real wedding: easy elegant beach wedding {fi & al}

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So good morning lovely ladies!  Today I am so excited to finally share the work of the amazing Cam and Pen McKinley-Rodgers, who beautifully describe themselves as ‘Story Catchers’.  Their work has been on my list of ‘must features’ since the very beginning, and after a few false starts today I finally get to share Fi and Al’s wedding.  Trust me, it was worth the wait!  These two passionate, and madly in love, photographers shoot with a soft, dreamy style.  In their own words they ‘dig marriage’, and it’s this love of love that I think makes their work truly stand out.  If you love what you see here (and I assure you, you will) hop on over to their blog to see more of their latest gorgeous shoots, after reading all about Fi & Al’s elegant beachside wedding, of course!

Fi and Al’s wedding is everything a relaxed and intimate beach wedding should be, from the bride’s stunning Jenny Packham ‘Allegra’ gown, providing just the right amount of sparkle to reflect the gentle waves of the sea, the simple, romantic church ceremony, to the soft, warm glow of the evening reception filled with crystals and candlelight, and the elegant white petals of carefully chosen blooms.  This beautiful couple have a soft, quiet kind of love, that just melts my heart.

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It is hard to pinpoint the exact moment we met, even though we have both racked our brains trying to remember. We got to know each other gradually and as friends over our teenage and university years, through my brother, who Al is best friends with. Al is the life and soul of the party, great fun to be around and he always made me laugh, so when I found myself spending more and more time with him it wasn’t too much of a surprise to discover there was more to our connection that just friendship. I think others saw it happening before we realised it ourselves!  A year and a half into our relationship, Al proposed to me quietly and simply, at our home on the morning of Christmas eve, my favourite day of the whole year. He looked so nervous as he said those four little words ‘will you marry me’ that my heart leapt and I knew then more than ever that I wanted to spend everyday of the rest of my life with him. It was perfect and I couldn’t wait to share the news with my family and friends, and to show off the most exquisite ring that Al had arranged to be specially made. It made for a very special Christmas!

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The New Forest had become ‘our place’, and I liked the idea of getting married in an area of such beauty. We looked at a number of venues, but nothing felt right until we stumbled across Westover Hall Hotel, just outside of Lymington. It is a Grade II listed Victorian mansion with vibrant stained glass windows, simple decor, and excitingly, being that it is situated on the sea front with stunning views, it also had its own beach huts! I could picture the photographs as soon as a laid eyes on the pastel coloured huts, and combined with the cosy, relaxed atmosphere of Westover Hall, we knew it was the place for us to make our vows.

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For us, the thing we spent the most amount of time discussing was the guest list. We both have huge extended families, and are blessed with a big circle of friends who mean the world to us, but unfortunately when you are planning a wedding that can become a headache. Early on we decided we would only have immediate family at our wedding, parents, grandparents, siblings with their partners and children. That amounted to just short of thirty guests. We wanted to say our vows in front of those people who have known us forever and play the biggest parts in our lives. Getting married, for us, is a very personal and very important commitment, so we wanted the day to be as intimate as possible to reflect the magnitude of our vows. That said, we wanted to celebrate with friends and family and include them in our happiness so we organised a separate reception two days later. We had the best of both worlds in our opinion!

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Our themed evolved naturally, with all elements focussing around our family values and our want to include our guests in our wedding day. We are inspired by our parents and grandparents long, happy marriages and having them feature in such a small guest list made us feel like our marriage got off to the best start possible.   The venue and surroundings were so pretty that I was careful not to detract from its natural appeal, but to compliment it. My colour palette was creams and whites, with lots of green foliage to add to the impression of easy elegance. We had antiqued candelabras and pearls to create a vintage glam look over dinner, and my cake, made by the wonderfully talented Liz Cooper of The Little Cake Parlour, who also happens to be Al’s brothers long term partner, had a gold shimmer on the sugar crafted flowers with took inspiration from my dress. 

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There were lots of personal touches to the day. All guest were asked to offer words of wisdom to Al and I on their RSVP, which were displayed in an ornate frame while we ate. We had the wedding photographs of our parents and grandparents proudly overseeing events, and place names were substituted for more personal photos we have collected from past family occasions. The amazing husband and wife team of Rich and Victoria Mellor played the piano and sang the favourite songs of ours and our families during our ceremony and drinks reception, and our dining table was arranged so we all sat around one table to better interact with everyone. Finally, when our guests retired for the evening, we had sent personal messages of thanks to them for sharing in the best day of our lives.  

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

We didn’t have a first dance on our wedding day, but we incorporated our favourite song into the wedding ceremony instead. I walked down the aisle to Newton Faulkner’s ‘If This Is It’, which befitted the timing because the lyrics talk about wanting to freeze time because the moment is so perfect. I get tingles now when I hear the opening bars of the song, it holds memories that will stay with me forever. 

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Any advice for future brides & grooms?

When you approach wedding suppliers, take the time to tell them about you and your and your wishes for you wedding. It sounds simple, but we are all trying to create a little bit of magic with our wedding, so suppliers need to be completely in tune with you or it won’t work. I can remember my first dealings with Pen from the incredible McKinley-Rodgers photography partnership, and her response to my enquiry left me in no doubt that they would not only create the wonderful wedding photos you see now, but totally enhance the wedding day with her and her husband Cam’s warm presence, and become life long friends. They captured the magic of our special day, and to us, that is priceless.

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Photographer ~ McKinley Rodgers

Dress ~ Allegra by Jenny Packham

Shoes ~ Faith at Debenhams

Veil & Accessories ~ Jenny Packham cuff and hair flowers, Accessorize earrings

Bridesmaids dresses ~ Monsoon

Groom’s Suit ~ Jaeger

Venue & Catering ~ Westover Hall Hotel

Flowers & Decor ~ Sweet Dream Events

Hair & Makeup ~ Michelle Moore

Stationery ~ Sweet Dream Events  

Cake ~ The Little Cake Parlour

Music ~ Victoria Mellor


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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