It's always a pleasure providing wedding photography at Wadhurst Castle and this stunning Swedish / English wedding between Emma and Mike is a great example of why I love it there so much.
It's funny how life works out some times. It's also funny to start talking about football in a wedding blog post, but stick with me. No-one expected England to do as well as they did in the World Cup this year. England won a World Cup game on Penalties for the first time ever. An amazing achievement, no doubt, but what was of more interest to me, is that the pivotal win on penalties meant England would face Sweden in the Quarter Finals. And, most importantly, this match would happen the day after the wedding of Emma, a Swedish Bride, and Mike, an English Groom. Even those not comfortable with the idea of fate, have to appreciate the beautiful coincidence of timing here.
What I absolutely loved though, was that Emma and Mike, nor their guests, didn't shy away from this in any way, but also didn't let it dominate their wedding day. There was mention of the match in the speeches spurring some good natured moments of competitive rivalry, but the vast majority was very much in the essence of a joining of cultures and a celebration of all.
I loved their Midsummer Night's Dream theme for the day, and the Birch Tree placeholders that Emma's dad made for the wedding breakfast room. I also loved the fact that despite having a traditional church ceremony, they made it their own with saying their vows in Swedish, and having their friend sing a loved song which sounded incredible in that setting.
I'd previously photographed Gemma (Mike's sister) & Kelly's wedding, so saw lots of familiar faces at the wedding and it was great seeing them again. And with two other siblings in the family, I hope to see them all again!
Now, here is some more information about the couple and their wedding in their own words and some great bits of advice from Emma for those currently planning their weddings:
How did you meet, & how did you become engaged?
"Emma is from Sweden and Mike from Tunbridge Wells and funnily enough they met in Pitcher & Piano in Tunbridge Wells in 2013. At the time Emma was living in Wimbledon and her best friend who lives in Tunbridge Wells, invited her over for a night out at the local nightclub Pitcher & Piano. Emma and Mike got talking and noticed they had a lot in common and so Mike convinced Emma to join him at the bar for a Tequila shot. They exchanged numbers and from there on, they went for a few dates in London and a year and half later Emma moved in with Mike. In 2017 Mike proposed on Emma’s 30th Birthday in Mexico after a Dolphin tour outside of Cancun, that evening he surprised her with a private chef at a Tepanyaki restaurant. It was an incredible day!"
How long did you take to plan your wedding?
"Mike proposed in April 2017 and so we planned the wedding in about a year and a bit."
What made you choose your wedding venues and how did you decorate them?
"We visited two other venues before we visited Wadhurst Castle. We were blown away by how beautiful the castle was both inside and out. The grounds and gardens were beautiful compared to other country homes we had visited. The inside felt very intimate and not too big which was really important to us. Also, who wouldn’t want to celebrate their wedding at a castle? It is such a unique venue that we could not resist to book it immediately.
Since Emma is from Sweden and Mike from England we decided to find a theme that brought the two cultures together and so we choose a Midsummer Night’s Dream themed wedding inspired by a Swedish Summer tradition and by the English play by Shakespeare. Flowers played an important part in the decoration and was used on table plans, menu cards and name signs as well as any other collateral, which Emma designed herself. We ensured to use pieces of wood to play up the Midsummer Night’s Dream theme and so Emma’s father cut out pieces of birch tree in Sweden for the name place card holders. We also used larger round pieces of wood for the sweet table and for the guest book area. Emma loves fairylight and created a fairylight wall that was used behind the bar, Mike built a signpost with mileage directions to their respective hometowns and honeymoon destination, Maldives. Emma also painted an English post box white and decorated it with wild flowers that was then used to hold the wedding cards. She bought Shakespeare books from a second hand shop where she used some of the pages to create a paper waterfall floating down from the books as well as using them to create the cones for the confetti. To bring the theme together we chose the colour burgundy, which was used throughout in the bouquet, ribbons, bridesmaid’s dresses and collateral."
What inspired you to style your day the way you did?
"We wanted to find a theme that brought the two cultures together and which is why we decided to go for a Midsummer Night’s Dream theme, which is both a summer tradition in Sweden but also the name of the English historical Shakespeare play."
How did you decide on your dress and accessories?
"I really wanted a dress with illusion laze and found the perfect dress with flowers running across my back and buttons running down the middle still showing off my back. It was a ball gown dress, not too big so it was still easy to move around in. I didn’t want something that was heavy to wear and I could still feel comfortable on the day. The dress was in ivory and had very soft details with an illusion neckline, beaded lace appliques, a champagne coloured lace underlay. I got to lend a bracelet from my grandma and bought new earrings and necklace, which was a gift from my family. I also had a headpiece with flowers and pearls above my hair bun."
How did you decide on the outfits for the groom and groomsmen?
"Mike chose a Reiss blue suit that fit him perfectly. The groomsmen had a blue suit complementing Mike’s suit and had a burgundy tie and white pocket chief. Mike chose a light blue tie and pocketchief to stand out from the groomsmen."
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 ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ song by Felix Mendelssohn. I loved that my father could walk me down the aisle, I think it’s a very special moment and something I will cherish forever."
Would you like to share anything about your vows? Did you tailor your own?
"We decided not to tailor the vows. We are more traditional and think it is so special to get to say those words that you have heard so many times. Finally, it was our turn. However, we did say some of the vows in Swedish, Mike started saying these and then I did the same. This was a way to make it more personal to us and we felt it was enough to memorise since we expected to feel very emotional during our ceremony."
Did you have any readings? If so, what were they and why did you choose them?
"Yes we chose two readings, the first one was ‘1 Corinthians Chapter 13’ read by my good friend Katie. The second reading was a Swedish love poem, which my sister read. We had it translated in the Order of Service so everyone could follow. I also had my friend Anneke sing, Your Song by Elton Jon, which was such a mindblowing experience. She sang beautifully and brought everyone to tears. During the signing or the register, the pianist played ‘Perfect’ by Ed Sheeran, which is the song Mike proposed to."
Please describe your wedding breakfast and the reasons behind it?
"A Swedish wedding breakfast is normally quite long whereas an English tend to be shorter, in the end it ended up being about 3 hours long. This was due to all of Emma’s bridesmaids did a speech, and so did both fathers as well as the Best Men, Tom and Harry. We had two close friends Sam and Malin to host as Toastmaster and Toastmadame. They did an introduction to English and Swedish culture with a lot of humour. Then they coordinated whom to speak when and at what time. They did a brilliant job to keep things organised, which is super useful since the Wedding breakfast should be a time for the Bride and Groom to be entertained. There were also a few games organized by the bridesmaids such as the Wedding shoe game and where all guests should draw the face of the person next to you on the table where you sat. This was then given to us as a gift which was a great idea and very funny to look back at."
Did you provide wedding favours? If so, please provide details or what and where you sourced them
"Yes we ordered some cute floral pyramid cardboxes which had a little tag saying Thank You and inside they were filled with Forrero Roche and personalized love heart sweets where the wrapper said ‘Mike & Emma’ and the date of our wedding. This is a quite English tradition and so we did not want to loose that."
Please describe your cake and why you chose it?
"Our beautiful cake was made by a friend, Selina. It was a three tier, half naked cake decorated with flowers in the same colour scheme as my bridal bouquet. The flavours we had was Champagne sponge with a rasperrry filling, lemon sponge and elderflower filling, and chocolate sponge with a salted caramel filling. This was so popular and went down a treat. To cut the cake we used Mike’s grandfather’s sword since he was once a brigadier in the army. The same sword was used by Mike’s grandfather and grandmother at their wedding as well as at his aunties wedding. It was of course also a great option for a castle venue."
What was your first dance track and what did it mean to you?
"We chose Perfect by Ed Sheeran since Mike proposed to this song so we felt this was a no brainer."
What was your favourite part of the day and why?
"It was the ceremony of our wedding, where my friend Anneke sang in church. When she sang it was total silence and it felt as if time stood still. It was very emotional seeing the faces of everyone we love in one room and hearing that music. This moment was special and unique and I will never forget it. "
What led you to choose Nick from Parkershots as your photographer and please can you comment on the results?
"Parkershots was used by Mike’s sister Gemma at her wedding. We loved their photos and thought he was super friendly on the day of their wedding. He captured really nice and special moments, which was a great proof to his amazing photography. Also after looking at some other weddings he had done it was easy to see it was the type of photography we were looking for since it had a mix of professional portrait style as well as capturing moments in a documentary style. Nick is easy to work with and was simply amazing on the day where he made us feel very comfortable and guided us brilliantly on what to do. I think this is so useful since you do not want to think afterwards, ‘oh I wish I stood slightly differently’ because you can never do that day again. He is great at capturing you at your best looking natural, which is what you want as well as giving it a very authentic feel."
On reflection, is there anything you would have done differently with foresight?
"We feel we did so much planning and prework and we had amazing support from friends helping us, especially on the day. A wedding has so many elements to it, and we did everything to try to plan for each step of the day, which I do not regret. I still can’t believe how much we planned and still there was so much to do the last few weeks. If I could have done even more a few months before than I would but it was hard to squeeze in while working."
If you could impart any words of wisdom to a bride to be planning her marriage and wedding day, what would they be?
"Start planning early and aim to lock down most of the details 2 months before and have very little left to do the weeks before. There is always small things that need to get sorted last minute and so you don’t want to make any big decisions closer to the time as it might get stressful. Plan every 15 minutes of the day, who will be doing what and what is going to happen when. This will make you realise what you might not have planned for. Start backwards, what time will guests leave and then figure out all that will happen before that. This will help the day to run smoothly and is a great guide for caterer, coordinators, bridesmainds, best men and ushers. You will not have the time to give people directions on the day so people need to know what they’re doing beforehand. Ensure to get help from your friends on the day on giving guests directions and telling guests what to do etc. In the end of the day, you are planning the biggest event of your life so it need some structure to ensure you as a Bride and Groom has nothing to worry about on your special day that you have paid a lot of money for. The planning and preparations will be worth it and you can just sit back and relax and embrace the day."
Is there anything else that you would like to add?
"Try to remember that it will go so quick so enjoy every minute of it. Everyone tells you that, but it is because it is so true.
Trust your planning is done to perfection so there is nothing more to do but have the best time with your loved ones."
- Bride’s gown (Designer and boutique) Justin Alexander from Go Bridal
- Jewellery (Designer & Boutique): Montgomery Pendant and Earings from Ivory & Co.
- Shoes: Rainbow Club Lexi Satin Toe Point Court Shoes in Ivory
- Veil / Headpiece: Veil from Isabella Grace Bridal and Headpiece from Debenhams.
- Perfume: Si Passione by Giorgio Armani
- Hair Stylist: Grace Nethercott
- Make-up Artist: Harriet Rainbow
- Florist: Lydie Dalton
- Rings: Toulson Jones Jewler
- Venue: Wadhurst Castle
- Décor / Styling: Emma Salsgard
- Cake Maker: Selina Cox
- Caterer: Purple Pumpkin
- Bridesmaids Dresses: TFNC London
- Groom / Groomsmen suits: Reiss and Marks & Spencer
- Wedding Planner: Clare Edwards and Emma Salsgard
- Stationery: Emma Salsgard
- Entertainment: Francis from PHIX Entertainment and Saxophonist Chris Maddock (Club Sax) from Warble Entertainment
- Transport: Armstrong Siddeley from Sovereign Cars. Double decker vintage coach from Omnibuzz.
- Videographer: Artistic Motion
- Photographer: Nick Parker at Parkershots
- Honeymoon: Maldives
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