I actually saw this wedding on photographer Juliet Mckee’s instagram feed, Jade was such an unbelievably beautiful bride with such unique a unique look I just knew we had to feature the entire “vintage country” affair on Rock My Wedding.
The decor and styling is just so effortlessly chic, whilst being completely achievable. Jade and Bevan chose to host their reception in the school hall that the brides grandparents held theirs, cost effective, special and a blank canvas to do as you please.
The bouquet and flower crown really are to die for and the joy and happiness radiates from every single image. Please take a moment to read through Jade’s account of her planning and prep, there are some really useful tips and a generous helping of super advice.
Jade The Bride: Bevan proposed to me while we were on holiday in Italy, on the summit at Montevecchia a tiny village nestled near the Alps. He proposed with his nanny’s engagement ring. When we returned the next day to England, we began talking about the logistics of a wedding. For some time, we had both agreed that we’d like a secluded wedding abroad – just the two of us. As we thought and researched as to how we could pull this off, we made the rounds announcing our engagement to our respective families. What became clear to us both was that people wanted to see us get married, and the more we thought about it, the more we realised that our friends and families should be able to come along and share our day together. So many people are invested in your lives, and it seemed like a real shame if they would miss this milestone event!
With that all in mind we decided to get married at St Peter’s Church in Parham Park, West Sussex. We had a number of reasons for choosing this very special place. My family have a lot of connections to the local area, the farm where my nanny grew up is just down the road, and she married my grandad at St Peter’s. As an added bonus, we felt it paid a little bit of respect to Bevan’s grandad Peter, who passed away 16 years ago. The church itself has a number of unique features; it has a 15th century foundation, though parts have been added since, it retains the old box pews, including one for landlord and his family, and has an original 14th century font sitting at the front of the church. Of course, this is not to mention the sheer beauty of the spot, it’s only a small place but it sits upon a promontory overlooking a valley within the park, itself the setting for Parham house, and Elizabethan manor still privately owned by the family. The park is all that is left of the actual village of Parham and contains acres and acres of old woodland, rolling hills and grazing deer – it was just too good to pass up!
We had two hymns at the wedding, ‘Lord of all Hopefulness’ and ‘Oh Perfect Love’ with three readings, Corinthians 1:13, an extract from The House at Pooh Corner by A.A Milne and Union by Robert Fulghum. We chose to have flags, which I made, instead of confetti as the church is set in the deer park, therefore traditional confetti not being allowed. The flags also provided guests with a momento of the day, and as such we didn’t provide favours at the reception.
We like to think we’re both understated in style, and we aren’t fans of a lot of fuss and frills. We wanted a wedding, which reflected that, and one that didn’t intimidate our guests. I don’t think we specifically set out to create our ‘vintage country’ wedding, but all the parts together just seemed to fit that way. We decided to hold the reception at Rackham Old School, which is where both my grandparent’s and my aunt and uncle had theirs. This allowed us the freedom to decorate as we chose but was also cost effective.
Having modeled wedding dresses in the past I have been lucky enough to wear a broad range of styles and designers, this helped me to narrow down exactly what I wanted quite easily. When I found my dress I wasn’t even looking, Bevan and I happened to be out for the day in Brighton when I wandered in to Hope and Harlequin. As soon as I put my dress on I immediately felt comfortable and relaxed. The dress I chose was individually made for me and so I had a number of fittings to ensure the dress was perfect. Sarah and Louise that I worked with were so professional, kind and helpful. There is nothing pretentious about them or the service they provide, which was of the highest quality from start to finish. The shoes I wore with my dress were ‘Bea’ from The Rainbow Club. I don’t normally wear heels and wanted a pair of simple, comfortable shoes for the day, and these were perfect. The necklace I wore on the day was a present from Bevan, and is by designer Katie Mullalay. I saw this necklace when I tried my dress on for the first time and loved the symbolism and simplicity.
Our rings were made by Vicky at VJG Jewellery in Worthing, a lady that my mum has used many times to have jewellery made. We both chose simple 18ct gold bands of 2mm and 4mm respectively.
We carried this symbolism through in the design of our wedding invitations. My sister is a very talented artist as well as an extraordinary cheese maker, and so we asked if she would design the invitation. As she lives in Italy with her partner Marco I thought this would also be a nice way of involving her. The design she came up with was beautiful and absolutely perfect. Bevan then refined this in Photoshop and we used printed.com to have them made. We also used this website for our RSVP cards, order of service and thank you cards. The product they supplied was excellent and their customer service and value for money faultless.
Hope and Harlequin do not solely provide wedding dresses, their shop also boasts a variety of vintage dresses and clothing, all of which are carefully selected and sourced. It was my mum that pulled what was to become my sisters bridesmaid dress from the rail, and also set the colour scheme for the day. As my sisters dress was so unique I thought my two bridesmaids, my best friends, should have dresses that complimented hers in style. After a lot of internet searching we found The Velvet Birdcage, based just down the road in Worthing. Here all of the dresses are made to measure and the style that we all chose together suited my bridesmaids perfectly. Needless to say I was also very lucky to have such beautiful friends that would have looked lovely in anything.
Bevan’s suit was from Reiss in the sale. We didn’t want a traditional wedding suit and preferred to have something that he could wear again. The dark navy suited him perfectly. He wore his own brown brogues on the day and a pair of vintage gold oak leaf cufflinks that I bought for him for his birthday earlier in the year, sourced on Etsy. For Bevan’s best man and groomsmen we wanted something that complimented Bevan’s suit.
Most of the research was done on the internet but we settled on four suits from NEXT. The ties for the groomsmen and Bevan were from Marks and Spencer, and all of their shirts from Charles Tyrwhitt in the sale (perfect if you are looking for an ivory shirt!).
When it came to flowers, hair and make up my decision was easy. I called on the ‘A Team’ of Gayle Evans, Sharon Roberts and Carolanne Armstrong. We have all worked together on a number of occasions and I knew that I didn’t want anyone else. From my brief of ‘pre-Raphaelite flower crown’ Sharon and Gayle, with the direction of Carolanne knew exactly what I meant. My make up was flawless, Carolanne provides you with nothing less and is so passionate about her work, she also did the make up for my mum and sister, both of whom were thrilled with the results. My hair was a work of art, comfortable and lasted the entire day, Sharon always produces the most spectacular hairstyles, and brings with her many years of knowledge and love to what she is creating, she also did the hair for my mum, sister and bridesmaids. For them I wanted something really classic and elegant, and the french pleats that Sharon created were just perfect. The bouquets, button holes and flowers that Gayle provided were truly sublime. I have since dried all of Gayles flowers and the delicate scent of them is divine.
Our photographer was Juliet Mckee, a fabulous and talented lady that I have been photographed by on numerous occasions. Juliet always makes me look stunning and the photographs she captures are simply beautiful. Juliet will make you feel perfectly at ease whether you are used to being in front of the lens or camera shy. We knew that she would capture our day perfectly, to say the photo’s are beyond perfect is an understatement.
Initially when we were thinking about catering we were very much of the mind ‘we can do it ourselves’. A few months down the line we decided that actually to try and cater your own wedding when you don’t between all your family and friends have a lot of spare fridge space is rather ambitious. We decided to split the difference with family members providing desserts and using a caterer to provide the savoury. We called on the services of the Sussex Produce Company based in Steyning, West Sussex. This is where we buy our groceries every week and often go for lunch or coffee in the restaurant they have there. We sat down and had a chat with Barry the restaurant manager about what we required and our budget. One of the memories we both have from our respective childhoods is family parties with lots to drink and eat, this is the type of food and atmosphere we wanted, traditional English buffet food that was wholesome and filling. Barry and his team of superb chefs conjured up the perfect platters of delicious sandwiches, local cold cut meats and a refreshing variety of salads and cheeses. They provided exactly what we wanted and exceeded our expectations in every way.
I had decided from the start that I would make our wedding cake. I enjoy cooking and found the task of making three cakes a relaxing one in the days running up to the wedding. The main cake was a lemon sponge with lemon curd filling (Bevan’s favourite) which i decorated with crystallized flowers that my nanny and I had made earlier in the year and decorated with some dried roses round the base. My nanny made some beautiful meringues and the family favourite of chocolate roulade. My aunt and cousins also made a variety of cheesecakes, whisky pate and chocolate pudding. My sister also bought over some huge cheeses and salami’s from Italy, which were delicious. For tea and coffee we were supplied with a filter coffee machine from Kendricks Coffee Company in Ferring, free to hire when purchased with a box of coffee!
As we were decorating the hall ourselves we also decided to source some flowers from The Sussex Produce Company from which we could fill the variety of jars and bottles that my family and work colleagues had collected over the months leading up to the wedding. They always have beautiful bunches of local and seasonal flowers for sale at the produce shop and this is what we asked of Nick, in charge of the ‘shop’ area and floristry there. We were lucky enough to be able to get into Rackham Old School two days beforehand to start decorating and setting up. My bridesmaids and aunt were indispensable when it came to this task. On the Friday before my bridesmaids Fabia and Tammy, with the help of my parents and aunt decorated the hall and arranged the flowers. The bunting we used was hand sewn by Bevan’s mum from fabric that my mum found in a charity shop. The detail and work, which she put into this, is exquisite, and it is a beautiful token of the day which we can keep and use. We also used lace doilies to decorate the tables which my mum and aunt had collected from charity shops.
The help we received from the ladies that look after the school, Jennifer and Louise, and also Jennifer’s friend Pat, we couldn’t have done without. They served tea and coffee to our guests and provided table service, ensuring that everyone always had something to eat and drink and that we never ran out of anything. They made the day run so smoothly and were so professional I cannot thank them enough for the hard work they put in. They helped to set up the previous day and answered any questions or queries I had throughout the year. They were also kind enough to arrange for the bunting used for the annual Rackham Flower Show to be put up outside the hall.
When it came to choosing entertainment this was something we were worried about. It is very difficult to find something that appeals to all ages and to every guest but Still Moving DJ’s provided that and more. The set up of vintage gramophones, modern equipment and live percussion is unique, all our guests thought they were fantastic and one even wants to book them for her daughters wedding in Norway! They played all day and provided the perfect backdrop for the reception in the afternoon, livening up the atmosphere for the evening. Bevan and I danced the night away and we had so much fun.
The cars we used for the wedding day we organised through one of my patients at work. Her partner collects classic cars and he was kind enough to let us use them for the day. He even took us out for a drive in them beforehand to make sure that we were totally happy.
Advice To Brides
During the planning process we read a number of wedding blogs to help us gain ideas of how we wanted our day to be and what we definitely didn’t want. I would have said that due to my having worked with some of the amazing suppliers we used before ,this really meant that some major decisions that other couples might face we didn’t have to think twice about. My advice to other couples is trust the suppliers you use. Often many people dictate every tiny aspect of their day, but if you are using suppliers be it photographers, florists, caterers or whomever and you have confidence and trust them, then listen to what they say and their ideas. The people that do these jobs every day know them far better than you or I. Not once in the entire planning period did we worry about whether something wasn’t going to be what we expected because we had confidence in the people we had chosen to be part of our day.
Sometimes the grandeur of some weddings or the intricacy of styled shoots can make your ideas seem inferior, or increase your desires beyond your means. Bevan and I were very lucky to have some help from our parents, however we didn’t spend a fortune on our day, or on frivolities. We identified what we felt was most important and that is what we spent our money on. We can both say that we wouldn’t have done anything differently. Your guests will not remember your day for the lighting used or the decorations on the table, and whether or not your napkins were just so. But they will remember the atmosphere, and the love and commitment you make to each other, which is of course, the most important part of the whole day. If you truly love each other your happiness will shine through in every part of your day.