Swept away at Itchenor

James and Sarah’s romance began after two short but sweet first dates and a third involving an unforeseen amount of walking, however their fourth date was the one to kick things off. James whisked Sarah off to the New Forest on the back of his KTM touring bike, and they have never looked back since. The proposal took place three years later on a crisp Christmas Day morning on Bracklesham Bay beach. Sarah fondly remembers, “It was a beautiful sunny morning and we were enjoying a romantic stroll along the beach when James got down on one knee and popped the question. The proposal took me completely by surprise, especially the ring from Malta!”

The delighted couple then began the hunt for the perfect wedding venue, initially in James’s birthplace Wales before the search was moved to West Sussex to be nearer home. “We discovered the pretty Fishbourne Church and fell in love with it. The church had a charming country feel and we knew it was the one for our wedding ceremony.”

James then went away with the Royal Navy so it was left to Sarah to find the reception venue, which didn’t take her long as she soon stumbled upon Itchenor Sailing Club. “The sailing club was in such a beautiful, tucked away setting right on the water front. I couldn’t resist its inviting and quirky nature, it was perfect.”

They bought Sarah’s wedding ring when on holiday in Zante, Greece and James found his in a gold souk in Dubai on his final trip with the Royal Navy. When it came to the outfits, Sarah got her gorgeous Maggie Sottero gown online while James paid homage to his roots by wearing a Welsh kilt on the big day.

The wedding was made extra special by lots of personal touches and was a true family affair with Sarah’s aunt singing during the ceremony while her mum played piano. Sarah wore her Great Grandmother’s silver locket on the day and even the date was made special by being on her Grandmother's birthday.
When it came to creating all the little bits that would make their wedding day perfect, Sarah enlisted the help of her “fantastic and talented” friends and family. “We didn’t map out a theme as such, but things developed organically along the homespun thread.”

“The sailing club didn’t need much decoration so we filled vases with flowers to make centrepieces, decorated glass oversized lanterns with shells, roses and ivy to create stunning candle features, and used luggage tags decorated with seashells, ribbons and flowers for the place settings.” For the flowers the couple used Gracie from ‘The Flower Gallery’ in Chichester. “We absolutely loved the naturally beautiful bouquets and buttonholes she created using traditional roses, rosemary and ivy.”

Family and friends also played a big part in the catering, with Sarah’s mother baking cakes for guests at the church and a family friend making the wedding cake and dessert, complete with strawberries and cream. When it came to the wedding breakfast the sailing club put on a feast for the guests, with a plated starter followed by a sumptuous carvery main course.

The day ended with a live three-piece band the Winklepickers who made sure everyone kept dancing into the night.

“Our ceremony was beautiful and the sailing club was perfect for an informal but sophisticated wedding reception. We have had no end of compliments on how lovely the atmosphere was and we felt so very lucky to celebrate there, it felt like our home for the day. The Clubhouse and harbour is such a unique and special place, we wish we could do it all over again!”

Photography courtesy Pure You Photography