberdi Rioja Reserva handpicked by Christina's father Simon to pair with flavors in our meal, followed by Veuve Clicquot for toasts." 

Please describe your cake and why you chose it? 

"Our cakes were made and designed by family members, Leslie Witter (Christina's Mum) and Nanny Mavis Oakley (James’ Nan). The main cake was 3 tiers of different flavored sponge including a gluten free layer, the second was a fruit cake. The cakes were made by Leslie and the main cake was iced by her too, whilst the fruit cake was decorated by Mavis who used to teach cake decorating classes. The design of the latter was made to emulate the design of the wedding invites and the traditional theme of the day, taking floral queues from the classic Kentish country wedding theme."

Photos of wedding breakfast room and details there in by Parkershots
Photos from the wedding speech by the father of the bride at Wadhurst Castle
Photos from the wedding speeches by the groom and best men at Wadhurst Castle

What was your first dance track and what did it mean to you? 

"Our first dance track was 'The One' by Kodaline. The lyrics are beautiful and written originally for a wedding, it has always been a firm favourite of ours and so we knew we had to have our first dance to it. We did not however wish to do a choreographed dance for the full duration of the track, so we decided to mix it up a bit and asked our DJ friend to cut the verses and create a mashup with One More Time by Daft Punk to really get the party started." 

What was your favorite part of the day and why? 

"We both agreed that our favorite part of the day was the ceremony in the church. There was an indescribable air of Love during the service, felt from all the congregation as well as between us. Ultimately the service is what the day centers around and was always the most important part of the day for the two of us. Having family members involved in the service made it feel very personal and we will treasure the memory and feeling of it for all our married life." 

Evening portraits of bride and groom at Wadhurst Castle by Parkershots
Evening portraits of bride and groom at Wadhurst Castle by Parkershots
Evening portraits of bride and groom at Wadhurst Castle by Parkershots including black and white photos as well as colour

What led you to choose Parkershots as your photographer & please can you comment on the results?

"‘A picture says a thousand words’ and choosing the right photographer therefore would determine our memory of the day based on the photos that were taken. The photographer’s role is not just to take a photo, but to engage with people and the place, to work alongside guests and always be in the right place at the right time to capture the memory whilst not being intrusive or preventing the guests from enjoying their time with the bride and groom. It was important for us too that the style of photography was not wholly of modern reportage style but captured the timelessness of the day and that traditional/classic vision we had worked to create. This meant more time for staged photos, portraiture, and the capture of more formal shots. All of this to be seamlessly integrated into a very hectic schedule too. It goes without saying that Nick delivered on all these fronts, from the initial connection, Nick's passion for photography but more importantly his personable view of his role on a wedding day immediately warmed us to him, and we knew that he shared our vision for the day and was happy to accommodate on timings, locations, and specific shots. He delivered on all his professional promises, and we couldn’t be happier with the final gallery of images, many of which have gone to print and are framed or in albums throughout our family. Thank you, Nick!"

On reflection, is there anything you would have done differently with foresight?   

"The day was perfect for us, you really just need more hours in the day for a Wedding day to squeeze it all in!"

If you could impart any words of wisdom to a bride to be planning her marriage and wedding day, what would they be? 

"Share the workload with the Groom! Do jobs when you can do them rather than when you need to, this just takes the stress out of it and makes it far more enjoyable. In terms of the actual wedding day, definitely plan out your timings for hair/makeup schedule; you don’t want to be stressed or rushing and it just means you can enjoy your final morning as a ‘Miss’! Give as detailed as possible instructions to those running the day and then you won’t have to think about a thing and just enjoy it all as a guest!"

Bride and groom cutting the wedding cake at Wadhurst Castle
Photos from the first dance at Christina and James' wedding at Wadhurst Castle
Photos of wedding guests enjoying dancing at a wedding at Wadhurst Castle by Parkershots

The Suppliers 

  • Jewellery: Monica Vinader 
  • Shoes: Asos  
  • Veil / Headpiece: Veil from Rosa Clara and Hairpiece from Lace & Favour  
  • Perfume : Burberry Hero and Dior Blooming Bouquet  
  • Hair Stylist : Emily Wood  
  • Make-up Artist: Jessica Taylor from Goodface  
  • Florist: Church Florist Team and Wadhurst Flowers  
  • Rings: Bespoke Engagement ring and wedding bands from Michael Platt, Wimbledon 
  • Venue: St Thomas Church Sevenoaks, and Wadhurst Castle  
  • Cake Maker: Mum Leslie Witter and Nanny Mavis Oakley  
  • Caterer: Amuse  
  • Bridesmaids Dresses: Coast 
  • Groom / Groomsmen suits: Well Suited  
  • Stationery: Self designed with table Numbers from James and David Fullbrook and used in the overall table plan created on Canva  
  • Entertainment: Block The Party  
  • Transport: The beautiful 1925 Rolls Royce 20 Gaille body driven by Nigel of Distinctly Vintage  
  • Honeymoon: Cassis, Provence, South of France 

Share this story