When your parents have a beautiful garden, it makes total sense to get married there ;) Jessie and Ben created the most gorgeous space for guests at Ben's family home, with a clear roofed marquee, an abundance of foliage and a bell tent glamping village so that guests could crash in style. Jessie looks utterly stunning in a simple, modern and beautifully cut dress by Pronovias. Alongside Ben's classic look, the pair look the epitome of elegant sophistication. The wonderful Hollie Carlin took the lovely photographs, she has captured some really magical mist-at-dusk shots that took my breath away! Look out for them :)
The BrideJessie the Bride: My style is simple and classic with a modern edge and I wanted my wedding dress to reflect this. I wanted to walk down the aisle and everyone, most importantly Ben, to think, “yes, there’s Jessie Downing”. When I went to Pronovias and tried on the Valeria dress, I knew straight away that it was the one. It was beautifully simple, not overly bridal but still left me feeling special. I didn’t want too much fuss with my hair and I wanted my make up very natural. Despite the wedding being an hours’ drive from London, I wanted to spend my final night at my family home in London and have my hair styled by my incredibly talented hairdresser Sara Bergantini at Sinead Kelly London. My hair piece was a very last-minute addition – I was going to have my hair down, but when I was in my last dress fitting in Pronovias I found a gorgeous gold hair piece that I fell in love with. I had my make-up done by the wonderful Ausra Ruksene, Kristina Gasperas team. I wanted gold accessories to add some interest to my simple outfit. I loved my shoes and matching handbag from Russell & Bromley (although it turns out I never needed to use my handbag, but hey I now have great accessories for other events!) I wanted some earrings that I could still wear all the time and complimented my hair piece, so went to Carat* London and treated myself to some lovely little studs.
The GroomBen’s suit is from Emporio Armani and in a very dark navy. Ben’s frame suits the Italian cut and was lucky to find his suit in a ‘no-harm-popping-in’ visit as he walked past with his Best Man, Tom White. He went for a very dark navy, which I love as there is a timeless elegance attached with a dark navy. He did have a touch of naughtiness with his pocket square featuring naked ladies.
The Wedding Party FashionThe Maid-of-Honour, the Bride's sister Christabel, also had her hair styled by Sara Bergantini and make-up by Ausra Ruksene. We wanted Christabel to pick whatever dress she wanted, but she luckily picked the L.K.Bennett dress that we also loved – the colour and style complimented the Bride's dress and the simple wedding style so well. All the ushers wore navy suits.
The VenueWe married in a small country church in West Sussex followed by a short walk through the church gates to a reception hosted by Jessie’s parents in the grounds of Ben’s family home. The invitation set the scene and feel for the wedding - we had a bespoke painting by Luci Power printed onto the front of all our invitations. The image combined the rural beauty of the English countryside with the London city skyline, giving a nod to Ben’s family home in the countryside and my London upbringing. We got engaged by Pen Ponds in Richmond Park and celebrated at Petersham Nurseries. We really wanted to take urban elements from my home city of London and marry them to the venue's rural environment. We chose the location of the marquee to be within the courtyard for a built up and romantic setting. To echo the look of Petersham Nurseries and to include the beautiful surroundings of the courtyard we went for a clear marquee from South Downs Marquees. Dom and Jon worked tirelessly and meticulously to get the marquee 'just right'. I make bespoke candles for weddings and events through my candle company, Bobi Candles, so it would have been a missed treat had I not fragranced my own wedding! The table decorations included my handmade candles alongside grey concrete pots with a mixture of rosemary, lavender and olive trees, dotted between beautiful Piaget roses in bud vases. Each setting had a menu with their name handwritten by my sister-in-law and a piece of eucalyptus with classic white linen.
The FlowersThe flowers were a group effort, with an early start for myself and my mum, the Mother-of-the-Bride, Judy, at New Covent Garden Flower Market. We ordered our flowers in advance from Bloomfield of London. A selection of cream Piaget roses, white Alabaster roses, Lily-of-the-valley, white freesias, white hydrangeas and eucalyptus were picked up and driven down to the venue where Ben's stepmother, Claire, and friends were waiting to start flower arranging. We enlisted the help of Claire Carter at La Luna Floral Design. The bride and her MOH's bouquets were made by her future mother-in-law, Claire, which as well as being beautiful, made them extra special. The Groom's buttonhole was unique from all the other buttonholes and corsages in that it included lavender, which was one of his late mother's favourite flowers. We had large simple hydrangea arrangements in the church in tall glass urn vases, lit up by hurricane lamp candles.
The CeremonyIt was important for us to have a family orientated and relaxed ceremony. The Groom's Grandfather, Canon Iain Marchant, at 90, conducted the wedding service and was ably assisted by the Bride's Godfather, Father Guy Sawyer. The Organist was the Groom's uncle, James Marchant, who, despite being a ‘part-timer’, played our mix of usual and unusual requests expertly. The Bride's brother, William Downing, writes unique and modern readings and poems for weddings so it was so special to us when he wrote and read a beautiful poem just for us and the ceremony called The Three Sisters. The Groom arranged a surprise rendition of Ave Maria, sung so beautifully by Master of Ceremonies, Dom Hodson, and close friend Helen Woolf. The ceremony started with a laugh after the Bride realised, as the entrance music began, that she had left her bouquet in the car!
The EntertainmentWe had a champagne and canape reception in the garden before the heavens opened. We then sat down for a 3-course wedding breakfast and speeches from the Father-of-the-Bride, Paul, the Groom and the Best Man, Tom White. The Father-of-the-Bride during the speech had to contend with lightening, thunder and torrential rain drumming onto the roof, and flooding the marquee! Thankfully the outrageous and funny jokes were still heard and guests didn't mind lifting their feet for a few minutes!! The evening followed by music into the night by the Bride and Groom’s favourite DJ and Ben’s close friend and Usher, Ali Wilson of Hey Mr Wilson. On the day we had Rachel Harrison from Capston Second to help run the day smoothly.
The FoodCaper & Berry catered the wedding (need we say more – they were just amazing). The food looked and tasted incredible, and the service staff and event manager, Tristan Sharpe, were fabulous. The prerequisite was always going to be Caper & Berry's individual Pavlovas for dessert. For late night dance floor refuelling we had a glorious Caper & Berry cheese board and Krispy Kreme doughnuts. The only inspiration for our food was 'yummy'.
The PhotographyWe wanted a reportage photographer that used and enhanced the natural colours of the day without being 'over filtered'. We were so happy when we found Hollie Carlin – she was an absolute joy to work with. She worked with an excellent second photographer to capture every aspect of the day. The photos are so natural and truly capture the spirit and laughs of the day.
The VideographyJon at Save the Dog Productions was an absolute find. We initially were undecided if we were going to have a videographer until someone said we'd regret it if we didn't - they were so right. For anyone on the fence - do it. Jon's video was beautifully shot and has provided us with so many laughs looking back at the day.
Bride: Pronovias | Hair: Sara Bergantini | Make Up: Ausra via Kristina Gasperas | Earrings: Carat London | Groom: Armani | Bridesmaid: L.K.Bennett | Illustrations: Luci Power | Clear Marquee: South Downs Marquee Hire | Flowers: The Floral Garden | Entertaiment: Hey Mr Wilson | On The Day Coordination: Capston Second | Catering: Caper & Berry | Videography: Save The Dog Productions