An Elegant Outdoor Wedding in the Italian Gardens of Historic Hever Castle With a Morilee Gown

Billy and Holly brought the romance of the continent to Kent for their stylish summer wedding

Billy and Holly Wedding

When we first laid eyes on Billy and Holly’s elegant summer wedding, we were convinced it took place in some remote and romantic part of rural Italy. It was only when we began reading their sweet wedding story that we realised they had managed to bring authentic Italian style to their doorstep in Kent, with a little help from a miraculous change in the weather.

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Billy and Holly met at school aged just 17 and 16, respectively. Billy joined Holly’s school for the final two years and the couple have been inseparable ever since! “We are childhood sweethearts for sure. He tells the story that I only agreed to be his girlfriend once he passed his driving test – this isn’t the case!”

After 10 and a half years together, Billy finally got down on one knee on a trip to Texas. “We are both from Kent but love the US and visit a few different states every year. In 2016 our best friends moved to Texas, so this was an opportunity to tick another state off the list and go out to visit them.

“On our second night of the trip, 8th September 2017, Billy proposed at Steak48, a trendy steak restaurant in Houston. He was meant to wait until our second week in Texas when we were in Austin, but he was so petrified that he would lose the ring that he decided the sooner the better!

“Six of us went for dinner and following the main course I went to the rest room. On my return to the table everyone was acting very oddly. My two girlfriends were looking up in the air, their two partners were on their phones and Billy kept pushing his chair back into the aisle. My heart started thumping, I think I knew what was about to happen. He got down on one knee and the whole restaurant erupted with cheers!”

Billy chose the ring with the help of a close friend and managed to get it absolutely right. “My ring was perfect and even better, it was the perfect fit! The ring is a round diamond, princess cut, set in platinum with diamonds along the band. I think it has a slightly antique look, which I love.”

Billy and Holly spent just over a year and a half planning their big day.

Photographer: Nick Rose Photography

Billy and Holly Wedding
Billy and Holly Wedding
Billy and Holly Wedding
Billy and Holly Wedding
Billy and Holly wedding
Billy and Holly Wedding
Billy and Holly Wedding
Billy and Holly Wedding
Billy and Holly wedding
Billy and Holly Wedding
Billy and Holly Wedding
Billy and Holly Wedding

The Wedding Dress

Holly chose an ivory lace, fishtail gown with a sweetheart neckline and a long train from the Madeline Gardner Collection for Morilee. The dress was bought from Confetti & Lace in Essex – the store featured in our favourite wedding watch, Say Yes To The Dress!

It didn’t take Holly long to say ‘yes’ to her dream dress, as she found ‘The One’ almost instantly. “It was only the second dress that I had tried on in the boutique and was picked out by my mother-in-law to be. The instant that the dress was buttoned up there was no need to continue my search. It’s so cliché but it fit like a glove and the train was beautiful!” A cathedral-length veil with scalloped edges finished the look.

“I am so jealous looking at my own pictures that I am not going to have the chance to wear and show her off in public again!”

Billy and Holly Wedding
Billy and Holly Wedding
Billy and Holly Wedding
Billy and Holly Wedding
Billy and Holly Wedding
Billy and Holly Wedding
Billy and Holly Wedding

Bridal Beauty

Holly felt most comfortable doing her own wedding makeup, preferring to stick to what she was used to rather than risking a new look that might not feel right. When it came to hair, though, Holly found someone she could trust after just one trial.

“I used Max, from Max Daniel Hair, to style my hair. Again, I’m confident doing my own hair but Max is great and such a lovely guy, and I knew that he would be great company for me and the bridal party on the day. My hair was pin-curled, and I had one side loosely drawn back with an embellished clip. Simple but elegant!

“Along with the embellished hair clip, I wore drop earrings from Ivory & Co. I didn’t wear too much jewellery as the gown and veil were more than enough, but Billy bought me a beautiful delicate diamond necklace which the bridesmaids gave to me whilst I was getting ready and I wore that too.”

Billy and Holly Wedding
Billy and Holly Wedding
Billy and Holly Wedding
Billy and Holly Wedding
Billy and Holly Wedding
Billy and Holly Wedding

The Wedding Party

Holly had six bridesmaids, including sister Amy, sister-in-law-to-be Lucy, and friends Nicola, Sophie and Charlie. Her maid of honour was Lucy, Holly’s best friend of 20 years.

One of Holly’s favourite elements of the wedding was the bridesmaid’s dresses, a lucky find from the White by Vera Wang collection at David’s Bridal in Stratford.

“They were forest green, full length, one-shouldered, tailored chiffon, with a thigh-high split and a satin belt which nipped in perfectly at the waist.

“My goal from the start was not to pick a colour ‘because I liked it’ then stress myself out trying to find everything else to match. I knew I wanted to keep the whole colour scheme elegant but neutral and didn’t want to add a lot of colours. So, I took all of my bridesmaid to David’s Bridal and asked them to pick colours and styles that they liked. Luckily, they all decided that they liked the same style, but we had to decide on colour. Originally, we were looking at blush colours, which are usually associated with summer weddings, but these colours didn’t suit everyone. I preferred the bolder colours like navy or royal blue as they suited the whole party better. One of the girls then happened to try on the forest green by chance and we all just fell in love – a colour I never imagined going for!”

Billy decided from the start that he wanted to gift the groomsmen with their suits and found the perfect styles in Hawes & Curtis. Despite being a pretty laidback groom, happy to let his bride take the lead when it came to wedding decisions, Billy was determined to take the sartorial reigns when it came to the men.

“The groomsmen all wore a beautiful three-piece dark navy tux with black lapels. The suits were teamed with crisp white tux shirts, white pocket hankies and black bow ties. Billy wanted something slightly different without looking too dissimilar, so opted for an embroidered baroque style black bow tie. They also all wore black double buckle shoes and cufflinks customised with nicknames.”

Billy and Holly Wedding
Billy and Holly Wedding
Billy and Holly Wedding
Billy and Holly Wedding
Billy and Holly Wedding
Billy and Holly Wedding

The Wedding Ceremony

Billy and Holly kept things simple when it came to transport and booked taxis to the ceremony. They did manage to pull in a favour with the father of the groom’s favourite football club, though, and get the tour bus to take guests from the hotel to the wedding venue.

The couple chose a civil ceremony in the Italian Gardens at the historic Hever Castle, the childhood home of Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn, and a fond feature in Holly’s own childhood. “I visited regularly as a child and I had always wanted to get married there. There was a wedding fair a month after we got engaged. We attended, and Billy knew how much it meant to me, so we had booked our wedding venue within 6 weeks of our engagement.

“Hever has the most incredible grounds and a backdrop of the castle buried under ivy. The ceremony took place within the Loggia, which is elevated above a replica of the Trevi fountain and overlooking a grand lake.”

As Billy and Holly know all too well, planning an outdoor wedding in England can be risky but, for these two at least, the risk paid off.

“There is quite a long walk for the bridal party through the beautiful gardens, to reach the Loggia. The final part of the walk is over the grass on a red carpet and up the steps into the stone Loggia overlooking the lake.

“UK weather, as we all know, can be a bit rubbish. We got married on the Friday, and the Monday to Thursday that week was torrential rain, and flood warnings were broadcast everywhere. For some reason, the weather changed on the morning of our wedding. It turned sunny, beautiful and DRY! Above all, I wished for dry weather – we were so incredibly luckily! The next day and the week which followed were filled with torrential rain too. So, I have no doubt someone was looking down on us that day!”

With the support of her father, a calm Holly walked down the aisle to A Thousand Years by Christina Perri and played by string trio The Dotted Crochets.

Billy and Holly exchanged the rings they had bought on a holiday in Dubai in October 2018. “We visited the diamond market and designed our rings. Jewellery, especially diamonds, are a lot cheaper in Dubai and they were made within a day. The value of my ring is three times greater than what we paid.”

Billy and Holly Wedding