Harriet the Bride:
My wedding dress was from Pantiles Bride
in Tunbridge Wells. Pammy and Alexandra were the most ridiculously helpful and attentive women on the planet and were absolute heroes. In truth...there were was more than one occasion where there was a little wobble when it came to decision making and choosing that perfect dress but the Pantiles Bride crew steered me in the right direction and always with the utmost kindness and consideration.
My dress is a Watters by Willowby
called Madeira and I think it has a fun and relaxed feel about it. I never thought I would choose a dress with a full skirt but as soon as I got to swish around in it...I knew I wanted to be able to swish around all day long on our wedding day. It has spaghetti straps that cross over delicately at the back which is low cut and a simple but beautiful lace unstructured bodice that feeds into the full tulle skirt. Alexandra helped me add a lace underskirt that sat between the layers of tulle. This was absolute favourite bit as when you swished in the dress you could see the gorgeous lace through the tulle.
Ryan the Groom:
I was keen to wear something a bit different. It couldn’t be too formal because it wouldn’t sit well with the style of venue and vibe we were going for. I thought tweed to go with the country feel of the venue but decided that it would be too heavy for a summer wedding. I found an emerald green suit by Tiger of Sweden which convinced me to go for green, but it was a lot of money for an off the peg suit. Struggling to find anything unique in the high street shops, I was really pleased to come across Beggars Run
– a couple of tailors in Shoreditch, London – who could accommodate my request for something a bit different. They fitted me out with a green fleck wool/silk three-piece which I was really pleased with and it came in cheaper than the Tiger of Sweden I’d originally looked at. I wore it with a pair of Oliver Sweeney
double monks and a navy knitted tie. My mum was on knitting duties and made them for me and the best men, our handsome page boys had mini bow ties too.
has a very quirky and informal feel to it. It feels instantly welcoming and accepting and offers a fun and outgoing party for all your friends and family to enjoy. Tess at The Bell is such a lovely person and she worked really hard to ensure that we had everything we needed and more. I saw The Bell on Pinterest even pre-engagement when weddings were just a farfetched notion for Ryan and me. I loved the county setting and how modest it felt in comparison to other venues which I think can feel a bit stagey and pretentious. Some of The Bell's quirks include a taxidermy squirrel, a giant bulls head on the wall, a silver birch tree running up the staircase and giant trombones as urinals in the gent loo. Our guests said the venue was ‘very us’ which I definitely think is a compliment. The Bell has a room with big double doors that open outside called the stable with the table were we had the speeches and where people hung out generally drinking and chatting. It has a long sunken table covered in a red carpet where you walk down after the ceremony for the confetti throwing. This was one of the highlights for me and will always be a moment I remember with real joy. The boys were given confetti cannons to fire at the end of the walk which was awesome.
The rooms at The Bell are an attraction in themselves. My dearest mum who is endlessly generous paid for all seven of my bridesmaids and me to stay there the night before the wedding. Each and every room has its own unique style but collectively they have a underplayed glamour and real air of comfort. The room my maid of honour Jess and I stayed in had the most beautiful light in the morning for getting ready in and having photos taken.
Ryan and I were lucky enough to stay in the infamous Love Nest on the night of the wedding. A round Lodge room set in The Bells garden along with a further three equally impressive lodges. The Love nest has a wood burning stove, copper rolled top bath and oozes eclectic charm from its very fibres.
The Decor & Styling
I was pretty determined to not have a colour scheme but ultimately, we ended up with one. What I didn’t want was a colour theme and I didn’t want to be limited to a particular palette. I did, however learn that people have planned weddings in a certain way for a long time and it’s done this way for a reason...it brings the wedding together and makes it look awesome. We went with pastel type range of colours. Lots of greens, white, brass and some pale blues, pinks and yellows but we were not strict at all with that...anything kind of went that didn’t go!
I had seven bridesmaids and they all more than pulled their weight! We made photo bunting with hundreds of polaroid style photos of family and friends and sewed circle paper garlands in greens and white to hang from the silver birch on the stairs. We are so lucky to have such talented and generous friends...Steve made our order of the day, Kim our polaroid guestbook sign and Dean drew Quintin Blake-esque style drawings of Ryan and I for the wedding invitations.
Ryan made the seating plan by framing some sedum turf and writing on the glass front in mirror pen. I must admit...I was really impressed by that. It looked so lovely.
Katherine from Florist in the Forest
managed to take what was in my head and deliver with absolute perfection. We went to her studio at her home in Tunbridge Wells for a first meeting and came away knowing that we were in safe hands. The flowers were actually the most important thing to me. I love love love flowers, greenery and all things botanical. We went for a green foliagy feel which included different types of ferns, trailing ivy, mosses and mini cactus. Katherine designed hedgerow style centrepieces for the tables and filled lots of individual decanters with wild county flowers which looked fantastic. I’m not sure what was in my bouquet but it was AMAZING and so so beautiful. Wild flowers, daisies and lots of greens, pales blues and pinks. I think I was the saddest I’ve ever been when I came down in the morning to see my bouquet littered on the floor, dying. I guess that’s a sign that I had too much fun the night before.
My dad and his girlfriend Helen brought in two weeping golden birch tree that sat at the top of aisle looking ethereal and beautiful. My dad actually welded an arch way for the top of the stairs which Helen covered with ivy, jasmine and white roses...it smelled and looked so romantic and out of this world. They also dressed all the bannisters and metal railings in the stables with green foliage which really tied everything together.
The Wedding Party
The bridesmaids dresses were an absolute bargain from ASOS
. They were all on sale and ranged from £15 - £50 depending on if they were in petite and in blush or pale blue. I had seven bridesmaids so I can’t pretend I wasn’t happy about that! It was quite tricky finding a dress that suited all their skin tone and body shapes and originally I asked them all to choose their own dresses. I quickly realised that it wasn’t practical to get them to choose as when you are planning a wedding you are working to a deadline. They all looked beautiful and the colours went really well together. The bridesmaids all got a vintage mirror compact and a nude lipstick as a pressie. The page boy chinos, shirts and braces were from Zara Kids and their little hats with palm trees on were spotted on our weekly shop in Sainsburys. The groomsmen wore navy blue Next suits and looked entirely dapper. Ryan’s mum knitted Ryan’s and the groomsmen’s ties in navy blue or light green and the page boys had little green bow ties. The groomsmen ech got a silver pocket watch as prezzie from Ry.
I walked down the aisle to James Vincent McMorrow’s Higher love which makes me feel funny every time I hear it. It makes both of us smile from ear to ear. On the way out we listened to the original 80’s Steve Winwood version which is super fun and told everyone that the party was on! Our bezzie pals Karen, Halyely (who came all the way from Australia) and Rosie (all the way from New Zealand) read at the ceremony. I knew I would cry. I have asked for copies of both the readings as they were so heart wrenchingly apt.
We found our band, The Redfords
, through Rock My Wedding. We really wanted a good knees up in the evening and wanted a band that could bring the party. The Redfords did it in bucket loads. They played 3 long sets of quality wedding tunes that kept people dancing and cracked out a fancy dress box half way through which our guests loved and made for some great photos (think grandma with pink feather boa and oversized novelty glasses). We had so much fun and were gutted for it to come to an end – so much so that we continued an acapella version of Hey Jude while they packed up!
We had a photo booth in the day time, that my photographer friend and best man Miles put together. We were expecting a camera on a tripod but he took it so much further and built a bespoke frame to house a camera, flash, screen and a printer for instant prints. He even had his brother develop the software. Thanks Miles!
The tasting session at The Bell was a real treat. We were greeted with real warmth, the food, as always was delightful and without much deliberation we decided to leave the car there and enjoy tasting all the free prosecco and delicious wine we could muster. We went for a cured salmon started with an avocado puree which felt fresh and summery. For the main we chose a beef steak with the most amazing creamy dauphine potatoes and seasonal veg and for the show stopping pud we had a lemon posset with granola and edible flowers. Harriet’s cousin Najla made our wedding cakes and they were incredible! Chocolate sponge with a pavlova top and the most beautiful decoration known to man. Lots of pretty flowers and melted yummies.
Being a photographer myself, the first question everyone asked me was “who’s going to do your photos??” The reality is that my genre of photography (architectural) is so different to wedding photography and I have the upmost respect for those brave enough to take on weddings! Obviously, it was one of the first things I was keen to organise and with only 9 months to plan a summer wedding, I knew we would have to be quick to get someone available for a Saturday in July. We were so pleased to find Jackson and Co
were available for our dates. I absolutely loved their portfolio, every image was flooded with emotion and I knew we would end up with a set of images that we could relive the day though over the years. One of the first things they did was send us the full sets of a couple of other weddings at The Bell, so we knew they could deliver in our venue. They were really excited about the prospect to go back to it, too. I couldn’t recommend Michael and Hannah enough, we are so pleased with our photos and loved having them there with us on the day.