Reading the details for today’s wedding – the photographer, the wedding dress designer and the venue has been such a treat; lovely little discoveries I hope you’re going to enjoy, too!
Our couple’s photographer was none other than Benjamin Wheeler, who also photographed the wedding of Princess Beatrice to Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi a few weeks ago, and our bride’s dress designer was the superlative Caroline Castigliano. Incidentally, our founder Annabel will be on Instagram Live with designer Caroline at 5pm today, and we’d love you to join them there (the session will be hosted on the @carolinecastigliano Instagram account). This is the wonderful wedding of online retailer Grace, and Matt, who is an events director.
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They were married on the 1 June 2019 at St. Peter’s Church in the village of Firle, East Sussex, followed by an elegant reception in the spectacular Georgian Riding School at Firle Place. Firle Place is a beautiful, historic estate in the South Downs, which you may have recently seen on screen in all its glory as Hartfield, in Autumn de Wilde’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma.
“Firle Place backs onto our church, St.Peter’s, and sits in an idyllic spot on the South Downs, which we walk by with our dog Chester most days. Living close by, we couldn’t imagine getting married anywhere else. We’d always loved the feel of a classic English country wedding, and felt that the best way to make our day feel special was to showcase the surroundings we were already lucky enough to have.”
As a collector of 1950s vintage dresses, and a lover of their structured yet feminine silhouettes, it seemed natural for Grace to gravitate towards that sort of style when it came to her own wedding gown, by our friend and Little Book member Caroline Castigliano.
“The team at Caroline Castigliano were lovely from beginning to end. I had multiple fittings in the lead up to June, and Guiliana, in charge of making my dress, was reassuringly meticulous. There was always a glass of prosecco on hand to calm any pre-wedding nerves during chats with the team, too.”
Grace’s dress was a beautiful, clean-lined design with an off-the-shoulder bateau style neckline, a corseted bodice, and a full, box pleated ball gown skirt with a pretty row of buttons running down the back.
“Caroline Castigliano is known for her corseted designs echoing a classic shape, so she felt like the perfect choice. My own corset fit like a glove, and was really easy to wear. Although I love formal dresses there’s no point going for one you’re going to be uncomfortable in all day. It was also made to be worn with a bra – such a blessing as I’m not a sewn-in-cup lover!”
The bridesmaids looked wonderful in long, ivory halterneck dresses by BHLDN, which they wore with shoes from Marks & Spencer, and velvet hair bows made for them by Grace – how lovely!
Grace wore a pair of glitter ‘Romy’ pumps by Jimmy Choo, and accessorised with earrings bought at a local antiques shop, and a bracelet given to her by her mum on the wedding morning, which had originally been given to her by her own mother.
“I wore the ‘Grand Veil’ from Caroline Castigilano. I chose a plain edged version to suit the simplicity of the dress, and a blush tier to wear over my face walking into church.”
“Firle is often used for period film shoots because it’s such a quaint and quintessentially English village, and the church, St. Peter’s, is very meaningful to us, having visited so often since we moved to Lewes. There are only a limited number of weddings for local couples each year there too, so it felt like an opportunity we were lucky to have.”
Grace’s little brother Charles drove her to the church, and once there, she was accompanied down the aisle by her dad, to Canon in D by Pachelbel, played on the church organ.
“We met at university, having lived in the same halls but stayed friends until we officially became a couple in our final year. Matt proposed to me in front of the Christmas tree in our living room on my birthday, nine years (six moves, two jobs and one dog) later. We were keen on a summer wedding, but with too little time to plan for the following June, we waited until the year after to say ‘I do’.”
The couple opted for a traditional Church of England ceremony, which was conducted by Reverend Peter Owen-Jones.
“He’s a huge character, and had been wonderful in the lead up to the wedding. He was many people’s favourite addition to the day.”
As they spoke their vows, Grace and Matt also exchanged rings with one another, which they chose through a family friend. There were also two lovely readings during the service: the first was from Song of Solomon 8:6-7 (‘Set me as a seal upon your heart’) read by Grace’s brother Charles.
“We chose this because it carries such a beautiful sentiment about the importance of love. Then Ann Turner read A Poem for Grace and Matthew. Matt’s mum writes poetry, and we were so blown away by the one she wrote for Matt’s brother’s wedding that we asked her to read ours during the service.”
Chariots Chauffeurs from Lewes transported everyone over to Firle Place in a fleet of minibuses after the ceremony, where they were greeted on arrival with drinks on the sunny lawn, where a game or two of croquet could be played, whilst being serenaded with live music from quartet Jazz Magic.
“Matt wore a three piece suit and tie in navy from Yardsmen and shoes from Church’s. It was a beautifully sunny day, so I bought him Finlay & Co. sunglasses from ODE in Brighton to wear in the run up to the church (outside the pub!)”
Grace and Matt’s planner and stylist was Liz Linkleter, who recommended their superb florist Shelena from Bloaum Studio. Shelena had recently moved to Lewes, but is actually now in the process of relocating to the North West of England, so do check out her website for further details.
“We fell in love with Shelena’s work straight away. We wanted a natural look full of foliage and relaxed white florals, which worked perfectly with the little old church we were married in, and Firle Place in its countryside setting. Shelena sourced many of the flowers locally, which was such a special touch.”
Stylish, contemporary stationery was by Sixfold Studio, and inside Firle’s beautiful Georgian Riding School, there was a beautiful tablescape: long tables covered in white linens, decorated with neutral hued flowers, and modern taper candles gently flickering.
“We tried to balance familiarity with formality to maintain a feeling of occasion in terms of our styling. Using traditional elements like our outfits, contrasting with the use of more relaxed additions like wildflowers helped us to do that. Imagery from large Italian and Spanish weddings helped to inspire the look, too.”
Dinner and speeches were followed by cocktails and cake cutting, and a joyful first dance together to Summercat by Billie the Vision and the Dancers, played live by their evening band, Mode. Staging, AV and lighting came courtesy of Fusion Sound & Light.
“It was our favourite song in uni together amidst the uncertainty of what would happen after we left. A sort of ode to being in the moment. We shouldn’t have worried!”
“My favourite part of the day was playing Baby to Matt’s Swayze, and being hoisted in the air by our friends on the dancefloor, because at the end of the day everyone just loves a good party.”
As I mentioned at the start of this piece, Grace and Matt’s photographer was Benjamin Wheeler, and it’s fantastic to be featuring more of his authentically romantic, elegant work with you on our pages.
“I’d collected lots of images online in the run up to the wedding, and more often than not it turned out that Ben had been the one to take them. His style of photography is very artistic and editorial, but at the same time it never feels staged.”
“I think part of the sense of ease from his images comes from how lovely Ben is to be around! It can be really awkward to have photos of yourself taken when it’s not something you’re used to, and he put us at ease immediately, working alone and subtly. We knew he’d do justice to the day and he didn’t disappoint; he captured the whole day perfectly. Highly recommend!”
Grace took care of her own hair and make-up, and finished off with a perfume called Églantier, by a local, Lewes based Nancy Meiland.
“Nancy Meiland is a perfumer based in Lewes, and I’ve been obsessed with her scents ever since I tried them in one of our local shops. Églantier is the perfect daytime perfume for those who don’t like anything too sweet or floral.”
Words of Wedded Wisdom
“Know your likes and dislikes, it’ll keep you on top form, and will allow you both to enjoy the day to its fullest.”
“If you’re someone who needs a little quiet time to get ready, you don’t have to have half the wedding party drinking champagne in your bedroom at 8am. Equally, if you love the idea of a BBQ and no traditional speeches, do that. The best weddings are those which feel the most authentic to the couple.”
Thank you so much Grace and Matt. That was idyllic rural beauty at its best, filled with such joy and happiness – all captured brilliantly by Benjamin Wheeler – thank you!
Until next time,