Portchester Castle Wedding | Kiri + Liam

Kiri and Liam were married at the 12th Century St. Mary’s Church, Portchester with the wedding reception at the lovely Hill Place in Swanmore, which is what an estate agent would call a bijoux stately home with “to come home for” period features. It’s honestly so cute it could have been built just for weddings. 

Kiri and Liam originally met while at University but reconnected via the magic of Tinder whilst Liam was visiting family on a short break from time at sea. Due to Liam’s job he was away at sea a lot and there was a four month gap between the first and second date but Kiri says Liam was definitely worth the wait. 

I’ll let Kiri and Liam take it from here and what doesn’t come across in words will be more than made up by the photos of one of my all-time favourite weddings!

What is/are the thing(s) you like most about the other?

Liam: I love all of her, I couldn’t possible choose.
Kiri: His sarcasm.

Please describe the proposal, where it happened, did you have any idea it was coming. How did you feel?

I had an idea that the question may be coming but it definitely caught me off guard. We took a Sunday morning run down to the beach with the dog and when we reached the shore in front of a row of beach huts Liam stopped and said he fancied a rest to enjoy the view. We sat down and he pointed to an old brown bottle by my foot with a scroll of paper inside. We then got into a discussion about the ethics of opening someone else’s message in a bottle and intruding on their inner most thoughts/love-notes. Ultimately, I was persuaded to open and read the poem inside about a lonely sailor who found his love and asked her to marry him, when I looked up I could barely see the ring he was holding through my tears. We walked back to the car and planned our wedding 8 months from then. 

Why did you choose your wedding venues and what did you most like about them?

We picked St. Mary’s Church because my parents were married there and because I’d grown up imagining that’s where I’d marry and it’s a beautiful building in the middle of a ruined castle on the seafront so Liam didn’t take much convincing.

Hill Place we both loved on first sight. It has old charm but is also very relaxed and they were so open to making it feel our home for the weekend. The catering was absolutely delicious.

Where did you get ready?

Liam got ready at Hill Place with his family and best men and I was in our cottage with the bridesmaids. I’d gotten up before the maids to run with the dog and enjoy a little calm before the occasion and when I got back they’d laid out breakfast and Prosecco on the table and we all got ready together.

Please describe what you planned for your ceremony, any readings or personal touches. How did you feel during the ceremony, when it was over and you walked down the aisle etc.

My dad drove me to the church and on the way there passed me a scroll Liam had written to me for my wedding day. In retrospect this would probably have been best to read before makeup but when we arrived I had forgotten my nerves about everyone watching and I couldn’t wait to run down the aisle. My Mum and I had made all the orders of service, menus, invitations, place cards and it really helped the flow of the wedding. We’d sprayed the lot with Jo Malone lemon, basil and mandarin to help create a memory.

Please describe what you planned i.e. lawn games, live music etc. Did it happen the way you planned, did the weather get in the way?

We had a pianist playing some upbeat love songs on arrival at Hill Place and the guests had fizz and spilled out onto the lawn. Liam’s family had made a game of sacks and painted the family crest on one goal with the other left blank for guests to sign. 

Please describe the speeches, were they a laugh a minute, did you remember lost friends and family etc.

Liam had to read his speech to me again on our honeymoon because I’d been so over-conscious of it I’d barely heard the words.  The best men did well and we loved their idea to play the shoe game which I think the wedding guests loved and it kept things light and fun.

Please describe the “after-show party”. Did you have a live band, was everyone at the bar doing shots all evening, did you all fall over at the end?

Each of the tables at the wedding had its own gin bottle as it’s namesake and the favours were tonic cans. So in order to try other gins the guests had to mingle and by the time the live band started the guests had lost any dance floor inhibitions. The best men had Liam up on their shoulders within a few songs and my brothers didn’t want to be shown up by a bunch of rugby boys so had me up squealing with terror alongside Liam.

What did you want your wedding to “feel” like, relaxed, formal, festival etc?

We were definitely aiming to avoid any kind of formal feeling to the wedding and just wanted people to enjoy themselves.

What were you most nervous about?

My main anxiety was around being the centre of attention. I love attending weddings, they’re my favourite kind of party but being the one everyone is looking at is daunting. Graham’s style of photography meant I was never looking at the camera which really helped me to feel more natural and less focussed on.

What was your favourite part of your wedding day?

Definitely the dancing with music by Rhythm Junkie Band.

What is the biggest piece of advice you could give to couples planning their own wedding?

Try to find a small piece of time alone to remember what it’s all about. We had a glass of champagne on the roof watching the buzz down below.

Why did you choose me instead of one of the other 85,000 wedding photographers?

We loved the style of photography, the unposed captures. We were thrilled with the editing and the speed of the photos coming back to us.

Was your portrait session fun or painful, do you wish you’d spent more or less time?

I think we got the balance about right on portraits. It would have been nice to spend the whole time mingling with guests but looking back I’m glad we took a little time to capture family photos and also spend a little time with each other away from the buzz to really appreciate the day.

WEDDING CEREMONY VENUE: St. Mary’s Church, Portchester
CATERER: Smallpiece Catering
FLORIST: Annie Rood Floristry
BAND: Rhythm Junkie
KIRI’S DRESS: Stephanie Allin Couture 

Hill Place Wedding Photography © Graham Nixon 2018

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