When you are blessed with beautiful light and the incredible surroundings of Hever Castle to have your dream pre-raphaelite mood wedding, the results are mind-blowing. Add the talents of Carla Balin Photography and a couture wedding dress of dreams full of exquisite flower applique detail and you have a gorgeous wedding to sink into on this chilly Monday morning.

Our Story

Heather & Jake: Jake and I met at University, he a History graduate and I English Literature and Fine Arts, which incidentally are very much the themes to our wedding. Jake proposed in 2016 at Petworth House in Sussex, whilst walking around the lake, whilst I had our baby girl in the sling.

Applique Flowers ‘Espino’ Yolan Cris Wedding Dress

I found my beautiful dress at Leonie Claire in Hove, her shop is dreamy, romantic and modern, exactly what I was after. My dress is ‘Espino’ by Yolan Cris, a princess type gown which is completely covered in applique flowers, I was completely and utterly in love. Being in the sample sale, it needed a lot of TLC to fit my barely 5ft frame, but Leonie’s resident seamstress, Ann Prescott, is an incredibly talented lady who made it fit like a glove. I purchased my veil from there too, the simple and elegant ‘Catherine’, I wanted it thin and floaty, so it wouldn’t take too much attention from the dress. I actually bought it three days before the wedding...after watching Harry and Megan’s Royal Wedding, I had extreme veil envy and felt like I wanted to go full bridal. My shoes were very simple suede lilac slingback heels from Carvela at Kurt Gieger and matched my bridesmaid dresses. The lovely Toni Todd did mine and my bridal party’s hair and makeup, starting at 6 am (ouch) with Sian for assistance. I wanted very Pre Raphaelite hair, a halo bride with flowers pinned in, which were provided by our florist. Jake actually gifted me my earrings, from Vogue Jewellers in Brighton, the morning of the wedding and delivered to me by my Mum, beautiful Aquamarine droplets which is my birthstone.

Traditional Morning Suit

Jake hired his suit from Grey’s Suit Hire in Worthing, he loved the tails suit jacket in grey paired with green accents on his, waistcoat, bow tie and brown brogues from London Brogues.

Hever Castle Wedding Venue

Hever Castle is actually Ann Boleyn’s childhood home, one of Henry VIII wives, and the setting is just beautiful. The Tudor castle is dramatic and a feast for the eyes, with an Italian Loggia and the most beautiful Tudor gardens. Jake and I fell in love with the whole venue, it was a fairytale setting, with art and history absolutely everywhere, along with so much for our daughter to see and do. Our ceremony, reception, and accommodation were all on-site, with guests staying in The Astor Wing suites, so no one had to worry about transporting children in-between. The venue came with a wedding planner, caterer, and an events team too.

Wedding Ceremony with Personal Vows

Jake and I hand wrote our personal vows, it was emotionally charged and so romantic, we read them from a Deathly Hallows book from Harry Potter. It was important to us that our ceremony was as family orientated and personal as possible. Our Mum’s read a poem each; ‘I Carry Your Heart With Me’ by E.E. Cummings and ‘To love is to possess’ by James Kavanaugh. And our 2 and a half-year-old daughter presented us with our wedding rings (she’s so proud of it and talks about it even now!). We had Kris Solo, a very talented acoustic guitarist, perform for our ceremony. It was intimate, very personal and relaxed.

Grey, Blush & Dark Green Colour Scheme

Our colour scheme was neutral greys, mixed with soft blushes and dark greens. We didn’t want to take too much away from the history of Hever Castle, just adding a few extras. We had a white drape archway for our ceremony, supplied by Not Your Average I Do, which was covered in wild and uneven foliage. The room was alive with flowers, on the aisle seats, and on our registrar table too (but more about that later!). The dining room was our favourite, just the most beautiful Tudor room. We chose long banqueting tables, with dark green, white and grey candles in long cut glass candle holders, all in the middle. Lining these were long floral garlands, supplied by Katherine Bly, all along our three long tables. My talented friend, Laura Swatridge, made our stunning table plan and name cards, a grey card with white ink calligraphy, so dreamy. For our reception in the Moat restaurant, Not Your Average I Do create a similar archway to a ceremony room, with white drape and foliage wrapped around; we also echoed the runners and candles in there too.

Harry Potter Chocolate Frog Wedding Favours

For wedding favours, I enlisted the help of multiple bridesmaids, and we made Harry Potter chocolate frogs! Enlisting the help of a graphic designer friend, we replicated the original frog boxes too, they went down a treat.

Roses, Peonies & Eucalyptus Wedding Flowers

Katherine Bly did the most amazing work with our flowers. From a six-foot long garland on a Tudor fireplace in our dining room too long and wild foliage garlands, her work was stunning. We wanted a messy but stylish design; we chose white roses, blush peonies, with eucalyptus and wild foliage with lots of lush dark greenery. Katherine really understood our vision, everything from flower girl hair clips, buttonholes, corsages and pendants for our bridesmaids and Mums, my hairpins, and stunning bouquet. My bouquet was a waterfall design, tied with long blush ribbon, I loved it and have pressed some to pop in a frame. The colours and style went wonderfully with our venue, and the smell was just amazing.

Concrete & Oyster Rewritten Bridesmaid Dresses

My bridesmaid dresses were from Rewritten, I chose two floor-length styles in two colours, concrete, and oyster, and asked my six bridesmaids to choose which style they felt suited them best. The fabric was so beautiful, they were elegant but stylish too, my girls loved them! They wore wrist corsages with blush ribbon and gypsophila which we tucked into their hair. We went for everyone having loose curls with some kind of plait to put the gyp in (last-minute local florist buy on the way to the castle!)

Wedding Entertainment

This was one of our favourite aspects of the day to plan. Along with Kris Solo, who was our ceremony guitarist, we booked Dante Ferrara for our drinks reception, who is a Tudor minstrel. He came adorned in Tudor garb, with multiple different musical instruments too. He wandered around playing the lute for our drinks reception overlooking the castle and its moat and kept our guests entertained whilst Jake and I had a private photoshoot with our photographer in the grounds. Dante also bagpiped us into our wedding breakfast and played the lute for us during our meal too. It was so much fun and was such a conversation starter for our guests, we loved it! We found Goldbeat via Alive Network, a three-piece band, and they were absolutely incredible. We cannot recommend them enough, they sound incredible with a mix of golden oldies and modern songs and kept our guests dancing until the early hours, and even gave us an encore.

Wedding Catering

We had Hever Castle’s caterer, Leith’s Dining, supply our food for the big day. We had a food tasting three months before the wedding, with 15 different options to choose from (and eat!) and trialed all the wines too! We had fish, vegetarian and meat options, for starter and main, with everyone having mango cheesecake for dessert. We also had evening food too, vegetarian and meat mezze platters with falafel, sausage or bacon baps.

Choccywoccydoodah Wedding Cake

Our cake was made by the incredible Choccywoccydoodah in Brighton. We asked for a sword crossing with a wand as a crest on the front- a mixture of Jake's love for Game of Thrones and mine for Harry Potter. With cascading chocolate flowers and vines, a butterfly for our daughter and a hidden Deathly Hallows sign on the back. We had three tiers with different flavours; lemon cake with dark chocolate truffle, chocolate cake with an amaretto truffle and lastly, a chocolate sponge with chocolate orange truffle.

Wedding Photographer

We came across Carla Blain’s work early on in our wedding planning, after stalking her (in a nice way) for a few months; we decided her style was for us. Her photographs have a very intimate feel, with the most beautiful colours. She’s also a very lovely lady, who made us feel completely relaxed on the day. After our ceremony, we went on an adventure into the grounds for our private photos, it was such laugh with her, but also very lovely for Jake and I to have a few moments on our own, to take it all in. There were so much of the grounds to explore that we also snuck away with her after our wedding breakfast. We adore the dramatic and dark look of our photos, the intimate shots, close-ups of our daughter, and also the hidden moments and emotional glances that Carla managed to capture.

Wedding Advice

Take time for yourselves on the day, enlist the help of friends to unload duties, don’t feel pressured to talk to everyone in the evening, dance all night!
Lorna Shaw

Written by Lorna Shaw

Dress Designer: Yolan Cris - Espino | Bridal Boutique: Leonie Claire | Bridal Shoes: Kurt Geiger | Hair & Makeup: Toni Todd | Bridesmaid Dresses: Rewritten | Flower Girl Dresses: Monsoon | Suits: Greys Suit Hire | Venue: Hever Castle | Florist: Katherine Bly | Decor: Not Your Average I Do | Cake: Choccywoccydoodah | Catering: Leiths Dining | Drinks: Dante Ferrara | Guitarist: Kris Solo via Alive Network | Band: Goldbeat | Calligraphy: Laura Loves Letters

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