James and Sophie’s ‘Low Waste’ Nature Loving Kent Wedding by Chris Blackledge Photography 

Today I have another fabulous wedding from Chris Blackledge Photography who is becoming quite the regular to the blog. An Eco wedding set in the heart of the Kent countryside at Elmley Nature Reserve, a venue I have featured before on the blog. Sophie and James wanted an outdoor wedding close to nature and to be as waste free and sustainable as possible, so when they found Elmley nature reserve they knew they had found the perfect venue. They filled their day with simple decoration and lots of personal projects, from the hand made stationery to the scrabble place names. Everything has been well thought out and kept as eco friendly as possible. This is a delightful wedding, captured beautifully by Chris.

The wedding day itself was magical, from the moment we each woke up to a perfect summer’s morning, with views of the sweeping landscape, through to when we chilled with guests around the firepit after the party had ended. It’s cliché, but we wouldn’t have changed a thing.

James and Sophie were married on 10th June 2023 at Elmley Nature Reserve in Kent. ‘We knew we wanted an outdoor wedding in nature, and fell in love with the nature reserve as soon as we saw it! There was space on site for lots of our family to stay for the weekend, as well as glamping tents for our guests to stumble home after the party. We had 110 guests and it took 18 months to plan.’

How they met
We met 14 years ago at a house party, back before the days of dating apps!

The proposal
It happened a day before it was originally planned! We travelled to Bath for a weekend, and James was terrified of losing the engagement ring prior to the Saturday, so opted to pop the question on the first night in the privacy of our accommodation.

How did you allocate your budget?
We wanted to have a ‘low waste’ wedding, meaning we didn’t want to spend money on extras for the sake of it. Once we found our venue, a lot of other things fell into place – no need for lots of extra decoration, and they provided us with a good list of preferred suppliers to research.

Where did you splurge and where did you save?
The venue and the entertainment were the most important parts of the day for us, so that’s where we spent the most money. We didn’t have a big wedding cake, and we had potted plants to decorate the tables which then doubled up as favours for guests! Our flowers that decorated the outdoor ceremony area were then moved inside to decorate the barn for dinner. We also designed the stationery ourselves, including table plans and table names.

How did you choose your photographer?
Chris was on our venue’s supplier list, and his relaxed documentary style photography really stood out to us as we didn’t want to spend lots of time away from our guests taking formal photos! When we had our initial call with him, he was so nice and we knew we could feel relaxed with him on the day.

The dress 
Sophie’s dress was a one-off creation by a wonderful designer in Ramsgate, who creates beautiful vintage inspired dresses from repurposed vintage fabric. She also made the gold cape! Her shoes were from Esska – gold platform heels which were super comfortable so we could dance all night.

The suit and Bridesmaids
James’ suit was a two-piece from Moss. He wanted to go for something a little more casual, both in style and colour, and topped it off with a tie with birds on it, which is both sentimental to our surnames and the venue. The bridesmaids all have very different looks and styles, and we really wanted them to wear something they were comfortable in and could reuse later, rather than buying lots of new clothes for the sake of it. Sophie gave them free rein to wear their choice of dress in a shade of green to tie them all together.

Theme or colour scheme
Every decision we made was to be as low waste and sustainable as possible. The colour scheme was many different shades of green, with hints of gold, rusty orange and earth tones.

Sophie’s bouquet and venue decoration was full of wild foliage, ferns and seedheads, with some eucalyptus and cappuccino roses. We had the bouquet pressed and framed after the wedding so we can keep it forever.

Not a lot of extra decoration apart from the flowers – we wanted to let the beautiful venue and scenery speak for itself!

We ate a relatively light meal, which we were grateful for given the hot summer’s day we were treated to. A selection of breads and dips to start, followed by chicken (or a butternut squash dish), potatoes and salad, before a buffet dessert trolley filled with sweet treats.

Wedding cake
Neither of us are mad about cake, but one of our good friends has a little business making cookies and traybakes, so we ordered a big selection of different flavours, meaning our guests could pick up little portions and take them to the dance floor!

We had an incredible five piece band called The Arrowsmiths, who we chose because they had a repertoire of late 90s dance music (James’ favourite) in a folky indie style (Sophie’s favourite)! They also did an acoustic set during our cocktail hour, which was so special. People are still talking about the band nearly a year later.

Who supplied the stationery?
Sophie has a small illustration business and James is a whizz on Photoshop, so we created the save the dates, invites and menus ourselves. The save the dates were printed on seeded paper, which could be planted to grow wildflowers! Sophie also created handwritten labels for the table names and the traybake flavours.

Where did you go on your honeymoon?
We went to Costa Rica after Christmas, six months after the wedding. We had visited the country five years ago and promised to return if we ever got married. It was the trip of a lifetime, and we got to spend new year on the beach next to the jungle!

Personal touches
The place names at the dinner table were all scrabble racks which we assembled ourselves beforehand. We then had a huge wooden display printed with a scrabble board, and created overlapping spaces where everyone could stick their name tiles after the meal. It was a huge undertaking to fit over 100 guest names together, but it’s a display we can now keep as a memento forever!

Special moments 
Following the wedding ceremony we were able to spend 5 minutes alone in the main farmhouse before exiting onto the main lawn for our confetti throw. It was great to share in the excitement together and tell stories from the day up until then. We were also treated to an amazing golden hour following the main dinner, serving as the perfect backdrop to evening cocktails prior to our first dance.

Advice for other couples?
Source any suppliers you might need as soon as possible. This really helped us knowing that the big things were in place from an early stage, and from then on, the little things fell into place as we neared the big day. Also, if you want to keep your dancefloor full all night long, spend some time (and money!) to source an amazing band! It’s one expense we will never regret.

Biggest surprise 
Other than the English weather being perfect, the fact that at no point in the day did we feel tired, overwhelmed or in a lull – it really was the biggest buzz.



Supplier Shout Outs




www.chrisblackledgephotography.co.uk [email protected] / 07912851540 / FACEBOOK / INSTAGRAM 

Based in Kent but happily capturing wedding stories across the UK and Worldwide. Established in 2010 with the aim of making memories and capturing awesome wedding stories naturally, truthful and creatively.



Why not visit our Supplier Directory


Please leave your comment

We reserve the right to remove any comment that we feel is distasteful, rude, hurtful or inappropriate, so please be nice. Remember the weddings featured on this blog are real people and their weddings mean a lot to them. Please be mindful of this and other people's feelings. If youhave a problem with any of the content please contact me directly.

Thank you xx

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.