Your Sussex Wedding - April/May 2024 (Issue 108)

Out of the blue Jess and Jonny styled their stunning big day with a whimsical romantic vibe and nod to Bridgerton Images courtesy of Andy Kerr Photography Jess and Jonny met overseas through work. He was in the military, while she was on a diplomatic posting. “I convinced myself for several months that our friendship would be purely platonic, as I didn’t want to fulfil the cliche of falling for a man in uniform,” Jess says. “Oh, if only I knew!” The two instantly clicked and became the very best of friends, they were in fact completely inseparable. Able to be completely relaxed around one another meant they could truly be their authentic selves. “After a few months had passed, and after many hints from our colleagues, we realised it was love,” Jonny tells us. “I asked for Jess’ permission to kiss her on Christmas Eve 2018 and the rest, as they say, is history.” Four years later, Jonny popped the question in Cape Town where they were holidaying at the time. The first day there, they decided to visit Kristenbosch Botanical Gardens. Here, surrounded by protea flowers, with Table Mountain as his backdrop, Jonny got down on one knee, pulled out a red ring box containing a breathtaking solitaire and asked Jess to marry him. Jess later learned that Jonny had purchased the ring from a South African jeweller who’d produced this special edition protea ring, with the claws holding the diamond designed to mimic the petals of this beautiful bloom. “It couldn’t have been more perfect,” Jess remembers. The couple were living in Kenya at the time of their engagement so had limited opportunities to visit venues in the UK. They conducted as much research as they could online and shortlisted a handful – their favourite already was Highley Manor. “Although Jonny couldn’t join me at the viewing, we’d agreed that if it was as perfect as we thought it was, I should go ahead and book it,” Jess explains. With historical links to the military and British royalty and having been formerly owned by a 19th-century romantic poet, the bride-to-be couldn’t think of a more fitting history and did indeed book it on the spot for 23rd August 2023. We caught up with her to find out more. REAL WEDDINGS 37