Jess & Tim: East Quay Lobster Shack, Whitstable Wedding

Jess and Tim’s wonderful wedding was recently featured on Love My Dress, and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to post it here; but better late than never, right?

I remember when I first received Jess and Tim’s enquiry, and the words, Whitstable, rustic lobster shack and beach immediately piqued my interest. Add to that Jess mentioned fish and chips for the main meal and the fact they were making the 7 bridesmaids dresses – I was sold. We wanted to shoot this wedding! I was SO excited when they finally booked us, and then when we met them for the pre-wedding shoot, I knew my hunch was spot on.

Even that however could not have prepared me for how wonderful this day was. Not only are they the sweetest couple (which by proxy means their friends and family are too) but their homespun details were so beautiful and personal, it was truly a dream and privilege to be part of the day.

Jess has now launched her own business designing and making bow ties, and you must check out the gorgeous materials here!

Shella - Oh my, what a gorgeous wedding – I super love the bride’s style!!! <3

Zoe - Oooooh Penny – I got the tingles looking at these – utterly gorgeous images me darlin – loved looking at every single one of them <3 congratulations to the newly weds xxxx

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In Memory and Celebration

I have been reading a lot about what makes a good story recently, and how all good stories focus on a character who overcomes conflict to achieve what they want.

My mother lived a good story. A story filled with big dreams and a never-ending belief that love can conquer all.

In her younger years, having been borne into a theatrical family, my mother dreamt of being an actress, and although she didn’t end up pursuing this – the magic of theatre and movies lived within her until the end. She believed in the proverbial love story, and even after she fled China, in the lead up to the Cultural Revolution, and found herself working in a factory and living in a makeshift refugee camp in Hong Kong, she didn’t stop believing. I remember her telling me how she would sit on a grassy mound looking across at the twinkling lights of the City and let her imagination take her there. She wanted to wear the pretty dresses, and sip cocktails with handsome suitors – just like the movies.

So, through sheer determination for a better life, my mother put herself through night school and made her way to the other side of the Island. Here she met my father, fell in love, and took on her greatest role, as a wife and mother, and dedicated her life to it.

Now that I am a wife myself, and can see what it takes to be a mother by watching my friends around me, I know this was not always an easy thing to do; and her selflessness did not come without sacrifice, pain and a strength of character I can only dream to have.

The marriage had it’s own story of struggles, but it was a true love story nonetheless which lasted both their lifetimes. And, my relationship with my mother, which was fraught with a cultural divide of Chinese subtext and Western explicitness, merely clouded our common desire to be closer to each other.

Still, I read somewhere that ‘in the end it won’t matter what we felt, it will only matter what we did.’ And I think that’s true, because although I’ll never really know what my mother felt, what I do know for sure is that she loved wholly, because her every action was made with it; even when she could no longer move or speak, and despite all her suffering, she still found the one thing that she could do for us, to make us feel better – smile.

That is the woman my mother was. For her love was a verb. And that was what she wrote her story with.

So it is that and the little things we’ll always remember. How tasteful things will forever be tasty to us, how we will never watch the Sound of Music again without hearing my mother exclaim how much she loves the song Climb Every Mountain. We’ll always picture her silent disco in the kitchen or power walking along the harbour. And for me, I hope to always remember and carry with me, her unfaltering courage to dream big and to love in action.

The song is Human by The Killers – one of my mother’s favourites.

roxanne - This is a beautiful tribute to your mum.

Marie Man - Aw Pen. This is so beautiful. A lovely and fitting tribute. I’m sorry for your loss. I think it’s right that it is our actions that matter and although it was hard, it will have meant so much to her that you were with her to the end. That is what we all hope for. We can both be grateful that our parents have given us belief in love and pursuing our dreams. Big hugs xx

Sas - Beautiful Pen. She is with you forever. Much love xxx

Catherine - so touching and heartfelt what wonderful words to celebrate your mum. The photos are quite wonderful and you have your mums smile. Much love to you and Cam xxx

Jo - Pen, beautiful Pen, what a wonderful tribute. And yet YOU are the biggest tribute to her. You are her love in action; physically such a perfect mix of both your parents with your special Pen-ness added in. You have her courage and faith in love in spades and in that way, among many others, she will always be with you. I know the last years were so hard for you all and yet yes…what a life. What a woman. And oh, that smile!
Much love to you and Cam,

Veronica - Wow, that is really crazy,I really do not know what to say, after all I knew her for so many years somehow it’s just like yesterday,lol what all we did when we were young .did you know that we talk so much on my last trip to you about our good old days,that was beautiful,It’s a shame I am not able to talk about that now with any one any day we will meet and we are able to go on with our conversation miss her alot but in heart she is still there for always,Penn is beautiful what you did.
Love to you and Cam

leonie wise - Jo says it all so beautifully that all I can say is that I agree with her. You are such a beautiful, loving, incredible woman and I am certain that your mum is so very proud of you.

Sending love to you, always

Bridge - This is absolutely lovely Pen. She looks like an incredible woman, wife and mother. We are so deeply sorry for your loss. Love, Bridge, Matt & Mae

debs - Pen, how utterly beautiful, thank you so for sharing and allowing us to feel and to witness your beautiful relationship with your Mum.
What a wonderful woman, with the most amazing smile and spirit. And look at the beautiful woman that was right there beside her. You. A true reflection of everything she dreamed about. She was undoubtably extremely proud of you, and you of her. What a magical bond you had.
Sending you so much love sweet Pen xxx

Xanthe Berkeley - What a beautiful tribute straight from the heart. I’m so sorry to hear about this, sending you BIG BIG hugs and tons of love xxx

Blessing for a Marriage*

May your marriage bring you all the exquisite excitements a marriage should bring,
And may life grant you also patience, tolerance and understanding.
May you always need one another, not so much to fill your emptiness as to help you know your fullness.
A mountain needs a valley to be complete; a valley does not make the mountain less but more; and the valley is more a valley because it has a mountain towering over it.
So let it be with you and you.

May you need one another, but not out of weakness.
May you want one another, but not out of lack.
May you entice one another, but not compel one another.
May you succeed in all important ways with one another,
And not fail in little graces.

May you look for things to praise, often say ‘I love you’ and take no notice of small faults.
If you have quarrels that push you apart,
may both of you hope to have good sense enough to take the first step back.

May you enter into the mystery which is the awareness of one another’s presence,
no more physical than spiritual.
Warm and near when you are side by side,
and warm and near when you are in separate rooms or even distance cities.
May you have happiness, and may you find it making one another happy.
May you have love, and may you find it in loving one another.

- James Dillet Froeman

37 years ago today the World became a better place.
11 years ago today my World became a better place.

Happy birthday to my World, and happy anniversary, Cam – I love you.

* reading from our wedding

Kirsten - Awwwwww!!! And how cute was your hair that short!? Happy anniversary, lovelies…

Hannah - utterly beautiful. happy birthday Cam, and happy anniversary both of you. x x x

Marie Man - Love this. Happy anniversary to one of ny favourite couples! xx

John and Wendy Wilbraham - Happy Anniversary to two such lovely people! Xx

Catherine - Oh you two are so beautiful inside and out – happy anniversary and happy birthday – much love xxxx

Bridge - Congrats and best wishes! You guys look just as lovely and happy today! Having such a blessed marriage at our wedding is surely a good omen for us. xx

Albert Palmer - Beautiful (although I want to see more photos!)