Hannah and Dean – a Great Gatsby wedding blog from Chilston Park, with Kerry Ann Duffy Photography

The moment I saw Hannah and Dean’s wedding photos I fell in love. Such an amazing couple, and such a beautiful day. Their Great Gatsby wedding at Kent’s Chilston Park Hotel is one of the most elegant celebrations I’ve seen, with fabulous styling and glorious details. But it’s the bride and groom – a stunning couple – who bowled me over. Hannah’s bridal look is more than gorgeous: her striking make up, her beautiful gown – she’s incredible. Although one comment on photographer Kerry Ann Duffy‘s facebook page made me chuckle: “Great pic, even better beard“… Dean’s look is fantastic and then some!

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Hannah has written a great wedding report for us all today – full of brilliant advice, and wonderfully honest. She shares great budgeting tips, has an interesting story about dress shopping, and recommends some excellent Kent wedding suppliers. I love that she forgot to throw her bouquet… and was delighted that meant she could keep it! I would be too… it’s beautiful!

The best bit of all is Hannah’s favourite thing about being married: “Knowing that you get to wake up every morning and fall asleep every night with the person you love, for the rest of your life.” This quote, and everything about today’s wedding, makes me feel happy inside.

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With thanks to Kent wedding photographer Kerry Ann Duffy for sharing the images of such a beautiful wedding. You can see more of Kerry’s photographs here – do check her out!

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But first, grab a cuppa and prepare for a simply stunning Kent wedding blog, with the gorgeous Hannah and Dean. This is fabulous. Enjoy!
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Our wedding report: Hannah & Dean

Wedding photographer’s website:

Were you pleased with your wedding photographer?

Yes! Kerry was brilliant. She was lovely to work with and very patient. She made us both feel very relaxed, and we actually both really enjoyed having our photos taken by her.

Wedding venue:

Chilston Park Hotel in Lenham

Can you describe your wedding in a single sentence?

The best day of our lives, it was one massive party with everybody we care about celebrating with us.

What was your reaction to seeing your wedding photos for the first time?

If I am completely honest, my first feeling was relief. I am pretty conscious about certain facial features of mine, I normally avoid the camera, especially photos where I’m taking the lime light. I told Kerry this prior to the wedding day, she was brilliant and completely listened to me and took my concerns into consideration when photographing me. After spending the day with her, I had no doubt that I would like the photos, but I still felt anxious about seeing them. When they arrived and we started looking at them, we just couldn’t stop smiling. After the relief, we both just felt overjoyed with them.  

Your wedding style and theme:

We didn’t want to go over board with a theme, but we both love the Great Gatsby story, so when we had our stationery designed we decided on a 1920’s theme. Our invitations, seating plan, table names etc. was all designed with an Art Deco feel to them. Our table centrepieces were tall glass vases filled with beautiful white ostrich feathers and twigs, with strings of pearls hanging from them. The room had a really glamorous feel to it, just like a room from the Great Gatsby.

Any happy tears on the day?

So many tears! We both kept it together through out the ceremony, until the registrars announced us as Mr & Mrs Blackmore and everyone stood up and clapped and cheered, we both got very chocked. Seeing everybody that you love so happy for you, it feels like such a honour. I think most people cried during the speeches, Jim’s (father of the bride) speech was lovely, short but very sweet. Dean was really worried in the run up to the day about getting emotional during his speech, and he did. He missed out half his speech because he kept welling up at every sentence. He just wanted to get it over and done with. Dean’s sister Vickie cried from the start of the day to the finish bless her.

How did the two of you meet?

I started working in a mobile phone shop in Maidstone were Dean worked in 2007. I didn’t know Dean when I first started working there, and our Best Man Damien actually got me the job, he worked there already with Dean and they were living together at the time. It was love at first sight, but it took a little while for us to become official. It was a lot of fun, the three of us working together in the beginning.

How long did you spend planning your wedding?

13 months from our engagement to our wedding day

Best bit of budget advice?

Don’t worry too much! If you get obsessed with the numbers, you won’t enjoy the planning and it will become a stress. We had everything written on a white board on the wall of our kitchen. What we could spend, what we had spent and most importantly, when we had to pay it. It really helped us keep on top of things and because we saw the numbers every day, we became used to it and the whole process was a lot less daunting.

Wedding invitations and on the day stationery:

We used Claire Hawkes after a friend recommended her. She was brilliant. I showed her my different ideas and the kind of look I wanted to achieve. I showed her the art deco styles I had seen and she took them and made them so much more. She’s incredibly creative and great to work with.

Did you fall in love with your wedding dress?

I must have tried on 40 wedding dresses over a 7 month period. I couldn’t find a dress that gave me that feeling you supposedly get, I was starting to panic, until I finally tried on my dress. I loved it straight away. It was perfect for my figure, I loved how I looked and felt in it and my mum cried when I tried it on, which is always a good sign. It was nothing like the style I thought I would end up with or pictured myself in, but it definitely gave me “that feeling”.

Wedding dress designer and bridal boutique:

The dress was a Maggie Sottero and I found it in Wedding World Kent, Folkestone. Kirsty who runs the shop even came to Chilston Park and dressed me the day of the wedding, just to make sure the dress looked perfect.

Glitz and sparkle: the bride’s accessories:

I bought all of my accessories online from Amazon and Etsy. I ended up getting two of everything, two sets of earrings, two headbands and two necklaces as I wanted to be able to have different options. I didn’t decide on what I wanted to wear until the day when was in my dress! I decided on crystal drop earrings, a diamontee chocker and a head band with a brooch attached with crystals and pearls.

The groom wore:

Hugo Boss suit and shirt, BHS waistcoat and cravat, Clarks shoes.

Beautiful bridesmaids: what did your best girls wear?

My 6 maids of honour wore stunning BHS dresses from their bridal range. They all looked so elegant, we were a little unsure about the dresses initially as they weren’t very traditional, but they all looked so beautiful in them. They were very flattering. I had my 6 younger bridesmaids dresses made. I found a dress online that I loved and matched the adult dresses really well, but couldn’t get it in the right sizes, so I had the dress copied so they would fit the girls perfectly. We used the same material to make the ushers, page boys and our father’s cravats. Everything tied together perfectly.

Hair and make-up – did you DIY or hire a professional?  

My hair and my maid of honours’ hair was done by Charlotte Martinez and Sarah Jones from Urban of Maidstone. All of my maids wanted completely different styles, they are all very individual with their looks and I wanted them to all feel comfortable with how they looked on the day. We couldn’t have been happier with the results. Also, I was lucky enough to have two hairdressers in my wedding party, Katie and Emma (two of my maids of honour) were kind enough to style my 6 younger bridesmaids’ hair. Again, they all wanted different styles, but they all looked beautiful and the girls did a brilliant job. I had my make up done by Kelly Gough, she also did my mum’s and three of my maids of honour. I am pretty fussy with my make up and had trials with 3 different make up artists prior to the day, Kelly knew exactly what I wanted and all of our make up stayed on perfectly all day. Even with all the tears.

Wedding flowers:

I had no idea what I wanted when it came to flowers, other than I wanted our bouquets to look like they had been ripped out of the ground and have a vintage feel. I didn’t want them to look structured, I like messy. Our florist was very helpful and we decided on a selection of vintage pink, coffee brown, lilac and alabaster roses, mixed with vintage pink astilbe and some foliage. Some of the roses had pearls pinned into their centres. They were stunning, I welled up when our florist showed me them. Luckily I completely forgot to throw my bouquet, so I got to keep it!

What do you remember most about the wedding ceremony?

Laughing. We laughed the whole way through. Especially when our registrar asked Dean to repeat back “I promise to respect and cherish you and be faithful always” and he hesitated on the faithful bit, everyone burst out laughing at him. It was lovely and relaxed throughout and I wish it had gone on for longer.

Wedding readings?

My maid of honour Hannah read a lovely reading “how falling in love is like owning a dog” we have a dog and he is a huge part of our lives, he has his own Facebook page and we even had his picture on the top table, the reading really meant a lot to us and was very appropriate. Also, our friend Dave read a lovely poem, by Steve Chapman called “I will be there” its a very touching piece about regardless of what else is going on, we will be there for each other. The fact that both our friends picked their readings themselves made it even more special.

General styling – did your venue need much decoration?

The venue didn’t need anything doing to it if I’m honest, we chose Chilston Park because we love its character and its beautiful grounds. Each room is filled with such beautiful furniture and antiques, it really is a stunning venue. However, we did decide to have chair covers, sashes and those wonderful centrepieces on our tables. We could have left it bare  and it still would have been breath taking though.

The wedding cake: traditional or quirky?

We had a square 4 tier cake that consisted of fruit, chocolate fudge, strawberries & champagne and a lemon sponge. It tasted fantastic and it was decorated with a art deco theme, in black white and gold. A good friend made the cake for us, which made it all the more special.


After the ceremony our guests were served ice-cream from a traditional ice-cream cart on a tricycle. The favourite flavours were champagne sorbet and the chocolate orange ice cream. In the evening we had a Photo Booth which our guests loved, especially the kids and the drunken adults (most of our guests) Everyone who had their photos taken were given a copy of their photo to take home and we were given an album of everybody’s photos in at the end of the night to keep, which was hilarious to look through. Music wise we had a DJ and a live band called Festival Sounds that played everything from the Killers to Elvis but put there own twist on everything. They had a real Mumford and Sons sound to them. They played our first dance live and they were fantastic. Our DJ played on until about 2am, we only booked him until 1am, but he just carried on playing for us, nobody wanted to leave the dance floor.

On the day tips and advice:

Make sure someone has your handbag near you at all times so you have access to lip balm, tissues etc. I remember running back up to my room to grab my lip balm half way through the photos because my lips felt really dry. Most importantly though, we would both say just take it all in and don’t let yourself worry about the weather and the silly little things out of your control, the day flashes by so quickly, enjoy every second of it, even if that includes some rain.

What’s the best thing about being married?

Knowing that you get to wake up every morning and fall asleep every night with the person you love, for the rest of your life.

Quick supplier list for other brides and grooms:

Wedding dress –

Hair –

Make-up –

Venue Styling –

Flowers –

Ice Cream tricycle –

Claire Gould

Claire spends her days writing - either in beautiful calligraphy or online. She lives on the edge of the English Lake District only minutes away from the beach, where she loves to escape and unwind. Claire's calligraphy can be found at Claire launched the English Wedding Blog in November 2009 - it's been a top 10 UK wedding blog ever since, with a regional focus we hope you LOVE.



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