Fiona, an accessories buyer for a high street retailer, married her love Joe, a construction project manager, on 20th May this year, at The Beacon in Tunbridge Wells, Kent.
The couple took inspiration from the concept of a chic garden party, with a rustic, feminine, shabby-chic aesthetic – the bride describing the overall vibe of the day as ‘modern-day Little House on the Prairie’ – all frills, bows, embroidery and vintage lace.
And we absolutely adore her dress by former fashion buyer now bridal designer, Pippa of Bon Bride.
Photography by Lottie Topping – enjoy!
Joe wore a bespoke, custom-made suit from Hardman & Hemming Tailors, a local tailor. Joe’s Dad also had his suit made there and it was something they did together. Joe loved getting to know them, they made all the appointments a laugh and were so talented and accommodating. We also searched for nearly a year to find a double breasted grey waistcoat for an affordable price, we couldn’t find this anywhere. For the suits, we didn’t go down the traditional route.
Joe wanted lounge suits but with the type of waistcoat traditionally worn with a morning suit. We managed to find a grey double-breasted waistcoat from Dobell in a size too small. The tailors then took the back panel off and replaced with the lining from the suit and made it fit. The lining they used was a printed silk with illustrations of Venice, which was Joe and my first holiday together back in 2018.
We met ten years ago in 2012. Joe was doing his a levels and I had just graduated from university so we were at very different stages of life – Joe about to go to uni, I had just finished and was about to move to London. We met working in a local department store.
There was always a spark between us. We used to bump into each other over the years out in our hometown usually at Christmas or Easter. Then in 2017 we both were single and both living back in our hometown, we met up over Christmas and the rest is history.
We were together for about three and a half years before we became engaged and were engaged for a year.
Hair was by Kate from Hero Hair Stylist. Kate is the queen of Hollywood waves, which I always knew I wanted. I had actually met Kate years beforehand as a friend of Hannah (Eden B). I knew I’d ask her. She is so fun and lovely to have there on the morning of your wedding.
Billie from Makeup by Billie Pingault did my makeup. I found her on Instagram, she was local to the area too. I just loved her background in fashion/editorial. She also is a big advocate for cruelty free and uses really natural products but the examples of her work were still really glam, which is what I wanted.
I know a lot of brides go for natural, but I wanted my makeup to stand out.
I bought my dress direct from Pippa at Bon Bride. The dress I ended up going with was the very first wedding dress I ever tried on so that felt really special. I just knew the second I put it on, even though I went on to try on about 50 more!
I then had about three fittings with Pippa and one with her dressmaker. The experience was so personal, so relaxed and fun! Not at all pressurising. Pippa was amazing, I really enjoyed the whole experience of getting to know her and I looked forward to all my appointments in her studio at her house. We made design tweaks to the dress together to make it feel more like my own. I had the best experience.
I usually wear quite floaty, oversized, smocky clothes but on the day, my dress was super minimalist and figure hugging. Not something I usually would be so confident to wear. Nobody expected me to wear something so fitted and quite understated. I loved surprising everyone.
I also made it more me with my accessories and some of the bespoke details I added such as little pearls on the sleeves. I felt so confident wearing the dress, it was so sad taking it off. I always thought I’d go for more than one dress but it’s so true when you find the perfect dress, you want to wear it for as much time as possible.
In the morning, I also hired a silk bardot lace gown from Sleeper via Hurr. I have loved it for years and finally had an excuse to wear it. I felt so comfortable and I wanted to feel comfortable and glam whilst getting my hair and makeup done. Sleeper the brand pretty much optimise my own personal style and I love hiring for dresses you will definitely on wear once for a particular reason.
Veil, Accessories & Jewellery
Being an accessories buyer, the shoes and accessories for me were so important to me! I had two pairs of shoes, did the total opposite of what most Brides would go for – quite understated mid heel mules for the day and secondhand 5 inch metallic Gucci mules for the evening.
My day shoes were gorgeous off white strappy leather mules from By Far which I bought in the sale from Net a Porter. The secondhand Gucci’s I found on depop, I had these particular heels pinned on a Pinterest board for years and years.
I wore a veil from my best friend and Maid of Honour’s brand – Eden b Studio. I told Hannah what I wanted and she designed it for me, I knew I wanted a frill trim. Initially, I had wanted a shorter, modern veil but it didn’t work with my dress so Hannah adapted the design and made it into a Chapel length veil. Wearing a veil was an absolute no brainer for me as I knew there is no other time you could ever wear one!
My hair accessories were all of course from Eden b Studio Hannah made me three bespoke hair pieces (as well as accessories for all the bridesmaids and the MOB). I’ve seen Eden b go from strength to strength, I was Hannah’s first hair model when she made her first pieces and we shot the images against my kitchen wall with an iPhone. Now she runs one of the leading bridal accessory businesses. Hannah made me a tulle flower headband with mini pearls to match the details in my dress, a gorgeous chiffon bow to wear with my veil and a gold spray rose flower crown with Swarovski crystals for an evening look.
We had quite a few out of hours meetings, I also sent Hannah many a moodboard and then Hannah designed and made the pieces accordingly to all my ideas.
I wore my Mum’s perfume actually – Jo Malone Red Roses. She sprayed our real rose petal confetti with it too.
It was my birthday the day before the wedding. Joe gifted me some diamond stud earrings that had been part of his Mums engagement ring. He had always wanted to use the ring in some way. I wore these in the evening, which felt really special.
I also hired a shrimps Antonia bag from Hurr, again, keeping in theme with the pearls and looked very cute with my bouquet. Everyone told me a bridal bag wasn’t a thing but I ignored them. My photographer Lottie loved the bag so it got a lot of air time. I also made the most of it and used it the night before for my bridesmaid/birthday dinner and drinks.
I wore beautiful Pearl threader chain drop earrings from Lily & Roo for the day. Pearls were a running detail throughout all the accessories (but worn in a very contemporary way). My something blue was a three stone crystal ring from Shyla Jewellery.
The bridesmaid dresses were all Reformation. I chose the same dress in two shades; seafoam and blush. I found the seafoam dress new and unworn with the tags still in on Depop. I bought the same style in the blush direct from Reformation website but in the sale.
Hannah of Eden B Studio made the girls all bespoke Eden b tulle flower hair pins with pearls to match my flower crown. They all wore in their own way. They all wore their own nude heels and their own jewellery. I wanted them to feel like themselves so they chose how they did their makeup and how they wanted to wear their hair and accessories.
Venue & Location
We have always loved The Beacon – it is close to our home and has beautiful scenic views of our hometown. We love going for lunch and dinner there. I always knew it was where we’d get married. Our wedding planner was Robyn, who was fantastic in the lead up and on the day.
Even when torrential rain nearly moved the whole wedding inside, Robyn was a total professional and super accommodating at all times. As soon as the rain showed the slightest inkling of stopping, the wedding was moved back outside at the last minute even though all the furniture and décor had already been moved.
As if by magic, the rain cleared as our ceremony began. At the Beacon they have a permanent pavilion marquee with gorgeous floral tapestry.
My Dad walked me down the ‘aisle’. We had hired Leon String Quartet who played, Somewhere we only Know by Keane. Joe and I had attended a Keane concert a few years back and it’s one of our favourite songs.
It sounds so cheesy but I can’t explain how much I ‘felt’ the music walking down.
We didn’t tailor our vows but we wanted the ceremony to feel unique and not generic. We had my cousin, who is a professional opera singer perform Once upon a dream and Hallelujah. Leon String Quartet played the music.
We also all sang ‘Stand by me’ whilst my cousin Flora and Leon String Quartet performed. We had included the lyrics in our order of service. It was an amazing moment, everybody went for it!
Photography & Videography
We chose Lottie Topping, who is a local fashion and wedding photographer. I absolutely loved the lighting and colours of her imagery. She had a really strong identity, and I just knew her style would align with our day. I loved that she lived five minutes from our venue too so it’s her favourite venue to shoot.
Yes Lottie just fitted in, got on with everybody, made us so relaxed and was so fun and a pleasure to work with. I would absolutely recommend her to anyone.
We also had torrential rain on the morning of the wedding, Lottie and all the suppliers actually were so calm and positive with at least three backup plans to get the perfect shots. It did take over the morning a little but Lottie was extremely upbeat and made the best of it. The sun actually ended up coming out mid ceremony which was an amazing show stopping moment.
I think everyone says this but one of my favourite moments was having 15 minutes alone together with our photographer and videographer. It was after the dinner/speeches – we practiced our first dance and just had a few minutes alone together to take in the day.
We also chose Tessa from Timeless Videography. Again, Tessa is a Kent based videographer. We loved that Tessa was quite new to the industry, she didn’t have too many examples of her work when we first got in touch but what we had seen, we loved. Again, her look and feel was similar to Lottie our photographer and Tessa couldn’t have been more lovely and warm.
Neither pressured us into extras or choosing their most expensive package, they both were very genuine and felt happy to be a part of the day and wanting the best for us.
We chose Hayley from Cacti & Wildflower. I had admired her bouquets and work for a few years. I’d bought a couple of bouquets for birthdays in the past from her. She is a studio-based florist. I always loved her bouquets and that she had such a distinctive look. They are always so modern and cool but still pretty and feminine.
Hayley was so quick to come back to me, didn’t mind me Whatsapping her inspo pictures 24-7, was really honest about what was affordable/what would work and not work etc and helped create my vision for me without blowing my budget. I had chatted to a few previous wedding florists who just weren’t as up for brainstorming and helping me create something a bit different.
I loved that Hayley was totally open to any idea I had and she was so passionate about weddings, you can tell she just loves what she does and she loves weddings. When I mentioned, I wanted my bridesmaid to have all different, unmatching bouquets, she couldn’t have been more excited and said she’d been desperate for somebody to ask her that. She just made the planning process so fun.
Ribbons on the bouquets were from Pracownia Mayflower sourced by Hayley. They are hand dyed raw edge ribbons, I had blush for the bridesmaids and off white for me. We tied them into oversize bows.
Our cake was by Hollie, from The Cake Labs, a local cake maker who happens to be one of Joe’s friends from school. Holly is the person to go to in Tunbridge Wells for a show stopping cake. Holly actually sketched out a design for us based on my ideas.
We went for something a little quirky, based on a family joke.
Instead of traditional bride and groom cake topper, she made us the most adorable Shrek and Fiona bride and groom cake toppers literally in our outfits.
How she made it look chic and not gimmicky was perfect as that’s what I wanted. We went for a three tier cake – bottom tier was a wild flower iced salted caramel base, middle a blush pink iced rhubarb and rose flavour and the top was a semi naked iced ultimate lemon and elderflower. She also made extra gluten free and vegan cakes to accommodate our guests. She is a true talent and cake queen.
The Beacon provides the catering. We attended a tasting and chose our menu from the choices given to make it our own. It was a sit down three course dinner. There wasn’t an empty plate.
Evening & Dancing
For entertainment, we chose something a little different. I fell in love with live event illustrator Aaron’s work after seeing a wedding feature on an online fashion and lifestyle magazine. Aaron, event illustrator is a live wedding illustrator who paints your ceremony scene and then live illustrates guests in 15 minute bursts as a beautiful souvenirs of the day.
He is extremely talented and it felt so special and unique.
We also had a vintage style cream campervan photobooth called Pushka! The company is called Buttercup Bus, they are a local business again. They had fab props, provided a lovely guestbook, looks so in keeping with our venue and theme and they even decorated the van with bunting according to my colour scheme.
They were placed in the entrance car park and were super accommodating. Some guests didn’t realise we had this until later on and they had started to pack up but were happy to re set up and stay on even longer than we had booked. It was so fun and we had amazing photo evidence of all our guests antics! We loved it.
We also had a DJ – they are the Beacon recommended supplier and they were brilliant. A mixture of our choices and their recommended. We didn’t have a quiet dance floor for any stretch of the evening. The vibe was exactly as we hoped. We had a real mix of bangers and genres – Spice Girls and Abba were the must haves for me.
When we were first together, Joe’s family embarrassed me by playing ‘I’m a believer’ from Shrek around the dinner table where they all started signing and dancing. It’s a bit of a family fave now and we wouldn’t of had anything else. We made up a little silly dance routine and it was one of our favourite moments of the whole day. We’ve been asked to reenact at a few family bbqs since. Our DJ was hired via Mint DJs.
Words of Wedded Wisdom
When you’re a perfectionist like me, it was hard not to stress about some of the small, minor things that didn’t go to plan perfectly but once you think of all the big things that went to plan and were even better than expected, it does put it into perspective. I was being silly about bows not being tied correctly or my veil not being put on in exactly the way I wanted but honestly it doesn’t really matter at all.
When you can see all your guests having the best time and energy of the room being so elated and full of love, that’s really all that matters.
We set a budget of £35k and we stuck to it – and we recorded all the costs down, it’s so easy to get carried away. We were honest with suppliers straight away about what our budget was, which helped. It also helped to keep track of the costs into categories so you could see where there was buffer or where we had gone over to help balance out overall.
Don’t stress the small stuff, yes details are important and make the difference but if the small things that only you notice don’t go 100% to plan, it isn’t the end of the world.
I really loved building relationships with all our wedding suppliers during the planning process, it makes the day so much more comfortable for everyone and I felt every service provided was so unique and personal.
It didn’t even feel like our suppliers were even working at our wedding, they felt like guests. I spent time acknowledging and appreciating their work and getting to know them. And not so deep, hold your bouquet lower than what feels natural! I had mine held so high the day.
I love that Love My Dress is about bridal-fashion – your page is so modern and that was my goal for my wedding. I think Love My Dress is authentic and inclusive without feeling forced or contrived. I love that you’re a pioneer for female founded businesses too. Its just full of positivity which I love.
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Annabel is the founder of Love My Dress. She has a passion for photography, walking, yoga, nature, and loves to support talented artists and creative businesses. In 2013, she became a published author. Annabel lives in rural North Yorkshire with her husband and business partner Philip, their two daughters Eska and Leanora and menagerie of furry hounds. Annabel supports Philip in the running of the family flower farm at at Moonwind Flowers. She is also co-founder of What About Weddings.