A classic and elegant country house venue with a beautifully restored former chapel and a secret garden is the setting for today’s celebration, and one for which our couple put their Christian faith at its heart.
On the 3 August 2019, speech and language teacher Olivia married Aidan, who is project manager in sport, as well as a part-time wedding videographer. They celebrated at historic, Grade II listed Ashdown Park Hotel and Country Club in the Sussex countryside, with an outdoor ceremony followed by a reception held in the venue’s former chapel.
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Olivia’s long hair was swept to the side and set in vintage style waves by stylist Tanya Williams (no contact details provided, sadly) and radiant make-up with a glamorous edge was by Bethany Emily. In her hair, Olivia wore a pearl slide from Etsy.
“I loved that it was different from any wedding dress I had seen. I wanted it to be a standout dress that I knew no-one else I knew would have worn before.”
“It took a year to be made, and I absolutely love the intricacy of the dress and the wow factor it provided.”
At Ashdown Park, guests gathered in the garden for the ceremony with Groom Aidan, who wore a blue suit with contrasting oatmeal coloured waistcoat from Next, with pale pink tie and pocket square from Swagger & Swoon.
Wedding transport came courtesy of Premier Wedding Cars, which drove the bridal party right to the aisle, where the bridesmaids made their way down first, wearing blush pink sequin embellished dresses by Maya Deluxe, and shoes from ASOS.
“We initially met when I was 13 and Aidan was 15 at a family party. Sadly, we lost touch for a number of years until we reconnected whilst we both worked part-time at a local retail store.”
“We became good friends and eventually started dating. We dated for 3 years before Aidan asked the important question whilst we had a fantastic weekend away in Rome.”
“Twenty months later we were married, and had the best day of our lives.”
Two friends played Canon in D by Pachelbel on violin and guitar as Olivia walked down the aisle with her Dad, Jon. Olivia and Aidan attend a church in Canterbury, and had legally married on the 1 August. For this celebration, their ceremony was conducted by an Elder from their church.
“Both of our rings were purchased from Ernest Jones. My rings were from the Tolkowsky collection, and this was chosen as Aidan wanted the diamonds to be certificated. We wanted the engagement ring to be a halo style, and the wedding band to fit neatly next to it.”
The couple chose to make traditional Christian vows to each other as they exchanged their rings, and Olivia’s brother read a passage from the Bible – Colossians 3:12-14.
“We loved the traditional feel of the venue, and it was exactly what we were looking for. The stained glass windows of the chapel, the beautiful grounds and the local area all attracted us to this venue. Our style was very much led by the traditional feel of the venue. As Christians, we felt that the venue reflected our faith too.”
After the ceremony, Olivia and Aidan took a drive in their wedding car and were able to spend a little time together out in the surrounding countryside with their photographer, James Richard.
“James was amazing from start to finish. He is an easy-going, relaxed person who makes you feel at ease straightaway. James captures natural photographs, which we fell in love with at our engagement shoot.”
“He spent time getting to know our family and friends, which was such a personal touch. Our friends and family will be recommending James for many years to come.”
These resulting images are full of joy, and James has so thoughtfully and beautifully captured the essence of Olivia and Aidan’s day, and their magnificent venue.
“Toby at Handcraft Pictures produces the most beautiful wedding films. We are still blown away by our wedding films every time we watch them. Toby blends in with the crowd, and in doing so he caught all of the natural moments as they happened.”
“The film was effortlessly produced and we cannot thank Toby enough for the films he created.”
Olivia’s bridesmaids carried posies of ivory bouquets, whilst the Bride carried a bouquet of blush pink, apricot and ivory garden and spray roses and lisianthus. All of the floral displays were the work of East Grinstead based florist, Zara Flora.
“The chapel at Ashdown Park that we used for our wedding breakfast and evening reception was up lit by AVH Hire Ltd, and looked spectacular with the stained glass windows.”
“We used mirrors for our welcome sign and our timings board. The mirrors were from Dunelm, and we ordered decal stickers from Etsy and attached them to the mirrors.”
The couple created their own stationery, with on-the-day stationery from Ashdown Park, and guest favours on each place setting were after-dinner mints.
“We wrote letters to all of our wedding guests, which were placed at their wedding breakfast seat. We felt that this was a special time to share memories and our gratitude for our friendships.”
“The letters were well received, and it was a truly special moment watching our family and friends open the personal letters.”
“The singing waiters provided by Encore Entertainment were our favourite part of the day, as it was amazing to see all of our family and friends having a fantastic time during our day.”
After delicious dinner from the Ashdown Park team, there was cake from the Wealden Cake Company. As the couple had 200 guests at their celebration, they knew they needed a large cake, and they decided on four different delicious flavours.
“These flavours were: chocolate fudge cake, lemon drizzle, Victoria sponge and salted caramel. We wanted an intricate design with flowers swirling down the front of the cake. We also decided we wanted to steer clear of the traditional names or figurines on the top. Our cake was beautiful, and Karen at the Wealden Cake Company was a dream to work with.”
After dinner, the chapel became a dancefloor, and Olivia and Aidan danced for the first time as a married couple to a song with special meaning to them both – Latch by Sam Smith – which was playing the first time that Aidan told Olivia he loved her.
Words of Wedded Wisdom
“Try and secure a venue which has an event coordinator included, as this took away a lot of potential stress for us.”
“On the day our Toastmaster ensured that everyone was where they should be and really helped the flow of the day. He also looked really smart.”
“Having entertainment before the speeches (ours was the surprise waiters) was a fantastic way of settling speech nerves and letting everyone have a good time after a large meal. Everyone was then raring to go for our evening reception.”
Congratulations Olivia and Aidan, and very best wishes to you both! Thanks so much for sharing your day with us, it’s been truly lovely. Thanks also to James Richard for these wonderful, joyful images.