A deep red fairy tale wedding in Kent

21 Jun 2022

Sarah-Jane Wildish and Tommy Wallis planned their wedding in nine months, beginning with plans for a small celebration before inviting a total of 120 guests to their big day

How did you meet?

We met nine years ago. Our younger sisters were best friends, and I was a barmaid in a local pub that Tommy drank in. He was 23, I was 19, and we got talking; as soon as he realised who I was, he took me out on a date and we just clicked. We had moved in together within a month. 

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What was your colour scheme?

Burgundy/oxblood and gold accessories, which fitted in well with the venue. It looked stunning.

What venue did you choose? 

We originally wanted to book a registry office and have a big party after, but our local registry office had a big pillar in the middle of the altar and I just didn't like it.

I then found out that The Guildhall Museum in Rochester ran weddings on the weekends. I had spent many days there as a child with my dad, so I knew exactly what it looked like: huge, gold-framed portraits and a beautiful, red carpet staircase. No-one really knows you can get married there. I took Tommy too see it, and he knew it was the one. It matched our colour scheme and felt very regal... it was perfect. 

We then had our reception in The Quee Suite at Lordswood Leisure Centre. 

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How did you know you'd found the dress? 

I didn't know what kind of dress I wanted or even what would suit me, but I knew I didn't want a princess, ball gown dress. However, that's exactly what I ended up getting.

I had an appointment booked in Little White Dress in Gravesend, so I looked at the website and social media pages. I spotted my dress and it was so stunning; so simple, but so elegant. I had my fingers crossed it was still in the shop when I went for the appointment and it was. I tried on other dresses but I just loved the dress I first set eyes on. It was a 1950s-inspired hi-low satin ball gown by Catherine Parry with a cathedral length train. 

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What did the bridesmaids wear? 

I had seven bridesmaids who wore oxblood multiway dresses from Amazon. Our daughter, Mary-Jane, was my flower girl and wore a white satin dress from Etsy atop two tutus.

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What did you choose for the suits? 

Tommy, the groomsmen and our two sons wore navy blue suits with a burgundy check pattern from Marc Darcy.

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Tell us about your flower arrangements. 

We chose a more natural look for the bouquets, buttonholes and arrangements using burgundy and deep red roses and peonies, ivory and blush pink roses, wild flower sprigs and eucalyptus, which were all silk.

The centrepieces was large gold hoops with lanterns and a matching floral arrangement. The table numbers were a DIY project using heart-shaped chalkboards on mini easels and chalk paint pens for the calligraphy. My aunt made the guest buttonholes and everyone wore one. 

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How did you feel walking down the aisle? 

I was pretty calm prior to the day and was just expecting too see Tommy smiling at the end of the aisle. As soon as I set eyes on him, I cried; he was shaking like a leaf and crying, which I didnt expect from him. It was a very emotional ceremony; it really was everything I dreamed of and more.

How did you personalise the ceremony? 

I walked down aisle to Christina Perri's A Thousand Years. We chose our vows from a list prior to the ceremony, as we didn't want to write our own and we felt that was more traditional. 

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What was your most memorable moment? 

Seeing Tommy at the end of the aisle, and secondly, being announced as husband and wife. We kissed, and it was such a relief that the most awaited part was done and now we could really enjoy it.

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What was the most challenging aspect? 

Pleasing everyone else.

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What was the most important investment for you? 

The photographer, dress, rings and suits, as well as the make-up artist and hair stylist. Nothing else really mattered as long as we had the most beautiful photos to look back on and always remember our special day. After all, we are never going to dress up like that again. I loved every minute of it. 

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What did you choose for your first dance song and why?

Eddie Lovette's Stuck on You. We are both huge reggae lovers, so a slow dance wouldn't have cut it. It was lovely and more 'us'. 

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Tell us about your wedding cake.

It was a three-tier naked sponge cake with gold leaf. The deep red flowers were bought from Etsy, and we also had a gold cake topper saying 'Mr and Mrs Wallis'.

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Did anything go wrong on the day?

It rained as soon as I stepped outside, and I didn't have an umbrella, so I was soaked when I got to the venue. However, I didn't care as soon as I got to the altar; none of that mattered, and you couldn't really tell from the photos.

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What is your best wedding planning advice? 

Do what you both want. It's your day, no-one else's; we found a lot of the time we were people pleasing to make everyone else happy, except us. In the end, none of that matters; only you and the person you are marrying. Your wedding day is the first day of the rest of your lives together, so relax and take every moment in because you really don't realise you're in the moment until it's a memory.

Steal their style: 

Photography: Evey-Leigh Oldale 
Dress: Style 1711 by Catherine Parry from Little White Dress
Hair: Shannon Armour 
Make-up: Phoebe Manning
Flowers: Arbre d'Amour
Suits: Marc Darcy from Reload Menswear

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