Wedding | Swallows Oast | Gemma & Tom
“Our photos really captured the essence of our day perfectly; the service, our family and friends, the reception venue and most importantly us as a couple. They do exactly what wanted them to do; help us to remember just how great a day it was.
Tom has mentioned so many times how much he enjoyed the couple shoot – this from a man who can’t bear to have his photo taken! He said he really enjoyed the little break away from the frenetic activity of the wedding, but also that you and Amanda [second shooter] were so much fun and he was able to relax and just have a laugh rather than pose for photos. Thank you so much for creating such a lovely environment, it really was one of my favourite parts of the day and it means I have some incredibly special photos.
I will be recommending you to anyone (and everyone) I know who is engaged or becomes engaged.”
How did you meet and fall in love?
We are both in the Army so most people assume we met through work, however, despite our paths crossing many times and having multiple mutual friends it took Tinder to bring us together!
What can you tell us about the proposal or decision to get married?
Gemma was hoping for a proposal for about 6 months prior to it happening but Tom kept her waiting because he was waiting for the perfect moment. That moment came during a summer holiday on the Amalfi coast in Italy.
Tell us about your experiences of finding and styling your look!
For Tom it was easy. Military uniform has a look all of its own, and our careers are a prominent feature in our lives so it made a lot of sense (it also looks pretty snappy). For Gemma it was a lot tougher! She thought she wanted a big princess dress and went to five different shops in pursuit of the perfect gown. But in the end, she went back to the very first dress she tried on! A streamlined silhouette, the very opposite of what she thought she wanted but the one that her mum chose for her. She found her veil and shoes on eBay! [Tom – She looked amazing!]
What made you choose your venue(s)?
Upon driving up to Swallows Oast, we almost left immediately because we were confused by the MOT garage outside! Once we had got inside the barn, however, we knew that it was the right place for us. Small, intimate and with plenty of scope for putting our personal stamp on it. We also absolutely loved the beautiful grounds and fields around the venue and knew they’d make the perfect setting for photographs.
What influenced your decor/style/theme/colours for the day?
We umm’d and aaah’d over the theme for months! Tom knew he didn’t want a whiter-than-white wedding, and we wanted to make maximum use of the barn and its surrounds to create a relaxed environment for our day. Unfortunately those vague ideas didn’t translate to a plan until about a month before the wedding. One day, Gemma found a bridal photo of a barn reception in a magazine that was the closest we had seen to what we wanted, and everything went from there! It followed a royal blue theme, which we expanded on with plenty of warm lighting with candlelight and lanterns, bright spring flowers, rich green ivy and blue bridesmaid dresses. We didn’t know if it would work until we started setting up the venue, but everything came together brilliantly. It surpassed our own expectations!
How long did it take you to plan your big day?
We wanted to get married as soon as possible, but without sacrificing the time needed to plan a great wedding. Tom was due to deploy overseas just a few months after he proposed, and we didn’t know for certain when he would be back. That made life pretty difficult, so we set a date for as-soon-as-we-dared the following summer (May 18). We had two frenetic periods; one before he deployed where we found the venue and booked the photographer (two aspects we deemed most important), and another when Tom returned when we had just two months to sort out nearly everything else! It’s a pretty painful way to plan your big day.
How did you feel about the wedding planning process?
Gemma was back in the UK worrying about everything from table runners to whether Tom would make it back on time. She found it quite stressful. Fortunately, Tom is an extremely relaxed person and managed to do what he could from afar (e.g. design the wedding stationery) and calm Gemma down whenever she had (yet another) meltdown.
What’re the highlights of your actual wedding day?
[Tom] Seeing Gemma walk down the aisle comes top. I think Gemma looks amazing when she’s mid-way through a workout in the gym, so seeing her walk down the aisle in her dress blew me away! I was on a permanent high from that point onwards. Saying our vows to each other is also up there, as I was very aware of the great commitment we were making to each other which is what it’s all about. Finally, we closed off the night by dancing to ‘Ho Hey’ by the Lumineers. Everyone spontaneously formed a circle around us and started stamping their feet in time with the music; that was a fantastic way to end the day. [Gemma] The bit that was most special to me was saying our vows and exchanging rings. It makes me feel emotional even thinking about it now! I was aware I was promising to spend the rest of my life with this man I love so much, and I felt so incredibly lucky and happy. That moment really made it the best day of my life.
How did your vision for the wedding match your actual day?
We struggled to form a ‘vision’ ahead of the day, but from decorating the reception through to everything that followed I don’t think we could have envisaged just how well it would all turn out.
What other suppliers would you like to mention?
Russell of Capers Catering did an absolute sterling job of our banquet style wedding breakfast. There was so much food and it was all delicious! We were fortunate enough that we have some talented friends who did our wedding video, DJing and made a wedding cake out of scones. This also helped personalise our day and made it feel extra special.
How did you feel about seeing your photographs back after the wedding?
The day itself was amazing but memories can fade quickly. Our photos really captured the essence of our day perfectly; the service, our family and friends, the reception venue and most importantly us as a couple. They do exactly what wanted them to do; help us to remember just how great a day it was.
What advice would you give other couples planning their big day?
Prioritise. If you read bridal magazines, you can be made to feel like everything is super important but actually you just need to think carefully about what matters to you. For us, that was finding the right photographer (shout out to Kate!) as the photos are the only thing you’ll get to keep after the Big Day – other than your spouse! Also, think carefully about your Best Man, your Maid of Honour, your ushers and your bridesmaids. They should be the people closest to you, but they’re not just there to look good in the photos (though ours did). They can really help with the wedding planning, and on the day itself they’re the people who will take the pressure off. Choose wisely!
Aside from your wedding, what’s the most exciting thing that’s happened to you as a couple?
In the Army, marriage comes with the entitlement to a married quarter, so straight after the wedding we had the excitement of living together for the first time! Moving in with the person you love and setting up a home is a pretty special experience.
How do you know you are meant to be together?
[Tom] I once had a conversation where someone described how they knew their then fiancé was the right person for them, “when you know, you just know”. That rings very true for me. I ‘just knew’ Gemma was the one for me. I couldn’t explain it, but I had absolutely certainty in that fact from very early on in our relationship, and it’s never left me. [Gemma] Tom puts up with my crazy. Even when I’m my most irrational, he still loves me. The man is a keeper.
What will be your next big adventure?
The honeymoon! We haven’t booked it yet but we’re hoping to go to South Africa in the autumn.
If you’re planning a Swallows Oast wedding or military wedding, get in touch, I’d love to capture it for you! Have you seen my FAQs?
Alice & David – The Orangery, Maidstone
Winter Wedding | The Orangery, Maidstone | Alice & David The Orangery at Turkey Mill in Maidstone is a local venue to me, and one I love for its gorgeous outdoor setting, coupled with its light and airy indoor spaces, which suit my light and airy wedding...
Wedding | The Dreys, Sittingbourne
Wedding | The Dreys, Sittingbourne | Katy & Rob Highlights from part-day wedding photography coverage in this gorgeous, boho, woodland setting! I also filmed a little video!
Styled Shoot | LGBTQI+ Styled Wedding
I was thrilled when I was invited to shoot both videography and photography for this styled shoot for Til Tok LGBTQI+ star couple, The Blonde Explorer! CONCEPT | Quirky Weddings CONCEPT, PLANNER & STYLIST | Lily Jones Events...
Sittingbourne | Kent