I’ve always been somewhat traditional when it comes to romance. Thankfully, five years ago, I met my match.
After two year’s of dating, Clem got on one knee in the Bahamas and asked the ‘big’ question. It was exactly how I had imagined a proposal; intimate, private and in the most beautiful location that meant something to me (I grew up visiting the islands so he couldn’t have chosen better!).
After much champagne drinking and several congratulatory calls, we landed in the UK and the planning commenced.
Initially toying with the idea of an Italian wedding (you can probably guess who was pushing for this option), we eventually decided that having all our friends and family there was more important than the guarantee of sunshine. (When I woke up on my wedding to pouring rain, I slightly regretted this decision).
With Italy out of the question, we set our minds to planning a traditional english wedding.
We chose to get married where I had grown up, so we never had the task of choosing a venue. Instead, we plonked a huge marquee on the back lawn, much to my Grandfather’s dismay.
(*Tip – If you do have a marquee, make sure you’re on honeymoon for when it’s removed. The lawn will be TOTALLY ruined for at least a month).
We located the marquee between the lawn and woodlands, uplighting huge oak trees with the hope that deer or foxes would appear throughout the day. Fairylights lined the ceiling, blush florals topped the tables and favours consisted of home-made damson gin. Even the damsons came from our garden.
I was determined, more than anything, to make our wedding fun! From start to finish, I wanted people to be laughing, drinking and enjoying themselves. It needed to be traditional, but lively. Quintessential but not stuffy. You get the idea!
So, to set the scene…
An ivory lined marquee with seats for 160 guests.
We actually did our own flowers. At 5am three days before the big day, we travelled to Birmingham Flower Market and loaded a van full of 800 roses, bundles of baby breath and proteas (a South-African flower as a nod to our honeymoon).
Godparents, friends and family flocked to help as we learnt how to arrange wedding flowers. No easy task but certainly a handy lesson for the future.
The local bakery in our village made this four-tier cake. The bottom three layers were Sicilian lemon and elderflower, while the top was a traditional fruit cake (a request from my Mum).
Our damson gin in place…
After two years of brewing, we syringed the sweet liquor into tiny favour bottles which people guzzled during the speeches.
Don’t be fooled. I may look calm here but it was torrential rain on the morning of the wedding. I was so upset!
After a brief moan that we weren’t in Italy, I decided to just get on with everything. Thankfully, I had pre-ordered a pile of white wedding umbrellas and would urge any bride to do the same!
After a powercut at the hairdressers (exactly what you need with all the rain), the bridemaids and I raced back home to start the process of makeup accompanied by a light breakfast.
Thankfully, the Dirty Dancing playlist lifted the mood somewhat and soon corks were popping. In no time, we were finally enjoying ourselves.
Having read every wedding blog on the planet, I knew to leave enough time to get into my wedding dress. It’s at least a thirty-minute process so don’t leave yourself rushing.
After many conversations and fittings, I chose a Suzanne Neville dress. I went to at least six shops, but as soon as I slipped into this lace and organza creation, I knew I had found ‘the one’.
Together, Suzanne and I tweaked and altered the design slightly, capping the sleeves and shortening the bodice.
My brief was ‘something inspired by Kate Middleton’s dress, but using lighter materials that could swish on the dance floor and shorter sleeves for ease of movement’.
Here was the final sketch that was sent to the cutting room in London…
This is my lovely Godfather who was the voice of reason on the day. On hand ready to help if needed…
And my Mum and Dad. Not quite so calm on the morning of their only-child’s wedding. Dad managed to spill a whole tub of Volterol down his morning suite. This is us trying to see the funny side of things!
When it came to the ceremony, we got married in the same church that my parents got married in.
It also happened to be a stunning church both internally and externally, so I was more than happy to go along with tradition in this instance.
Remember how I mentioned the rain? Well, it had massively eased at this point. Nevertheless, those wedding brollies were at the ready.
I have to say, I was starting to get nervous at this point. I was so worried about tripping over my dress while walking down the aisle.
After waiting at the church entrance for a few moments, the music started and everybody stood up with anticipation.
I always knew that music was going to play a huge part in the day, so each song was chosen carefully.
I walked down the aisle to this –
It’s an acoustic version of my late Nan and Grandpa’s favourite song. They would often go to dances and this was one that always got them up, so naturally, it became hugely sentimental.
*Ladies, may I suggest you practise walking down the aisle to your chosen music. I wept for at least the first five attempts. A few dress rehearsals meant that I had numbed to the music and also nailed the timing. Instead, my lovely husband was the one who cried.
After singing hymns and saying our vows, it was time for the readings. I chose to combine the below extract from Sex And The City (don’t judge before you’ve read it), with quotes from our favourite films.
It went down well, as so far three people have asked where the reading came from. I’m glad I decided to make ours more personal and tailor it slightly.
His hello was the end of her endings
Her laugh was their first step down the aisle
His hand would be hers to hold forever
His forever was as simple as her smile
He said she was what was missing
She said instantly she knew
She was a question to be answered
And his answer was “I do”.
The Gospel Choir! I told you music was important.
We asked the University of Birmingham Gospel Choir if they would sing at the ceremony and they were brilliant. This is them belting our the hymns before taking to the stage.
While we signed the register and got on with the formalities, guests were kept entertained.
The choir sang Somewhere Over The Rainbow in memory of my Nan, This is Me from the Greatest Showman, and then took things up a notch with their version of Joyful Joyful.
I’ll admit, I had forgotten about the rap part of Joyful Joyful. What started with clapping, swaying and singing ended up with the choir leads rapping their way down the church aisle, leaving 99% of the audience up on their feet dancing and 1% in utter horror.
We loved it though (just look at Clem’s expression below – this was the moment the rapping commenced). Definitely not a church ceremony to forget.
Have a listen and imagine this blasting out in a rural english church…All guests left perfectly geared up for one hell of a party!
Thanks Whoopi for the inspiration!
And here’s me, completely over the moon that guests are up on their feet enjoying themselves.
With everyone ready to get back home and start the celebrations, we strutted our way out of the church, as husband and wife, to this classic…
CONFETTI TIME! I love these photos so much! I was so worried the rain wouldn’t allow for it but the weather only got better from this point.
Our best man did pop a confetti canon backwards though (you can only imagine the injury)… plus it nearly gave the nearby guests a heart attack.
Back home we arrived. This part of the day is so special. It gives you time to let everything sink in and actually talk.
Then it was time to join the reception.
We had been over the France to get the alcohol and my goodness, did this save money! Bubbles flowed, a pianist played and canapes in the form of pistachio topped scallops and halloumi fries were nibbled.
This was the first time I had seen my Grandpa smile since loosing my Nan. Such amazing candid photos by Adam!
The formal photos…
We got together with bridesmaids and ushers, taking ten minutes out of the day to capture some more pictures.
Although you want to stay with the food and guests, this is a really nice way to spend time with those who has supported you throughout the planning process.
Clem’s favourite photo of the day… can you believe it? So utterly chuffed with his purchase of matching socks and tophats.
When it came to the speeches, I knew we had not one, but three petrified men on our hands.
Clem, my dad and Max, our best man, were so nervous! This made me even more nervous. Ironic as all the women in the family love public speaking!
Thankfully, all three succeeded with flying colours. No bad jokes, no embarrassing moments, just laughs with a few tears thrown in for good measure.
And look at that sun staring to peep through the trees…
And then a miracle happened… the sun came fully out!
Our photographer, Adam, quickly came and told us how stunning the sunset was going to be.
Knowing better than to argue, Clem and I scurried off to the lake for some sunset magic.
Giving the most important guest her moment of glory.
Poor Margot is rather camera shy, so assumed my couture dress was a blanket to hide in.
Unlike Clem’s sock photo, the below is my favourite. Our little family…
As the sun dropped over the estate, we swirled and twirled, making the most of the evening warmth.
At darkness fell, we moved inside once more. This time, for our first dance as husband and wife.
We quickly decided on an upbeat number as opposed to awkward slow dancing. It proved to be perfect!
Once again, the canons made an appearance. This time, showering us in gold flutters as our 9-piece Motown band got into the swing of things.
People clapped, recorded and cheered!
After what seemed like forever for Clem (which was actually just one verse and one chorus), we invited guests to join us on the dance floor. And here we are stayed until 1am.
The band, Apollo Gold, were definitely a highlight. So much so, that four of our friends have since booked them for their wedding.
All we wanted was for the dance floor to be full across the generations. Motown was perfect for this. Nobody can resist getting up when they hear Stevie Wonder or Aretha.
Guests drank gin, wine and more champagne, as well as munching their way through an extensive cheese table.
All necessary for keeping energies high!
Then a Sax & DJ duo took centre stage…giving the party a new-found Ibiza feeling.
After a packed day full of emotion, dancing, confetti and friends, we finally called it a night.
Only a few hours from this photo being taken, we were at Heathrow Airport boarding a plane to South Africa. Needless to say, the journey from Miss to Mrs was a memorable one.
Images by ARJ Photography – https://www.arj-photo.co.uk/