Rebecca Kemp and James Withers decided to put music at the beating heart of their wedding.
The couple, who both grew up in Maidstone, had musicians and singers performing live from the start of the ceremony right through to the reception, set against the backdrop of the beautiful gardens of Cooling Castle, near Rochester, at the height of summer.
First up was string ensemble the Dotted Crotchets, who played during the ceremony and then in the landscaped grounds before the reception.
“They played traditional music for the ceremony but lots of modern songs out in the garden for a more relaxed atmosphere,” said Rebecca, a 26-year-old HR advisor.
“After the wedding breakfast, we had Jamie Johnson from The Voice, who lives in Medway, sing our first dance, Kodaline’s The One.
“Jamie was brilliant – his voice was amazing and he was in the middle of our guests on the dance floor singing which really brought everyone together.”
Not surprisingly music also played its part in bringing the couple together as it was under the neon lights at a Maidstone nightclub when James and Rebecca’s eyes first met.
The pair were both at university but many cinema dates and long nights on the phone later, James asked Rebecca to marry him as the sun went down on a beach in Vancouver Island, Canada.
“It was absolutely perfect,” recalled Rebecca.
“James was very worried about getting stopped by security at the airport and them finding the engagement ring he’d hidden in a sock! He was also was very insistent on wearing a particular jumper of his to the beach and I didn’t understand. I now know it was the only jumper he had with pockets that would fit the ring in!”
On returning to the UK, the couple stocked up on bridal magazines and became overnight wedding experts as they scoured the internet looking for a venue.
“Cooling Castle Barns had everything we were looking for – it was relaxed but the ceremony would still be formal,” said Rebecca.
“The staff were all so friendly and approachable. Plus they were happy to accommodate the ideas we had.”
Pictures by Level 11 Photography from Bromley. More details at www.level11.co.uk
Attention to detail was key
It was attention to details that made Rebecca and James’ day so memorable.
Rebecca even went so far as to hand-soak willow to create a one-of-a-kind heart-shaped frame for the backdrop of their ceremony, which the florist filled for the day.
The ceremony was speckled with individual touches such as tissues labelled with the handwritten message “for wiping away happy tears”, and for the reception, hundreds of handmade tissue paper flowers.
“The venue had a balcony and we originally thought of having the word LOVE in flowers up there,” said Rebecca.
“However, we didn’t want to spend the money on fresh flowers, so we decided to make them ourselves. We bought four sheets of foam board and used one board to cut out each of the letters.
"We then made hundreds of tissue paper flowers in lilac and white, made holes in the foam board and threaded the flowers through.”
And the care of their guests wasn’t forgotten either, with Rebecca’s brilliant idea for bathroom care kits!
'Making so much ourselves was a lot of fun and a unique opportunity to get family and friends together'
“In each of the bathrooms we had ‘bathroom boxes’ filled with useful items such as tights, perfume, makeup remover wipes and deodorant.”
The couple also wrote out the wedding signs, seating plans, name tags, personalised messages and advice cards. There was also pens for every guest hand-decorated with ‘Withers Wedding’.
“Making so much ourselves was a lot of fun and a unique opportunity to get family and friends together, everyone was so helpful and made themselves available in the run up to the wedding to help – we couldn’t have done it without them all,” added Rebecca.
Suppliers and contacts
Cakes: Delicious Occasions - www.deliciousoccasions.co.uk
Catering: Oyster Meister - www.oystermeister.com
Dress: Bridal Way from Ramsgate - www.bridalway.co.uk
Event decoration: Confetti Connections - confetticonnections.co.uk
Event props: Big Day Prop Hire - www.bigdayprophire.co.uk
Florist: West Malling Flowers - www.westmallingflowers.co.uk
Hair and make-up: Holly Kathleen - www.hollykathleen.com
Videographer: TDH Media - www.tdhmedia.co.uk