Marisa’s family live in Zambia and Edward’s family live in the Caribbean and Germany, so a stunning rustic barn reception at Gate Street Barn in Surrey was the perfect central place for their wedding blessing.
They incorporated both their cultures and traditions using a mesmerising bright blue & teal African print to make the flower girl dresses and a Zambian ‘Chitenge’ fabric to make the bunting adorning the barn. The homage to the cultures continued in Marisa’s bouquet with native proteas and succulents, which I have to say is simply stunning!
The images captured by Anushé Low of Marisa & Edward’s first dance are fabulous. I love how Marisa’s Claire Pettibone dress moves as she and Edward do their Salsa first dance, very fitting as they met doing Salsa dance lessons and what a way to get the party started!
Marisa The Bride: We got engaged in January and decided on a July wedding in the summer when our family could make it during the school holidays. We started venue hunting in February all while planning our move to Turks & Caicos in April. By the time we left in April we had everything pretty much organised with suppliers and did the rest of the planning while in Turks & Caicos via email. I returned to the UK 2 weeks before the wedding to sort out the final touches.
The Brides Fashion & Accessories
I had always driven past Leonie Claire and longingly looked in the window. When I knew I had a dress to buy I knew exactly where I wanted to go. There was a trunk sale for Leonie Claire happening while my Mum was in town so we went along and had so much fun together. I had seen a dress on a wedding blog that I liked so when I saw Leonie Claire I was hopeful to find something in there that was similar. I tried the Bella Donna dress by Claire Pettibone on and it fit perfectly and felt so good on. Most importantly it had a bit of a train that could be pulled up for my salsa dance.
The shoes had solid platforms on them so I was told my feet wouldn’t hurt too much and they were danceable.
I wore my Mother’s diamond necklace and earrings (something borrowed)
I had worked with Christina Jessel before doing hair and makeup for my photography clients and I loved her calm nature which I knew would come in handy for the morning of the wedding. It was so lovely having her with us on the morning and she brought a lovely energy to the bridal preparations.
My engagement ring was designed by Edward and Lousia. Louisa is a family friend (sister to Katie who did the flowers) and I have always admired her work. I was delighted that Edward had picked up on this and asked Louisa for help with the design and making of the ring. Hand-carved from solid silver, this gorgeous Zambian Emerald and Diamond ring was designed alongside the Groom to represent the Bride-to-Be’s Zambian roots and also to symbolise unconditional love, communication, creativity and an open heart. The perfect ingredients for a long and happy marriage. Louisa also made our wedding rings.
The Grooms Attire
Ed’s suit – Gresham Blake – He wanted a quality tailor made classic 3 piece suit that would fit and that he would want to wear again after the wedding. After searching around Brighton for shops that could offer this service he went with this place and was really happy with the service. He wanted a subtle type of tweed, which has a country hint to it, but still elegant and stylish with a touch of blue to match the wedding colours. He even got a shirt made. He wore his late Father’s pocket watch which fit nicely into his waistcoat.
His shoes – Joseph Cheaney & Sons – Wilfred Semi brogue mahogany – He wanted a timeless classic brogue that could be worn for many occasions. He was limited in his choices because he needed a wide fitting shoe. This is what led him to Cheaney & Sons because Churches shoes didn’t fit as well.
We wanted a barn in the countryside. Something close to the airports and accessible to friends in both Brighton, Sussex and near Haslemere, Surrey. It was important that we had enough accommodation nearby to host the guests from abroad. The night before the wedding we had a pre wedding dinner for the immediate family and those that had travelled from abroad for the two families to meet which took place at the Crown in Chiddingfold. This pub is down the road from where Ed’s mum lives and also the village where Ed’s dad is buried. Having a weekday wedding at short notice meant that we got a great deal on the venue at a peak season.
I chose the colour blue because of a top that Yara used to wear that always looked beautiful with her hair colour. The shade of blue is quite similar to lavender which has always been a favourite of mine so I knew it would work with my flower ideas. Green went nicely with blue.
Katie is a family friend whose work I had seen before and loved so I was excited to work with her for the wedding. I sent her a moodboard of my colours and ideas and she instantly got my vision and was so much fun and professional to work with. Despite being 7 months pregnant at the wedding she did an amazing job of putting it all together.
My friend Mish Maudsley from StudioMishfit helped design the wedding invitations. She created the dancing image of Edward and I which Ev used as the cake topper. Mish is an incredibly talented illustrator who creates the most beautiful graffiti work as well.
The Wedding Party Fashion
I knew that I wanted to bring some chitenge into the Flower Girls outfits and I had photographed and admired the work of Towani Clarke at Kutowa Designs in Zambia. I told her I wanted some chitenge with blue and green in it and she went to the market in Zambia and emailed me 3 different options. From there I sent her a few images of outfits that I had seen and liked – I wanted something practical that the girls could run around in and enjoy. Also a bit of spin to them to make them fun. Towani drew up a design and I loved it so we went with it. Thankfully the dress fit Yara as we had to take the measurements ourselves and wait a few months while she was growing at a rapid rate! Originally I only wanted to have Yara as a Flower Girl, but then knew that having Maya there would be a great help and also Maya had been asking me since she was a little girl if she could be my Flower Girl.
There was nothing formal for the groomsmen – just a blue tie and boutonniere
It was really important for me to have Dr Brenda Davies conduct our marriage ceremony. I have known her for nearly 15 years and she was been such an important spiritual teacher for me. She flew over from Zambia to conduct the ceremony. She worked with us closely to put together the ceremony and added some surprise bits in there which were so precious. She recommended some readings for us and Ed contributed some as well. It felt so special having someone I knew marrying us.
Saidi and Raf are very dear friends of ours. Both musicians that Ed has worked with so it was wonderful when they agreed to perform at the wedding. Saidi is from Tanzania which neighbours Zambia so it really bought a beautiful flavour of southern Africa to the wedding. I asked Saidi if he could sing a traditional African song for me walking down the isle. The song that Rafael sang he had composed.
We wanted a hog roast and Just Jane had received such good reviews that we went with her. With days to go before departing for Turks & Caicos I knew I was in good hands after I had met Louise. She helped us put together a simple menu that would work for everyone and ended it off with some traditional Eaton Mess pudding – yummy!
Ev is a friend from work that I met while working in Brighton. Cake making was a new business for her and I wanted to support the amazing stuff that I was seeing her making. She’s from South Africa so I knew that she would understand my desire to bring the proteas and succulents into the cake. I made a mood board of stuff that I liked and she helped me bring it all together in a design that worked. The cake was absolutely delicious and my favourite part was seeing it all magically put together on the day of the wedding. She travelled up from Brighton really early to put the layers together.
I was introduced to Anushé’s work by a mutual friend of ours from Zambia when I was at the start of pursuing photography as a career. I found her work massively inspiring and knew that she would completely get the Zambian/British theme that we were going for. After choosing the venue she was next on my list to make sure that she was available. I was delighted that she could make the date and am absolutely thrilled with the result of the images. As soon as she arrived on the day I knew that I could relax because she was there to capture everything so that I could simply enjoy the moments. She was so relaxed and calm and it felt like having an old friend there documenting our wedding. So many of our guests commented on how lovely she was too.
Anushé sent me a list of recommended videographers and Francis’s work stood out at me as soon as I saw it. I wanted to have a wedding video put together so beautifully that would make me cry with joy each time I watch it. My parents took limited video of me growing up as a kid and I’m always so grateful to have those memories there to watch. I want Yara to look back on the video when she’s older and remember this magical day. We’re yet to see the video so I can’t tell you yet how it’s come out, but I already know it’s going to be amazing!
With the DIY projects, start them way in advance. I didn’t so in the last two weeks I had my Mum and close friends and family up burning the midnight oil. It was worth it though because the personal touch made a difference.
My Mum made the Chitenge bunting (way ahead of time because she’s so organised). She went to the market, bought samples, emailed them to me and then I picked the fabric.
The name places and the favours we made. They were fiddly to make but bought a lovely touch to the day and carried the lavender theme. I loved the idea of all of our guests planting lavender seeds around the world and seeing the love growing.
Photography by Anushé Low
- Dress Designer Claire Pettibone
- Bridal Boutique Leonie Claire
- Bridal Shoes Rachel Simpson Shoes
- Wedding Rings Louisa Slade
- Bridesmaid Dresses Kutowa
- Grooms Suit Cheaney
- Grooms Shoes Gresham Blake
- Venue Gate Street Barn
- Caterer Just Jane
- Cake Chocadyllic
- Florist Love From Katie
- Stationery Studio Misfit
- Entertainment Mvula Mandondo
- Son Picante
- Grupo Lokito
- Transport Cars For All Occasions
- Videography Reel Love Films