Sarah & Kevin’s Best. Day. Ever. with Hollie Carlin Photography
Wait, what…. HOW is it Wednesday already?! I’m so glad this one crept up on me…. because I have an EPIC wedding to share with you today! Gorgeous Sarah and Kevin got in touch to share their day, and it’s absolutely beautiful. The dress, the FLOWERS – and everything about the day looks so perfect. All images are by lovely Hollie Carlin Photography, and I will hand over right now to our stunning bride to tell you more!
My husband and I got married last July and it was…. THE . BEST. DAY . EVER!!! We seriously couldn’t have dreamed of a more perfect day, surrounded by friends & family (and most importantly the dog!), in the most gorgeous of venues, lavish florals, scrumptious food, an absolutely phenomenal band and the best of the British summer time weather!
Tell us about your venue – what made this place special for you?
Mount Ephraim Gardens in a hidden jewel in the Kent countryside, surrounded by beautiful gardens, lush orchards and in the centre, a proper English country house! We really wanted a outdoors wedding, surrounded by nature and beautiful scenery. As soon as we entered the grand gates at the font of Mount Ephraim Gardens, we knew this was the venue for us… intimate and romantic. Before getting out of the car Mount Ephraim ticked all the boxes! We randomly found the venue on the way back from viewing another – there was absolutely no comparison in the two. Walking around the lush gardens and seeing the grand gates, arches and entrance to the house we were blown away. The venue has many different areas, all of which make you feel as if you were in a different place from the last. From the beautiful lake and rose gardens to the hidden maze, the venue was one treat after another. Inside the house presented us with a grand staircase, high ceilings and period features… something else we really liked, it had character! The onsite accommodation was totally dreamy too! The bed and breakfast rooms were all individually decorated and each had a different view of the beautiful grounds. The self catering accommodation housed the majority of our family on the night of the wedding. This newly decorated section of the house was the perfect venue for our post wedding breakfast with our closest friends and family the next day!
Being a summer wedding, we wanted a fresh, English country garden vibe, even inside the house! The entrance, staircase and mantelpiece were dripping in our favourite garden florals and foliage, filling the venue with fresh, summer time aromas. The grand staircase became the aisle during the ceremony, it felt like our own secret garden, designed especially for us; truly magical!
Our suppliers went above and beyond on the day (and in the lead up to the wedding) to ensure the day was perfect. Scott Anderson catering provided the most delicious food I have ever eaten! Our canapes were mainly mini traditional desserts, with a few savoury bites too. Even the canapes had flowers on them!
Our band uptown show down (part of all town music) really got the party going in the evening! They were sensational and solely responsible for blisters, aches and pains and even a few pairs of split trousers from all the dancing!
Wedding photographer’s website
How did you choose your photographer?
Hollie photographed out brother and sister-in laws wedding, we absolutely fell in love with her, her photography style and her ability to capture even the smallest of details and fleeting of looks without being posy!
Were you pleased with your wedding photographer? Do tell… we love a brilliant review!
Our images were beyond our wildest dreams! Having seen Hollie’s work before, we were so excited to see our images as we knew they would be amazing, yet when we received our gallery…. they were absolutely breathtaking! Both of us are quite camera shy and really don’t like being center of attention, the thought of posing for lots of photos was something we were both not looking forward too! We discussed this with her before hand and explained that we didn’t want lots of ‘staged’ photos and really wanted the day as a whole to be captured.
Hollie made us feel so comfortable in the build up to the wedding and on the day, we hardly knew she was there half the time! she captured some beautiful moments which we will treasure forever – the tears, the smiles, the drinks and of course the dancing! The images of just us captured all the love we have for each other, the beauty of our venue and one heck of a golden hour! We couldn’t recommend Hollie enough – she’s an absolute star!
Videographer details if applicable – and any thoughts for other couples about having a wedding video?
We decided not to have a videographer… and we regret it now! When we originally started planning we thought no, it’s not for us – again we didn’t want any ‘posy-ness.’ Then we started seeing footage from a few local videographers and started to change our mind… the footage captures all the best bits of the day! By the time we had seen these and tried to book it was sadly too late! I would strongly advise couples to look into it! These videos are like a trailer to the best day of your life!
Did you love wearing your outfits? How was the dress / suit shopping experience?
We both did a lot of ‘Pinteresting’ before shopping for dresses and suits… we both had an idea of what we wanted but after watching countless episodes of ‘say yes to the dress’ we had learnt to keep an open mind!
Suit shopping was harder than we thought – Kevin looked handsome in every suit he tried, yet couldn’t find exactly what he was looking for. We looked in a range of shops, from high-street to high-end, but nothing was really jumping out at him. He wanted a Blue suit, grey waist-coat; sounds simply enough, but getting the exact colors was the tricky part. He eventually found the perfect match in Moss Bros not long before the wedding – a suit that suited him, the groomsmen and the dads! Kevin’s suit was then tailored to the perfect fit at a local tailors, they even changed the back silk panel so it matched the other’s. He was very pleased with his suit on the day and looked exceptionally handsome!
Like Kevin I had a rough idea of what I wanted in a dress… and it wasn’t entirely what I ended up with! I knew I wanted a timeless, elegant dress; but was really feeling the Megan Markle halterneck vibe but I also really liked the whimsical look. After religiously watching ‘say yes to the dress’ i knew i had to keep an open mind and try a variety of shapes and style on. Although I loved the halterneck look, I loved how I felt in the dress I ended up with; especially when it was customised with the beaded straps. Once paired with my sparkly bow Betty Johnson shoes, Kleinfeld earrings and delicate hair piece, I was ready to run down the aisle and see Kevin!
Sarah is a florist… the flowers were incredible!!!
Our florist was the Bride and her tribe of dedicated and passionate floral buddies! Although creating your own wedding flowers the day before and the day of the wedding was quite stressful, I couldn’t have had it any other way!
Kevin and I had decided on the general look and style we wanted to achieve for our florals after our first visit to Mount Ephraim. We fell in love with the vast grounds, scented rose gardens, variety of foliage’s and the beautiful pastel colors that feature heavily within the gardens. We really wanted to bring all of these elements of the grounds into the house; our very own secret garden! I enlisted the help of three other professional florists, the Groom and one of his best men (mainly for the lifting) and a few close friends and family to make our floral dreams come true!
we had ten hours to set up the venue…which seems like plenty of time… but time sure flies when your having fun! We had originally planned to get married outside under the beautiful stone arches in the garden, we were going to have two floral pillars either side of the archway and floral meadows running along the aisle. Unfortunately the set up day saw torrential rain and thunderstorms so we had to make the decision to get married inside instead. We still kept the floral pillars yet relocated them to outside the entrance.. which in hindsight was the best decision ever as it added to the grandeur and elegance of the stone pillar entrance to the main house.
We were always having a floral staircase as we felt this would be a real showstopper at the wedding… but by not having the aisle meadows outside, we were able to add more flowers and foliage to the staircase as well as the mantelpiece and other floral items in and around the house. When getting married inside, the staircase becomes the aisle. Walking through the cascading flowers and foliage was like a dream come true!
The bridal bouquet was particularly special to me, not only because it was made by one of my most amazing floral friends and mentor, but because wrapped in the silk ribbon were two small frames containing images of both granddads and a charm bracelet from Kevin’s Nan who are sadly no longer with us. Having these small tokens close to me on our wedding day was very important, even though these family members were not there in person, they were still part of our day.
Did you hire a wedding planner?
We didn’t hire a wedding planner yet our venue has a designated planner on site – Vicky Pearce. Vicky was amazing, she kept us in check and on time in the run up to the wedding as well as on the day. No task was to big or to much trouble and no question to stupid to answer! Lucy Dawes, the owner of Mount Ephraim was also an absolute super star! The venues accommodation was renovated in the lead up to the wedding, she kept us fully up to date with all renovation plans and invited us for a look round once it had been completed. The venue is a family run and owned business, this is another element of the venue we particularly liked. They are so passionate and proud of their venue, this was evident in the tour and in conversations with the staff. The whole team were invested in us and our wedding, helping us achieve the big and small things that mattered to us on the day.
As cake lovers here at English Wedding we’d LOVE to know who made your cake, and how delicious it was?
we didn’t actually have a wedding cake…. we had cakes…lots of cakes! We both love cake, pastries, desserts and anything sweet! Most of our canapes were mini sweet desserts! We looked into wedding cakes for a VERY long time, trying and testing many flavors, types of icing, biscuit alternatives but we just couldn’t decide! we the decided to have a cake table, full of doughnuts, muffins, brownies, iced buns, biscuits, meringues, macrons, lemon drizzle, Victoria sponge and cheesecake! This table was set up in the evening just aside from the dance floor. There are no images of this table as the minute it was open… our guests demolished the lot! our dance floor was full fancy footwork, happy faces and crumbs! It’s safe to say I think we made the right decision!
Tell us about any special personal touches, or creative projects you made yourselves
Personal touches were dotted throughout our wedding, some more obviously than others.
The floral installations where personal to me more so, but also to Kevin. We chose flowers that had special meaning to us or those that represented attributes we want/ed within our marriage. one of our roses was called ‘secret garden,’ this fitted our theme perfectly. The other flowers used represented loyalty, respect, unity, love and happiness. A sprig of Myrtle was given to me by the owner to include in my bouquet, this is supposed to bring luck to the newly weds.
We made a memory frame and candle which was lit during the day to remember those family members who were no longer with us. This frame sat on the center mantelpiece to be respected an remembered by guests.
The Bridal Bouquet held a special and personal touch as wrapped within the ribbon it contained the charm bracelet left to me by Kevin’s Nan.
My Charm was a swan that opened to reveal a ballet dancer inside – my other passion and career is a dance teacher. My sister in-law has been left a church that opened to reveal a couple getting married, she lent me this as my something borrowed on the day. It also contained two images of both of my Granddad’s. Having these close to me on the day was heart warming and meant the world to both sets of parents as well as us. our confetti was a personal touch and family effort!
We hand dried all of our confetti from unused flowers from our floral workshops or from previous wedding and events we had done before our own. From our wedding clear downs we reused and reposed the flowers and foliage into eco-friendly petal confetti! Every member of the family ended up with petals in their airing cupboards, draped over radiators on in containers on windowsills… even the ladies from work got involved!
Our fanciest and loudest personal touch had to be our band… they were sensational! We really wanted live music at the wedding, something to get the party started and to get your nan, dad, auntie and friends up on the dance floor. We found our band at a wedding fair and couldn’t take our eyes and ears off them. The All Town Music band – Uptown Show down were incredible, we sent them a list of our and our guests favorite music (we had asked each guests to give their favorite song on the reply invite) and the type of music we liked. From the minute they started everyone was up on the dance floor!
Our favorite and almost hidden personal touch was our wedding bands. Made for us by a friend, our wedding bands are inscribed with our wedding date as well as the words ‘forever and always’ in Kevin’s ring, and ‘always and forever’ in mine. A phrase we have said since the day we met and one that was said by our grandparents, the best and most emotional touch to our day.
Did you personalise your vows or have any wedding readings? What were they?
We didn’t personalise the ceremony with readings or within our vows, yet one of our ‘must haves’ of the ceremony was that the family dog Louis, was allowed to be present. After all he is family too! The venue were very obliging and he attend the entire wedding…mainly sleeping and snoring…even in the ceremony!
What was your first dance song? Why did you choose it?
Our first dance was to the Four Tops ‘Baby I need you loving.’ We didn’t want a particularly slow song and absolutely love Motown music, our band actually sang our first dance song which made it even more special. This is a song we always sing along to together when ever we hear it and the words are true to us; we need each other, and always will. Forever and always, always and forever like our rings say.
Sarah & Kevin’s Mount Ephraim wedding supplier list:
Stretch tent: https://www.facebook.com/yondertentsandevents/
Dress designer: https://www.watters.com