We love a touch of tropical at weddings especially in the dark wintry days of February. Captured beautifully by Parkershots (thanks Nick!), this wedding really has it all; bucket loads of personality, a fabulous wedding venue and so much love.
WWW readers Matt and Clare chose to get married on the 22nd July 2017 at Chafford Park in Kent. Their vision stemmed from their life together in Singapore and they described their vision as “A Singlish Country Wedding”, the result? A beautiful fusion of cultures and styles, we love it. Living in Singapore whilst planning a wedding in England had it’s challenges, but nothing that Skype and brilliant loved ones can’t handle. In fact their nearest and dearest all came together to make sure that Matt and Clare’s wedding dreams really came to life.
Elements from their day that really worked beautifully were the tropical florals, pineapples on tables, origami paper cranes, lanterns and much more. Thai street food was on offer for hungry guests plus a free bar with custom cocktail menu for a touch of fun.
Clare’s slinky and figure hugging Gatsby by Justin Alexander gown looked incredible on her, while Matt and the boys were suited and booted in blue suits and bright purple ties. The bridesmaids dresses ended up being the perfectly matched shade of yellow despite being different in design. All in all, I think the whole wedding party looked pretty spectacular, don’t you think?
THE PROPOSAL | It was on Christmas Day in Vermont. We had expected it to be a white Christmas but it turned out to be 20 degrees on Christmas Day! Still colder than our home in Singapore so it was felt cold enough for us. We were staying in a country inn and went for a walk in the morning, through the woods. We had been sitting beside a stream talking for a while, then Matt turned to me and proposed. It was so unexpected Matt had to ask me twice. I didn’t realise I’d not answered!
THE VISION | We’re both from the South of England and we’ve lived in Singapore for coming up to five years. It was an easy step to make our theme “A Singlish Country Wedding”. We wanted to bring a few influences from our life in Asia back to the English countryside, starting with a Singapore Sling cocktail reception when the guests arrived! We had lots of tropical foliage, golden waving cats and even a few pineapples. We were really pleased with how it all turned out.
THE PLANNING PROCESS | It took longer than we care to remember to plan. It’s not easy organising a wedding from eight time zones away! We realised that picking up the phone (or making a Skype call in our case) always seemed to be the easiest and quickest way to sort anything out. It sounds simple but both of us seem to rely on emails far too much. All in all it was 19 months from when we got engaged to when we got married. We relied on our family and friends a lot. Our parents went to view the venue, Clare’s siblings went to do tastings, and everyone seemed to be on-hand offering help, which we really appreciated.
THE VENUE | We chose Chafford Park in Kent because it’s a very informal country setting with rustic barns and open fields. It meant it was a blank canvas. We chose to have a giant tipi from Holmsted Events as our venue for the reception and dinner. It was a 1-minute walk from the barn where we had our wedding service.
THE DRESS & ACCESSORIES | Clare: My dress was Justin Alexander, which I loved (although still had doubts about it when it was a whole year before I saw it again!). My shoes were Rachel Simpson but as I was convinced that I would ruin the shoes (a whole day in a field??) I bought a pair on eBay in the UK. I loved the design, they were the perfect fit and really comfortable. Still, I had to ask a friend who was visiting the UK to pick them up from my sister’s so I could try them on a couple of months before the wedding, just to make sure they did fit! Matt’s parents gave me a beautiful pair of pearl earrings to wear on the day and they matched the dress perfectly. I had thought I might wear a veil but on the day I decided not to as the flowers in my hair looked too gorgeous to cover up.
FINDING THE DRESS | Clare: A friend had sent a picture of a dress with a lace back and I loved the look. After searching in a few shops around London a year before our wedding, I narrowed it down to one designer that I liked, Justin Alexander. And then went to one of their stockists near Brighton to try some of their dresses on. The mix of a lace back and a simple design was the perfect combination for me. I was so relieved that their seamstress, Adrianna, was able to fit me in for my first dress fitting when I arrived back in the UK less than 3 weeks before the wedding and all went smoothly!
GROOM’S ATTIRE | Matt: I’d be lying if I said a lot of thought went into this… I knew I wanted something informal and a bit more contemporary than traditional wedding outfits. I went with light blue, contemporary suits from Ted Baker for myself and the groomsmen.
THE READINGS & MUSIC | We wanted to keep the ceremony short, informal and relaxed. Clare’s Dad, Martin, walked her down the aisle to an instrumental version of “Here comes the sun”. We had one short reading, called “Why” that Clare’s uncle Peter read out. It’s actually from a film and is totally non-soppy. That’s why we chose it. We then had a performance by two good friends, “The Two Robs”, who sang Olly Murs’ Dance with Me Tonight. It was brilliant and totally surprised our guests. Our exit song was You Make My Dreams Come True by Daryl Hall & John Oates.
BEAUTIFUL BRIDESMAIDS | Clare: I asked my sisters, Cat and Frankie, and my best friend, Laura, to be my bridesmaids and I was very happy they all said yes. I think it was harder to choose the bridesmaids dresses than my own dress because we were looking for bright-coloured dresses and one of my bridesmaids was heavily pregnant by the time the wedding day came around! We decided to keep to a similar style (mid-length, slim fitting) and surprisingly all the dresses came out in the same shade of yellow, that was not planned! I also gave the bridesmaids similar styled necklaces I picked up in Bali.
THE FLOWERS | We really wanted bright, tropical flowers to go with our theme. Matt’s Mum, Sue, was great at helping us with our search and eventually we came across Bettie Rose in Brighton. I’m so glad we did because Lib was amazing, she really listened to what we wanted and as it was all done via email it could have been difficult but it really wasn’t. She did Clare’s bouquet and three bouquets for the bridesmaids, button holes, two fantastic displays and our tropical leaf table runners.
THE CAKE | We had multiple layers of British and French cheeses. We chose it because Clare is slightly obsessed with cheese and because we felt that traditional wedding cakes often don’t get eaten. The cheese went within about an hour!
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER | After a lot of research we chose Nick at Parkershots. He’s incredibly creative with light and his photos are very distinctive. We didn’t want the formal “set piece” wedding shots, we wanted someone who could capture the people and the venue. He actually went above and beyond, almost playing the role of wedding coordinator when we had a tropical downpour just as we were doing the confetti!
THE DETAILS & DÉCOR | Right from the start we wanted to have our family and friends as involved as possible, and fortunately they were willing to help out! Our friend Mahri painted the beautifully bright, tropical artwork that my brother Joe then created into invitations, table plans and menus. Clare made over 100 colourful origami cranes to hang up in the ceremony barn. We were so fortunate to have Matt’s Mum, Sue, helping us by putting together orchids and tropical leaves to hang along the aisle. We also picked up a lot of decorations in Chinatown in Singapore, such as lanterns, fans, and some Chinese lions that Matt’s sister Anna and her husband Mike helped us put together. They, along with the groomsmen and Clare’s siblings and parents, helped us decorate the venue. Clare’s sister, Cat’s boyfriend Alistair DJ-d for us and it was the exact mix we wanted.
Choosing the food took a bit of thought, professional wedding catering companies seem to have sky-high prices. One of the things we love about our life in Asia is the food and, in particular, the street food in the big cities like Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City. We chose Thai street food because we know it’s a crowd-pleaser. The caterer is a company called ThaiAngle from Saltdean. We were drawn to them because they specialise in Thai street food and cook it in this very old, bright yellow and pink Citroen van. For drinks we had a free bar with the usual drinks, but we also made a custom cocktail menu and that went down really well. We chose things that would be easy to make but with our own twist. For example, we love Japan so we had a “Japanese old fashioned” with Japanese whisky and yuzu bitters.
We also had details like a fire pit inside the tipi with marshmallows for toasting. We also had a fire pit outside with straw bales to sit on so there were plenty of places for people to spread out and relax.
THE HONEYMOON | It probably sounds crazy to anyone living in the UK but we wanted a break from the tropical humidity of Singapore… so we chose a honeymoon in Ireland! The Wild Atlantic Way was really appealing, stunning scenery without the crowds. We stayed in a lighthouse and we loved little moments like a storm raging outside and cosying up with the fire lit.
MEMORABLE MOMENTS | There were so many it actually made it feel like the day didn’t rush by too quickly! The tropical downpour that greeted us just as we got to the end of the confetti throw definitely added to the drama of the day! Luckily it did only last a few minutes. We walked off to get our couples photos taken, only to be followed by two of Matt’s nephews who were amazingly sweet, offering to carry Clare’s bouquet, our umbrella, anything to be helpful! At dinner it felt like our first chance to sit back and it was great to look around the tipi and see everyone enjoying the food… and then to look outside and see the kids (and perhaps a few adults as well) having running races on the lawn and messing around on the hay bales. It was exactly the kind of fun, informal day we’d wanted.
ADVICE FOR OTHER COUPLES | Pick and choose the traditions you like but put the rest aside and replace them with things that you actually enjoy as a couple. Even if you haven’t seen them at a wedding before, it is your day and your chance to do things your way! For example, Singapore Slings, Thai Street food, pineapples and gold waving cats are not very traditional items to see at a wedding in Kent but we like them so that’s what we chose. Also, having a wedding coordinator on the day was the best thing we did. It was such a relief, especially with a DIY wedding, to hand over all the decision making to someone else as it made the whole day stress free.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE |
Photographer | Parkershots
Gown | Gatsby by Justin Alexander, from Blessings Bridal
Shoes | Rachel Simpson
Hair and Make-up Artist | Toni Todd
Florist | Bettie Rose
Rings | Brilliant Earth
Venue | Chafford Park
Luxury toilet hire (yes, an important detail!) | Elegance Services
Tipis | Holmsted Events
Cheeses | Pallant of Arundel
Caterer | ThaiAngle Catering
Suits | Ted Baker from Moss Bros
Wedding Coordinator | Every Detail
Stationery | Clare’s brother, Joseph Downy
Entertainment | Sedz Wedz
Celebrant | True Blue Ceremonies
Wow so lovely.
Thanks so much to Matt and Clare for sharing all about their celebrations xo Lou