The Gardens, Yalding wedding venue has one of the most beautiful gardens and landscaped grounds I’ve ever seen, which are lovingly maintained and perfect for wedding portraits, and set in the heart of it is an outdoor ceremony area – divine! The Gardens at Yalding are located in the Kent countryside between Tonbridge and Maidstone and this stunning venue offers a tranquil and secluded setting for your big day. The venue – which is exclusive use – also offers you a tipi for your reception which looks out over the gardens and is perfect for a laid back wedding. 

Sonya + Bats’ wedding at The Gardens made the most of the incredible autumnal colours the venue had to offer and was fun from start to finish. The day started with traditional Chinese door games and ended with some HAWT dancing… Make a brew and have a flick through!

How did you meet?

We first met each other in college. We shared similar friend circles and would see each other at group events. We lost touch for some time and reconnected a few years later when a mutual friend arranged a few games of tennis. Bats and I got to the court nice and early (everyone else was late) and so we got to play and chat with each other for a bit! We played as a pair in a doubles match and won however someone decided to take the credit for that victory and bask in their own brilliance even though it was a team effort. That sparked some banter and conversation going forward! It inspired me to create a small guide for Bats on how to be the perfect partner.


Tell me your proposal story:

We go to Edinburgh for the Fringe festival almost every year with some friends. In 2019, it was just a regular day out. In the evening, I went to shower and came out in PJs and a towel wrapped around my head. Bats said he wanted to show me something and took me to the window and revealed a book I made for him when we first played tennis together (yes back to your question about ‘how we met story’ 9 years later!) it was called ‘How to be a perfect partner’!

He added additional tips in the guide in invisible ink which were a nod to memorable moments in our relationship. The last page was in reference to a day when we were on a short break in the peak district. We visitied a fudge shop and the owner hadn’t opened for the day but let us into his kitchen to try his fudge for free. He then offered to provide free fudge for our wedding day if we decided to get married. Not trying to miss out on a bargain Bats went ahead and proposed using the keyring on his car. I said yes because who wouldn’t want free fudge.

5 years late in Edinburgh he opened the bedside drawer and revealed fairy lights surrounding a box and the same set of car keys he proposed to me with in the Peak District and the rest is history!


Why did you choose The Gardens for your wedding day?

The Gardens as a venue just ticked all our boxes. A lovely setting for an outdoor wedding. Tipis to have dinner in and it was cheaper than most of the other options that were as beautiful. In hindsight, some of the people we had assisting us on our wedding day were just amazing. Shout out to Dan! So I would recommend The Gardens to anyone looking to get married.


What was it you loved about your outfits and accessories that made you choose them?

What we loved about our outfits they were quite understated and they just fit well with the theme and look of our venue.


Tell me about the vision you had for your wedding including your theme/colour scheme/styling/flowers:

We chose burnt orange as our main theme to fit with the beautiful autumn season and we wanted to compliment the natural colours as much as we could!

Our florist also helped compliment our theme by adding some orange flowers along with some romantic pink in there!


What was your first dance and why did you choose it?

The few things – JP Saxe, Charlotte Lawrence

We went back and forth on this one, Bats chose this one! (Reason: He said he always thinks of me when he hears the song)


What were the most wonderful parts of the day for you?

Sonya – The door games and ceremony were my favourite part. Although I didn’t see the games in person, I could hear the laughter from everyone and seeing Bats afterward was a special moment. The ceremony was surreal but I tried to take in the moment as much as I could, Walking down the aisle in my wedding dress to my handsome adorable charismatic husband gave me goosebumps and butterflies all at the same time. 

Bats – The whole day was just amazing. Marrying my favourite person with all my close friends and family there means I can’t really narrow it down to a specific part. Even those last few shots at the end were welcomed.


Why did you choose Hannah Hall Photography as your photographer, and what was your experience of your photography on the day?

We saw the portfolio and it stood out among the other photographers we came across as she seemed to capture all the natural moments of the wedding rather than a few snaps of people posing awkwardly. Hannah really captured the moments that we may not have seen behind the scenes and also brings back memories of special moments – even the smallest details. We loved the quirky, fun photos that Hannah took! With some of the close-ups I don’t even remember her being that close to me. She just floated around being completely unobtrusive.


What would be your best bit of advice to other couples planning their wedding?

It’s really cliche but after going through the wedding ourselves, our advice is the be in the moment as much as you can.. because it really does go by superrr fast!

Take a bit of time after the ceremony to yourselves whether its having a sweetheart table, or sitting in a room alone just to check in on each other.

Sonya + Bats’ autumnal tipi wedding at The Gardens, Yalding happened with the help of the following suppliers…

Hair Hair by Charlotte x / Makeup Jamie Lee Makeup and Brows / Dress David’s Bridal / Venue The Gardens / Flowers Anthologie Floristry


On the hunt for your perfect wedding photographer?