Oh, I’m so excited to be putting pen to paper (or more appropriately, fingertips to keyboard) for today’s wedding as it’s not often I get the chance to write about somewhere I know well.

I’m taking you to Newark, Nottinghamshire (where I lived for a couple of years during my first ‘proper’ job after university) for an intimate spring celebration which oozes elegance. American couple Lauren and Matthew headed to Newark Castle in Newark, Nottinghamshire for their outdoor celebration on 16 April 2019, moving on to nearby Kelham House for their effortlessly elegant reception.

Photography Jessy Papasavva Photography

Matthew, an attorney for the US Army and Lauren, a media consultant and founder of Vizza Rich Communication Strategies (she also competed in Miss America 2013 and walked in New York Fashion Week, but more on that later), live in the States but Matthew’s mum grew up in the Newark area. As such, the family have many photographs of Matthew and his siblings in the castle’s grounds so it was a perfect and meaningful solution for the couple’s remit of historic venue. Taking a stylish colour palette of blush and white, they created this beautiful day for their party of thirty with the help of the Kelham House staff.

“Matt and I wanted to get married somewhere historic and that would mean something to us. Newark Castle was the first place we chose and everything fit into that location. Matt’s mother grew up in the area and there are childhood photos of Matt and his siblings on the steps of the castle. We chose Kelham House because it was close, the space was the perfect size and our family stayed there for a few days. We stuck with white and blush as our colors. It’s funny because my mom’s wedding colors were also blush, white, and black.”

“Matt and I wanted to get married somewhere historic and that would mean something to us. Newark Castle was the first place we chose and everything fit into that location. Matt’s mother grew up in the area and there are childhood photos of Matt and his siblings on the steps of the castle. We chose Kelham House because it was close, the space was the perfect size and our family stayed there for a few days. We stuck with white and blush as our colors. It’s funny because my mom’s wedding colors were also blush, white, and black.”

Fitting for an early spring wedding, Lauren chose a long-sleeved, fitted gown which is simply cut but so sexy. She looks absolutely radiant and I love how the formal cut of the high-necked bodice flows out into the fishtail train – not to mention the daring open back.

“I purchased my dress from Town And Country Bridal in New Orleans, Louisiana. I could picture myself wearing something with sleeves and buttons… tons of buttons! The moment I tried it on I started crying. It had a little bit of everything I love in a dress. Long sleeves, a million buttons, figure-flattering and a (wedding-appropriate) deep V back.”

Aura Wedding Cars carried the bride and the rest of the bridal party the short distance fro Kelham House to Newark Castle, where she walked through the grounds with her brother John to meet Matthew. Playing in the background was ‘The One’ by Kodaline.

“We got legally married in the US before we travelled over so we had my stepfather go through the wedding ceremony.”

“We actually wrote our own vows. They were handwritten, personal messages and promises to the other person. We did go online to look at other more personal ways to do things like the exchanging of the rings and commitments.”

Matthew and Lauren met in college but didn’t get together until after the groom graduated.

“The timing never worked and then after Matthew graduated we reconnected. After almost five years of long distance dating we got engaged and married.”

The bride’s sparkly heels were pretty special too, Jimmy Choos which held a lot of memories.

“They were a gift back when I competed at Miss America in 2013 and I saved them to wear at my wedding. I changed into Kate Spade silver sparkle sneakers after the first dance.”

“I wore Good Girl by Carolina Herrera – my favorite perfume. Plus, the bottle is in the shape of a high heel. My earrings were a steal. I picked them up from Charming Charlie for $12 and they look amazing! Save money where you can… .” 

For a touch of drama and also softening the crisp cut of the gown, a gossamer-fine veil (also from Town And Country Bridal) was added. Look at how it flows behind Lauren in the breeze.

“I wasn’t going to wear a veil but they brought this one out and I fell in love! The beading along the edge perfectly mimicked the belt we added to the dress.”

“Our wedding party was all family. Matt is a triplet so his brother was the best man and his sister was my bridesmaid. My younger sister was my maid of honor and my brother was Matt’s groomsman.”

Lauren’s sister helped style her dark hair into glamorous waves and the bride applied her own make-up, using products from The Perfect Face Cosmetics.

“I used Fave 4 hair products and my sister helped style my hair into two simple braids at the back of my head.”

The couple’s readings were chosen because they reflected Lauren and Matthew as a couple and as a family moving forward; Ruth 1:16-17 and an extract from ‘A Farewell to Arms’ by Ernest Hemingway:

“At night, there was the feeling that we had come home, feeling no longer alone, waking in the night to find the other one there, and not gone away; all other things were unreal. We slept when we were tired and if we woke the other one woke too so one was not alone.”

“Often a man wishes to be alone and a woman wishes to be alone too and if they love each other they are jealous of that in each other, but I can truly say we never felt that. We could feel alone when we were together, alone against the others. We were never lonely and never afraid when we were together.”

The bride and groom exchanged rings that were already in the family; what a wonderful way to remember loved ones and keep part of them with you.

“My engagement ring was done by a Richmond, VA store but our bands are family rings. Matt is using his late father’s wedding ring. He had it resized and shaved down a bit to fit. I am using my great-grandmother’s wedding band.”

Capturing the bride’s preparations was photographer Jessy Papasavva, whose fine art style is the perfect match for the overall romantic and elegant, pared-back vibe of the day.

“I cannot say enough good things about Jessy. She was so easy to communicate with and for having never met before, she fit right in with our group. She brought an amazing second shooter and between the two of them we were able to capture so many amazing moments.”

Lauren asked Flower Barn in Newark to put together the wedding flowers, including the incredible teardrop bouquet of full-blown roses and soft green foliage.

“We chose them because they had experience with our venue and were easy to communicate with. I sent them a few photos of ideas and WOW did they execute.”

For the reception, the veil was replaced by a beautiful hair vine which meant a lot to her.

“My sister added a vine into my hair. It was a sentimental piece from Pink Pewter – I wore it when I walked in New York Fashion Week for MacDuggal in 2018.”

After the service, the castle offered so many beautiful spots for the couple’s portrait shots and photos with their guests before the whole party moved on to Kelham House. The reception room had been dressed with breath-taking floral displays and elegant blush chair covers, with a touch of gold coming from the sophisticated stationery.

Modern Heritage Styling did special chair covers. The food was catered by Kelham House; they have a restaurant in-house.”

The wedding cake was a pretty, three-tiered affair with fresh roses and foliage cascading down the side. It came from Susan’s Cakes in Newark.

“My mother in law visits England a few times a year so last year she went and did a few cake tastings for us. Susan’s Cakes was by far the most delicious. We had a lemon layer and a chocolate fudge layer. It was AMAZING.”

“I loved everything about the day and would change nothing. We planned so much of it but because we had a small group we were able to maximise the day. The weather was perfect, the drinks and food delicious, music was fun, and everyone has kept talking about how much fun they had.”

Later in the evening, the newly-weds’ guests watched them take to the dance floor for a first dance to ‘When You Say Nothing At All’ by Alison Kraus, before Ben Matthews DJ got them up and moving.

“I first started listening to this song when Matt and I started dating and I promised myself it would be involved in our wedding somehow. We both loved the song so the choice became easy after listening to a bunch. We kept it a secret and when we started dancing his mom started crying. It turns out it was a very special song for his mom and late dad. It’s amazing how connected things can be!”

“Sensation Roadshow DJ for us! Ben Matthews was our DJ; he was great! We requested a few specifically American songs like ‘Callin’ Baton Rouge’ by Garth Brooks and he took the time to look them up for us and play them.”

Words of Wedded Wisdom

“Keep the groom involved. It surprised me how involved Matt wanted to be with things. I would make a lot of decisions but leaning on him when I didn’t know what to do ended up being very helpful.”

“If you are planning with parents or family look for places where they can help make decisions, especially if it’s something they are paying for. I can be so controlling but sometimes other people want to be involved in the decisions.”

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“While they shouldn’t pick something like your dress, having them involved in wine selections or table décor can make everyone feel involved and invested.”

“Don’t settle. If you want something there is always a way to make it happen.”

Well Lauren and Matthew, what a treat it’s been to see Newark Castle once again; and what a spectacular venue. Thank you so much for sharing your day with us all and thank you also Jessy Papasavva for your wonderful, romantic imagery. For more spring-time wedding inspiration I invite you to enjoy this Love My Dress selection.

Ele xx

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Eleanor Crossland

Eleanor Crossland
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Ele lives in the Lincolnshire countryside, close to the beautiful coast. A qualified Pilates teacher, she loves fitness, yoga, Pilates and has a healthy addiction to baking, writing and travel.

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