I’m so pleased to be sharing this gorgeous summer wedding from last year. I loved every part of their day, but more than anything their ceremony still stands out in my mind. Being a wedding photographer, and having photographed over 200 weddings I’ve enjoyed seeing a wide variety of ceremonies over the years, but this was the probably most uplifting that I have ever witnessed. This was truly a celebration of love & expressed in the most joyful way possible. The songs were sung with such enthusiasm that I found myself smiling due to the energy, and the messages was all so sincere and heartfelt that you could feel the love in the room.
After this incredible ceremony at St. Peter’s church in Southborough, we then all headed to Chafford Park just outside Tunbridge Wells in Ashurst. This is one of my favourite wedding venues, and Natalie and Ben had decorated it beautifully with the aid of ‘Not Your Average I Do’. They were also blessed with some incredible weather meaning the guests could enjoy their drinks outside in the sunshine all afternoon and into the evening.
Here is more about their wedding in their own words and a few of photos from the day:
How did you meet, & how did you become engaged?
“We met in 2011 through two friends at a Summer camp. They had met at university and somehow managed to get the two of us together! We got engaged in Cambridge on a beautiful Summer’s day! Ben was moving to Cambridge for 6 months with work, so we were there trying to find him a house and then went into the city centre, where Ben had arranged a private punting tour and popped the question on the boat!”
How long did you take to plan your wedding?
“We got engaged in August 2017 and then our wedding was in July 2018 – so we had 11 months to prep. This felt like a good amount of time, once we had got the key details sorted (i.e. date, church and reception).”
What made you choose your wedding venues and how did you decorate them?
“As we are both Christians, we wanted a traditional church wedding from the start. We chose a church that was the local one to Natalie’s parents’ house, which overlooks a beautiful cricket green. It was also where Natalie’s parents got married so it already had some nice family history! Our reception venue was Chafford Park in Fordcombe, Tunbridge Wells. We were both keen on a converted barn type venue but struggled to find out that would accommodate all of our guests. When we found Chafford Park it seemed perfect; it could fit everyone in without being cramped, there were beautiful grounds for photos and it was in the middle of the Kent countryside!
We decorated the barn with the help of a company called Not Your Average I Do. Chafford Park recommended them to us. They did some draping across the ceiling which had fairy lights hidden inside. We were so fortunate as the previous couple that had got married at Chafford Park had left a full wall of fairy lights along one side of the barn, which was a feature that we loved. We used a lot of the flowers from the church at the venue and filled the tables with wooden logs, photos of ourselves through the ages and various candles. Natalie had created wooden signs to be dotted around the venue.”
What inspired you to style your day the way you did?
“I think our theme was very much Summer focussed! The colours were a very pale/dusky pink and a neutral light grey. As it was these were just colours that we both liked and think they went well with the venue. We were also keen to ensure our Christian beliefs were the key focus of the day. While we had certain traditional Christian elements to the wedding ceremony, we were keen to ensure that ceremony was modern, particularly through the worship style and the message of love given in the address by Steve, Natalie’s vicar.”
How did you decide on your dress and accessories?
“I went to two different bridal shops in Tunbridge Wells. Go Bridal and Isabella Grace. I ended up getting my dress from Isabella Grace – they made the whole experience so lovely from start to finish and I would recommend them to any future bride! We picked out six dresses for me to try on. Some I wasn’t so sure on when looking at them on the hanger but those ended up being the ones I liked the most! I got it down to two that I liked most and was toying between both for a long time. I ended up choosing an Essence of Australia dress! I had never seen a dress like it before – it was very elegant. As the dress didn’t have much detail itself, I was able to go for a more elaborate veil – it was floor length and had amazing lace and beading around the edge of it. Together they seemed like the perfect combination! Ben had given me a beautiful necklace via my sister on the morning of the wedding, so I was able to wear that along with some of my Nanna’s old earrings – both were very sentimental pieces. My shoes were from Kurt Gieger and were very comfy – important given that we were on our feet for much of the day!?”
How did you decide on the outfits for the groom and groomsmen?
“Ben tried on a few different suits, but he went with Youngs at Debenhams for the hire of all the suits. He decided on a navy suit which a grey tweed fronted waistcoat and a very pale pink tie to match the bridesmaids. The groomsmen and both Dads all had the same, except they had a grey tweed tie rather than the light pink. They looked great on everyone and it was very easy to organize fittings with friends and family across the country.”
Who gave you away / walked you down the aisle? And did you walk down the aisle to a particular song?
“My Dad gave me away, which was a very special moment as I was his last child to get married! We came down to Turning Page by Sleeping At Last. We had a string quartet and a pianist play this for us and it sounded amazing!”
Would you like to share anything about your vows? Did you tailor your own?
“We used the traditional vows provided by the vicar. We didn’t feel they needed any amendments as they fitted us perfectly and we felt they captured the magnitude of the statements we were making.”
Did you have any readings? If so, what were they and why did you choose them?
“We had the bible reading of 1 Corinthians 13 read out by Ben’s Grandma. The message of love was one we were very keen to play a key focus in the day. This message is one that we hope to continue to revisit in our married life and we wanted to declare this amongst our friends and family on the day.
It was such a nice moment to have Ben’s Grandma do the reading for us. Ben’s Grandad passed away just a few weeks before he proposed to me, after over 55 years of marriage to his Grandma. We are sure he will have been watching down fondly on the day and to have Ben’s Grandma pass on a message that was so evident in their marriage was very special.”
Please describe your wedding breakfast and the reasons behind it?
“For our wedding breakfast we had an Isle of Wight tomato bruschetta with mozzarella and basil. This was a lovely fresh and light starter given warm weather we had been having! We then had roast lamb with rosemary potatoes and seasonal vegetables – lamb is Ben’s favourite, so it was a bit of a no brainer. For dessert we had Salted Caramel and Chocoalte roulade, which was heavenly! We also had a selection of canapes whilst guests were arriving. The food was all delicious and great quality. I was also able to get an amazing selection of cheese to go alongside the hog roast we had for the evening celebration.”
Did you provide wedding favours? If so, please provide details or what and where you sourced them
“We didn’t provide favours in the traditional sense, however we did have a sweets table filled with jars of penny sweets which guests were able to help themselves to throughout the day and take home with them. We are both sweetie lovers so we saw this as our favours in a way.”
Please describe your cake and why you chose it?
“Our cake was made by a friend of a friend who recently set up her own cake business. The company is called Palm Ivy Cakes and Beth did an amazing job! We had a 3-tier cake with buttercream icing and each layer was a different flavor – tradional vanilla, chocolate and then lemon drizzle. So many of our guests commented on how yummy it was! It was decorated with fresh flowers by our florist which made it look incredible!”
What was your first dance track and what did it mean to you?
“Our first dance was to Like I’m Gonna Lose You by Meghan Trainor and John Legend. We thought the lyrics were very fitting and the song itself was a nice one to dance along to. We had all our friends and family come and join us half way through!”
What was your favourite part of the day and why?
“It’s very hard to choose as the whole day was amazing! I think I would say the service as it just felt so relaxed but at the same time in a beautiful church, that had a family link, with lots of friends and family involved in the service – it was something truly special and I will never forget it! Ben’s favourite moment was when we walked into the barn at Chafford Park to sit down for our wedding breakfast with all our friends and family welcoming us in – it was so nice to see everyone so happy for us!”
What led you to choose Nick from Parkershots as your photographer and please can you comment on the results?
“We really felt like choosing the photographer for our wedding was probably one of the biggest decisions we could make. We really wanted high quality photos in a style that suited us. We had spent quite a while going through photographers but knew once we saw Nick’s previous work, we knew he was exactly the style we were after! From the outset he was very approachable and made everything feel like such a smooth process, really listening to the little details we had planned for the day. He knew exactly the best places to go for the best photos, particularly around the grounds of Chafford Park. Additionally, he was very good at adapting to slight nuances in the schedule throughout the day –a key attribute given that most weddings seem to overrun!
He went above and beyond for us and we couldn’t have asked for better! Many of our friends and family commented on how lovely Nick was on the day – he managed to get some lovely photos of our guests too without being intrusive. It’s so nice to have these to look back on and seeing our guests enjoying the day.
We had an album created by Nick about 6 months after our wedding and it is beautiful! We are so pleased we decided to do this, they are of such high quality and something we will always treasure. We’re so pleased with all of our photos and would absolutely recommend Nick to anyone looking for a photographer!”
On reflection, is there anything you would have done differently with foresight?
“Nothing we’d really look to change – even the weather was beautiful!”
If you could impart any words of wisdom to a bride to be planning her marriage and wedding day, what would they be?
“Everyone says it but try not to stress about the small little details. You can spend lots of time worrying over unnecessary things – just try and give yourself lots of time to do everything you’re wanting to happen for the day!”
– Bride’s gown (Designer and boutique): Essence of Australia – from Isabella Grace https://www.isabellagracebridal.com/
– Jewellery (Designer & Boutique): Tiffany & Co and lent from family
– Shoes: Kurt Geiger
– Veil / Headpiece: Isabella Grace
– Perfume: Coco Mademoiselle, Chanel
– Hair Stylist: Hall of Fame
– Make-up Artist: Hall of Fame https://www.halloffame.uk.com/
– Florist: Florist in the Forest http://www.floristintheforest.co.uk/
– Rings: David Graham AU Ltd
– Venue: Chafford Park https://www.chaffordparkestate.co.uk/
– Décor / Styling: Not Your Average I Do https://notyouraverageido.com/
– Cake Maker: Palm Ivy Cakes https://www.instagram.com/palmandivy/?hl=en
– Bridesmaids Dresses TFNC on ASOS
– Groom / Groomsmen suits Youngs Suit Hire
– Wedding Planner – NA
– Stationery – NA (did myself)
– Entertainment String Quartet – Haysden String Quartet https://haysdenquartet.co.uk/
– Band – Gravity Band http://www.gravityband.co.uk/
– Transport: Vintage Rolls Royce Wedding Hire https://www.vintagerollsroyceweddinghire.co.uk/
– Videographer: Mike Mulock
– Photographer: Parkershots www.parkershots.com
– Honeymoon Italy – Sardinia and Lake Garda