With the backdrop of Hever Castle, glorious summer weather and magical fireworks, Natalie and Shibby’s wedding became a fairytale celebration
Photography: Paul Johnson Photography
Additional photos: Conrad Lee Photography
For Natalie and Shibby a wedding in the countryside was a must, and Hever Castle in Kent seemed a natural choice. Not only was this a great location for a party, but for Natalie the castle also held wonderful recollections. She says: “I had all sorts of fond memories of the castle from childhood, both of family visits and school trips”. As this was a high-summer wedding, they chose the castle’s picturesque Italian Garden. The combination of the lakeside Loggia and Guthrie Pavilion offers a little slice of Italy in the Kent countryside, set in glorious grounds and with views to the medieval castle.
Organisation took place over nine months and was very much a family affair, with Natalie and Shibby’s parents acting as a sounding board and helping with the decision-making process. “We enjoyed the planning process, although at times it could be stressful. There were so many decisions to be made that it was really valuable to have this family support,” says Natalie.
The weather was perfect on the day – warm, but not too warm – and this meant that their guests could enjoy the castle’s beautiful garden setting. The restrained and elegant colour theme was perfectly in tune with the season and the location, featuring pale pinks, whites and greens – including lovely sage-green gowns for Natalie’s adult bridesmaids. Shibby and his groomsmen wore smart blue suits with white buttonholes and sage-green ties.
Pamela Brise, florist in residence at Hever Castle, created displays using this theme. Her skill and knowledge of the castle buildings meant she knew exactly how to highlight the romantic architectural features of the Loggia, winding garlands around its pillars and dressing its elegant wall urns with lush blooms. Her flowers were also used to dress the delectable five-flavour tiered cake from Konditor & Cook.
“Walking down the aisle with my Mum and Dad and bridesmaids and seeing Shibby, was a high point”
Natalie’s stunning wedding dress, headpiece and veil were from Caroline Castigliano’s Knightsbridge atelier and she opted for a timeless ballgown shape (the Andrea), combining a crepe satin bodice with full organza skirt and beaded Belle belt. “I loved the whole experience of working with the team at Caroline Castigliano and couldn’t have been happier with my choice of gown,” she says. Her shoes were from Emmy London – perfect wedding heels to match a fairytale gown.
Originally Natalie’s father was going to be the master of ceremonies, but a decision to call in toastmaster Peter Thompson was a move they didn’t regret. Natalie says: “We didn’t realise how much toastmasters do until we saw Peter in action. He was on hand throughout, helping guests, steering us to the next step and generally keeping things to time”.
“We loved our first dance. It was wonderful to be on the dancefloor just having fun and feeling relaxed.”
The team at Hever Castle were – says Natalie – excellent, providing great service and attention to detail. The pyrotechnics crew from Firebird Events were also impressive: “Real professionalism, and the fireworks were just beautiful”. The fireworks display over the lake turned out to be one of many high points of the day. Natalie says: “Walking down the aisle with my Mum and Dad and bridesmaids and seeing Shibby, was a high point for me. And for both of us, being surrounded by friends and family in this beautiful setting by the lake was a special moment.
“We also loved our first dance. We’d prepared for it by taking a few lessons with Marius Caluser, who gives dance classes privately as well as being the choreographer at Claridge’s. It was wonderful to be on the dancefloor just having fun and feeling relaxed. In fact, we enjoyed those dance lessons so much we plan to carry on!”
Natalie and Shibby’s advice to other brides and grooms would be to avoid getting stressed by the process. “It’s easy to get hung up on the details, but remember to focus on the bigger picture,” says Natalie. “On the day itself, if everyone is having fun and you are feeling relaxed then it’s all working out well.”
Natalie & Shibby’s Hever Castle wedding sourcebook
Venue: Hever Castle; hevercastle.co.uk
Photography: Paul Johnson Photography; pjphoto.co.uk
Additional photos: Conrad Lee; conrad00.wixsite.com/conradleephotography
Bride’s gown, headpiece & veil: Caroline Castigliano; carolinecastigliano.com
Bride’s shoes: Emmy London; emmylondon.com
Flowers: Pamela Brise (Hever Castle); hevercastle.co.uk
Cake: Konditor & Cook; konditorandcook.com
Catering: Leith’s Dining; leithsdining.co.uk
Toastmaster: Peter Thompson; southeast-toastmasters.co.uk
Bride & groom’s choreographer: Marius Caluser; mariuscaluser.com
Fireworks: Firebird Events; firebirdevents.co.uk
Videography: Cut Above Productions; cutaboveproductions.co.uk