real wedding: a very british walled garden wedding {sara & damien}

Oh, so much love for today’s wedding from b.loved fave’s McKinley Rodgers.  Sara & Damien’s wedding in the informal setting at The Walled Garden, Cowdray, is an afternoon of quintessentially British flair.  Taking place over the Jubilee weekend, they added subtle references to the best of British, with flowers reminiscent of a beautiful country garden displayed in bottles for a relaxed, just picked feel, local mead and honey (umm, how original and yummy!) and of course a few Union Jacks thrown in for fun.  I totally love the way they used giant white balloons to create an effective backdrop to their reception tables!  Opting for non-traditional groomswear (big thumbs up from me!) Damien looks totally dapper, and with his groomsmen in equally stylish mismatched suits they look every inch the modern British gents! Sara chose an elegant dress from British designer Stephanie Allin completed by accessories from designer Gillian Million.

Here’s Sara with their story ~

I moved to Cardiff for work. I needed somewhere to live, so found a flat-share website. I moved in with two guys. The re was a particular connection with one of the guys and our friendship grew quickly. We soon became boyfriend and girlfriend and have not stopped laughing and enjoying each other’s company since.  The proposal was a surprise. Damien secretly asked my father for his permission 4 weeks prior and had designed and ordered the ring himself. We went on our summer holiday to Mallorca. The moment came on the second day into the holiday when we stood at the top of a cliff top over-looking the sea in Port de Soller. Damien got down on one knee and popped the question. It was perfect, and we returned back to this same spot on our honeymoon.

Our wedding was at The Walled Garden, Cowdray.  I love gardening and Damien and I loved the feel of the beautiful gardens there. It was the first venue we visited in person and booked it straight away. The theme that we loosely chose was: informal/horticultural/British/fun.  We found a lot of our inspiration from reading blogs and looking through ‘Brides’ bridal magazines. We started off by sending out our save-the-date cards. For these, Damien drew a 4-part cartoon that represented our relationship from moving in as flatmates, me making him cakes to woo him, then moving in together into our own home and proposing!

I wanted my look to be subtle and chic so I wore a silk dress from the designer Stephanie Allin. I love all of her dresses, but this one suited me the best. I clipped a silk flower from Gillian Million onto the back of it to give a little more detail. In my hair I wore a twist of wires that had pearls running through it.

We wanted a less formal wedding so my bridesmaid (my sister) wore a cream dress which had a flowery pattern on it. She sewed onto it a green velvet ribbon and flower. She wore the shoes she wore on her own wedding day, by Rachel Simpson. I bought her a flower bracelet from Gillian Million and a gold plated bumble bee necklace from Alex Monroe.  Our groomsmen wore smart-casual outfits from a variety of high street shops.  The Groom wore an outfit that we both went shopping for together. Trousers were from Crombie and jacket from Henri Lloyd.

Our invites were a personalised tea towel from Wedding Teatowels. We tied each tea towel in thin cotton ribbon, then attached a gift tag with the guest’s name on and wrapped them in brown paper and string and posted them.  These worked out to be cheaper than card invites and our guests loved them because they were so original and they could use them again and again.  We also made our own name places by filling mini terracotta pots with oasis, then pinning in florist’s moss. We attached guest’s name cards to sticks and pushed them into the pots. We also used terracotta pots to fill with sweets in the evening. Our wedding was on the Bank Holiday Monday of the Queen’s Jubilee weekend, so we incorporated some British flags in various parts of the day. To keep things British, we sourced delicious local spiced honeymead for the toasts and served local berry port with our cheese in the evening.

Our flowers on the day were a mixture of flowers; waxed flower, peony, chamomile, rose, chincherinchee, freesia and rosemary. The table arrangements were assorted and loose, to look as though the flowers had just been picked from the gardens and put into a mixture of vases and bottles. We collected bottles over a few months e.g. Jack Daniel’s glass bottles, jam jars and old glass milk bottles from charity shops. It was surprising how different bottles look when you have emptied them and taken their labels off.  

So that we our guests were never bored, we bought two polaroid cameras and asked guests to take photos of themselves – any pose will do! We had stapled hessian around a large canvas and stapled ribbon across it and put tiny pegs on the ribbon for guests to hang their photos up. This worked out really well and we have a photo (or two) of every guest to keep. Boxes of different sized flip flops were put out for the female guests before the first dance. This went down a treat and was relatively inexpensive too (flip flops were from Primark). 

What was your first dance, and how did you choose the song?

My husband is very much into his music. The first thing he booked was our band. They were amazing – thebeatlesforsale. They are pretty much the closest thing to The Beatles you will ever hear! Once they were booked, we choose a Beatles song for our first dance. We sat down and listened to many songs and went for the one that we both liked. We chose ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’. This was a lively song and our first dance was choreographed. Most of all I loved dancing the night away to The Beatles as a married couple and seeing how happy our friends and family all were around us!

Do you have any advice for couples currently planning their wedding?

Go with what you want. Don’t let family try to influence you. Parent’s got married 20-30 years ago, and times have changed. Our family were worried about many parts of our wedding, for example, the Groom wasn’t wearing a tie and we only had a two-course evening meal (as we provided afternoon tea pre-wedding). But they loved it all and thought it was the best wedding they have ever been to.

Friends comment on how personal the whole day was and how it represented us and how happy we looked. This is because we did everything that we wanted to do and were comfortable and so happy to have such a perfect wedding, rather than just ticking boxes and pleasing other people. We thought a lot about what our guests would like so that they were never bored. Do not skimp on the food as this is an important part of the day for your guests and our guests often say that our food was the best food they have tasted at a wedding.

Your laptop will become your best friend! Use it for inspiration, ideas and deals! Ebay and Amazon came in very handing too for cheap supplies!



Photographers: McKinley Rodgers // Dress: ‘Milly’ by Stephanie Allin, from High Society Bridal // Accessories: Gillian Million // Bridesmaids dresses: Not on the High Street // Invites: Wedding Teatowels // Venue:  The Walled Garden, Cowdray  // Flowers: Dobbe  // Hair & Makeup: Gemma Sutton // Catering: Kalm Kitchen  // Cake – Bestman’s Mum // Winery: Lurgashall // Music: The Beatles For Sale // Videographer: Simon Clarke Films

The Walled Garden, Cowdray


After a decade-long career in corporate interior design, I took a giant leap of faith, left the security of an office job, and founded B.LOVED in 2011 as a platform for romantic and beautiful wedding inspiration. Thanks to a whole lot of creativity, hard work and passion, my gamble paid off and B.LOVED became one of the leading wedding blogs in the UK.

I'm also a co-founder at The Brand Studio, where I design and curate beautiful photoshoots for wedding and lifestyle brands, as well as running wedding industry community the B.LOVED Hive where I support and nurture wedding pros building industry leading businesses. Yep, I definitely have the best job in the world.

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This is so so so beautiful! I’d love to see a close up photo of that beautiful bouquet as well! x



I cannot post another photo on here, but the bouquet was made up of the same flowers that we had in the vases and jugs; waxed flower, peony, chamomile, rose, chincherinchee, freesia, sweet pea and rosemary.

Sara x


If you’ve got one Sarah, send it to me and I’ll add it to the post!! Such a beautiful combination of flowers, it must have smelled amazing!! xo