Timeless elegance at The Bell Inn

Infinity Haydon Kirby

Every couple wants their big day to be perfect by celebrating with friends and family, while keeping in mind what’s important to them. This is exactly what Lisa Jane Lishman and her husband Ian experienced when they tied the knot at The Bell in Ticehurst. The bride tells us more about how the big day of her dreams came together

How did you and your husband meet?
It’s difficult to pinpoint the exact day we met. You know the sort – you recall nights out, look back through photos and both of you are just sort of…there. At a guess, probably eight years ago? We’ve always got on and had a laugh (mainly due to Ian supplying the vodka and me attempting the running man), been able to talk the night away and not judge each other, scoffing KFC at 3am in the morning. It wasn’t until our bridesmaid Mel’s birthday party in London in March 2011 that one of us actually made a move (we still argue who kissed who).

I was travelling with work at the time, so we planned our first date for April 1! Something must have gone right, as Ian joined me on a business trip to Rome the following week, and so the story began.

Tell us about the proposal
After drunkenly asking my dad for my hand in marriage the New Year’s Eve before, we got engaged on March 8 2014 at Lainston House in Winchester. After a busy couple of months for both of us at work, Ian suggested we take a trip away and go and have a look at a couple of his pubs, and that it made sense to stay nearby to make the most of it. I was none the wiser, so it was a total surprise to pull into the amazing Lainston House. After checking in, we decided to go for a stroll in the hotel’s grounds. We found the hotel’s grassy landing strip and walked right to the end. Two benches were set up, and it was here that Ian got down on one knee. As soon as I saw the box, I knew and burst into tears, squealing ‘yes’ over and over again.

Where did you get married and how did you choose the venue?
The elegant and quirky ambience of The Bell Inn, Ticehurst was the perfect backdrop for our wedding and suited the informal, casual style we wanted. Ian is from South Africa and had friends and family fly over, so where best to showcase a quintessentially English village than Ticehurst? Ian works in the pub industry, so it was very befitting, and the opulent gold/red décor upstairs, with its exposed wood and chandeliers, really appealed to me. It was the perfect venue for the relaxed feel we wanted, and the food there has never let us down – we knew our guests would be well-fed, very well-watered and welcomed with open arms. Sitting down with them, and accommodating, offering options to suit all budgets. Even the rooms that our guests stayed in and the new ‘Love Nest’ lodge out the back still have people talking.

Tell us about your big day and some of its key highlights
As I’m sure every bride and groom attest, our day was magical from start to finish. My mum, bridesmaids and I began the day at about 8am over a chilled breakfast and bubbles, while we got ready at Shoyswell Cottage in Burwash, listening to jazz and playing with the resident dogs. I spent about 20 minutes with my dad, which was precious before the entrance music began. My heart was beating, but the whole room seemed to fade way as I walked towards my now husband. It sounds clichéd, but I really did see just him. We didn’t choose traditional music and went for songs that represented us and were meaningful to us as a couple. In addition to the legal proceedings, Ian and I said our own vows at the exchange of rings, which added a nice personal touch.

What approach did you take to the dress?
I always knew I wasn’t one to go for the big, white dress. Even after trying one on just to make sure, I felt like I was playing dress-up. They are gorgeous in their own right, but just not me. Jenny Packham has always been a favourite designer of mine, and her wedding dresses embody timeless elegance with a unique vintage touch. I have my mum to thank for helping me make my dream come true. Maria and Alexandra from The Pantiles Bride were incredibly helpful, attentive and made it a really amazing experience. The next big choice was which of these exquisite gowns was for me. Luckily, Eden Platinum was an easy choice – the soft grey silk lining and incredible beaded detail really gave it that classic Art Deco feel. I felt so beautiful, I had the moment, I cried and so did my mum. Decision made. I completed the outfit with a simple long veil and a handmade headpiece, which I sourced on Etsy by a company called Dolores Petunia.

How did you start your married life together?
As Ian and I paid for the wedding ourselves, my parents decided to treat us to a surprise honeymoon. All we were allowed to know was the day we departed and that it was going to be hot. So, during breakfast the day after, my mum and dad told us we were heading off to Malaysia for two weeks – to much squeals and jumping of joy and excitement. Although, in the true style of my dad’s sense of humour, he did initially give us a fake itinerary to somewhere else as a joke! The treat started with three days in Kuala Lumpur sampling street markets, seeing the sights and enjoying all the local experiences, before heading off to the most idyllic paradise that is Pankor Laut Island for a week of indulgent bliss.

Finally, describe your partner in five words
Considerate, thoughtful, ambitious, funny and gorgeous.


Lisa offers five top tips for planning your dream wedding

1 Remember what is important – no matter how lavish, big or small your wedding is, it’s ultimately about you and celebrating your love and the start of your life together.

2 Stay true to who you are as a couple and what you feel is most important. Ian and I wanted to make sure the music, flowers and food/drink really reflected us and what we enjoy, so put effort into securing these first, along with the venue.

3 There are protocols that are needed in every wedding, but as long as these are followed, the rest is a blank canvas for you to personalise (should you want/have the time to). We decided that our vows and words of commitment were really important, so we added our own sentences to the legal side of things.

4 Rely on your bridesmaids/groomsmen – they have been with you through thick and thin and want nothing more than to see the bride and groom have the most perfect day. Have one of them act as a ‘poker’ to herd everyone for photos (for example), so you aren’t chasing guests around and can spend time with your new husband/wife.

5 Accept that some things may not always run like clockwork or according to a list (I made loads). Guests will get tipsy, speeches will overrun or it may rain, but you have just had the best day of your life and, to be honest, no one would have noticed or cared. Take time to spend with your husband/wife and just enjoy everyone who has come to share the day with you – family, friends and vendors.

Have you recently got married? We are looking for brides to feature in an upcoming wedding feature. Email newsdesk@timesoftunbridgewells.co.uk with your details and we’ll get back to you

Share this article

Recommended articles


Please enter a search term below.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter