Today we are really pleased to be sharing a fantastic vintage photoshoot at the very lovely Upnor Castle, Kent. The shoot was set up by Margate based photographer, Robert Marriott with the help of Maxine Gregory of Tea-licious and Sandra Andrews of Vintage Curves.
We just love the vintage dresses, the gorgeous red detailing and wow – that cake! Here are just some of our favourite shots but take a look at Robert’s blog for the full shoot. Enjoy!
Image Credits Robert Marriott – thanks Robert!
Photo Shoot Credits:
Stylist’s Stephanie Stanley, Lacey Biginton and Leanne MacPherson
Florists Mals Bespoke Bouquet, Flower Heaven and Helen Louise Jury.
Red Ruffle cake supplied by Francesca Pitcher, Cupcakes by Samantha Vanstone
Vehicles from Amandas Vintage Car Hire, Simply Stunning Cars and Retro Caravan Hire.
Mike and Keeley had a civil ceremony for 80 guests last year at Cooling Castle Barn, Rochester, Kent. The mix of vibrant colours and stunning backdrop make this wedding feel really warm and welcoming. Here Keeley talks us through their big day.
“I had been to weddings at Cooling Castle barn and although I really liked it I wanted to get married somewhere I hadn’t been to before. After looking at lots of other venues and having no luck, Mike put his foot down and booked for us to see Cooling! Even though the heavens opened the day we went to look around, it didn’t dampen its charm and we fell in love with it and everything it had to offer. This was back in November 2009 and the first date they had was 22 months away – we put a deposit down straightaway to avoid waiting any longer! The staff at Cooling Castle Barn were fantastic and able to help us whenever we had any questions regarding the day.
We had almost two years to plan but spent the first year not doing too much except finding the venue, saving money and getting ideas. The second year was when we started putting all the ideas together and buying things. I thought I would be the one who did all the planning but I was pleasantly surprised by how much Mike got involved, although he does say ‘she might ask you for your opinion but will always go with what she wants anyway’!
We found our wedding car when it was parked outside another church! The colour of the car was what first caught our eye first and we both instantly fell in love with it. It was a blue 1930’s Beauford and we had a Bentley Mulsanne S for our bridesmaids. Our drivers were father and son from Old and Blue, and they were thoroughly professional and so friendly. They really helped to keep me relaxed on the journey to the venue.
From the very beginning we said we wanted something a little bit different that was bright and fun. We had a bright pint and orange colour theme and our florist, Cherry Tree Events, helped us choose our flowers. It was on our second visit there that we noticed the vintage style card holders and birdcages – we knew we had to have them as part of our day. We had pink and orange gerberas with lime green blooms inside our birdcages which worked really well to give them a contemporary twist.
I had a contemporary wired bouquet containing mango cala lilies, hot pink and orange gerberas, hot pink and orange roses, palm, soft ruscus and caged lily grass. The bridesmaids had pink and orange bouquets, the ushers had a single hot pink rose and Mike wore a mango cala lily. Our flowergirl had a flower wand containing hot pink and orange gerberas.
My dress was by Alfred Angelo from Country Brides in Faversham. My Mum picked the dress in the shop but at first I wasn’t that keen on it. After trying on a few dresses I put it on and once I saw it in the mirror, I knew it was the one for me. After months of looking, it was such a relief to finally find the ONE! As I’m 6” tall I knew heels were going to be a no go. I didn’t like lots of the flat shoes available but thankfully I found a diamante style sandal by Pink that were perfect. I had earrings and a matching necklace from Goldsmiths and a Swarovski bracelet that was a beautiful wedding gift from Mike. My veil was also from Country Brides and my hair accessories and bag were my ‘something borrowed’ from my sister-in-law.
Mike wore a Navy Blue Edwardian suit from Perfection. The bridesmaid dresses were also Alfred Angelo dresses, the flowergirls dress was from Bhs and the two best men and ushers suits were also from Perfection.
Our stationery and table place names were from Wickedly Innocent and Mike had said from the very beginning that he wanted to name each table after Stereophonics songs as this is one of his favourite bands.
I remember being blown away when I first saw the barn set out with all the things we had chosen. I had been so worried that perhaps all the colours might not quite go together or might be a bit much, but it just looked amazing. So many people commented on how lovely it looked – it was so worth going for something bright and different. Keeping with the bright theme, we chose bright pink organza bags filled with our favourite white chocolate jazzie sweets. We got them from eBay and Mike’s mum very kindly filled all the bags herself.
We had the caterers at Cooling Castle Barn who were amazing. Everyone commented on how good the food was and there was so much of it! We found it really difficult to choose from such a wide choice that the venue offered so we went with things that we thought everyone would like.
For starters there was a choice of Prawn Cocktail or Marinated vine plum tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella. For the main course we chose Roast Beef or Bangers and Mash. The vegetarian option was Ravioli of chargrilled vegetables and basil pesto. For dessert, Lemon Meringue Pie or Vanilla Cheesecake with red fruit coulis.
We had a three tier cake made up of two fruit cakes and one sponge from Marks and Spencer. They were decorated by our very clever friend Kerry who handmade all the flowers from icing.
We had a DJ who came with our wedding package and we were a little worried that we did not get a say in who we could have. However we needn’t have worried as he was amazing and played everything we had asked for and so much more. As it was a mid-week wedding we finished at 11pm but we started the reception early so that we could have plenty of time to dance. Our first dance was At Last by Etta James as we thought it was a beautiful song with such meaningful lyrics. We both loved garage music when we were younger so we had a selection of garage tracks which had the dance floor over flowing all night!
The fabulous Fleur Challis was our wedding photographer. Fleur had photographed our friends wedding and they spoke really highly of her. Seeing how wonderful their photos were we contacted her. As soon as we got chatting to Fleur we knew she would be the perfect person to capture our day. She had fantastic ideas and was so on our wave length. We had a pre wedding shoot in Canterbury which was a great way for us to relax in front of the camera before the big day as neither of us are keen on having our photo taken. We are so pleased with our photos and they have captured the day perfectly”.
Thanks to Keeley and Mike for sharing their day with us. And so any last words for our wedding couples to be?
“Yes, talk to your friends about suppliers they used. We got lots of recommendations from friends which saves time doing lots of research and lastly enjoy every minute, it goes far too quickly!
Today we can share with you the lovely spring May wedding of Kelly and Scott at Turkey Mill in Maidstone. Here we meet the bride and groom and get them to tell us all about the big day in all it’s detail. Kelly says “I fell in love with Turkey Mill straight away. It was everything that we were looking for. The grounds are amazing and our guests could walk round the gardens and find a little quiet spot throughout the day. We wanted a traditional wedding but very simple and relaxed. We had Emma Knapp Photography and as soon as we met Emma and started telling her about the kind of day we wanted I knew she was the right photographer for us”.
When it come to picking her dress from The Bridal Chest, Kelly told us “I always knew I would go for a fitted dress but when I put my one on I found myself smiling from ear to ear and I just knew it was the dress that I wanted. I had used Audrey Hepburn as my inspiration as I wanted something classic and simple – I loved how it was elegant and different with the one strap. I accessorised the dress with pearl detailed peep toe shoes and tiara from Confetti & Lace, a full length veil from The Bridal Chest and simple earrings and bracelet from Swarovski.
Scott wore an outfit from Bride and Groom which was a black morning jacket, grey striped trousers, waistcoat and a purple cravat. My daughter was a flower girl, her and the other younger bridesmaids dresses were from Debenhams and the two page boys, one my son, had outfits from John Lewis. The three adult bridesmaids had dresses from The Dessy Group.
My wedding bouquet included Freesia, Lisianthus, Delphinium, and Hydrangea tied with darkest purple satin ribbon and pearl pin detail. Creative Flowers arranged this along with the centrepieces for the reception tables including Fuscia pink freesia, pale pink lisianthus and dark purple delphinium. When I met them they were really helpful and advised us on the flowers that would work best for the look I wanted.
The main wedding colour was purple with touches of lilac and fuscia pink. Kelly says “I was very happy with the overall look and relieved that the colours and layout of the room had all come together. We named each table after the people most important to us, parents, brothers and sisters and our twins. We had cupcakes with our guests names on as place cards and had a lottery ticket for each guest as a favour. All our stationery was from Confetti.
Our caterers, aFORM, created our menu. We had Lobster Bisque with parsley croutons or Feta cheese, cherry tomatoes and red onion salad. Followed by Knuckle of Lamb served with red wine sauce or Confit of duck with thyme, rosemary and garlic served with plum ginger and rice wine sauce. All mains were served with parmentier potatoes, baton carrots, fine beans, cauliflower and baby corn.
The meal was completed with Chocolate Cube for the ladies and Lemon Cheesecake for the men. Our wedding cake was made for us by Kate Penfold of Sophisticakes.
We had always wanted a big party in the evening and danced to guitarist Nick Woods and our DJ. We found it very hard to choose a song that we both agreed on for our first dance but when we heard David Gray ‘Be Mine’ we knew it was the right song choice. Our reception finished at 12 but most people were staying at the Hilton so the party continued back at the hotel bar!”
Thanks so much to our couple for sharing their day with us and what final piece of advice would they give to others getting married?
“Make your wedding personal to you so that your friends and family feel a part of the big day with you and don’t worry about the small things. The day goes so quickly and it’s very hard to make time for one another as you have so many people to speak to and many different things going on but try and make sure you have some time alone as a couple throughout the day. I think some of those times on our day are my best memories.”
Congratulations to Kelly and Scott x
All images by Emma Knapp Photography
We just love the Hotel du Vin for gorgeous wedding’s or a fantastic place to spend your first night as a married couple. We’ve been to Tunbridge Wells, to take a look at their wedding rooms and meet the team behind this stunning town centre venue. We have previously worked with some of the other hotels in this luxury chain but it was fantastic to get to see one closer to home. Amy Carey, the Sales Manager showed us around.
The hotel is set in one of the historic spa town’s architectural landmarks, a Grade II-listed sandstone mansion built as a private residence in 1762. It has retained its authentic detail and has gorgeous function rooms and outdoor spaces including a terrace area and gardens for weddings during the summer months.
The Speyside Glenlivet is the largest function room. An atmospheric room with antique mirrors, guilded decoration, square natural dark stained wood tables and chairs. It overlooks the hotel gardens and Calverley Park and can accommodate a maximum of 84 people. Wedding catering packages start from £45 per person. Food served at the hotel is sourced locally where possible and a tasting session for the bride and groom is all part of the service.
Each of the 34 bedrooms in the hotel is sponsored and named after a famous wine or Champagne house. They all feature Egyptian cotton bed linen, deep baths, power showers, fluffy towels and bathrobes, Satellite television, CD players, DVD players, mini-bars, hairdryer and air conditioning.
There are three fantastic suites, all with freestanding roll-top baths in the rooms. The Deluxe Suite also has an 8ft square bed, plasma screen TV and wonderful views over the garden and park behind the hotel, making this the perfect place to spend your first night as husband and wife.
If you want to take a look around the hotel then visit their website for more information and the team their will be more than happy to show you around. We’re also super excited as we’ll be running wedding workshops here in October – click here for more info.
Sometimes a wedding comes along that just has so many gorgeous pics we can’t fit it all into one day. This wedding is one of those. For part one we’re sharing the wedding of Marika and James who got married in May at the Marquis of Alkham. Here Marika tells us about the planning of their big day.
“We searched for a long time to find the right venue. We found the Marquis restaurant in a cookery magazine, having no idea there was such a highly acclaimed restaurant so close to where we lived. As soon as we drove down the beautiful country road, we were hopeful and when we arrived, walked inside and were warmly greeted by Hannah Walton saying “sorry I don’t have a brochure made up, we don’t really churn out weddings…” we were sold! The more we saw, the more we loved it. It just felt right, we wanted somewhere really special for our 39 guests. Hannah is the wedding co-ordinator at the Marquis and without her help, all of our ideas would not have been able to become a fantastic reality. We had so much fun and we regard her as a friend now.
Sarah Kay, a friend’s sister, does floristry part-time. My bouquet was rustic and contemporary, with white lilacs, thistles, ranunculus roses, freesias, green hydrangeas and Columbian roses, which came through in my hair, the bridesmaid’s hair and the button holes as well.
I always wanted white lilacs as they hold fond childhood memories for me, hiding under a giant lilac tree in our front garden in Ireland. I love ranunculus roses and hydrangeas as well, this is one of the reasons I convinced James that May was a great time to get married. I had always imagined wedding photos in a bluebell wood.
I bought my dress from Signature Brides in Hythe and it was a beautiful lace strapless dress from Tia by Benjamin Roberts. I tried on many shapes and styles and had more or less chosen one. I tried on a few more and am so glad I did because that’s when I came across the Benjamin Roberts dress. I loved the simple style dress with the delicate lace detail – it made it so special. As soon as I tried it on, I walked out of the fitting room and said “uh oh, I am in a bit of a pickle now!” as the dress was more than I had anticipated in the budget, but it was worth it!
The shoes I wore were from Next for just £35. I bought two pairs and decided just before walking up the aisle which ones to wear! I had some very simple freshwater pearl earrings from eBay and a Columbian ivory rose in the side of my hair. My make up was by Emma Smisson at Bridal Beauty.
My sister was my bridesmaid and her dress was from Coast.
James bought his suit from Ventura at Moss Bros
. It was a brown/copper shade and he just chose what he felt most comfortable in.
We had a civil ceremony. We decided not to personalise vows because we have been together long enough for people to know how in love we are and no need to gush about it! We chose a reading called “the Art of a Good Marriage” that my childhood friend read wonderfully and it epitomized what we feel strongly about in our relationship that would carry through into our marriage.
We had a slideshow with the signing of the register during the ceremony. It was full of photos from when we were children, our first date, our holidays, our 10 year anniversary and pre wed shoot. If there wasn’t a dry eye after the ceremony, there certainly wasn’t after the photos which were accompanied with some sentimental songs. We then played an extended version of this throughout the evening by the bar for people to quietly sit and watch if their feet needed a rest from dancing.
After the ceremony we had photos in the church gardens and then everyone went down to the terrace for drinks, canapés and garden games which was a lot of fun.
We wanted to make sure that our guests got to meet everyone so we mixed the tables up for dinner and had a sharing menu. The starter was a ‘Kentish Antipasto’ which consisted of poached asparagus, rabbit rillette, pickled light Sussex eggs, cured beef, cheddar fondue and homemade bread sticks and chutney. The main course was a ‘Sunday Roast’ of beef topside, Yorkshire pudding with confit shallots, herb roast potatoes, crispy flank and watercress salad and seasonal vegetables. The feast was rounded off with a dessert of chocolate fondue, served with marshmallows, flapjack and tropical fruit. It was all washed down with Tenterden sparkling wine, a lot of gin and tonic and a tab behind the bar, which all the guests were very grateful for!
As place cards we had photos of each guest and put these through an app to create individual effects and then printed them out as Polaroid photos which everyone loved.James had three best men, his best friend, his brother and his oldest friend. All of them were asked to give a speech as we moved around after each course. We had so many comments about what a highlight that was and the speeches never got boring because they were all so varied! Rather than a traditional guest book, we had cards and marker pens and passed these around for everyone to leave messages on so that we could put our own book together and enjoy doing that afterwards.
At the reception we had white lilacs, ranunculus roses, lisianthus, eringium, pannicum, Columbian garden roses, avalanche roses, viburnum opulus and freesia’s. The flowers were placed either side of the altar and as centerpieces for the reception, where the arrangements were in small square glass vases that were spread out along the tables. It looked really beautiful!
In the evening we served mini bacon sandwiches and cheeseboards as well as a sweet table where guests could take home sweets in little Chinese takeaway boxes that we put pretty green ribbons on. James made the 7 tier cupcake tower which consisted of small and large cakes, which were all flavours of cocktail. The guests could choose from Strawberry Daquiri, Limoncello or Mojito. They were such a hit and looked fab next to the sweet buffet. There was also a traditional 2 tier fruit cake that the Marquis supplied in their package, for which we provided 2 cake toppers for.
For our first dance, we had a friend mix two records together. We chose Shania Twain’s ‘you’re still the one’ because it was very cheesy but the lyrics were also quite symbolic. It then went into a rendition of Sir Mix A Lot’s ‘Jump on It’ and the dance moves from the iconic ‘Fresh Prince of Bel Air’ scene which seemed to go down with a lot of laughter! We then had a DJ from Discologic.
My mum presented us with a blank canvas that had one of the wedding invite pictures on it and all the guests took turns in signing it and leaving messages.
and her husband Kevin were our wonderful photographers . We met Fleur through Hannah at the Marquis and we fell in love with her charm and lovely personality. She was so enthusiastic and excited, which made it a lot of fun to work with her. We met Kevin at the pre wedding shoot, and he was great fun as well. To have them both was such a treat and it brought a wonderful balance of posed photos as well as candid photos which captured the day perfectly. As they always say, a picture tells a 1000 words and the couple really did achieve everything we had hoped for. Photography is a big part of our lives and Fleur and Kevin really understood this and the essence of fun, happiness and love that comes through the photos is spot on!
Marika’s final words of advice as “don’t get too caught up in the day itself and remember that it is a celebration of the time you have spent together and the times you have ahead of you, it should be fun! Stay true to yourselves and what is important to you”.
Thanks to Marika and James for sharing their day with us and big congratulations to you both. Watch out for Part 2 when we’ll be sharing their photo booth shots.
Today is the little gem that is Finchcocks. A Grade 1 Georgian manor in Goudhurst, Kent which is home to a musical museum as well as a fab little wedding venue.
The manor sits in thirteen acres of parkland and gardens with a restored 18th century walled garden, a circle of whitebeam trees, wide lawns, dramatic shrub borders and a beautiful autumn garden. It’s exclusive use here so if you are looking for a country house that’s private, flexible and has a big dose of grandeur it’s just perfect.
The Cellar Restaurant can seats up to 80 guests with 120 for an evening reception. It’s vaulted area with little alcoves means it is great for atmospheric themed weddings with Indian or Arabic styled décor. A brick terrace close to the house can take a marquee so you have 120 guests for a seated meal and up to 200 for a buffet. You will need to hire your own marquee though and the only draw back is that you can’t have amplified music, so you’d have to go back to the Cellar Restaurant for a DJ or band type entertainment.
They often hold jazz evenings and theatre events, or you can pop down for a cream tea and take a look for yourself. As you can see from this handful of pics it certainly has a wonderful little charm about it.
Today we are glad to be supporting the Charity Wedding Auction who are raising funds for Pilgrims Hospices through a fantastic wedding auction.
The “go live” button is only days away as the auction runs from 21st to 27th April. During this time you can bid for a stunning wedding package worth in excess of £10,000, which includes the venue, photography, cake, dress, a wedding website, rings, flowers, entertainment, hair and makeup, wedding stationery, a wedding correspondent to record those special moments and wedding co-ordination for the big day and much more.
The auction has been organised by Sally Laker of Sally 4 Cakes, Nicola Blackledge of Bay Images Photography and Glen Laker of The Whitstable Computer Company. All of the businesses involved have generously donated their services and products for free and 100% of the proceeds from the auction go directly to Pilgrims Hospices.
Pilgrims Hospices provides free hospice and specialist palliative care services to the local community both in the hospice and in the patient’s home. Deborah Kellond, Regional Fundraising Manager at Pilgrims Hospices said “We are amazed at the generosity of local businesses that are supporting the wedding auction”.
Full details of the wedding package and how to take part can be found at Charity Wedding Auction.
Getting married in Church is now a whole load easier and certainly less official than it once was. You now have more choices open to you about which church you can actually choose and the type of wedding ceremony you want.
Out are the really strict rules and in are a lot of really relaxed ones. If you want to marry in your local C of E church it is relatively straight forward, however if you want to choose one away from where you live, you will have to prove a connection to the church parish in question. This can be through one of you having lived there previously or through your parents or grandparents.
Legal elements of a church wedding will be around £350 but if you need other church services including an organist, choir or bell ringers this will cost you extra. We always find that Vicars are full of useful local information and are great for advice about choosing your favourite hymns and readings. You will also get the chance to have a full rehearsal and have your banns read out in church before the wedding, which is often really special to couples in the build up to their big day.
In and around Kent there are literally hundreds of beautiful churches with fabulous settings. If you want a quirky venue then local village halls, often close by to churches, are now becoming more wedding focussed and make a great blank canvas for themed weddings. Churches are often popular as well if you want to have your reception at home as they offer the flexibility you need. Some churches now even allow you to have your reception in the church itself, giving you a very unique take on the traditional church wedding!
Whatever you decide on find out more about choosing your church, available services and information about church weddings in general at your church wedding.
Image Credits: Shooting Hip
Prince William and Kate spent their first New Year’s Eve as husband and wife, celebrating at a party held in a teepee, organised by party planner sister, Pippa Middleton.
News of this confirms our suspicions (or slight obsession) that teepee weddings are going to be big in 2012. And quite frankly if they are good enough for the royals they are good enough for us! Also known as Kata Tents and Giant Hats you don’t have to be a festival goer, a lover of the outdoors or a reindeer herder to fall in love with the idea of having your wedding reception in a teepee, you just have to be brave enough to do something that little bit different.
The teepee isn’t a brand new concept, its been growing at a steady pace over the last couple of years with prices for hiring them gradually coming down to a more affordable cost. There are lots of suppliers out there that are happy to do a site visit to check you’ve got the room, but if you can’t do it at home like the Middleton’s, then there are plenty of venues here in Kent that have grounds for hire.
Here at Wedding Dolls HQ we have been meeting land owners who are happy to rent their land out specifically for wedding receptions and are very excited about working with our couples to create completely different wedding venues.
The best thing about the teepee is that you don’t just have to use them in the summer. Some are made from animal hinds and are great for cold weather, even in snow, with an opening at the top to let out smoke from a log burner, it will keep your guests warm and snug. Teepees can also be joined together creating different zones for eating, relaxing and dancing the night away.
If you have used a teepee for your wedding reception and would like to share your experience with us or if you are thinking about creating your own teepee wedding and need some help then give us a call.
See Tipis4hire.com for more inspiration.
It seems that not even a wedding is safe from the allure of celebrity. Having read about a couple whose wedding turned into an X-Factor nightmare, how can you be sure your wedding venue will be totally focused on you?
When you book a wedding venue that you won’t have exclusive use of there is always the risk of being second billing on the day.
Wasn’t expecting a double wedding?
Large hotels can offer beautiful grounds, gorgeous rooms, the promise of a first class chef and acres of landscaped gardens for your photo’s, but you really need to be sure that they can handle your wedding in a way that you are going to be totally happy with.
We often spend time checking with hotels and other large wedding venues to make sure ‘our’ bride won’t bump into ‘another’ bride during the course of the day. Because there’s nothing worse than sweeping down that beautiful ornate staircase to meet your adoring guests only to find another bride standing at the bottom……
However you just can’t beat hotels if you have large guest numbers. They are well rehearsed at catering for over 150 people in one sitting and you often get a good choice of menu – although you will have to be prepared to pay a premium catering cost for it. Large hotels can offer in-house planners who will be there on the day to check things are running to time (although bear in mind they won’t be organising everything – mostly just catering and set up) and they are a good resource for other recommended suppliers.
Hotels are always good as well if you happen to want a wedding last-minute. Cancellations often crop up so if you are looking to plan only six months in advance there’s often a good deal to be had (especially in quieter months).
So if you decide that a hotel is for you forward planning goes a long way to make sure your guests won’t be distracted, and the hotel remains totally about you.
Heres a few tips to help:
Firstly pick your date carefully. Make sure you choose a date when there are no World Cup matches, football semi-finals or other major sporting events – there’s nothing worse than having most of menfolk sneaking off to catch match highlights in the hotel bar. Also make sure your hotel isn’t holding its own major sporting event on that day.
Secondly, make sure any adjoining function rooms to you are either sound proof or won’t be being used on the day. Scoping out one hotel we sneaked into the back of a ceremony only to see the poor bride and groom practically shouting their vowels to each other over the cheering of a corporate awards ceremony in the room next door. Not quite the romantic setting they had hoped for and not a hotel we’d recommend in a hurry.
Thirdly, find out if they have any other weddings on the same day (or will book any others later). If a hotel has booked more than they can handle then standards ultimately begin to slip and this can result in food leaving the kitchen late, hotel staff being rushed or worse still nowhere to be found. If another wedding is happening on the same day check what time it is and what plans the hotel has to accommodate you both.
Next make plans so your guests don’t disappear off round the hotel. Think about your timings carefully and try to keep guests contained as much as possible at ‘breaks’ in the day, such as evening set up. Try and organise with the hotel for an exclusive lounge area to give your guests a drink whilst they are waiting. This is also a great time to bring out photo booths and film sound bites to keep the guests entertained.
Finally, make sure you check out the venue at busy times as well as quieter ones and check back at regular intervals to make sure you are happy with how the plans are going and how the hotel looks. Ask around as it always pays to do your hotel homework!