Relaxed Devon Beach Wedding With Asian Influences: Steph and Henry
We married at The Tunnels Beaches in Ilfracombe, Devon.
It is an incredibly beautiful location and we both absolutely love the water so we really wanted to get married by the sea. We moved to Devon 5 years ago, right when we first got together, so it is a place that holds a lot of meaning for us as it’s where our relationship has grown. The moment we walked in we knew it was where we wanted to get married.
Words by Steph. Images by Lee Maxwell.
I’d never really had an image in my mind of ‘my perfect wedding dress’ so I had absolutely no idea what style I wanted. Because of that, I tried so many dresses on – too many! I started to realise that I wanted something beachy and lacy, something I could dance in, something that had a beautiful train and something that had an elegant back. I tried this dress on and immediately loved it as it ticked so many of my boxes.
I knew exactly what I wanted for the flowers, but I wanted to be inspired. In Thailand, flowers are a HUGE focus of everyday life, and I have very fond memories of festivals, temples and food all surrounded by jasmine and Thai orchids. It was important to me that the flowers not only looked right but smelled right too. When I spoke to Natasha about my vision I felt like she had some great ideas e.g. also using lilies and Stephanotis (like my name) and I knew she would put together something special. We reused the flowers from the aisle on the tables. Afterwards, I took them all home and they lasted for so long. People still talk to me about my flowers nearly a year on!
Henry and I met at Farnborough Sixth Form College back in 2003 but we were only ever friends. It wasn’t until over a decade later when Henry came back from Japan that we discovered that there might just be a spark there. After 2.5 years, just before my 30th birthday, Henry took me to my hometown to a beautiful Scottish castle called Dalhousie. Despite being upgraded to the bridal suite I didn’t clock that anything was happening, although looking back now, he was acting a bit strangely. At midnight, after a romantic candlelit dinner in what used to be the castle dungeons, Henry suggested going for a walk. Still none the wiser about what was about to happen, I was delighted when Henry started what appeared to be a meticulously rehearsed ‘birthday speech’ when… hang on, you don’t do birthday speeches down on one knee! FINALLY, I clocked what was happening, got into the spirit, promptly burst into tears and snatched the ring out of the box before the box lid had hit the hinges!
We gave our guests mini Asian takeaway boxes printed with our names and words in Kanji; inside we had sticks of incense, chilli seeds to grow (as we love chilli way too much and put it on everything), fortune cookies and sweets.
We decorated the venue with wicker hearts for the chairs, jam jars, paper lanterns, origami on the tables, Asian style lights, jasmine-scented candles, flowers and candles for the aisle. Henry hand wrote everyone’s’ name for the tables in calligraphy to honour his granddad who had taught him before he passed away. We had edible flowers for the reception drinks (they also decorated the food and the cake). Other decor included paper parasols, fancy dress, and authentic hats and props from hill tribe villages in Chiang Mai for the polaroid ‘photo booth’. We asked people to hang the photos on the string peglights or put it into our wedding guestbook along with a nice message.
If we could offer any advice we would say… Enjoy the process, relax, and don’t try on too many dresses! Do what is best for you – don’t try to please everyone, delegate, and appoint a bridal squad who will help you get down the aisle on the day. Buy in the sales if possible. Minimise waste and spend wherever possible by recycling. I would also recommend writing your own vows; it is your unique promise to each other and those are the foundations your marriage is based on.
Congratulations Steph & Henry. Your wedding looked suer fun!
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Lee Maxwell: Devon Wedding Photographer / Florist: Natasha Gawthorne at Pumpkin & Pye / Saxophonist: Abi Rose Sax / DJ: Tom at The Wedding Spinners / Hair and makeup: Claire at Totally Flawless / Edible flowers to decorate drinks oriental-style and the cake(AMAZING): / Confetti: Shropshire Petals / Tailor: Bride and Alter / Honeymoon: Karen Beeson via West Country Wedding Planners / Wedding Dress: Stella York ‘Harley’ dress / Twilight Designs single tier veil (bought from Brides To Be, Reading) / Jimmy Choo ‘Emily 85’ Viola Mix www.jimmychoo.com / Barefoot sandals: Etsy (FancyyFeets)