When we first met Rachael&Dan, they seemed completely laid back, and when they told us about their aim for the perfect relaxed wedding day, we could really see how well that would work for them. It turned out to be one of the beautiful and calm wedding days we’ve seen! When it came to finding a venue, Rachael&Dan found the perfect surprise when they Googled wedding venues in Whitstable (where they had got engaged) and found The Beacon House, where they could get married almost right next to the sea (which is something of a miracle in England with its outdated marriage laws!).
With beach huts a-plenty right next to The Beacon House, we were utterly spoilt for choice when it came to taking photos of the two of them on their own, and the seclusion as they hid amongst the huts was the perfect opportunity for them to relax a little after the excitement of getting married, and just enjoy spending some time together! The colours were just perfect for those seaside tones too.
Of course we couldn’t resist including some of the amazing details in the venue itself, and Rachael and Dan had considered their own details perfectly, from the invite design to the rings and shoes – they all worked so well in the shabby chic venue with its collections of seaside trinkets.
There were loads of quirky, alternative ideas to keep people entertained, including asking each guest to choose and make an origami animal, maps for guests to make paper aeroplanes to trow as confetti, and one we certainly haven’t seen before: the Anglo-Australian food similarity competition (Marmite vs Vegemite, Polo mints vs Lifesavers etc). Not quite sure who won that one! As a surprise, Rachael’s dad arranged for a troupe of Morris dancers to appear at the venue! Their faces were a picture! Instead of a ‘wedding cake’, Rachel&Dan had a stack of chocolate brownies, adorned with flags and curly candles, which they blow out together rather than ‘cutting the cake’ – why not huh?!
Between the amazing buffet food and the evening festivities, Rachael&Dan invited their families to join them wading in the sea, whether they were equipped with boots or not – it was a rather lovely moment as dads decided kicking seawater at their kids was thoroughly entertaining. Not sure the kids were quite in agreement! They were then asked to collect a pebble each for the couple to keep as a kind of abstract guestbook – definitely our favourite alternative guest book idea we’ve encountered so far!
An Alternative Gothic Star Wars Wedding Extravaganza
When we first met Emily&Phil, we were invited into their home to talk weddings and photos. The hand painted zebra print walls in the hall and 50s pin-ups decoupaged all over the bedroom, gave us an insight into how effing awesome their wedding was destined to be! They were planning a wedding that incorporated a mish-mash of stuff they’d always loved; leopard print, Star Wars, Goth, Rock ‘N’ Roll… they wanted what they’d like to see at someone else’s wedding if they were guests. Needless to say, we got on like a house on fire, and we left that evening, super-excited about photographing their wedding!
Converse All-Stars in red and leopard print from Converse.com’s design-your-own section! Swoon! Emily just wanted comfortable shoes for dancing, and figuring that they’d be hidden by her dress, simply chose something that she liked and could wear after the wedding. Of course the shoes were a massive hit amongst the guests, and us obviously… they featured quite a lot in our photos!
Apparently, understated is not a word in Emily’s vocabulary. She’s always liked to dress up, and her Goth roots have lead to her alternative, quirky style. She wore a huge, gorgeous, red wedding dress by Hollywood Dreams in Wales. Would you believe it was reduced from £2,900 to £350 to clear as it had been in the shop unsold for years?! I guess this is the upside to liking unusual things!
Emily’s collar and cuffs were from Lula Lupin. We were actually admiring their designs when we were positioned opposite them at Belle’s Bridal Bazaar and it was actually that very fair where Emily&Phil found them! The flower detail was made from off-cuts of the dress after it was altered – perfect! Emily’s divine red head-dress was from Pearls & Swine, and really completed her stunning, dramatic Gothic look.
Emily’s wedding ring was actually her Grandmother’s. It had a worn flower design on it which was smoothed out by Phil’s Step-sister, who is rather handily, a jewellery-maker. The design on Phil’s wedding ring was their names and wedding date written in Aurebesh – a fictional Star Wars language! It doesn’t get more unique than that right?! It was made by RING of Brighton. The ‘ring box’ was an R2D2 mint tin that was perfect for the job – genius!
Emily was delivered to the venue by a privately chartered steam train… what else?! What a photo opp! High Rocks actually has it’s own train station!
‘The Throne Room Theme’ from Star Wars, played as she made her entrance – the bit at the end when the heroes are all receiving their medals from Princess Leia. Musically, it’s actually not a million miles away from the wedding march – brilliant!
Emily&Phil really enjoyed sneaking off for their couple shots… so we did so twice! They said it was great to have alone time to breath and soak up the reality of being married! And how’s this for a spectacular location to set off Emily’s statement wedding dress?!
Like us, they wrote their own vows – after all this is the fundamental part of a wedding is it not, and it needs to be done right. It should be meaningful and personal to you as a couple. They told us that they were completely lost in the moment at this point in the ceremony, and I have to say, I was completely sucked in too… I almost forgot to take pictures for a minute!
“All the fun stuff was for our guests, but our vows were for us.”
They decided early on not to have real flowers. They felt that, as beautiful as they are, they’re expensive, need caring for, and won’t last forever! I was bowled over when Emily’s mum unwrapped the bouquets immaculately handcrafted by Emily&Phil themselves! They looked so professional! Emily made the flowers from red, black and leopard print fabric and the centres were various buttons, brooches and beads. Phil made the bouquet’s frames using wire, ribbon and foam florist’s balls – clever! The men’s buttonholes were the same but each had a personalised centre (Star Wars designs for Phil and the best man, a Cornish flag for Em’s Stepdad and a Millwall badge for Em’s brother).
Having a great party atmosphere at the wedding was really important to Emily&Phil. We had mentioned to them that we had noticed that the dancefloor fills up much more when there’s live music on offer, and taking that on board, they hired a band Emily loved when she was at uni in Brighton; The Bikini Beach Band. They do a great choice of covers, both modern and classic, all delivered in a ‘surf-noir’ Pulp Fiction style. And what great costumes!
Star Wars has been a huge part of Emily&Phil’s lives. In fact they met in a Star Wars costuming club, called the UK Garrison, that raises money for charities through geeky replica costume-wearing – Phil used to be a Stormtrooper! So naturally, Darth Vader, an admiral and a pair of Stormtroopers were top of the guest list!
All the venue staff from other rooms rushed in to watch Phil’s surprise breakdance routine he performed with his best man Steve and old school friend Gary, (overlooked by Stormtroopers)! It certainly took us by surprise – an awesome surprise! I can’t stress enough how wonderful touches like this make a wedding exiting and memorable! Their guests were beside themselves!
♥ “The main reason we chose Tino&Pip was simply the style and quality of the photos we saw blew us away. The fact that they are a lovely couple, who are friendly and put you at ease, is a bonus.
We came to realise that not only was it worth the extra money for their technical ability and their artistic eye and style, which was exactly what we had been looking for, but we were also getting two photographers for the price of one. This means ‘moments’ get covered from both angles, the most obvious moment being the first time the groom sees the bride.
Tino&Pip were a joy to have with us for the day, and were unobtrusive and at times invisible when they needed to be. We have great photos of moments when we thought they were nowhere around! The end result was a bucketload of beautiful, artistic (but not poncy), well-balanced photos that made us look good and more importantly have imprisoned the magical moments and emotions for us to keep forever. There are some shots that make us cry just looking at them, as it takes us straight back to the moment! And there are many, many shots that are stunning enough to want to be printed big and hung on the wall. We’re going to need lots more walls!”
Emily&Phil made their own wedding stationery. Their Invites were red cards with a square of faux leopard fur, each topped with handmade Fimo ‘sailor tattoo’ style heart and scroll, onto which Phil hand painted their names in traditional tattoo font. Perfect for their album cover right?!…
With a ceremony in Sam’s childhood church, and their reception held at her family’s small farm, Sam and Mark’s wedding was rooted in family and history, with her rather special dress made with contributions from both their mums! A proper homemade wedding full of love and laughter.
Mark designed Sam’s engagement ring himself… “Mark took me away to Bath, where we had gone on our first weekend away together, staying in the same hotel. He had also booked the same restaurant, Beaujolais, now my favourite! He asked me after our meal with a beautiful ring he’d designed himself.”
Lots of smiles and laughing… “We really wanted a relaxed family wedding. Lots of smiles and laughing, great food and surrounded by all of the people that we love. We were aiming for a country theme, lots of splashes of different colours, lots of ribbon, bunting and flowers.”
Wedding venues: St Peter & St Paul’s Church, Cudham: “It was my childhood church, so very special to me.” Homeleigh Farm, Berry’s Green, Kent: “When my stepdad, Gary, joked about a marquee in the garden, we loved the idea.”
Alternative wedding guestbook: Guests wrote messages on postcards in place of a guestbook.
Wedding favours: “Our favours were wooden hearts which doubled up as place settings, with each guest’s name painted on one side and our names and the date on the other. My sister and chief bridesmaid, Kim, hand-painted each one! All the kids had bags with toys and books to keep them entertained, put together by my stepmum, Hannah.”
Photobooth: In a caravan decked out with pretty fabric!
Wedding dress: “My dress was made by my extremely clever mum, Beryl. The antique lace detail was very special; family lace generously given by Mark’s mum, Angela, to use on the dress. Bridesmaids’ dresses: Mismatched bridesmaids dresses were from Topshop, Oasis and Zara.”
Best bits… “Getting ready with my mum and four sisters, who were all bridesmaids, was lots of fun and surprisingly stress-free, standing with Mark in the church and listening to the wonderful speeches made by my Dad, Mark, and best men, Hazel and Andy.”
♥ We completely love the photos, I can’t stop looking at them… “You are great! Very professional, it was great to have the photos so quickly after the wedding, and the thank you cards. Its a real bonus that you come as a pair – makes a huge difference. And we completely love the photos, I can’t stop looking at them, perfect way to remember and relive the day.”
It’s not only the couple-to-be that are investing themselves in their wedding day, it is often the input of family and friends that really bring it to life. We were we made to feel incredibly welcome at Brighton couple Emily and Simon’s stunning clash of Deco and punk, and Simon’s dad actually painted the panelling on his beach hut cream and blue, especially for their wedding day, just for the photos. Need we say more?!
The love story…
We asked Emily&Simon to describe each other in three words.
Emily said; Huggable, sensitive and hilarious
Simon said; SQUIGGLEY, caring and selfless
Simon and I went to school together… “I knew him through mutual friends and I also went out with one of his friends! We got together just before I went to university over a shared love of travelling, he had just visited the Amazon and I had spent a long time in India. Our friendship and relationship grew despite being miles apart for several years.”
Simon proposed over cheesecake… “We had chosen the ring together so I knew it was coming, he cooked us an amazing meal and homemade desert. Who wouldn’t say yes to cheesecake that good!”
I love Art Deco… “Art Deco. I love Art Deco architecture and 1920s and 30s style. I have always loved the way women dressed in really old movies, particularly the early ‘talkies’. Living in Brighton was a huge inspiration, I would wander the flea market and the lanes and charity shops my head buzzing with ideas! My Nan and late Auntie Vera influenced me a lot as they would always dress up for special occasions, looking really glamorous. I always loved looking at pictures of them when they were younger. My Nan kept a huge dressing up box of dresses, gloves, handbags, hats and fascinators which I would prance around in at every opportunity as a child! I wanted our families to be part of the decorations as they are so important. So many of our guests commented on the decorations and old photos, it was really special.”
Dress: Joanne Fleming Design, in Brighton. “I had always been convinced that i was born without the ‘bride gene’. Having not spent any of my childhood fantasising about this dress I found it very hard picturing what it might be like. I went to several traditional bridal wear shops to get some ideas but I found myself rushing to exit feeling really rather squeamish! I have always had a love of all things old fashioned, I guess because if someone else has created something classic and stylish why try and re-invent the wheel! Joanne was fantastic, I told her what sorts of things I liked and how I wanted the dress to fit my shape and gradually over several appointments the dress took shape. It felt wonderful knowing that this dress would be mine alone and that it would fit so perfectly. It surpassed my expectations, I felt truly amazing in it and I will treasure it forever.”
Shoes: Iron Fist. “My shoes were the second pair I got, the original ones were plain and safe and completely not me. I loved the idea of having a pop of colour under my dress.”
Wedding present from Simon to Emily: “The necklace that Simon got me (the skull one) is from the Jewel Thief in Brighton, the crown was my present on the day.”
Wedding present from Emily to Simon: A slideshow presentation of photographs of the two of them throughout their time together that reduced Simon and his entire family to tears on the morning of their wedding!
The soundtrack… JUNO… “I walked down the aisle to Barry Louis Polisar’s song “All I Want Is You” from the film JUNO, it was magical. Our first dance was Anyone Else But You by The Moldy Peaches, also features in JUNO, love it. Near the end everyone got up and joined in. I will never forget that feeling of having everyone around smiling and just enjoying being there with us… Adam, Simon’s brother agreed at the last minute to step in and entertain us. John Perry sang us a sea shanty, which was a surprise for Simon. Adam, Lisa and John played our first dance which was superb, such a perfect song for us to remember the day by. We will be eternally grateful for their performance it really made the perfect atmosphere.”
♥ Photography is obviously their passion and not just a job… “Originally we came across Penny and Martin (aka Tino&Pip) at a wedding fair… [and their] album really caught our eye. Having chatted to them briefly Simon and I were struck by how normal and easy to get on with they were. They seemed happy just to listen to our ramblings about what we liked and didn’t like. After looking at their website we were convinced that they could deliver the experience we wanted, a relaxed day capturing all the special moments without having to say ‘CHEESE’!
Penny and Martin are incredibly talented, photography is obviously their passion and not just a job, this comes across in every image they produce.
We are so happy to have captured such beautiful memories and are looking forward to sharing them again and again in years to come. I also cannot wait to get them printed supersize and put them all over the house!”
Rustic charm meets English elegance… Louise&Tom threw a dream wedding bursting with colour and handmade wonderfulness! And what better way to celebrate than for this lovely couple to disappear off into the real inspiration for Frances Hodgson Burnett’s ‘The Secret Garden’, and spend a few quiet moments together before the real party began?! For Louise and Tom, this was an incredibly emotional day, especially so since they had been working right up to the last minute to perfect the decoration of their barn reception venue! Result: amazing day to be a wedding photographer!
Love at first sight? “We met at uni almost 10 years ago! Tom told me it was love at first sight when he met me, but it unfortunately took me a little longer to fall for his charms!”
Venues: Great Maytham Hall, Rolvenden, Kent followed by The Great Barn, Rolvenden, Kent. “We fell n love with the barn first as it was so rustic and in a gorgeous rural location – it fitted our needs exactly as we had the freedom to treat it as a blank canvas and put our own stamp on it. A LOT of work, but worth it! Great Maytham Hall was a perfect contrast – the two couldn’t be more different! The gardens and views in particular made us fall in love with this venue!”
The perfect setting for a proposal… “14th June 2010 Tom proposed about three days after his brother’s wedding in France. We went for a little mini break in Ile de Re a small island off the west cost of France, after the wedding and it was a huge surprise and massively unexpected!! I’d amost given up hope! Very romantic by the seafront in the harbour town just before we went out for dinner. It was the sunniest, warmest evening of the holiday and the perfect setting for a proposal! I loved the ring tom had chosen himself, couldn’t have asked for a more perfect moment. Of course I burst out in tears and couldn’t answer for about 5 minutes so just nodded profusely!!”
Dress: Pronovias (style: Adela) bought from Teokath, in Canterbury. “I searched online for all pronovias range and then hunted down shops that stocked the styles I liked. Adela was one of the ones I really wanted to try on as it had such a romantic feel to it, the neckline and cap sleeves were gorgeous! When I tried it on I fell in love with it instantly, started crying, and knew it was the one! It was the only dress I had tried on that I could instantly imagine myself in at the wedding, and I knew for certain Tom would LOVE it!”
Accessories: Hair pins from Liberty in Love (designer Leigh-Anne McCague, Headcorn) “Pearl string beads were my own, and these were attached to the pins.” Earrings from Chez Bec, and Swarovzski bracelet from best friend. “It was a civil wedding so I didn’t want to be too formal and wear a veil, but I just wanted a bit of sparkle!”
I wanted lots of colour… “I think the styling and theme all fell into place once we chose the barn venue. I wanted lots of colour – hence the flowers bridesmaid dresses etc and as little white as possible! Rustic and relaxed feel which hopefully came through and just for everyone to have fun!”
Flowers: Lara Hayes from Darling & Wild. “Lara did such a wonderful job with the flowers – I absolutely loved everything she did. I had a theme of sunflowers which I thought would go well with the barn and rustic style of the wedding. As the adult bridesmaid dresses were so vibrant I picked colours which I thought would go with the dresses and the general theme, so yellow, purple and green were the main influences. I chose terracotta round low pots for the table flower decorations, which went well in the barn, and we had bunches of sunflowers all over the barn and grounds, and flowers in old coal scuttles. Tom got hops from a local farm to decorate the barn with too. I wanted my bouquet to be pretty and informal, so opted for filler flowers. I chose purple Scabious, wax flower, flowering mint, Statice and Hydrangea.”
Venue Decor: Mostly decorated by us with help from family. Hops purchased from nearby farm. Authentic vietnamese hanging lanterns hired from Carolyn at Chicks that chop, Sandhurst. Vintage crockery and props- mother of the brides own and Rosebud Vintage, Ashford. Bunting made by mother of the bride. Further accessories such as hanging hearts - Jeremy’s Homestore in Tunbridge Wells.
The soundtrack… String trio for the ceremony; God Only Knows by the Beach Boys for the procession and Jason Mraz to walk out to. “It was fun, happy and upbeat. The only problem was that a I was an emotional wreck that day, as soon as I heard the trio start the song, it was so beautiful I burst out in tears seconds before I got to the aisle, it was all so perfect and I was so happy! They were happy tears!!” First dance; ‘You are the Sunshine of my Life’ by Stevie Wonder. “I always wanted that as my first dance song for years before, and as we didn’t have a song that was ‘our song’ it worked out perfectly.”
Cakes & Sweeties: Homemade by mother of bride and sister of groom & remainder from Cook and Jeremy’s Homestore in Tunbridge Wells. My mum put sooo much effort into the cakes, and prepared about 9 in total, in addition to little biscuits. She’s German so cakes are a must in every celebration – the more the better for her. I didn’t want one traditional cake which we cut, so we had an assortment of cakes and sweets for pudding instead of a formal dessert. Vicky, Tom’s sister, made cupcakes and brownies which were delicious also. After this we had local cheeses and biscuits.
Favours: Made by Bride, and her parents one very long weekend just before the big day! Tom and I have a black cat called Smudge, and we wanted her to be part of the wedding in some way, so we decided on cat-shaped biscuits as favours. Also, black cats are lucky so it was that sentiment that we wanted to get across to gets as we set out on our new life together! It was a LOT of work, but worth it to see people’s faces when I told them we made them! Wrapped in cellophane bags with coloured tissue paper and decorated with raffia.
♥ We were over the moon with the photos!… “Penny and Martin were fantastic, we loved their laid back contemporary style of reportage photography. Their website and photos of previous weddings were just what we were looking for, they captured those special moments from the day perfectly. We were over the moon with the photos! Can’t wait to see the albums!” Louise&Tom