In a magical woodland setting, beneath a canopy of trees, Sky News anchor Sarah-Jane Mee said "I do" to her fiancé, Ben Richardson.
The enchanting nuptials, which the couple playfully dubbed "The Wedding in the Woods", took place in the garden of their country home in East Sussex, and among the famous guests at their celebration was mutual friend Autumn Phillips – ex-wife of the Queen's grandson Peter – who played Cupid by introducing them three years ago.
The bride looked breathtaking in an exquisite off-the-shoulder bespoke creation, with button details down the back and a floor-sweeping skirt from bridal boutique Miss Bush, overseen by couturier Suzanne Neville.
And, as she walked down the aisle to the sound of her friend, musician Sam Calver, singing Leon Bridges's Beyond, she smiled and gently wiped away tears of joy.
The wedding was a true family affair, with the couple's adorable two-year-old daughter, Rae, as flower girl, while 43-year-old Ben’s nieces, Marlie and Isla, were bridesmaids and Sarah-Jane's sister, Victoria, was matron of honour, with her son Theodore as page boy.
Ben’s cousin, Warren Moore, officiated at the ceremony and the couple exchanged vows they'd written themselves.
"It was about us, family and friends being at the heart of it," Sarah-Jane, 44, tells HELLO!.
"Love and fun were the main objective – with us stripping all the formalities out of it. It was a truly special day to celebrate finding each other and a perfect way to start the rest of our journey as a family."
It was certainly that, as branding agency chief executive Ben's eight-year-old son, Teddy, from a previous relationship, joined his dad and Sarah-Jane, and step-sister Rae, for a group hug.
The couple hosted a wedding breakfast under canvas, where Sarah-Jane made a speech describing the three most important people in her life – Ben, Teddy and Rae.
"Teddy, I didn't give you the gift of life, but life gave me the gift of you," she said. "I am proud to call you my son. Rae, you are the best of both of us. All four of us are so in love and you did that, Ben. This is the home and family you have always deserved."
Sarah-Jane's best friend from school, Marianna Corbett, read from Guess How Much I Love You, the first book she read to Rae, while family members Aunt Pat and Chantel Pepperrell recounted marital advice and read a poem they’d written themselves.
There was laughter, too, as Ben's friend and business partner Will Pepperrell raised the roof with his best man's speech, including references to Ben's famous lookalikes – Ant McPartlin, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and Alfie Boe.
Natalie Pinkham, who was mistress of ceremonies for the day, read a poem she'd written herself, in the form of hip-hop, to a captivated audience.
"Pinky knows me inside out and delivered a snapshot of my life to our guests that made them laugh and cry," says Sarah-Jane. "A woman of many talents, even I didn't know she had this one. I'm going to get her lyrical genius framed."
At sunset, the glow of fairy lights created mystical forest vibes, and guests mingled among the hay bales and fire pits scattered throughout the garden, while sipping on cocktails named after the couple's best friends – including an Autumn Negroni.
The main bar was dubbed "Lynda's Bar" after Sarah-Jane's mum and the fish and chips van was called "Sarah-Jane's Catch of the Day".
Confetti rained down on the newlyweds as they took to the floor for their first dance – to George Ezra's Hold My Girl – while the groom also twirled Rae around and Sarah-Jane danced with Teddy.
Heart FM's Zoe Hardman and Loop VIP boss Nick Stear manned the DJ decks and, to the sounds of a live band playing club classics, the wedding crowd danced the night away.
"The one thing I wanted was for our family and mates to have the best time," says Ben. "We wanted to see huge smiles on their faces and I'm so happy to say it was mission accomplished."
Leesha Williams Photography
Sarah-Jane and Ben have donated the fee for the use of their photos to the charity Childline. Guests also donated rather than give presents. Visit childline.org.uk.
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