Images by Fjona Wei-Ling.
Hampton Manor is a Neo-Tudor Gothic house located in the heart of England, so when bride Kristen wanted a Downton Abbey-esque vibe this venue delivered. The interiors nod to the Arts and Crafts history, floors are lined with original Minton tiles, hand-painted stained glass sits in the windows and hand-carved oak banisters wind their way up to the bedrooms bedecked in William Morris prints.
Beautiful any time of year, I think Hampton Manor is particularly spectacular during the winter months, so if you fall in love with this roaring fires and glittering candles vibe then you simply have to take advantage of their Fur & Fire Special Offer as seen here.
Over to the bride…
Notes from the Bride
While Tim is from the UK, I am from California and we both met and live in Beijing. I have a fascination with old, European architecture and once we announced our engagement, it was quick for me to decide that I wanted to have a Downton Abbey-esque wedding in the English countryside (it’s my favorite show). After walking into Hampton Manor and meeting Claire (who gave us a grand tour of the venue), I remember telling Tim that Hampton Manor was exactly the venue I dreamed of. As a major foodie, it was just icing on the cake when I heard that their restaurant Peels was recently awarded a Michelin star.
My wedding dress was everything I dreamed of finding. Before I even started looking online, I knew I wanted long sleeves and nothing ‘poofy’. I was so lucky to find a custom- designed dress by iconic designer Inbal Dror. Intricately beaded with lovely lace detail down the sleeves, it was such a romantic design and truly the most beautiful wedding dress I’d ever seen. Once I had my perfect dress, everything else fell into place. My braided side-sweep hair-style was created by the lovey Samantha Lawson and my make- up by Ami Streets left me glowing. For my beautiful bridesmaids, I found flowing deep navy silk dresses with a touch of black lace detail and I gifted each of them black fur scarves to keep them warm during outdoor photographs. Tim and I also gifted each of his groomsmen bespoke 3-piece navy suits with grey waistcoats and maroon, textured ties. And since we already had all of their measurements, we also included a tailored dress suit with a Mandarin collar and a funky, bold print.
Since I am ethnically Chinese and because Tim and I met and still live in Beijing, we also wanted to incorporate some Chinese touches throughout the wedding. We were able to find a Chinese string quartet from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire that could play a repertoire of Chinese songs to accompany a Chinese tea ceremony that was incorporated into our wedding ceremony. Our ring bearer, Ryder Wong, also walked down the aisle holding our wedding bands inside of a small dim sum basket. In all of our self-made stationary, we also incorporated the design of a golden Chinese window screen into each piece. I’m most proud of the pocket in our wedding program with golden tissues ‘For Happy Tears’. I was also fortunate to find a Chinese bakery in Birmingham called Wah Kee Bakery, that happened to make some of the best tasting Egg Tarts I’ve ever had (on par with Hong Kong!). We placed a large order of both Egg Tarts and Coconut Tarts to serve alongside our canapés and dessert spread.
With a winter wedding in mind, I wanted a timeless and classic feel to the design, flower arrangements and décor. Nothing flashy or anything to detract from the already gorgeous wedding venue, I kept the floral arrangements in tones of green and grey with an abundance of eucalyptus, brunia and thistle for a touch of dark navy to match the bridesmaids’ navy dresses and groomsmen’s suits. Passion For Flowers did a marvelous job in all floral arrangements; while my bridal bouquet was a masterpiece, I also loved the dreamy rustic arch they built, which really set the stage for our beautiful ceremony in the Birches.
Rather than getting a generic wedding cake (which often looks a lot better than they taste), we ordered an assortment of tarts, cakes & rich dark chocolate brownies from a little boutique bakery in Knowle called The Bread Collection. Tim has a soft spot for brownies so we made sure to get an abundance of those so that we could have plenty of leftovers to indulge on post-wedding!
Normally the evening buffet at Hampton Manor offers pulled pork baps and we had the idea to swap out the bread buns of the baps for a mix of half hard and soft taco shells to be served alongside sides like guacamole, salsa, sour cream and grated cheddar. I grew up with the family tradition of eating tacos every Sunday (my Dad’s tacos are pretty legendary among my relatives!) and we also happen to have two close friends who own successful restaurants in Beijing called The Taco Bar and Avocado Tree.
Fjona Hill, the Creative Director of Hampton Manor, was a dream to work with as photographer. I knew I wanted her to be the one I’d entrust to capture every moment after my first meeting with her. As a photographer, she told me that her goal is to capture the story of the day, which is exactly what we were after! It was our honor to have someone as talented and wonderful as Fjona as our photographer.
Best part of the day…
Since every detail was managed flawlessly by the Hampton Manor team, I was completely worry-free from start to finish! All of my attention was devoted to savoring every minute I had with beloved friends and family. I’ll always remember walking down the aisle and making eye contact first with Tim and looking around the room and seeing the faces of my closest friends and family. I almost burst into tears just walking into that room!
From one bride to another
Remember that your wedding is a celebration – a day that you design and host together for all of your closest family and friends to enjoy and remember as much as you both will!
Venue Hampton Manor
Photography Fjona Wei-ling