We are very lucky when it comes to our couples, in the sense that we seem to attract super people who could have easily been our friends for years, and Claire and [disco] Stu are no exception. Our first meeting went for hours which saw them having to peg it to the train station to make the last train.
When they told us their wedding venue, the beautiful High Rocks in Tunbridge Wells, well our cup runneth over. I’m not sure I can actually describe it properly, so to quote from their website, “Acres of breathtaking sandstone rocks interlinked with eleven bridges, provide a scenic walk in a tranquil woodland setting. Once a stone age camp, now a National Monument these impressive rocks, which belong to The High Rocks complex, have always been a constant source of wonder.” And yes it’s fab as you will see below!
Claire and Stuart’s wedding should be a lesson to couples everywhere, they stuck to having the things they love, reflected their personalities and just wanted to have a jolly good knees up, and boy was this what they had. The morning started for both sides at the Spa Hotel in Tunbridge Wells, before Claire made her way in Stuart’s dad’s cab (after being lovingly washed in the morning – adorable!) to High Rocks. Excitement built as the guests arrived in the beautiful reception room, including the cardboard cut out version of their friend who couldn’t make it looking deliriously happy for the couple as Claire made her way up the aisle!
One thing we particularly loved about their ceremony was that they split it in two, and we would highly recommend this to any couple who aren’t sure about the formality of a legal ceremony – after the registrar had done the legal bit they left, and one of their friends took over to give a much more personal conclusion to the ceremony. Another highlight was Stuart’s parents reading the lyrics to Noah and the Whale’s ‘In Five Year’s Time’ – “And it’ll be love love love all through our bodies… And love love love all through our minds… And it be Love love love all over her face… And Love love love all over mine…” Ha, brilliant stuff!
For High Rocks wedding photography it seemed essential that we used those big ole stones as a backdrop to their photos, including making for some epic group shots. We particularly love the shot of the whole wedding together, it took a little herding sure but the result was pretty epic if we say so ourselves, and love that Claire and Stu chose to have this shot made into a massive piece of wall art.
Many will know we love capturing reaction during speeches, and this set is the mother of all reaction sets. Stuart’s Best Man happens to be a producer at Sky Sports, and pulled in some special guests on screen to help give a sportsman-like analysis of Stuart – it was quite simply epic as were Stuart’s reactions! With having two photographers we were able to give Claire and Stu a fantastic collection of images not only of Stu reacting as it happened but a whole host of guest reactions too that they wouldn’t have even seen.
Take a look through at this super day, and Claire’s credits on how it all came together are at the end…
My dress was handmade by our wonderful friend Bridget. She based it on some designs we had seen in shops together, and then drew up a sketch from that. I started by thinking I’d have a 50s style gown, but once I started trying dresses on I realised I wanted something more. The design was quite classic, with lots of lace and fine bead detail on the top half, with a satin and touile skirt. I absolutely loved it. But also because so much love went into the making of the dress, that it felt even more special on the day. Bridget was sewing it right up until the day before to make sure it was a complete snug fit. She even sewed in some detachable straps so I can get my groove on in the evening without fear of my dress moving at all. I decided to opt out of a veil as our wedding was in a countryside barn, so it felt a little over the top.
Shoes: I went with some Carvela gold sparkly number for the day, that had a small heel on them. Once the dancing started I cracked out some fantastic glittery trainers so I could give my dance moves everything I got!
Jewellery: I had planned to opt for a simple bracelet and matching earrings for the day, but whilst getting ready a package was delivered by the Best Man from Stuart. He had bought me an Alex Monroe Bumble Bee necklace that I had wanted for years, which made me feel very emotional. Naturally that was the necklace I wore on the day, and it seemed to go perfectly with my dress.
Make-up & Hair:
The wonderful Bethany Swan
I had a bit of a small army of bridesmaids, so I thought choosing a bridesmaid dress that would suit them all would be difficult. However they all loved a long, strapless navy blue dress from ASOS, so we went for that! Two of my bridesmaids went for the shorter option too, so we had a little variety.
Groom & Groomsmen:
Stu had a tailored suit from Paul Smith and he looked so good in it! He opted for a dark blue suit with matching waistcoat, and a burgundy tie. The key part to his outfit were his bright yellow socks from COS – a memorable part of his outfit! The Groomsmen had grey suits from Moss Bros, with navy blue ties.
The main flowers were by Frida and Sophia My brief to them was pale yellow and rustic. When the flowers turned up on the day I was pretty speechless – they were so beautiful. For table flowers, I ordered gypsophila and yellow freesias in bulk, and my bridesmaids helped arrange these in jars the day before.
Our cake was made of….cheese! The venue handled this for us, and created a tiered cheese “cake”. This was then served up with chutneys and bread in the evening, and lasted all of about 5 minutes with our tipsy guests.
One of our guests, Andy, is an expert at card tricks, so we had him go around the guests after the ceremony to perform a few tricks. This went down a treat.
As was a big theme of our wedding, we had a dear friend Lucy who is a carpenter make some signs for us. We are huge fans of disco music, so she created a disco finger sign with the words “Down to Love Town” on them (these are taken from a disco tune called “Down to Love Town” by the Originals). This was stuck up near the venue so guests would see it on their way there. Lucy also made some dance floor rules….my favourite being, “If Claire says Dance, you must dance!”
My engagement ring is also by Alex Monroe and features a flower design on a band resembling a vine. So my wedding band was also from Alex Monroe, and fits perfectly with the band of the engagement ring. Stu went for simple design for his wedding ring, which we got from Ernest Jones.
We didn’t do favours in the end; we figured most people end up leaving these on the table, so instead put some money towards more wine.
We went for a soul/funk band with an incredible female lead vocalist, called Empire Beats. They were so awesome – the dance floor was packed all evening. All the guests demanded an encore so we got them playing for a few more songs. We also had a DJ so that we could keep the party going until 2am…
First dance song:
Thinking of You by Sister Sledge. Bit of an anthem for us. Think everyone was singing this for days after. [Lina’s note: Claire & Stu just danced like no-one was watching and had a really good time – a first dance doesn’t have to be scary – be like these guys!)
Last word from Claire:
Just that true to the belief, it really was the most incredible day of our lives. When else to you get to have every single person you love in one room, all beaming with happiness for you? One of the best memories, was sneaking off with Lina and Tom for photos on top of the rocks, and hearing all our guests down below having the time of their lives.
High Rocks Wedding Photography by Lina and Tom