Sparkles and starlight for Gilly & Den’s beautiful Sussex wedding, with Hannah Larkin Photography
I’m in love with today’s wedding. I’m in love with Gilly’s sparkly beautiful dress; I’m in love with the styling details and the story of Gilly and Den’s day. I’m in love with the gorgeous photography from lovely Hannah Larkin…. this is all just so wonderful and I have been ever so excited to share it with you! Before we dive into all the images though, I want to share something important with you.
Gilly told me she felt an enormous amount of pressure to have the most pinterest perfect styled wedding, because she thought that is what people would expect from her as a wedding planner. Den was amazing at keeping her grounded and reminding her that this was their day and they could do things however they liked.
I’m sharing this with you because Gilly and I both want to show that you can personalise your wedding too, so that your big day represents you as a couple. Don’t aim for perfect; instead, aim for a day which is personal, which says “THIS IS US!”
“It didn’t matter if the styling was a bit higgledypiggledy or that things didn’t quite match, our guests walked in, and knew that this was our day. Everything was planned with them in mind, but with all of the Gilly and Den personal touches. In light of everything that is going on in the world right now, we feel incredibly lucky to have had our day when we did, and to be fortunate enough to have had our nearest and dearest with us with incredible memories that will last a lifetime.”
That’s pretty awesome… and this gorgeous pair whose brilliant wedding was filled with sparkly starlight, love and joy are pretty awesome too. Do read their interview below for tips and recommendations for styling your day, and for some favourite West Sussex wedding suppliers!
Wedding Photographer’s Website
How did you choose your photographer?
As a wedding planner, I’ve admired Hannah’s style and friendly approach for a while. She is just the loveliest person and we knew our wedding would be in very safe hands. Hannah has this magical way of capturing love with the most stunning light too. I knew I wanted her from the moment we started planning the wedding.
Were you pleased with your wedding photographer? Do tell… we love a brilliant review!
We are beyond pleased with our final images! Hannah captured our day and its story perfectly. She asked all the right questions in the lead up to the day, which meant she was fully prepared for not only photographing the bridal party and guests, but she understood all of our finishing touches and personal elements too. We have had SO many wonderful compliments on our photos, our confetti shot on the dancefloor being a particular favourite. She has that very rare talent of being able to blend in to the crowd, but also managed to get some fantastic group shots too (which was not made easy for her, as our venue was like a rabbit warren and lots of people headed to the bar!)
Before the wedding day, we were both a little nervous about being on camera. Hannah was so reassuring though and encouraged us to attend an engagement photoshoot first so we could get used to the feeling of being ‘papped’. We decided our shoot would take place at ZSL London Zoo whilst we were feeding giraffes and Hannah jumped at the chance which was wonderful. The experience meant that on the day, that was one less thing to worry about and I believe it really helped us relax particularly during our couple shots on the day. It enabled us to be in the moment with each other and I think that helped Hannah capture the love, and the magic of our day so perfectly.
Videographer details if applicable – and any thoughts for other couples about having a wedding video?
James and Naomi – are in our opinion, one of the BEST yet affordable videographers. I (Gilly) cry EVERY time I see one of their films, regardless if I know the couple in question or not. Ours is no exception. It’s just perfect. I’m a huge fan of good wedding films and feel that they are SO important for capturing the wedding memories. When you find a good videographer, I believe they’re worth their weight in gold. Your whole day can be edited into a matter of minutes and with the right editing, shots and music, something extra special can be created. James and Naomi are a husband and wife team and similar to Hannah, have that special talent of capturing the day, the story and the love perfectly. They listened to what we wanted, and more importantly, what we didn’t want, and more than delivered.
Tell us about your venue – what made this place special for you?
As a planner, I knew I didn’t want to get married in a venue that I had worked in previously. As much as I’d been lucky enough to work in some wonderful places, I wanted to feel like a bride, special and unique. Den and I put together a wish list of requirements and went on a mission to find the perfect place.
We looked at a variety of options, eloping to Vegas, Dorset where we got engaged, London where we live, but in the end decided that we wanted to be close enough for the majority of our guests, in the country side, with a church nearby.
A friend recommend The Ravenswood. It is a stunning, 15th century manor house with beautiful Sussex countryside grounds. I felt that I’d found an affordable ‘princess style castle’ because of the turret, in a great location and enough room for our guests to move around if the weather didn’t hold out. What really sold it to us though, were the staff. Throughout the whole planning process, we were made to feel unique, valued and that our wedding was important, not just one in a big conveyor belt of many weddings they’d see that year, which is exceptionally rare. The owner (Sam) is a photographer and her decor and developments have been done with a keen eye for natural light and detail.
And just down the road from The Ravenswood is a little village called West Hoathly, with a beautiful little Church named St Margaret’s. Den and I attended 6 months of habitual worship to be able to legally get married there, and were accepted into the parish with open arms. We try to pop to a service as regularly as we can to stay in touch with Mother Nicol who married us, and the other parishioners.
Did you love wearing your outfits? How was the dress / suit shopping experience?
DEN: I felt like an absolute boss in my suit. It was my first experience of wearing a three-piece suit and having one tailor-made which was fantastic (shout out to Omar at Moss Bros). The whole process was relatively painless and quick – after just a few trips I was in possession of a lovely garment. The only sticking point was on my penultimate visit when I examined the embroidered personalised wording on the suit lining which read “GILLY & BEN 19.10.19”: after at first panicking and wondering if there was something my future wife wasn’t telling me, the staff swiftly reassured me that this was a tailoring error and rectified this. On the Big Day itself, I received a multitude of compliments on how handsome I looked in my suit, many of which at least appeared genuine (although we all know the star of the show was my bride in her amazing dress!) – I was really pleased how it all turned out. Oh, and I wore the shiniest shoes known to all mankind too.
GILLY: I originally wanted to wear killer heels, jeans and a pretty blazer. My Mum had other ideas! I couldn’t imagine myself in a wedding dress, I thought I’d feel like a child playing dress up. But, after one hilarious trip to a store (where I got stuck in a dress that looked like something you’d find on top of your Gran’s toilet roll), I discovered a shape and designer that suited my figure. A store local to me (London Bride) https://londonbrideuk.com/ stocked lots of Mori Lee dresses. I tried a few on with my two Maids of Honour. One of them spotted a dress that was brand new in, that was covered in swarovski crystals. The tulle skirt looked like a starry sky of constellations and as a star fantatic, it was imperative that I tried it on. And that was it. I felt like a princess immediately. Even though it didn’t fit, and was about 10m too long for my 5ft 2 height, I didn’t feel like a kid. I felt like Den’s future wife and I knew I’d found the one.
Did you hire a florist? Tell us about any floral amazingness
Charlotte is incredible. A good friend of mine, who just totally understood our vision and more than delivered.
She made a beautiful archway for our Church which was then transported and became the frame to hold our table plan. She decorated 15 candelabras with foliage and transformed our entire venue into a twinkling fairytale with countless candles, tealights and mini silver votives and bud vases.
My bouquet consisted of white flowers, lots of foliage and white ostrich feathers. We wanted the florals to be quite simple, understated and as natural as possible. The men and page boys wore gorgeous matching button holes, and the bridesmaids all held smaller white posies.
As cake lovers here at English Wedding we’d LOVE to know who made your cake, and how delicious it was?
We ordered a few mini Colin and Connie Caterpillar cakes from M&S for the kids (and some of the adults) but our ‘cake’ was a tower of cheese. We are huge cheese fiends and had great fun tasting and choosing with our suppliers http://www.cloughsdeli.co.uk/
Our wedding coordinator styled the stacks for us, on a wine barrel provided by Mulberry events. Andri (of Always Andri) styled with fruit, figs and crackers and our bride and groom giraffe cake toppers which we found on Etsy. Den proposed to Gilly with a card featuring giraffes, we also fed them during our engagement shoot at ZSL London Zoo and will hopefully see them in their natural environment on our safari honeymoon.
We raved on the dancefloor with plates of cheese and crackers, and fortunately had a little left over afterwards, which was awesome. Lots of our guests took take away boxes filled with cheese home and to their rooms and some even continued the celebrations with a cheese and wine party into the early hours!
Tell us about any special personal touches, or creative projects you made yourselves
Gilly made a ‘you are the cheese to my cracker’ sign from silver glitter card and alphabet templates.
Each of our tables were named after our favourite things. So for example, the top table was named the Eric Cantona and Les Ferdinand table after our favourite footballers.
Den made our table numbers out of vinyl as he’s a DJ in his spare time and music plays a big part in our relationship. We also framed our favourite song lyrics and placed them around the dancefloor.
Our evening party turned into a mini rave as we’re both huge Drum & Bass fans. Our wedding planner styled a glitter corner next to our photobooth which allowed our guests to decorate themselves with face gems, temporary tattoos, glitter and glow sticks.
We wanted our fur baby cat Guinness to be present somehow during the day. Den came up with the idea ‘have a Guinness on Guinness’. We placed a picture of him on the bar near the Guinness pump and all of our guests could have free Guinness the whole day, what a generous cat!
One of our first trips together was wine tasting in Bordeaux. We wanted to bring our love of wine into the day, hence the wine barrels for the cheese! Gilly and Den’s family spent a year saving wine and champagne corks so that Gilly’s Dad could make two heart shaped wall hangings filled with corks. They now hang pride of place in our home. Our place cards were then held in personalised cork placecard holders.
Gilly’s Mum made homemade apple chutney with personalised ‘spread the love’ labels to accompany the cheese.
Our venue made us a hot chocolate corner, which we personalised with all of our favourite biscuits from places we’ve visited including Moore’s biscuits from Dorset where we got engaged and Tim Tam’s from Australia where Gilly’s sister lives.
We had a sweetie corner for the kids with all of our favourite pick n mix sweets.
The overall design concept of the day was a midnight starry sky, so we tried to incorporate that into everything we could. All of our wedding stationery and signage was made by Gilly online. Mulberry Events transformed our ceiling into our very own starry sky with hanging stars and fairy lights. Gilly’s wedding shoes were Navy sparkly Charlotte Olympia heels but had Mrs Betson stickers on the soles.
Gilly also had a headpiece made bespoke by Donna Crain which contained stars, and then hair pins with the same stars and a matching moon were given to the bridesmaids for their hair.
Our bridesmaids were all given personalised converse shoes for the evening dancing. All of our bridal party were given personalised thank you goody bags containing special gifts which were personal to them and to us.
Did you personalise your vows or have any wedding readings? What were they?
We both did our own wedding speech with personalised promises to each other, but for our ceremony, our wedding readings and hymns were specifically chosen.
Den’s sister read 1 Corinthians 13 from the Bible.
Gill’y sister read an exert from Winne-the-pooh by A.A Milne. (Pooh corner is about 20mins away from our wedding venue, so we wanted to mark Sussex in there. Plus Winnie-the-Pooh is family fave!)
“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus
one day so I never have to live without you.”
“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?” he whispered.
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. “I just wanted to be
sure of you.”
“We’ll be Friends Forever, won’t we, Pooh?’ asked Piglet. Even
longer,’ Pooh answered.”
“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is
something you must always remember.
You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and
smarter than you think
But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be
Den’s father is Irish so we asked him to read Psalm 23 (The Lord is my Shepherd) in Gaelic to mark Den’s roots, and Gilly becoming part of the Betson family.
(We then went on mini moon to Dublin as a nod to his family and had a extra mini wedding blessing in Dorset where Gilly’s Grandpa lived as a nod to hers)
What was your first dance song? Why did you choose it?
Queen – You’re My Best Friend.
We attended a friend’s wedding (Pennie and Steve) together a few months after we got together. It was the first wedding we’d been to together as a couple and we discovered that we both love to be on the dancefloor and dance like no one is watching. One of the songs that played was You’re My Best Friend by Queen. We had a special moment during that song, spinning each other round on the dancefloor, and I remember saying to Den (even though we’d only been dating a matter of months, this is our song now. When we get married, can this be our first dance?) Every time it happens to come on at home, we will both stop whatever we are doing and dance where ever we happen to be, usually the kitchen! We hope that never stops.
Favourite wedding suppliers
Planning: (The Bride!) https://www.amorestarevents.co.uk/
DJ & Light up letters: https://www.jpcevents.co.uk/
Hair & MUA: https://www.weddinghairstylingandmakeup.co.uk/
Bridal headpiece, jewellery and bridesmaid hair pins: https://www.donnacrain.com/
String Quartet: https://www.classycool.co.uk/