Being a wedding photographer at Nettlestead Place with a wedding like this is why I love my job so much 🙂 I knew the venue was something special after checking it out following my first meeting with Joy & Simon but this sentiment was multiplied 100 fold after I visited it before the wedding and had a good look around. It has everything - an outside ceremony location with inside backup, incredible views, extensive gardens with beautiful features, a stunning historic house, and a pond. Even writing this now, doesn't do it justice, so I'm very glad I can share photos to really highlight what it's like here. And, on top of all that, Joy and Simon had very stylish choices for their day and had chosen flower centric decorations which worked perfectly with the venue and really made it look even more special. This was particularly true with their choice of planks with trailing flowers suspended from the ceiling of the marque. These broke up the whiteness of the marquee beautifully and I'd thoroughly recommend them for any weddings involving a marquee. Speak to Suzanne at The Flowersmiths and I'm sure she'll be happy to help.
This was my first time as a wedding photographer at Nettlestead Place and I cannot wait to return here again soon. Even though it was my first time here, itt was nice to see some familiar faces; firstly there was Sharon from Majestic Events who is now the Wedding / Event Planner there. I've known Sharon for many years from when she was handling wedding for Bradbourne House and always enjoyed working with her. And in the morning prep, there was Harriet Rainbow and Liz from Simply Beautiful Wedding Hair. Both are a pleasure to work with and always done an amazing job.
So, we have an amazing venue that's been decorated superbly, a great team of suppliers, perfect styling choices, and on top of all that Joy and Simon were two of the nicest people I've met, who were patient and trusting with my choices of locations for photos, had great chemistry, and generally made my job even better than it already is. Thanks!
Now, time to hear more about their day in their own words and to see their beautiful wedding:
How did you meet, & how did you become engaged?
"Like any modern fairytale story, we swiped right…. We had our first, (very brief!) date at a local pub but on our second date in a favourite local restaurant realized we quite liked each other. We met in October 2014 and got engaged in April 2017 in Jamaica. We were on holiday for my 40th birthday but Simon surprised me on the first day of our holiday with an additional reason to celebrate and a beautiful ring. We were up in the mountains above Kingston with stunning views early in the morning – it was perfect."
How long did you take to plan your wedding?
"We got straight into wedding planning on our return from Jamaica so we had 14 months in total. We knew we wanted to get married the following year but couldn’t believe how many venues were already fully booked. We obviously wanted to be able to bag the best suppliers (like Nick from Parkershots!) early too."
What made you choose your wedding venues and how did you decorate them?
"We looked at about 6 venues across London and the South East. Nettlestead Place was actually our ‘wild card’. However, we really loved it for a number of reasons. The venue and gardens are just stunning and we also loved the marquee and the fact it was such a blank canvas. We also liked the idea of being able to have the ceremony outside (if the weather was kind) but also thought the Undercroft for the indoor ceremony was beautiful, meaning that we wouldn’t have been too disappointed if the weather was bad.
We focused our decoration very much around our flowers."
What inspired you to style your day the way you did?
"We didn’t have a particular theme, we just wanted the day to feel elegant and relaxed – and reflective of us personally. The gardens at Nettlestead are beautiful so we started with the flowers. We worked with Suzanne at The Flowersmiths and she was brilliant at bringing our ideas to life.
We kept the ceremony flowers pretty simple as we were hopeful that we would be outside. We used shepherd’s hooks with small vases down the aisle which we then moved to decorate the outside of the marquee after and a small spray of flowers tied to the outside of the gazebo.
To reflect the outside natural elements, we used crates on the tables for flowers and had wooden planks with trailing flowers attached to the ceiling (our favourite decoration!). We felt that due to the whiteness of the marquee we needed some height in the decorations. We are lucky to have a very talented illustrator friend who then drew us a plank with trailing flowers which we used across all our main stationery (invites, name places, table plan) meaning this all came together really well on the day. Suzanne did an amazing job of re-creating Emily’s illustration on the day – we were blown away by it. Emily also drew an illustration of Nettlestead Place that we used for our Order of Service and to have as a printed keepsake for our wall at home.
We both have a love of travel and rooftop bars so we named our tables after bars we had visited with fantastic views across the world. We used our photos for the ‘table numbers’ and added the phrase ‘Feeling on top of the world’ to the table plan. Another favourite decoration element was our cake topper. We used the brilliant Designs by Denisa who creates personalized caricatures from photos of you and the details of the dress, groom’s outfit etc. It did mean that Simon wasn’t able to see it until the day though as it would have given away the dress and headpiece! We asked her to create us sitting on top of a globe to fit with the theme of the tables.
For colours we chose pink and peach pastels with pops of deeper colour – just to have a summery feel.
To complement the crates on the tables we used crates for our sweet table, flip flops for any sore dancing feet (both very popular) and a box we ordered for cards. Rather than a guest book we had a bucket list and asked for ideas for future travels and dates."
How did you decide on your dress and accessories?
"My mum lives quite a way away so I booked 3 appointments for one weekend and tried on a variety of dresses and styles. I had always liked the idea of a fishtail style dress but didn’t want to discount anything. The dress I chose was in the second shop and it just felt more special than the others I tried on and was what I had in mind – but with lots of other details I liked – such as the back of the dress. I purchased the dress from Isabella Grace and it was such a fun, lovely experience. I also later went back for an accessory appointment and found my veil and hair comb. I had wanted a hair comb so I still felt I had something decorative in once I got bored with the veil."
How did you decide on the outfits for the groom and groomsmen?
"We decided early on that we wanted a relaxed feel so preferred lounge suits to tails. We loved the blue suit we found in Moss Bros as we thought the shade of the suit would be slightly different to anything any guests wore. It was also something we thought would suit all the ushers and the dads – as well as looking great on Simon obviously."
Who gave you away / walked you down the aisle? And did you walk down the aisle to a particular song?
"My dad walked me down the aisle. We had a string quartet and chose A Thousand Years as it is a lovely piece which sounds great on strings too."
Would you like to share anything about your vows? Did you tailor your own?
"We decided to add in personal vows to the ceremony. This was something that we decided quite late on but we were so glad we did because it made the service so much more personal to us and it is something that our friends and family have commented on a lot. Although as a tip apparently mums want warnings that this is going to happen…."
Did you have any readings? If so, what were they and why did you choose them?
"We had 2 readings – Not Perfect by Bob Marley and On Your Wedding Day by Anon. We spent a lot of time looking at readings. On Your Wedding Day is a lovely, simple poem and we liked the fact it talked about the day itself and embarking on a journey together. We loved the sentiment in Not Perfect and we also thought a bit of Bob Marley following an engagement in Jamaica was apt (we also walked out to One Love)."
Please describe your wedding breakfast and the reasons behind it?
"We had canapes between the ceremony and wedding breakfast. During canapes we served Chapel Down Sparkling Rose as we thought it was nice to have something local to the venue – and it’s really good (even our French champagne buyer friend liked it!). For the wedding breakfast we had a ‘bloody mary’ prawn cocktail, chicken with garlic mash and a madeira jus, and Eton Mess. We chose the food we enjoyed most at the tasting and what we thought most people would also like. We were pleased to incorporate some Kent strawberries in the dessert too."
Did you provide wedding favours? If so, please provide details or what and where you sourced them
"We decided against wedding favours as we served petit fours with the coffee and decided that most of our guests would be more appreciative of money behind the bar…."
Please describe your cake and why you chose it?
"We are so lucky that one of our friends has her own cake business so we had one decision on suppliers that needed no consideration. We had a naked cake with 3 different flavoured tiers – chocolate sponge with salted caramel cream, Victoria sponge with champagne and strawberry cream and lemon sponge with white chocolate and raspberry cream. It looked just amazing – and tasted as good too."
What was your first dance track and what did it mean to you?
"We chose Wings by Birdy as this was an album that we listened to quite a lot early on in our relationship and we liked the sentiment behind the words."
What was your favourite part of the day and why?
"It’s so hard as we literally loved every moment but we think the ceremony. The moment you see everyone you love the most in one place is amazing and we just loved how personal the ceremony felt. We were so excited to get married too – it just felt like everything we had dreamed it would be."
What led you to choose Nick from Parkershots as your photographer and please can you comment on the results?
"We knew from the outset that the photographer was going to be one of the most important signings for the big day! We met with 4 (blitzed it in one weekend) but we were blown away by Nick’s photographs – they really did stand out considerably. We also thought that the album choices were some of the most modern and elegant we saw.
Simon is also a little picky about photographs (I am always in trouble for framing things wrong and getting the sea wonky) but Nick’s flawless photography completely won him over. We can be prone to deliberate on decisions but this was actually not a difficult one. Our decision was clearly the right one too because our photos are just stunning and Nick managed to not only capture lots of amazing photos of us but also of our guests and the fun and emotion of the day. I am not quite sure how he got around everyone……
We were also fortunate enough to do an engagement shoot and we really enjoyed that as it put us completely at ease for the day – we felt that we knew what to expect. We chose to do our engagement shoot at Greenwich Park, near where we live so alongside our wonderful wedding pictures we also have photos of us in a place which means a lot to us."
On reflection, is there anything you would have done differently with foresight?
"Only a few things and they did not in any way detract from the fact we had the most amazing day.
We should have trusted our own judgement more. We had one supplier that we were not happy with and we perhaps could have been braver and changed direction earlier on rather than thinking we should just stick with it.
We were really conscious about not spending ages taking formal photos (we’ve all been to the weddings where they take forever) as we knew we would want to be talking to people. However, there are now a few that I wish I had captured when I look back over them so this is perhaps something to think more carefully about than we did. For example, we took one with both sets of parents and us but not one with us and each set of parents or one of just the bride and bridesmaids.
If you could impart any words of wisdom to a bride to be planning her marriage and wedding day, what would they be?
Excel is your friend – we had one master spreadsheet and literally tracked everything we were doing – and spending.
Enjoy it! The day goes quickly so it is good to soak up all the fun of planning it too.
Is there anything else that you would like to add?
We had a band for the evening – Already Legends – who were just great. We had actually seen them at a friends’ wedding and loved them. We did our due diligence though and went to listen to them sober first – and still loved them so knew they would do an excellent job at keeping the dance floor busy. Both Harriet (Harriet Rainbow - make-up) and Liz (Simply Beautiful Wedding Hair) were fantastic to work with – we had a really relaxed, fun morning and I was so happy with both mine and the bridesmaids’ hair and make-up.
Are you looking for a wedding photographer for your wedding? Drop me a message by clicking here and tell me about your day.
- Bride’s gown (Designer and boutique): Kenneth Winston, Isabella Grace
- Jewellery (Designer & Boutique): Necklace – Hatton Garden; Bracelet – Links of London; Earrings - Beaverbrooks
- Shoes: Rainbow Club
- Veil / Headpiece: Headpiece – Chez Bec; Veil – Isabella Grace
- Perfume: Tiffany
- Hair Stylist: Liz Bower, Simply Beautiful Wedding Hair
- Make-up Artist: Harriet Rainbow
- Florist: The Flowersmiths
- Rings: Joy’s – Tiffany, Simon’s - Mappin and Webb
- Venue: Nettlestead Place
- Décor / Styling: Bride and Groom
- Cake Maker: Kari’s Cakery
- Bridesmaids Dresses: Marks and Spencer
- Groom / Groomsmen suits: Moss Bros
- Wedding Planner: Bride and Groom
- Stationery: Illustrations by Emily Ketteringham, design and print by Creo
- Entertainment: String quartet – Estillo; Band – Already Legends
- Transport: All on site so no cars needed
- Photographer: Nick Parker, Parkershots
- Honeymoon: Singapore and Indonesia – organized ourselves
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