In preparing this feature, it became apparent very quickly how important some context and background to this post would be.  Let me begin by taking you back, briefly, to this little industry soiree I hosted in 2011, where I met my now close friend Laura Caudery for the very first time.  Our friendship hit off immediately and later in the same year, I was guest at the official opening of Fetcham Park, an award winning Surrey wedding venue owned by Laura’s family, and managed by Laura herself. This week, Fetcham Park celebrates it’s 3rd anniversary, and I’m so very delighted for my friend.

Being an avid Instagram follower, last week, Laura launched a new social media hashtag called #ShareTheHonestLove.   She blogged about it here, explaining that she had created the hashtag to encourage those planning a wedding to focus less on all the crazy superficial aspects of wedding planning and more on remembering to celebrate what a wedding day is really all about – the love and emotional values of the day.   I loved the idea instantly so shared details with our readers and posted my own #ShareTheHonestLove images on Instagram here and here.

Today, Laura and I are launching a new regular feature on Love My Dress®; ‘Share The Honest Love’ is designed to encourage you, dear readers, be you a bride, photographer or otherwise, to share your own heart-warming and life-affirming wedding photographs on Instagram and Twitter – images that celebrate real, raw, honest wedding-day love and emotion, and that will inspire our readers to stop stressing too much over all the details.  Details of how to participate in #ShareTheHonestLove are provided at the end of this feature and we really hope that you do participate.  For now, please join me as Laura shares her deeply moving and inspiring story for the very first time with a series of most precious #ShareTheHonestLove photographs.

Photography Copyright (c) 2014, CKP Weddings

Share The Honest Love (Get Inspired Let's Talk Personal, Life, Love )

What do you think of when you think of a wedding day? I imagine many people would list the dress, the flowers, the venue. And to be honest, I think I was the same. I lost track of what the day was really all about.

Despite desperately wanting to marry Paul, I let myself get distracted by the brilliant marketing machine that is The Wedding Industry. If I’m being kind on myself I blame the fact that we were trying to organise a lot of things in a very short time. 4 months to organise a wedding, whilst pregnant, in a venue that had never hosted a wedding, whilst I was planning the launch of my own business – the venue itself – meant that it was easy to get sidetracked by the logistics.

Share The Honest Love (Get Inspired Let's Talk Personal, Life, Love )

And it’s easily done: learning the art of event planning under the pressure of organising ‘the best day of your life’ can easily take over. Suddenly nights are spent fretting over guest lists, parking arrangements, food choices and colour schemes. However, with a background in marketing and events I was surprised at *just* how easily I was seduced.

Share The Honest Love (Get Inspired Let's Talk Personal, Life, Love )

The only time I stopped to really think about our church service was when we met with our vicar, and even then my mind was still focused on the practical arrangements, rather than the emotional significance of what we were actually planning.

Share The Honest Love (Get Inspired Let's Talk Personal, Life, Love )

This experience informed so many of the principles that have guided and shaped the launch of our business and set us apart from our competitors. I take my job incredibly seriously, not least because I want to protect a couple from the stress that planning can entail so that they can focus on what really matters: celebrating their love for one another.

The reason I’m so passionate is that despite all my careful preparations, our wedding day was very nearly a total disaster.  Waking up to heavy snowfall is the last thing a bride wants to see when any kind of travel is involved. My journey to Fetcham Park involved losing half of my bridesmaids, driving on the wrong side of a motorway, running 4 hours late and receiving relentless calls from guests saying that they wouldn’t be able to make it.

Share The Honest Love (Get Inspired Let's Talk Personal, Life, Love )

I’d woken up the happiest girl in the world, but by midday I was exhausted, stressed and so very sad. The one thing I couldn’t control was about to ruin all those months of obsessing and detailed planning.

What I realised as we finally neared Fetcham Park however, was that only one thing mattered: marrying Paul. All I wanted was to get to the church and say my vows. I arrived at the house just before 4pm and had changed and was in the church by 4.15pm.

I just desperately wanted to stand next to Paul and promise to spend the rest of my life with him.  As long as the day ended with us as husband and wife, I didn’t care about anything else.

Share The Honest Love (Get Inspired Let's Talk Personal, Life, Love )

Time stopped as I walked into the church.  I can remember everything so vividly.  The way he looked at me as I walked down the aisle.  The way he held my gaze as he said his vows.  The way he squeezed my hand as we sung our hymns.  The way he steadied me as I knelt to pray (and get up again…pregnancy isn’t easy in a big dress and high heels!).  The pride I saw in his eyes and  the happiness we both felt in our hearts. The excitement that in just a few short months we’d be meeting the baby he’d so longed for.

Love. Happiness. Hope. And the feeling that we were supported in our married life together by the friends and family that stood by our side in church.  Those are the things I remember from our wedding day.

Yes, Fetcham Park looked beautiful.  Yes, the meal and wines were incredible.  Yes, the party was great.

But the best bit?  The very best bit was our ceremony, because it was just about the two of us.  It was about knowing that this was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.

Except tragically that wasn’t to be.  Just a few days after our son’s first birthday, and only a few months after celebrating our first wedding anniversary, Paul suffered a fatal cardiac arrest.  There had been no warnings and at just 32, I found myself a widow and single Mummy to a little boy.

Share The Honest Love (Get Inspired Let's Talk Personal, Life, Love )

Share The Honest Love (Get Inspired Let's Talk Personal, Life, Love )

Losing Paul has been unimaginably painful.  Every day my heart hurts in a different way.  But every day I also get to help people plan a day that will celebrate what is most important in all of our lives: LOVE.  And it’s not just a couple’s love – it  might be a father’s love for his daughter, a mother’s pride in her son, a best friend’s joy at seeing her childhood friend marry her soulmate…it’s all celebrated, enjoyed and recorded on a wedding day.

I went through our wedding photos as I wrote this post.  Of the nearly 300 photos we have, less than 20 are of ‘the pretty.’

What I have is the most beautiful record of one of the happiest days of our life.  I can relive those exact same emotions that I felt on the day, just by looking through our album. I will always be so grateful that our son Alfie can see these photos of our wedding because they’re not just about that day, they’re about his parents’ love and commitment to one another, and him.  It’s all there in those photos.

Share The Honest Love (Get Inspired Let's Talk Personal, Life, Love )

So you see, when I look at wedding photos, I’m not really looking at the pretty details; I’m looking for the love.  I’m looking at the emotions that a wedding day elicits and the feelings that will survive long after the wedding day is over.

One of the first questions I ask clients is what’s important to them on their wedding day and I can’t tell you how happy it makes me when they say the ceremony. Don’t get me wrong, with a background in fashion, a love of great food and a husband that lived for music, we wanted all that too.  But I just don’t want anyone to overlook the significance of the vows they’re about to make amongst all the planning and preparation.

Share The Honest Love (Get Inspired Let's Talk Personal, Life, Love )

I know couples get bombarded – by the media, suppliers, family and friends – so I like to think of myself as a gatekeeper.  I don’t want people selling to them, presurising them into decisions and causing them stress; I want them to enjoy every moment of being engaged and the day itself.  I want them to be completely in the moment, not worrying about whether the ribbon on the napkins matches the waiters’ ties (I was that girl!).

It’s why I wanted to launch a wedding venue with a difference: one with a heart, one that would support the couple through their planning prcoess so that they can focus on the things that really matter and help keep everything in perspective.

Share The Honest Love (Get Inspired Let's Talk Personal, Life, Love )

We all know that sadly not everyone present on a wedding day will be in our lives forever, I just never thought it would be my husband who would be left in the photos but missing from my life.  I am so very grateful that Paul and I had the opportunity to make our vows, share our love with the people we held dearest and welcome a very special little boy into our lives.

Share The Honest Love (Get Inspired Let's Talk Personal, Life, Love )

Share The Honest Love (Get Inspired Let's Talk Personal, Life, Love )

I’m moved by the photos people have shared, the stories they’ve told and I hope we can all play a part in reminding one another of everything a wedding day represents.  Everyone understands that photography is an investment, I just think we need to remember which photos are the ones that really matter.

So let’s #ShareTheHonestLove and remind ourselves of how wonderful it feels to be part of such a special day.

Laura xx


Readers, you can participate by posting one or more images using the hashtag #ShareTheHonestLove to your favourite social media channel – we recommend Instagram because it’s our fave and so easy to use.  We’re just drawing up details of how we’ll pick our winners – keep a close eye on our Instagram and other social media feeds for details sa they become available.

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Share The Honest Love (Get Inspired Let's Talk Personal, Life, Love )


Annabel is the founder of Love My Dress. She lives in rural North Yorkshire with her husband and business partner Philip, two daughters Eska and Leanora and three dogs. If she's not being a Blog Queen or practicing her photography, you'll find her fighting her way through a renovation dust cloud as she and her family transform their forever-home.

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54 thoughts on Share The Honest Love

  1. Laura,

    Your idea is as brilliant as your story is moving and so very special.

    It’s easy to forget it all in the planning but on the day you realise the gravitude of what you are doing and the commitment you are making to one special person.

    Thank you for reminding and sharing

    Lots of love to you x x x

  2. A wonderful post, so very honest. As I’ve been planning our wedding, I find that a lot of people have asked me questions about various details of the day; what should I wear, what colour will this be, oh, but that won’t match that… Etc. They are always surprised when I say it doesn’t matter. As long as the people are there that we want to be there, everyone is happy and we end the day as husband and wife, that’s what matters. As this story reminds us, you never know what is around the corner. Xxx

    1. Good for you Michelle! I think that attitude will ensure you have a brilliant day and a wonderful marriage – you definitely know what’s important to you. I wish you all the very best for your wedding day and the years to come, Laura X

  3. Utterly moving and heartbreaking. Your strength and reassurance for the importance of love shines through in this, reminding couples about what is important. You are an incredible woman and I wish you and your son endless happiness. I am an avid fan of Mrs Caudery on Instagram (amazing wardrobe!) and the beautiful Fetchem Park.

    1. Oh Hannah, thank you so much for your kind words. I have been so moved by people’s reaction and take great comfort from people’s support. L x p.s. I promise to keep up the outfit posts on Instagram!

  4. I’m so moved after reading that that I’ve just had to text my relatively new husband at work to tell him that I love him. Even moving beyond the wedding day itself it’s important to keep refocusing on what’s important rather than the trail of mess he leaves around the house!! A very lovely piece xx

  5. As a photographer and someone who got married last year I love this project. Real raw moments are the best and are what make me tingle when i manage to capture one, more than any staged shot.
    I found planning a wedding stressful and not very enjoyable to be honest for a number of reasons and very nearly pulled out of our wedding completely because of the planning which is ridiculous because that has nothing to do with the actual reason you get married. I will spread the word about this project thank you ☺

    1. Thank you so much Hollie; it’s wonderful to know you agree. And what a privilege to be the person that captures these special moments. Thank you for spreading the word, it really does mean so much to me X

  6. Wise words from a very strong lady. I’ve only photographed one wedding at Fetcham Park, but I can certainly testify that it was full of love and laughter and consequently a complete joy to photograph. I’ve no doubt this was in no small part due to Laura’s calmness and her unwavering sense of priorities. The venue looked absolutely beautiful and whilst I was melting and looking entirely dishevelled in the scorching July heat, Laura was elegant and composed as she attended to every detail. She made sure that Talia & Dominic had nothing to worry about and could concentrate entirely on enjoying the moment with the people they love most. I thought then that this was a lady who ‘got it’ and this beautifully written account certainly confirms this to be true.

    1. Oh Victoria, thank you so much for your very kind words – they mean the world to me. And I really hope you’ll be back to photograph at Fetcham Park soon XxX

  7. I agree whole heartedly with Laura’s sentiments and applaud her on launching ‘Share The Honest Love’. I have long thought that all the trappings of the Wedding so often overshadow the true meaning. Reading Laura’s story so sadly demonstrates this but recording all those really special moments with great photography is simply priceless.

    1. Such very lovely words. And this rings so true: “recording all those really special moments with great photography is simply priceless.”

      Thank you Cathy, it’s wonderful to know that the sentiment of ‘Share The Honest Love’ resonates with so many people – I’d love to think we can really make a change to people’s thinking. L x

  8. Oh wow. I just did not see that coming, I am a blubbing wreck at my desk here. Having just married my 32 year old husband I cannot imagine how she has managed to carry on, when there was no warning anything was wrong. Such a strong lady.

    I have to say, I think everything she has said about love on the day is so true. I mostly remember our ceremony, and the way my husband looked on the verge on tears. And how, after trying so many ways to remain ‘calm’ as I was sure I would be a nervous shaking wreck, we were both so calm and not a nerve in sight, purely because it was so right-why would we be nervous? I have never thought of it before that, when people say ‘photography is an investment’, they are not trying to fleece money out of you. They are trying to tell you that your children, your grand children, will want to see these photos, so they should be the best they can be!

    The biggest compliment I got on my day is many people saying they have never been to a wedding where a couple looked so in love, or they were so sure we would be together forever. That, to me, is much better than someone saying they liked the chicken or beef. I am so sorry Laura has lost her lovely husband, but their child will love these photos and I hope her beautiful venue is a massive success.

    1. Oh Anna *HUGS*

      ” when people say ‘photography is an investment’, they are not trying to fleece money out of you. ” —> This particular part of your comment really stood out to me – it’s something I’ve blogged about before (you might want to also read this post which once again, Laura also contributes to

      Thank you so much for taking time to leave such an important and lovely comment xxx

    2. Oh Anna, thank you for your lovely reply.

      And I echo what Annabel said, your comment really stood out to me too. It’s not until I sit our couples down with a beautiful album, that they can touch and feel, that they truly understand why their photos will come to mean so much to them and why I encourage them to invest in photography. But you will always treasure them. And for so many reasons.

      Congratulations on your recent wedding and my love and best wishes for a long and happy life together, L xXx

  9. Such a moving story! I think we all probably need to take a step back occasionally and remember just what is really important in life. It’s far to easy to get swept along with the madness of the Modern World and forget that the most important ‘things’ are very close to home!

    1. Thank you Gav. It’s probably something we could apply to all areas of our life; I know my outlook has changed on just about everything, not just weddings. L x

  10. This is abosolutely beautiful and made me well up. This has really made me re-evaluate my upcoming wedding in March before I too get lost in all of the build up and hysteria. This is a really beautiful idea and thank you Laura for letting us share your emotions and absolutely stunning photographs. My brief to our photographer will be to try and capture moments like this and I will definitely remember the real reason for our day – love. x

    1. And that’s why I’m so very grateful to Annabel for letting me share this with her readers. It means so much to know that it might have helped focus people on what really matters. I wish you all the very best for your wedding day Geraldine and a lifetime of happiness together XxX

  11. Such a moving story. Thank you so much for sharing your story Laura and thank you for such a wonderful idea. It is all too easy to get caught up in the spectacle of a wedding and forget what’s truly important – you marrying the one person you want to spend every waking hour with xx

  12. Thankyou so much for this beautiful post both of you. I am so so incredibly moved by this post and by the words of Laura.
    Annabel, i must tell you that on the run up to my own wedding my favourite blog post of yours was this one…
    It put things in to SO much perspective for me and made me realise that what was important and what was at the heart of our day. It is so so easy to get swept away with all the small details that at the end of the day don’t really matter at all.
    Laura, You are so brave.What you are doing here is beautiful and i write this with tears in my eyes as you are a shining example to us all. Your strength and tenacity shine through and your son is so so lucky to have such a strong beautiful mother to take him on this crazy journey we call life. You are a wonderful woman and what you are doing here with sharethehonestlove is beautiful and brilliant.
    For me at my own wedding i had to contend with my dear Grandfather who was always a father to me not being there. It was hugely hard and missed him every step of the way. My photographer, the talented and brilliant Samantha Yardley knew how close i was to my Grandmother and knew the back story and captured the most beautiful images of my Grandma’s emotional journey as i came down the aisle. I will treasure these forever. Her style of documentary photography has captured magical moments that i love so much. My mother and father (who are divorced and haven’t always been on the best terms laughing and joking, my bridesmaids with their eyes full of happy tears, their smiles as wide as can be…. and my shiny new husband and i grinning so full of joy like the cats that got the cream, our eyes glistening with tears.) This is what weddings are all about. The journey, and all that it encompasses, with all your best people by your side.
    Ladies, i salute you! You are doing and creating something amazing xxx all my love xxx Lucy xxx

    1. The photographs you’ve shared on Instagram are amongst my favourites Lucy, they’re just beautiful. Thank you so much for your wholehearted support – it means so very much to me. L xXx

  13. This piece of writing had me smiling, then nodding, then weeping and then back to smiling again. So beautifully written Laura, I’ve followed you on Instagram for a while and so admire how you run your business, after planning my own wedding in 2013, I so wish all suppliers had your way of thinking.

    I added my photos to the #sharethehonestlove on Instagram this morning, all taken by the wonderful Chris Barber. They’re the ones I go back to time and time again. Thanks for giving me the reminder to have a look again. Xxxx

  14. Your story, which is not a story at all, it’s much more than that. It’s your life. Sharing it and your bravery with everyone to see is inspiring. It has given me strength to share.

    I am a bride to be. My dad has brain cancer and is receiving treatment. All I want is to walk down the aisle with him, for us both & our families to have that happy memory. It will last me a lifetime whatever happens.

    I’ve shared a photo on instagram with the hashtag. Wishing you every success with it Mrs Caudery x

    1. Kimberley, I’ve just checked back to this post and realised that not all of my comments are showing – I’m so very sorry as yours was one of the first I replied to.

      Thank you so much for sharing with me. Please do email me as I’d love to know if there’s anything I can do to help you with your planning.

      Much love, Laura XxX

  15. Beautiful writing Laura – it made me smile, and cry, and as always you are such an inspiration.

    I think that this new feature is brilliant – I have been feeling a lot over the past few years that people have lost sight of what weddings are really about (not helped by mainstream media and TV shows such as DTTB!) – it’s about the couple, the love that they share and their married life afterwards, not just one day. As I write this I am currently stuffing envelopes with Wedding Announcements to send out after our elopement tomorrow and reading this has made me so glad that we’ve decided to go down this route. I am slightly sad that a few key people won’t be there to share the experience with us but not putting on a big ‘wedding’ has really helped us to avoid a lot of stress and planning and to stay focussed on what it’s really about! We can celebrate with family after, but tomorrow isn’t going to be about anything but the two of us and our love. I can’t wait to look into his eyes and exchange those vows tomorrow morning, and then go home again together as husband and wife after.

    We’re having a small portrait session after so I’ll be sure to share a photo on instagram with the hashtag after!

  16. It’s so sad reading about Laura’s loss. It doesn’t bear thinking about, really :(

    Obviously, I’m biased, being a wedding photographer, but I have to say that I have turned down a wedding in the past when I realised that they were more about the details and getting it into a magazine (or on a blog) than they were about the meaning of marrying each other. To me, it’s ALL about the emotion.

  17. Much love to you Laura, and thank you for bravely and beautifully sharing your passion and bringing home the truth about what a wedding is and about.

  18. I have never read such a moving story on a wedding blog. Even planning weddings for a living you get so lost in all the fluffy stuff, not what really matters. Two people choosing each other, hopefully for life because you never know what is around that corner. Thank you Laura for sharing your story.

  19. It came up on my timehop today that Fetchum Sirens was three years ago, I met the gorgeous Laura and her husband Paul for the first time. We chatted about the balancing of a business and a baby and how much we lean on our other halves, and they are our rocks. It was one of my first social work events post baby. Even from that first meeting Laura was such a lovely warm lady.

    I was so devastated for Laura when I heard she lost Paul, everytime I read her story I tear up. But everytime I see Laura Im inspired by what an amazing person she is.

    Its so true weddings are only about love, real honest love and this is a beautiful way to remember xxx

  20. You are an inspiration Laura. Every time I’ve seen you, you are always smiling despite everything and your little boy is clearly made from of a couple that were very deeply in love. I love this idea. I’ll have to be honest and say one of the reasons I gave up wedding planning was because I felt some brides were losing perspective of what the wedding was all about. As you know, my business is all about the pretty detail, but it was also started on frugality. I often talk couples out of having things that I feel unneccessary or they can provide themselves. I’d rather it looked personal and beautifully thought out than them throwing lots of money at things that aren’t necessary. This is such a lovely idea. Thank you for sharing your beautiful wedding photographs. #ShareTheHonestLove

  21. Just a very moving and lovely story. Thank You for sharing and good luck with your family ..little boy Alfie …and I hope life will be a little kinder…. Thank You Suzanne x

  22. An incredibly touching story, and really kind of Laura to share something so personal with us.

    While reading the article, I was able to think about it with two hats on, a recent bride, and a wedding planner, but really, it all just comes down to the same thing – love.

    You can have the most spectacular wedding in the world, but the atmosphere is what people take away from the day. I got married in September, and in their thank you cards, so many of our guests commented on how they could ‘feel the love in the air’ – not just between my husband and I, but everyone, parents, grandparents, friends, dogs (!) we were all just so happy to be together and share such a special day.

    My favourite moments were:

    – Chatting to my Dad on the way to the church
    – Sitting next to, and holding hands with my husband at church, and seeing all of our guests come up to the altar for communion and sharing a little smile with each of them as they walked past us
    – Our surprise Sing-a-Long at the reception (organised by my lovely Mum and Aunty)

    None of these moments were the ones that I had meticulously orchestrated with my ‘wedding planner’ hat on. They all happened completely naturally, and are the ones that I cherish the most.

    Thanks for sharing Laura, and Annabel

    A x

    1. Gosh I’m so sorry that it’s taken until now to reply Alexandria! My life has been a busy blurry whirlwind this past 2 weeks!

      I completely agree with everything you say and am thankful that you took the time to share your lovely thoughts. I love your little list of your favourite/best thoughts xXx

  23. So refreshing to read a post about the real meaning of a wedding day. Thank you for sharing your story Laura, has really put in perspective what it’s all about. Your photos are beautiful. X

  24. I think this is beautiful – just absolutely beautiful.
    I stopped submitting to blogs, because a lot were “all about the detail” yet almost everyone who sees the images I produce for my couples will say to me “Oh look, you can just tell how in love and happy they are” – and thats what people sometimes forget throughout everything else. X

    1. It’s so easy to get distracted by the detail and I think we all make the mistake of thinking that’s what brides want to see (blogs are after all a source of inspiration) but I am so inspired by all the brilliant photographers that focus on what’s really important X

  25. All very true, and so important. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if it’s raining, or the place settings aren’t right, or your flowers don’t match the bridesmaids dresses. It’s the lasting memories that are so important. When I look at my own wedding photos and see pictures of so many people are no longer with us, or see shots of a very special and important moment captured I realise now what was important. It is so so hard not to get caught up in all the wedding fluff. Lovely post, thanks Annabel and Laura of course!

  26. For the last week or so I have been posting my favourite wedding images with the #sharethehonestlove tag without even realising the story behind this very powerful hashtag message. And now I know the story, the honesty to it and the truth behind it I am even more determined to help spread this message throughout this crazy wedding world that we spend our lives in. The fluff and the frills are fantastic, but we need to keep it real. Keep your wedding true, keep it honest, keep it about the love that has bought you two special people together. Get that bit right first, then go as crazy as you want with the rest of the wedding detail. And no truer words than what Laura says that the photographs capture the love much more strongly and emotively than they do ‘the pretty’. My goodness, I could talk about this for days. Keep it real folks, keep it real. xxx

  27. Love is all you need.

    As a recently married bride myself, I too was touched by the amount of people who commented on what a personal, intimate wedding it was- many saying they’d never felt so welcome or coinsidered, and that the obvious love between my husband and I was almost palpable. This made my heart beam… I was just saying to a friend however, that I cannot remember much of my ceremony- who was there, what the room looked like or what was said, as all I could see was Jamie.

    Working in the industry (I’m a florist), my job is to get people excited about the pretty but even I
    often remind people to get perspective and not to sweat the small stuff as seriously, love IS all you need.

    1. I haven’t had any time to reply until now Jay but, wow, I didn’t know you were recently married! Huge congratulations to you!

      Thank you for taking the time to comment too.

      Love Annabel xxx

  28. Thanks for sharing Laura, What beautiful photos and lovely, touching words. It’s so refreshing to read a post about the real meaning of a wedding day. It makes us all think about the real meaning of the day

  29. In April 2017 I’ll be a bridesmaid for one of my best friends. Although she’s planning the venue, flowers, dress…trying to get everything perfect, her and her husband to be are just focused on getting married.

    Weddings have become such huge things it’s easy to lose track of what’s important; ending the day as Husband and Wife. It’s so lovely to read an article focused on love, and not the colour scheme (although I’m sure it was beautiful!)

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