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Whether it 'Raines' or Shines...

May 17, 2019

Samantha & Ben's Upwaltham Barns Spring Wedding

In the mild month of March this year, Samantha and Ben Raines chose the beautiful rustic venue of Upwaltham Barns for their rural country styled wedding. Nestled in the heart of the South Downs National Park, the idyllic setting was full of picturesque charm and could not have been more suitably designed to reflect great respect and appreciation of the West Sussex lush countryside. The couple’s careful choice of garments, accessories and decor ensured that their keen interest in the outdoors came through subtly and tastefully. A fusion of fur, feathers and wild flowers acted as poignant markers to the countrified scene, embellished by the many special details on display that had been lovingly crafted by the bride and groom themselves.


One such creative detail, gifted to Ben and the groomsmen, were bespoke buttonholes hand-made by Samantha. Each one consisted of a pretty fan of pheasant feathers, carefully arranged then cleverly secured with the shiny brass end of a spent shotgun cartridge. This unique alternative to the traditional floral buttonhole worked really effectively against Ben’s hand-sewn heritage green, check suit. The bespoke bit of tailoring, created by Tom Fox of Guildford, showcased the finest of skilled craftsmanship and design, using the highest quality of British fabrics. The accompanying groomsmen sported stylish blue suits making for an eye-catching contrast to the groom’s statement outfit.



Whilst the guys were getting suited and booted in a luxury flint cottage local to the venue, Samantha and the girls were residing in a similar cottage within the same complex. The choice of wedding morning loungewear was in keeping with the outdoor country feel and offered a different take to the usual satin kimono gowns that have been recently popular. The traditional makeup and hair rituals took place whilst bridesmaids donned brilliantly untraditional and very colourful, animal themed onesies! With just the gowns left to finish the official wedding look, the girls made their way over to the barns to complete their final preparations in Jasmine Cottage. Surrounded by her favourite females, Samantha provoked a beautifully emotional reaction when she came into the room for her bridal reveal (thankfully not dressed as an oversized fluffy unicorn but elegantly and beautifully gowned up!).


Samantha wore a classic sweetheart neckline dress with delicate round-necked lace overlay that revealed an elegant keyhole at the back. With hair swept up in curls and a sweeping floor length veil, this bride exuded happy radiance! A full bouquet of fresh wildflowers were provided by Sussex Flower Farm and consisted of seasonal blooms to reflect the local countryside in early spring. Arranged by independent florist Nell’s Flowers, the romantic and rustic florals were also creatively used throughout the venue decor. Greenery and colour lined the aisle and ceremony space and filled jam jars on tables in the reception area. Lovingly dried sprigs topped the wedding cake, conjuring notions of meadows and woodland dreaminess.


It was time for Samantha to grace the aisle and luckily she knew she had an incredible girl-gang supporting her on this short but important journey! With trusted bridesmaids in tow, the presence of girl power was truly strong! In a memorable entrance, the bride graced the aisle arm in arm with her Mum as the processional ceremony music welcomed her. Delightfully, both mothers of Samantha and Ben continued to take lead roles, acting as witnesses to the portentous nuptials awaiting the couple.


What followed was an emotional Hand Tying ceremony conducted by Sam’s sister which involved the binding of the couple’s hands together with a braid. This beautiful symbolic act was a lovely way to demonstrate Samantha and Ben’s connection and devotion to each other, whilst also a sweet acknowledgment to the closeness of the bride with her sister.



Once officially Mr and Mrs, the couple celebrated their new-found status with drinks and mingling in the barn. The wet weather outside did not deter from capturing some really fun and creative images of the bridal party and guests and whilst remaining indoors, we enjoyed being inventive with both portraits and group compositions. Not having a window to hang out of (as I normally do when outside, in order to ensure the challenging capture the entire wedding party), there was nothing for it but to reach for my step ladder for some added height! Sweet smiles of guests turned into an array of crazy faces as we decided this moment should not be taken too seriously but enjoyed to the max!



Whilst I was up my ladder, my assistant captured the energy and expressions of these same shots and more, covering the fun from different perspectives on the ground. When viewing these images together as a set, I really like to see it like a story unfolding and evolving, almost like having a 3D view of the greatest moments!

What also leant itself to challenging our imaginations, was finding different areas of the barn to act as fitting backdrops to the pictures, given the rainy weather outside. The advantage of getting married in such a beautiful venue as Upwaltham is that there are stunning scenes around every corner.


The earthy woody textures of the barn cladding made for a perfect countrified canvas to Samantha and Ben’s portraits, the fur stole worn by the bride cementing the woods-inspired narrative of the day. Being an outdoorsy kind of couple meant they were prepared for the possibility of wet weather and fully embraced the necessary attire. Clutching white umbrellas and sporting wellies, the bride and groom fearlessly trekked up the steep hill adjacent to the barn, to guarantee that they had their desired portraits with a view!


Back at the venue, the tables were laid and the room was bedecked with flourishes of wild flowers and touches of handmade decor details. A table plan, expertly crafted by Samantha, directed guests to their seats in the warm cosy room filled with twinkling lights and glowing candles. Successfully bringing the outside in, this seamless motif that had begun that morning with the bride’s spring bouquet, continued on. Even down to the chocolate wedding cake by Purita Hyam, decorated in fragile little dried flowers, the rustic theme remained considered throughout every element of the day, with all the guests fully immersed in it’s rural, romantic artistry.



It had been a wonderful day of sentiment and laughter, with strong relationships evident to see and heartfelt words spoken. I loved the statement suit worn by Ben, giving him pride of place amongst the group of groomsmen. I also loved the message of strength and solidarity illustrated by the many women - family and friends chosen to carry out significant roles on the day. The positive and joyous vibes were not deflected by the dull skies or rain that poured down and in my mind, this made for some really genuine and authentic images that I hope will be treasured because of their realness, rather than their perfection.


Congratulations Mr and Mrs Raines, you are like sunshine together and allowed nothing or no-one to rain on your parade! Thank you for having me to capture your special day. Here’s wishing you lots of happiness and a bright sunny future!

Love Kelly x

Kelly Hearn A.B.I.P.P - A.M.P.A