It may be the summer now, but I had to share this beautiful winter wedding from December last year. Gemma and Max’s wedding at Horsted Place in Sussex is a perfect example of embracing the winter. Add in the fact that they were blessed with the most beautiful sunny day and you can see why this was one of my favourite weddings of 2016.
This was my first time as a wedding photographer at Horsted Place and it truly inspired me. Gemma and Max gave me their time and trust, (and didn’t mind the wintry temperatures), meaning I could utilise lots of the options around the venue for their portraits, and I thoroughly loved it.
Here is more about their beautiful wedding in their own words:
How did you meet, & how did you become engaged?
“Max & I met because his little brother was in my class at the school I worked in. It took me a while to realise he was interested – he asked me out a couple of times before I said yes, because I thought he was joking!
Our engagement was just as much of a surprise to me. It was early January 2015 and a windy, miserable Friday when Max surprised me with a last minute hotel booking. It was our three-year anniversary but we had both agreed not to do anything as we were saving money. He told me he had booked it because he felt I deserved a treat. We checked into the Hotel Pelirocco (labelled the sauciest boutique hotel in Brighton!!!) I was treated to cocktails at the bar and a Thai meal in a restaurant around the corner, all expenses paid. Still suspecting nothing, but feeling thoroughly spoiled, he took me for a walk on a deserted Brighton seafront early the following morning. He insisted on sitting down, and suddenly pointed out a little vintage ring box half hidden in the pebbles. Still completely clueless (and let’s face it, a little bit dim!) I immediately started panicking about how some poor stranger had lost their jewelry. Max stared at me in disbelief for a while until the penny dropped. Then I started crying like an idiot. It came as such a surprise – I just couldn’t believe how lucky I was.”
How long did you take to plan your wedding?
“Two years. I don’t thrive on stress so I needed lots of time to prepare!”
What made you choose your wedding venues and how did you decorate them?
“St Margaret the Queen is our village church – I have been to a few beautiful services there, so it felt like the right choice for us.
We looked at numerous venues during our search but instantly fell in love with the beautiful exterior, and the elegant, traditional interior, of Horsted Place. The warm and welcoming feel of the Victorian gothic mansion complete with roaring fires in grand fireplaces seemed a perfect backdrop for our winter wedding. Being so close to Christmas, we made use of the richly decorated Christmas trees and vibrant flower displays already adorning the venue, and chose table centers (candelabras draped with ivy, gold roses and pearls) that we felt complemented the country house setting. We opted for a gold colour theme (gold chair sashes, ribbons on stationary, favours, bridesmaid dresses) to add a bit of winter glamour.”
How did you decide on your dress and accessories?
“I was very nervous about going to try dresses on. I’ve never loved my appearance and I always thought I was going to find, finding a wedding dress, an incredibly difficult experience. It turned out to be the complete opposite, a very enjoyable morning, helped by the friendly staff in Champagne and Confetti. I pulled out several dresses in the style I felt I was looking for, and Tina (the lovely attendant) picked out a ‘wild card’ she felt would suit me. I agreed to try this one on first, to get it over with (I thought it was going to look awful!) And would you believe it, it turned out to be the One! I tried on about ten others over the course of two visits just to check, but always came back to that first dress.
I chose a pair of my favourite Ted Baker shoes in a blue shade to match the boys’ suits, for a bit of contrast.”
How did you decide on the outfits for the groom and groomsmen?
“I left this very much down to the Groom to decide! And didn’t they look handsome?!”
Did you have any readings? If so, what were they and why did you choose them?
“We chose ‘The Love Monkey’ by Edward Monkton as one of our readings. The story of the monkey and his search to find true love resonated with us, and wanted to share this with our guests.”
Please describe your wedding breakfast and the reasons behind it?
“Max and I share a love of food, so we very much enjoyed our menu tasting evening. We had our tasting session in winter, as we were advised to experience the food in the correct season. We sampled the wines and champagne alongside the food, which was very helpful (and enjoyable!) All the dishes were delicious, so in the end we decided to be selfish and just pick our personal favourites. We started with slow cooked pork belly, followed it with roast fillet of beef and dauphinoise potatoes, and finished with sticky toffee pudding. We aimed for a rich, hearty, winter feast, and we hope our guests enjoyed our choices. The hotel staff told me it was very unusual to see a bride clear her plate – I didn’t appear to have any trouble!”
Did you provide wedding favours? If so, please provide details or what and where you sourced them
“Our favours were Ferrero Rocher (I have a chocolate addiction so it had to make an appearance somewhere) in little gold boxes, following our gold colour theme. The boxes were from eBay- a steal when bought in bulk!”
Please describe your cake and why you chose it?
“Unsurprisingly, I also love cake. I wanted there to be a range of flavours for everyone to enjoy so we opted for chocolate, lemon and vanilla on separate tiers (all of which tasted lovely in our sample box). I wanted to use elements of Victorian style (draping, lace and broaches) to fit with the venue, and add a modern twist with the two icing bows (which matched the bows on my shoes) and champagne gold colour. I drew up a final design and Jane at Magical Creations did an amazing job of realizing my vision. She even took samples of the lace on my dress to pipe onto one of the tiers.”
What was your first dance track and what did it mean to you?
“We chose True Colours for our first dance. I’ve always loved the Cyndi Lauper track, but when we heard Tom Odell’s version it felt perfect for us. The lyrics really spoke to us on a personal level and we felt it represented the way we felt about each other. My sister is the lead singer of our wedding band and it was a very emotional experience (for all three of us) to hear her sing those words back to us.”
What was your favourite part of the day and why?
“I don’t think there is any one part of the day that I could say was the best. It was an incredible day from beginning to end, and I wouldn’t have changed a thing. The party was fantastic and it was amazing to be able to share the joy we felt with all our friends and family. Walking down the aisle was terrifying, but I forgot about my ‘stage-fright’ when I joined Max at the altar and we became man and wife. The whole day was so full of happiness – it was truly one of the best days of our lives.”
What led you to choose Nick from Parkershots as your photographer and please can you comment on the results? .
“We felt that choosing the right photographer was one of the most important decisions we had to make when planning the wedding. Photos are the one thing that remains after the day has finished, and so the quality of these photos was very important to us. Nick at Parkershots had been recommended to us by a friend, but we spent a very long time trawling the net looking at different photographers’ galleries just to be sure. I drew up list upon list of different photographers and their pros and cons, but we were consistently drawn back to Nick. His photos were absolutely stunning, and he captured the beauty of every building, landscape, and person he photographed. When we met for a chat he was very professional, but it felt like meeting an old friend, not a stranger. After this, it really wasn’t a hard decision to make.
Working with Nick was wonderful. He really listened to what we wanted, and we felt completely confident to rely on his expertise to get the best shots and bring out the best of our venue. Neither Max nor I are the best at being photographed, but Nick made us feel completely at ease. He accomplished the impossible feat of producing a vast array of portraits that we BOTH love (not an easy task!) and we will treasure these for years to come. He even managed to snap some lovely photos of Max’s little brother (our very own Cupid) who, being on the Autistic Spectrum, is notoriously hard to photograph. I don’t think we have thanked Nick enough for the incredible job he did of capturing every detail of our special day. We frequently get compliments about our wedding photos – and we agree! They are stunning!
We would recommend Nick 110% – thanks so much for our beautiful memories”
If you could impart any words of wisdom to a bride to be planning her marriage and wedding day, what would they be?
“Firstly, it would be to try to enjoy the preparations as much as possible, and not let the inevitable stress overwhelm you. Most importantly, to make the most of every minute of the day – I know EVERYONE says it but it really does go by so quickly.”
– Bride’s gown (Designer and boutique): Essense of Australia from Champagne and Confetti (www.champagneandconfetti.co.uk)
– Shoes: Bride – Ted Baker Groom – Russell and Bromley
– Veil / Headpiece: Veil from Champagne and Confetti and tiara from Fross
– Perfume: Miss Dior ‘Absolutely Blooming’
– Hair Stylist: Janine Allen
– Make-up Artist: Lauren Newell (www.laurensbeautique.co.uk)
– Florist: Emma and Jo at Pippins Nursery, Five Ashes
– Rings: Groom – Cartier ‘Love Ring’; Bride – white gold wedding band and trilogy engagement ring created by Gary Underdown
– Venue: St Margaret the Queen Church, Buxted and Horsted Place Country House Hotel (www.horstedplace.co.uk)
– Décor / Styling – Myself
– Cake Maker: Magical Creations (Tunbridge Wells)
– Bridesmaids Dresses: Asos
– Groom / Groomsmen suits: Next
– Cufflinks: Louis Vuitton
– Wedding Planner – Myself!! With the invaluable help of Katie Parrish at Horsted Place
– Stationery – Myself
– Entertainment: Charlie Myers (Pianist), Rhythm of the Night (Band)
– Transport: Friend of the family
– Photographer: Nick Parker at Parkershots
– Honeymoon: Zilwa Attitude Hotel in Mauritius, organized by Bianca Wassell at The Travel Concept