Finding a special way to incorporate their two daughters into their wedding at Brandshatch Place Hotel & Spa was a key priority for Kerrie and Stuart Toop.

Both Kerrie and Stuart wanted to make their wedding day as special as possible by including their little ones, Lois (four) and Olivia (eight), in the celebration. To that end, they got them involved in all of the decisions, and even play a key part in the speeches, together with their seven-year-old cousin. “That's what we loved about Brandshatch Place – they worked hand-in-hand with whatever choices we made. Our theme, for example was a mix of modern and shabby chic, and it all worked out really well for us,” recalled Kerrie. 

With two young children and many more in the family, some with additional needs and a wheelchair user, the pair needed to have their ceremony, wedding breakfast and reception in one venue. After looking at five other country house hotels all within a few hours from their home in London, their hearts drew them straight back to their first venue: Brandshatch Place. “The Georgian manor house and 12 acres of garden are so beautiful, but it’s the staff that made it for us. They work so hard and care so much – you cannot buy that type of service. They made us, my family and friends, feel really welcome and nothing was too much trouble,” stated Kerrie.

As with every Hand Picked venue, couples are able to meet the local recommended wedding suppliers, and for entertainment, Kerrie and Stuart opted for multi-award winning DJ, Discologic. “They managed to capture everything about us as a couple, our past and our journey together and put it into music. Discologic created amazing memories for us and those we love,” stated Kerrie. “In addition we hired specialist lighting, an LED dance floor and backdrop – the room looked amazing!”

Equally, Hand Picked is happy to work with parties outside and preferred by their clients for whatever reason and fortunately, for everything else, Kerrie was able to call upon friends and family. Her aunt Diane for example is a florist by trade so she was able to do the flowers, which tied in with the wedding’s two main colours – cream and navy. “I didn't want many flowers, but it made it extra special for me knowing the love that had gone in to them. I had given her some ideas, but I did not see the final design until the day and she did not let me down. They were stunning.” 

Although now retired from the business, the groom’s mother, Denna Rudge, agreed to take on the wedding cake. Exquisitely decorated with roses, the multi-tiered extravaganza consisted of a fruitcake, chocolate chip sponge and vanilla jam sponge, so everyone was catered for. The self-confessed foodies then asked Stamford-based Nelsons Butchers to make them a matching trio of pork pies including a traditional pork pie base layer, a middle tier with their ploughman’s filling, and finally their chicken and hock of ham gala pie. “We’re still not sure which of the two cakes we preferred,” laughed Stuart.

When it came to make-up, a close friend in the beauty business was able to recommend a woman called Sherrie Warwick, and despite having had trials with two other technicians, within 15 minutes of meeting her Kerrie knew she was the one, and the pair have even stayed in touch since. 

After shooting her best friend’s wedding, Kerrie did not need any more encouragement and opted for Harriet Buckingham of Buckingham Photography. A local photographer, she listened to Kerrie’s brief and captured exactly what she asked for – photos are such a key part of your wedding as they create a lasting record and memento of your very special day and the newlyweds love the results.

With the opportunity to do food tasting prior to finalising their menu selection, Kerrie and Stuart brought along their parents to help them decide. “Although we had a pretty good idea of our guest’s favourite foods, it was harder than we thought to choose, but the staff members were really informative and we all enjoyed the process. The main was probably the easiest – traditional roast topside beef – as our family get together on a Sunday as often as we can, we are known for having 20 plus of us for dinner. Desserts were a little trickier and initially I was torn between two – chocolate delice with crème fraiche and seasonal berry crème fraiche brûlée with shortbread biscuit and Chantilly cream – so the catering manager asked what we usually went for as a favourite in a restaurant and then minutes later he returned with a duo of lemon desserts. They were perfect.

Additionally we had a children’s corner with sweet and popcorn cones, although the adults loved it, too! I used a local supplier that I’ve used before,” said Kerrie. With four bridesmaids and six flower girls, Kerrie opted for multiway dresses from Lipsy and Next to meet all of the different tastes and styles, while for herself she managed to find the perfect dress in BHS – elegant, understated and on sale, too. “I know weddings are all about the dress for the bride, but that just isn't me. I'm not really known for wearing a dress anyway so to find one I Iiked on the high street suited me perfectly,” said Kerrie.

Despite the fact, they booked their venue with just seven months to plan their special day, neither Kerrie nor Stuart were feeling particularly anxious or concerned. “We had our own dedicated wedding co-ordinator to assist us with our planning and despite the fact we had over 100 people attending our ceremony and wedding breakfast and a further 50 coming to the reception, the entire team were very supportive and guided us every step of the way,” said Kerrie. “We couldn't have been happier. Brandshatch Place holds a special place for us – the staff went beyond our expectations and we truly could not thank them enough.” “We had such an amazing day! More than we could have ever imagined, and if we were to do it again, we’d do absolutely nothing differently,” added Stuart. 

As couples wait until after having children to marry, we are seeing more weddings in which parents make an effort to include little ones on the big occasion, and Hand Picked Hotels love nothing more than to see them play a major role as they did with Kerrie and Stuart’s ceremony.


MAKE-UP & HAIR: Sherrie Warwick (07970 301534) 
WEDDING CAKE: Made by Stuart’s mum, Denna Rudge 
PHOTOGRAPHER: Harriet Buckingham (07717 740072)
FLOWERS & BALOONS: Kerrie’s aunt, Diane Taylor (07402 810850) 
BAND: DJ Discologic (0800 043 4019)
CATERING: Pork pie wedding cake; Popcorn and seet cones Crafty Sweets




  • Smoked salmon, cream cheese, caviar roulade
  • Chicken satay
  • Mini burgers, relish


  • Plum tomatoes and goats cheese tartlet, dressed rocket leaf salad


  • Roast sirloin of British beef, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, red wine jus


  • Duo of lemon glazed tart and sorbet