Gold Cup Day at Cheltenham Racecourse, one of the top three dates in the British racing calendar. In June of 2016, VII photographers will convene in Barcelona, Spain for their annual meeting. This is one of those weddings that is so full to the brim with things I love and such an abundance of stylish ideas that usually I wouldn’t know where to begin.
Sam and Ed wanted to create a secret garden with a traditional British garden party and I think you’ll agree that they accomplished their dream decor with bells on, creating a whimsical yet contemporary fairytale within a beautiful outside space. Ed and I wanted our wedding to emulate a secret garden with all of the delights of a traditional British garden party. We were officially married at the historic Church of St Mary and All Saints in Fotheringhay with its breath-taking architecture and tree lined drive up to the church. My hair and make-up was done by Tori Harris, she was amazing and really understood exactly what I wanted.
Tori instantly put me at ease; she painstakingly styled my hair and created a soft natural make up look that lasted right through to the end of the night.
From the moment I clapped eyes on the lace Pronovias fishtail gown in ‘Mirror Mirror’ (Crouch End) I knew it was the one, I cried! The dress came with a soft lace bolero giving me the flexibility to wear two looks, one for the ceremony and one for the reception. After much hunting I found the most perfect shoes in a soft mint green (Mimosa) from Rachel Simpson, they were so comfortable to wear and added a flash of colour as I walked.
My jewellery was supplied by a boutique jeweller in Shropshire, I chose simple pearl earrings, a pearl bracelet and a floating pearl necklace.
Our family and friends are so important to us both which made for an interesting bridal party. Our colour scheme was soft mint green with blushed peach, so I dressed my female bridesmaids in mint green handmade dresses and the guys in brown tailored suits with mint green ties and pocket squares. Our flower girls wore floaty white dresses with flowers in their hair, they looked like little flower fairies! Our friend Lucy helped us to create the overall look for the venue; we wanted it to look relaxed and homemade so she painstakingly dressed the marquee with peach and mint pom poms, paper lanterns and bunting. I also wanted our decor to reflect my love of the book ‘The Secret Garden’ and so my friends and I spent days making roses out of old books, with these I made a garland that we draped around an old garden door.
The button holes were in subtle peaches with lavender foliage and a mint leaf, Ed’s also included a key to echo our theme.
We were so pleased with the ceremony and loved being able to personalise it so that it reflected us as a couple. When we arrived at the venue our band played folk music whilst our guests enjoyed the sun and a glass of Pimms.
Our first dance was ‘First Day Of My Life’ by Bright Eyes, this song means a lot to us as it was the song that Ed ‘serenaded’ (sort of) me with when we first started dating, the lyrics also sum up how we feel about one another. As if this wasn’t enough, Ed’s uncle and Auntie very generously put on the most amazing firework display I have ever seen…the whole day was wonderful, Ed and I didn’t stop grinning from ear to ear, and we enjoyed watching our friends and family have a good time. It was important to us that the wedding breakfast was informal and allowed our guests to chat and share, so we asked our caterer to create a menu that encouraged sharing. Our very good friend Kim designed and made all of our wedding stationery, from the invites; on which she glued miniature versions of our bunting to the place names, she even created little ‘eat me’ tags for the favours and ‘drink me’ tags for one of the desserts. Our photographer was amazing, from the moment we met David Wickham; we knew he was the one! Our advice would be to make your wedding as personal as you can; these little bits really convey you as a couple. Finally, take as much time off in the run up the wedding as possible as all those little jobs which you think will take five minutes will take an hour and the ones you think will take an afternoon will take a day!

I absolutely adore the garden party feel to this wedding…and that dress is so beautiful it made me gasp a little bit. Recently at a photo festival a wag described me as not a war photographer, but a class war photographer.
On this occasion, from June 9 – 13, 2016, the agency will hold a unique 4-day photography workshop with Eyes in Progress in an old Spanish Villa set in the Serra de Collserola Natural Park. Because it is extraordinarily beautiful yet so simple, essentially a french plait with fresh blooms.
We envisaged secret nooks and twisted oak trees, family and friends meandering across a freshly mown lawn whilst children played amongst them. I had found images of an intricate plait that I loved which Tori had expertly mastered by the end of our trial!
To create my look Tori used Illamasqua Matt Primer, Bobbi Brown foundation and Mac lipstick and gloss, Illamasqua Gleam in Aurora and Skindinavia setting spray.
The staff in Mirror Mirror were wonderful; they altered my dress beautifully and always made me feel so special. I had my best friend Ian as my man of honour, as well as my brothers Andy and Chris as my brides men, I also had Ellie, Molly and Lilly as my bridesmaids, with the addition of our nieces as flower girls and my nephew as our ring bearer. My eldest brother is in the army so wore his uniform; just seeing him made me well up with pride. I also wanted something that linked to our overall theme for the table numbers, so my friends and I made these from bits of wood, door knobs, key holes and door numbers. She understood what we wanted and created flowers that complimented our colours and our theme.
As I entered the church a guitarist and violinist played Lamb’s ‘Gabriel’ on violin and guitar, this song is special as the lyrics really sum up my feelings for Ed, and so as I walked down the aisle I had to really hold myself together. It was so nice to see the children dancing in the centre of the lawn; all we needed was a maypole! Ed’s cousin was our DJ for the night and she had some amazing tunes playing so that the dance floor was never empty, it was an incredible feeling to look around and see an unofficial wedding tradition….the Sleeman sisters throwing some shapes in a choreographed routine. The starter was brought out in English picnic baskets and kiln jars, and included potted ham hock and dressed Cromer crabs and pickles amongst other little treats which went down a storm. We were a bit worried about how these would taste but people actually asked us if there were anymore! Kim also did a beautiful job in creating our order of service and tied everything together in such a gorgeous way. He was creative and easy going; he really was up for anything we suggested, even if some of the suggestions were a bit unusual. Also, if you can ask friends and family for support and help with making it all that is a big bonus! Love the photo on the bridge… I wonder if I can convince my venue to build a tree house?! After all I had not been back to the world I was brought up into since leaving Lancing College almost thirty years ago. About 800 of you lovelies told us just how much you liked it when we posted an image on our Facebook page over the weekend and have been “sharing” it ever since! There are my favourite colours of peach and mint and the prettiest fairylights hung from trees. We searched for what seemed forever, and then one day Ed’s Auntie kindly suggested her home near Peterborough. These were placed next to a stack of old books on each table, I also used old books bound with lace to hold the menus for each table, we were both overwhelmed with the overall effect! One of my favourite readings was ‘Paths and journeys’, adapted from Far from the Madding Crowd (Thomas Hardy) which my brother Chris read and had me in tears!

We were fortunate that our venue had so many different areas to explore; we sat in the summer house by the river and waved at the boats as they past. Our guests clearly enjoyed the starter and it was obvious to see that it was a great way to encourage discussion. David was unobtrusive and relaxed with us and managed to capture the essence of our wedding and the sheer joy of the day. We couldn’t have created our wedding without all the help we received and it truly makes you appreciate the people you have in your life. Stood amongst the trees on the river bank we knew that it would be the perfect place to hold our relaxed secret garden wedding. The morning of the wedding was very special, surrounded by my family and friends in the private garden of the bridal suite I felt tremendously lucky.
Without the help of our friends and family in the days before the wedding we would never have created such a beautiful overall look. For the tables Clare supplied cups and saucers as well as teapots, this were filled with a mixture of flowers and looked stunning on the day.
I had a go on the zip line attached to the tree house (much to the shock of my guests) and Ed and I also had a cheeky little wheelbarrow race at the end of the garden which was so much fun, I would recommend it to any couple getting married. Our main course was a delicious BBQ with lemon and coriander chicken, steaks, paella and a selection of salads on the side, followed by the trio of deserts which looked gorgeous and tasted even better.
Wearing a tartan not your own is unacceptable.In the days when grooms kidnapped their brides, the best man’s job was to ensure that the wedding party arrived at church safely and offer protection if the bride’s family tried to snatch her back. Despite being born in London I have never felt English, always British, and this I think has been an advantage for this project for I can detach and look at this island from a broader perspective. Clare also provided the Roses and Lisianthus which were wired into my hair and also the circlets for the flower girls.
Our exit music was Mendelssohn’s Wedding March and the church bells rang out as we exited the church. From the first day shooting at the Cheltenham Gold Cup, I was instantly back to my own Britishness and my atavistic roots, borne of Scots, Welsh and New Zealand fighting stock. There is no clear cut etiquette for lingerie, and interpretations vary wildly.The Duke of Essex Polo, Gaynes Park, Epping.
Owned by Damien Hirst, White Cube is the yBA’s (young British Artist) spiritual home.Veuve Clicquot Gold Cup Polo Final, Cowdray Park, West Sussex. Cowdray Park is considered to be the home of British polo.The Secret Garden Party, Cambridgeshire. The main requirement is to be interesting.Cartier International Polo Cup Final, Guards Club, Windsor. Billed as the greatest spectator polo day in the world, it culminates with the Coronation Cup.The largest polo club in Europe, the Guards Club has 160 playing and over 1,000 non-playing members. The Women’s Land Army replaced men in agriculture during the first and second world wars.Throwing tomatoes is a time-honoured British response to unloved politicians and public figures.
The catapult is a modern addition.Boujis Fashion Week party at the Serpentine Gallery, London. At Petersham, guests were simply asked to ‘dress beautifully’.Courtney Love is seen at Frieze Art Fair which has been staged annually in Regent’s Park since 2003. One of the world’s premier art events, it also offers a forum for competitive hosting.Vale of the White Horse hunt, Wiltshire.

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