A minimalist wedding in Kent full of personal touches

09 Sep 2020

When Caroline Seely and James Faulkner married they used a minimalist colour theme for their wedding, celebrated at Penshurst Place and Gardens – a place that spoke to them from the first viewing 

Photography: Helen England Photography 



What venue did you choose and why? 
We booked an appointment with Penshurst very early on in our search but thought it would probably be out of our budget. We were initially thinking we wanted to go for a barn style venue and saw a few, but they didn’t feel right and a lot of them didn’t allow for our number of guests. Once we went to view Penshurst Place there was no going back. I’d always been as a child and remember thinking it was the most beautiful building with the most gorgeous gardens that you can just wander around for hours. James is also into the history of the place so it was a great combination. We were definitely going to be married in the Church of St Peter, Hever as that was where I grew up and both my sisters were married there and my dad’s funeral, so Penshurst being just a 10 minute drive from Hever was also ideal. 

What colours did you choose? 
Very soft muted colours - grey, white and the green of foliage were the colours as they were as minimalist as we could go while still having a theme. 


Tell us about your dress 
I tried on quite a few dresses across a number of shops in the South East. The one I went for was actually two dresses made into one by Pantiles Bride, as I liked the beautiful lace overlay but wanted it fixed to the dress at the top and free flowing from the waist down. It was not what I expected to find as I thought I would have gone for more of a classic sweetheart neckline look, but I just loved how lightweight and floaty it felt once it was on. I would throw James off the scent by telling him ‘by accident’, on purpose it was a canary yellow dress and that we should get all the wedding decorations to match. 


How did you feel on the morning? 
I was so chilled out. I slept a full eight hours and luckily my six bridesmaids all stayed at my mum’s house with me so we had fun getting ready in the morning. The bridesmaids’ make-up lady Leticia Rix arrived pretty early as she had six bridesmaids to beatify, next to arrive was Katherine Atkinson for the bridesmaids’ hair and they went from one to the other like a conveyor belt. My hair and make-up lady Elloise arrived at 10am, so I had a nice relaxing morning drinking champagne and eating mini donuts! When it was my turn to sit in front of the mirror I did feel a bit nervous, but more because how odd the situation was to have all my bridesmaids and mum in one place chatting away. Once I was walking up the aisle and saw James I relaxed as then it was all back to normal. 

Tell us about the ceremony 
It was beautiful, as we know Rev. Wendy Izod well and she is lovely. It was also her last ever wedding before retiring so a special moment for her too. Angela Purll played a stunning rendition of Gabriel’s Oboe on the flute for the guests while we were signing the register. I was 25 minutes late for the service which was nerve wracking for James, but I am always late in day-to-day life so perhaps it was to be expected – really didn’t think I’d be that late though! 

What did you feel when you drove up the private driveway at Penshurst Place on the day of your wedding? 
After the ceremony, James drove me in a Triumph Spitfire to Penshurst Place. Driving up the private driveway and seeing Penshurst Place emerge it was breathtaking, and we were thinking about how, if nothing else, at least all our guests would be able to enjoy the beautiful gardens and impressive Baron’s Hall. George (Kudos Catering) was waiting for us with a glass of champagne for James and a gin and tonic for me which was ideal. 


The photographs  
We had some beautiful photos outside the Baron’s Hall with the wedding party and families and then while everyone was enjoying our string quartet and canapes we were whisked off by Helen England our photographer to make the most of the stunning gardens, (we had previously scoped out some nice spots for pictures (of which there are hundreds) a few weeks before, otherwise I don’t think we would have emerged until it got darkOur photographer Helen England was amazing from the first time we met her through to going through all our photos with her at the end. We barely noticed she was there through the day but the photos she has captured are just perfect. So nice to see the parts we missed out on like guests arriving at the church and the reactions to the speeches. 


The personal touches 
Our cake was made by James’ Cousin Mark Hryncyszyn, he is an excellent baker and we always joked about him making our wedding cake one day. Boy did he deliver! Not only was it exactly as we’pictured it, but he had also done one layer of traditional wedding cake, one layer of lemon drizzle, one layer of carrot cake and top tier of wedding cake again – all were delicious!) We had a great DJ who even managed to play a song to fit into my mum’s mother of the bride speech. James’ sister was our master of ceremonies – she did an amazing job introducing all the speeches and making sure everyone was in the right place at the right time. Our wedding favours were Prostate Cancer Pins as my dad passed away from Prostate cancer when I was 22 so we thought it would be nice to make a donation to charity rather than spend money on favours. 


Tell us about the reception 
The set up for the wedding breakfast was all absolutely perfect – in fact, the thought didn’t even cross our minds that anything would go wrong, as from day one of meeting the team at Penshurst we knew they were 100% in control of making our vision a reality. They co-ordinated with all our suppliers, even the ones that were family or friends helping out to make sure everyone knew what to do and when and we barely lifted a finger.  We wanted the Baron’s Hall to speak for itself and tried not to over-decorate it too much. Again, we kept all the colours to a minimum (white and green foliage throughout with lots of candles). 

What small details really made your day special?   
The gin and tonic on arrival was nice! The welcome from the Penshurst team and knowing that they knew all the timings of our day so that we could just glide through the day and enjoy it. The catering and bar staff were lovely, and all the guests have since said that they made the evening so relaxed. Going out with our photographer Helen to catch the last of the sun as it was setting as these have made beautiful photos for us. 


Steal Their Style 
Photography: Helen England Photography    
Ceremony Venue: Church of St Peter, Hever    
Reception Venue: Penshurst Place & Gardens   
Wedding Dress: Pantiles Bride    
Wedding rings: Flawless Fine Jewellery     
Bridesmaids dresses: Monsoon   
Bridal Hair & Make-up: SJB Hair and makeup   
Bridesmaid Make-up: Makeup Angel  
Bridesmaid Hair: Katherine Atkinson (friend) 
Suits:  Moss Bros  
Stationery: Harmsworth Fine Stationery   
Flowers: Lily & Myrtle   
Cake: Mark Hryncyszyn (James’ cousin) 
Catering: Kudos Catering (through Penshurst Place) 
Venue dresser: Penshurst Place and  Lily & Myrtle  
Transport: Oxford Classic Cars  
Entertainment: Mint DJs    
Ceremony Organ & Flute: Angela Purll     
Master of Ceremonies: Elizabeth Faulkner (James’ sister) 
String Quartet Kaye Colyer (friend) 
Photobooth: Magical Times    
Favours: Prostate Cancer UK Charity Pins  
Table names/guest name places: Felicia Jennings (school friend) 


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