We got engaged in New York in 2017. Sam had planned a surprise picnic by the river in the grounds of a beautiful restaurant there – the North Branch Inn. After he proposed we went into the restaurant and had a delicious meal. It really was perfect.
My engagement ring is from a boutique called Mociun in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It’s a vintage style with diamonds and yellow gold. I love their intricate, one-of-a-kind pieces.
We wanted the wedding to feel very personal, and – almost more importantly – we wanted to have a really big party! We held our civil ceremony just with close family at New York City Hall the previous year, so our priority was the fabulous celebration which followed.
We adore Babington House in Somerset and knew it would be ideal for our wedding celebration – there was so much space and the grounds were beautiful.
The whole team at Babington House were fantastic. We worked closely with Lauren Alway, the weddings and events manager – we wouldn’t have had such a perfect day without her. The bar staff could not have been better, either – they really pulled out all the stops. We also used wedding planner Pearl van den Ende from Pearl Rock & Raven. She is creative and organised and made the day truly magical. We felt very safe having her by our sides throughout the planning process.
I went for a beautiful floral lace dress from Pronovias. It had a low back and simple train. It was traditional and romantic, and suited the venue perfectly. The balance between figure-hugging yet comfortable was also spot on. For the party, I changed into a short dress from Ba&sh. The minute I changed into it I knew I’d be able to really relax and enjoy the evening. The material also really caught the light, making it the ideal choice for dancing.
I wore pretty Sophia Webster sandals and borrowed a gorgeous veil from my friend Claire. Her dress came from the same designer, so it was very fortuitous – it was my something borrowed. For the party I wore a Simone Rocha headband.
The Hair & Make-Up
Both my hair and make-up looks were put together by Malkia Roberts, who caters specifically for darker skin tones. I chose a simple loose updo and a natural make-up look.
The Wedding Party
I could not have been happier with the flowers – our florist, Flowers by Passion, did an incredible job. We went for a semi-neutral colour palette and wanted to weave in the different themes of our wedding – there were some traditional English flowers in there, as well as some tropical buds to give a nod to my Jamaican and English heritage.
While our guests were being seated The Bristol String Quartet played. During our ceremony we also had a wonderful singer, Maisie Lewis, sing an acoustic version of ‘Higher Love’. Sam’s father read a personal tribute as our main reading – it was truly lovely.
We used as much of the Babington grounds as possible. In fact, on the day, we used six different spaces – the ceremony was outside under the birch tree; we had a cocktail reception on the main lawn; dinner in The Orangery; speeches outside on the steps in the evening; dancing back in the Orangery (which we had flipped); midnight munchies in another room, and finally the after party in the bar.
I am so grateful to have found our photographer, Colin Ross, and videographer, Ben Tynegate. Unbeknown to me, they often work together, which explains why they both blended into the day so seamlessly, capturing all those fleeting moments. We barely noticed they were there – which was exactly what we wanted.
The vibe of our wedding was pretty eclectic. Our ceremony and dinner had a traditional, romantic vibe, while the drinks reception had a Caribbean theme. We had mango mojitos and watermelon mini bellinis, and a steel band called The Steel Panthers. The sun was shining and there was a really tropical vibe.
The Food & Drink
I have to say the food was delicious. The canapés on the lawn included courgette and mozzarella arancini, mushroom croquettes, seabass tartare and scotch quails’ eggs. For the starter, we offered Devon crab with seafood and saffron risotto, and heritage carrots with goats’ cheese. Mains included seabass, roast leg of lamb, and spinach and Westcombe ricotta rotollo with sage butter. Babington also created a stunning champagne tower, which they said was definitely a one-off given how stressful it had been putting it up in the wind outside!
We decided against having a traditional wedding cake, and instead Babington put together a wonderful dessert table which included a profiterole tower, orange and almond cake, passion fruit roulade and eton mess.
Our first dance was another rendition of ‘Higher Love,’ which we had The Soul Brothers perform. I couldn’t recommend the Soul Brothers more – they really know how to get a party started! Later we had some fire throwers perform which everyone loved.
The Day Before
The evening before the wedding we invited people to a barbecue at Babington in The Walled Garden. We had drinks and food and it was lovely to see so many of the guests before the big day.
What We’d Do Differently
Lots of couples say it, but the wedding really was everything we could have hoped for. My favourite part was dancing after dinner when we could finally let our hair down. Our friends and family are split mainly between the UK and the US, so it was very special to have everyone together.
Advice For Other Couples
Take a step back and think about the overall feel of your day before you get into planning the smaller details. It’s so tempting to try to get things booked and ticked off that long list, but if you look at the big picture first, it can help make the day more special. If you have the budget, a ‘surprise’ for your guests will inject some real energy, too.