A little rain didn’t stop Laura & Sarah having their dream wedding in their first-choice venue, Leez Priory!
Tell us about the proposal – how and where did it happen?
We went to El Dorado Suites, Mexico on holiday and I proposed to Sarah at the end of the hotel jetty, shortly after a thunderstorm. The sun was setting and the sky was a beautiful purple/red colour. We then went to a very exclusive Thai restaurant to celebrate. The funny part is that Sarah actually carried the bag with the ring in, on the way there!
What was your first step in planning your wedding, did you use blogs/magazines etc?
The first thing we did was visit venues – Leez was obviously the one we knew we’d choose. Once the date/venue was booked we started dress shopping. We also went to a wedding fair where we found our cake makers. We did a lot of research online and took screenshots of the things we liked. We also found certain TV shows quite useful to get inspiration – ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ became regular dinner viewing. It then gradually developed as time went on.
What were your wedding “must have’s”?
Sarah was keen to have a violinist and I had always dreamt of having fireworks so these were high priorities. We both love to travel so it was obvious to us to go with a travel theme which helped us to design the passport invitations, seating plan, table names, cake etc. One of the most important things for me was that we could both walk down the aisle with our fathers at the same time – the outside venue with two entrances was perfect for this so that was a big factor for choosing the venue (aside from its stunning appearance.) Then over time, all the finer details were arranged.
How did you organise your wedding budget?
We booked the venue approx. 18 months in advance and worked out how much we needed to save each month to meet the venue costs. We did a spreadsheet with everything else on and planned which month/months we would buy those things – e.g. pay for the flowers in March, then the cake in April etc. Our parents were kind enough to pay for our dresses and they each made some additional contributions. However, as we had to rearrange it due to Covid we got to the point where we cared a lot less about the finances and a lot more about it being perfect – the costs spiralled towards the end but we don’t regret a thing! We decided we were only doing it once so it had to be exactly as we dreamed it would be and ended up adding extras like the band.
How did you find your venue and what made you choose it?
We saw a picture of Leez Priory in a magazine about a year before getting engaged and fell in love with it. As soon as the engagement happened we visited the venue and that was it! We did go to one other place the same day but there was no getting away from the wow factor at Leez. We knew instantly it was our venue as soon as we pulled up in the car park.
How did you personalise your big day?
We had our travel theme and had seen a few ideas online – the passport and boarding pass invitations (made by us to keep costs down a bit), the mini-suitcases with personalised wedding favours in, the world map seating plan, an American postbox with postcards for guests to write marital advice on (some of these must have been completed after the guests had had a few drinks!), the globe to sign, the cake in the style of suitcases stacked with mini-figures of us and our puppy on top and so on. We also named each table after a country we had travelled to and had photos/quotes from our trip as part of the centrepieces. All of these ideas developed over a period of time. My sister-in-law then made us personalised wedding snomes (Sarah’s a little bit obsessed!). We also had a memory ladder with pictures of our relatives which was very special to us. Sarah later saw an image of wisteria trees as table centrepieces online and, as we both love gardening, she managed to convince our florist to buy some for us to hire so the result in the coach house was stunning. Finally, a last-minute purchase which came in very handy and was the focal point of many photos was our rainbow umbrella – best £28 I’ve ever spent!
Did the venue provide any memorable extras or nice personal touches that stood out?
White umbrellas – it poured down in the afternoon!
Describe your wedding attire and favourite accessories
Laura – I saw a designer on ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ and instantly knew it was the exact style I was looking for. I found a dress I loved by her online and then went to Confetti and Lace to try it on. I straight away fell in love with it. I bought a hair piece at the same time which I was really pleased with as it complimented the train of the dress. I bought two sets of jewellery and two pairs of shoes (got them both wrong the first time but was happy with the final choices).
Sarah – I went to a few different shops to look at various dress styles. In the end, I fell in love with a dress at Grace and Lace but it wasn’t quite as sparkly as I’d hoped. Therefore, I had it customised extensively to turn it into my dream dress. I had a hairpiece made to match my jewellery and purchased shoes to go with it at a later date.
Tell us about your Bridesmaids, Groomsmen and their outfits
We had both our brothers as our best men and our best friend as an Usher. The two fathers and the men all wore light grey morning suits with tail coats and dusky pink accessories. Our sister-in-laws and best friend wore dark plum dresses and our flower girl wore an ivory dress with a dusky pink and plum flower waistband which tied it all together beautifully – the child was obviously the star of the show!
What was your ceremony like?
We had the ceremony outside the tower with an acoustic violinist playing. We co-ordinated the entrances of all the women so each one came from a different side of the courtyard area – Lillia age 5 (the flower girl) came out first, then the adult bridesmaids followed one from each side. Then finally Sarah and I walked out at the same time, with our fathers by our sides. We all met in the middle of the grass and walked down the aisle together. Lillia who was 5 at the time recited a poem (My Personal Penguin) off by heart which melted everyone. We then had Sarah’s cousin Nicky do a reading called ‘Love is Like Owning a Dog’ (she surprised us by having a large picture of our puppy framed for the occasion) and my friend, Holly, read ‘The Meaning of Marriage’.
Tell us about your drinks reception and wedding breakfast
We just managed to do the drinks reception and the photos outside the tower before it began to rain. The violinist (Hayley Pomfrett) played an electric violin for this bit – she was amazing. The rain was quite romantic in hindsight but at the time everyone was a bit soggy so we did a mad dash inside! We had the wedding breakfast in the coach house. The meal was lovely although I was too nervous to eat much. The speeches were… interesting. Both fathers did their bit and then I did one on mine and Sarah’s behalf. Then my brother, Gregg, took the floor. He’s a bit of a showman and halfway through feigned that the nerves had gotten the better of him. He had to rush to the toilet but came back in an all-in-one rainbow squid outfit. Apparently, because I asked him not to show me up too much as we wanted a sophisticated wedding, that gave him the desire to go totally mad! His speech was certainly not PG or PC or anything else that one would usually expect but I have to say it was certainly memorable. I’m just surprised that my mother-in-law was still speaking to me afterwards – thank goodness for the wine!
Did you have a band or DJ for your evening reception? Did you have a first dance – what song did you choose?
We had our first dance outside when it got dark. The song was Never Enough and approx. a minute in our fireworks started. No one knew they were going to happen so it was a big surprise for everyone. There were a lot of wet eyes by the end of it. We then had a band for the rest of the evening (The City Folk) who were amazing but we hardly got to hear them. We were so busy socialising with our guests that I think we only danced for the last song.
Based on your own experience, give us some top tips:
I think it really helped us to have a spreadsheet with everything on – the timings for when balances needed to be paid etc. It’s hard to keep on top of the costs otherwise and nasty surprise bills are never fun. Give yourself enough time to spread the costs out. Prioritise the most important things first and then fill in the others as and when you have the time and money to do so. Try to call in favours if possible – although we didn’t do this!
Did you go on a honeymoon or mini-moon?
As it was very shortly after the Covid pandemic we just went to Cornwall that summer. We moved our actual honeymoon, to Croatia, to the following summer. Croatia was lovely. Cornwall was very cold and wet!
“If we could do it all again, we’d…”
Do it all exactly the same way except order better weather! We did have quite a few guests missing due to Covid travel restrictions so we would love to do it again, with ALL our friends and family present.
Purchase & Hire – Tell us who your suppliers were:
The accessories: Rainbow Club, Debenhams
Bridesmaid’s dresses: Dorothy Perkins and Monsoon
Wedding rings: Angelic Diamonds
Wedding cake: Occasions Cakes
Hair and make-up: Dawn Taylor and Dannielle Wilson