Mr & Mrs El-Shafie’s Christmas Wedding

On Friday 27th December 2019, Lauren and Emad started the rest of their lives here at Leez Priory

“We were in Borneo, Malaysia. It had been a dream of ours to see the orangutans in their natural habitat. Emad asked for my Dad’s permission the night before we travelled, and my Dad obviously said yes and advised that Emad do it at the start of our trip so that we can enjoy a mini-moon for the rest of the holiday.

Emad purchased a Swarovski ring to propose in the jungle and kept the real one in the Sepilok lodge that where we were staying,  just in case he lost it, he is known for being a little clumsy. He planned to propose on day one following the advice from my Dad but after losing the ring and hunting endlessly in a bush he decided once he found it to try again the following day. He was right in purchasing a separate proposal ring because the next day when he was about to propose he realized he had actually lost it this time.

We got back to the lodge, I am still completely oblivious to everything that’s happened so far. I showered and went to sit with him on the balcony to watch the sunset before we went out to dinner. He was laughing and smiling a lot and I asked him what’s wrong and why is he acting weird… that’s when he grabbed my hand, got down on one knee and asked me to marry him (with the real ring!).

I was in utter shock; we have been together since I was in my late teens and I honestly gave up on the idea. I think I spent an hour crying and asking if he was serious before he asked me if that was a yes. Of course, it was a yes! We then called all the various family members to tell them the happy news and spent the rest of the holiday in a big happy bubble!”


What a proposal to remember! After the proposal, it was full steam ahead (literally!)


“I had seen Leez Priory online, many years ago and fell in love with it. It has so much character, whenever I imagined getting married, I always dreamed it would be there.

For the second part of our trip we were staying at the Kota Kinabalu Shangri La Rasa Ria, this was the part of the trip where we could just relax as we don’t do that much at home. We were sitting by the pool and Emad asked me where I’d like to get married. I told him I always loved Leez Priory and he asked to see the website. I passed him the phone and we saw there was still availability this year, 27th December. Emad said are you sure this is where you want to get married? I said yes but that’s too soon, I can’t plan our wedding in 13 weeks! His response was, ‘You’re organized, you do events with work and you won’t do it alone I will help you.’

So I got in touch with the team and got the ball rolling.”

Having checked the date with family and then paying their deposit, it was time to get serious with the planning. To do that, there’s really only one place people go to get inspiration now…

“Pinterest was my friend, I had a small amount of time to plan so Pinterest was so helpful! I have simple taste. I like things clean looking, elegant and classic. I knew I wanted things to be bright and white but wanted to add some warmth given the time of year.

I knew Leez Priory had amazing décor over Christmas because I have followed them on Instagram for a while. They have Christmas trees around and garlands on the fireplaces with the traditional green, reds and golds and it just looks amazing.

I looked on Pinterest for winter wedding ideas and then came across a beautiful cake which made my mind up on colours and style. The style was then replicated into my bouquet and top table/ceremony flowers.

For the centrepieces I sat with my florist Alice from Cherubs Florist who showed me various ideas. I wanted candles and a hint of red, when I saw the floating candles with the red rose petals my mind was made up.

JF Styling gave me my inspiration for the ceremony room in the Great Hall. We came to an open day, saw their white aisle and blossom trees and said we want exactly that! We also went for the Chiavari chairs with the white sash as it just looked absolutely stunning!”


With all the plans in place, suppliers booked and decoration sorted, there really wasn’t much time left. The only thing to do was to look forward to the big day!

The morning of the wedding day arrived and excitement was all around! Lauren and the girls stayed the night before in our Fisherman’s Cottage, where they relaxed and enjoyed the evening before the big day itself the following day.

In the morning, they then made their way over to the main house to the Changing Rooms and started the preparation of getting ready.

“My flower girl was my niece Amelia and she wore a similar-looking dress, she also had a lace bodice but with full sleeves with a tulle skirt which she loved twirling around in!”

“I don’t usually wear jewellery day-to-day except for my ring so I was never going to wear a lot on the day. I wore freshwater pearl earrings.”

“My wedding dress was a vintage A-line style with a classic sweetheart bodice with embroidered floral lace three-quarter length sleeves covered with appliques.”

Once Lauren was ready, it was time to head downstairs, where Dad was waiting to see her!

After that, it was on to the ceremony where Emad was waiting…

“My father David walked me down the aisle to ‘I’m Kissing you’ by Des’ Ree. As soon as I heard the song I was struggling to hold back the tears and that’s when it really hit me.”

“The groomsmen wore Navy blue tail suits with Ivory waistcoats and a navy blue tie finished with an ivory rose and fern buttonhole and Emad wore an ivory tie as the groom with an ivory rose and red berry buttonhole.”

Congratulations to the newlywed Mr & Mrs El-Shafie!


After the ceremony and a few photos, it was welcome drinks and canapes!

Welcome Drinks

Passion Fizz
House Sparkling White Wine
Winter Punch
Elderflower Fizz Mocktail – Groom’s Choice


Buckwheat Blinis with Smoked Salmon and Sour Cream
Tempura King Prawn
Mini Scotch Eggs
Brie and Red Onion Crouton (V)
Free range bang bang Chicken
Caramel Profiteroles

After the welcome drinks, it was then time to head off for dinner in the Coach House, but not before a lovely confetti throw!

Wedding Breakfast


Wild Mushroom Risotto (V)
Wild mushrooms sautéed with garlic and fresh herbs topped with rocket and parmesan finished with herb oil

Duck Confit
On a bed of pickled red cabbage with a toasted sesame and honey dressing


Main Course

Roast Leg of Lamb
Served with redcurrant & rosemary stuffing and a rich roast jus

Traditional Roast Topside of Beef with Yorkshire Pudding
Served on a bed of horseradish mash and a rich red wine jus



Sticky Toffee Pudding
Served with toffee sauce and Baileys cream

Baked White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake
A butter biscuit base with rich cream cheese topping served with a raspberry coulis

After their beautiful three-course dinner, it was then time for speeches!

After dinner, it was time for sparklers, cake cut, first dance and to get the party started!

“We danced to Kenny G, Michael Bolton – ‘You Send Me’

Emad and I listen to Michael Bolton around the house or on road trips and have seen him live. We love a good corny song. We came across this one and thought it was perfect for our first dance.”

How did you personalize your big day?

“We had signs around that were downloaded from Etsy, I then printed them on nice paper and framed them. We had an unplugged ceremony, we wanted no phone or cameras (other than the professionals) as we wanted our friends and family to be fully present, it turned out to be a very emotional ceremony because of this, Happy tears, of course. We also had sparklers and matches which were each personalized.”

What was your favourite part of the day?

“The evening was amazing, once everyone was there, we all just had a big party and everyone just danced and had fun until the very end.”

What was your biggest wedding splurge?

“Probably the venue décor, we never planned to get a stylist in but couldn’t resist once we saw how much the room was transformed!”

 What was your biggest wedding saving?

“The dress because my dad brought it for me and the cake because our friend was kind enough to offer to do ours as a wedding gift and it was absolutely perfect.”

Have you got a favourite photo from the day? If so why is it your favourite?

“I could not choose just one, Gary did an amazing job of capturing so many special moments.”

 Based on your own experience, give us some top tips:

“You don’t need as much time to plan as you think. Families can sometimes be the best and worst part of planning a wedding, people are going to disappoint you and let you down. Don’t let it take away anything from your special day. Those that love you both and want to celebrate this special time in your life will do everything in their power to be present and cause as little drama as possible.”

 “If we could do it all again, we’d…”

“We would absolutely do it in the short time that we did and wouldn’t change a thing!”

Did you go on a honeymoon or mini-moon?

“No not yet, we are travelling around the Canada Rockies in May 2020.”

Dress/Veil – WED2B, Chelmsford
Seamstress – Mariana Professional Alternations, Elm Park
Shoes – John Lewis
Earings – H Samuel
Hair piece – WED2B, Chelmsford
Bridesmaid’s dresses – Dorothy Perkins
Flower Girl Dress – WED2B – Chelmsford
Groomsmen – Anthony Formal Wear, Billericay
Wedding rings – Goldsmiths – Victoria, London
Wedding cake – A friend of ours and our Comrades Triathlon coach, Debbie Coyle
Invitations – Zazzle
Photographer – Gary at Jude Photography
Videographer – Vivid Squad
Wedding favours – The Little Box of Goodies
Make up – Geena Bernard
Hair – Hair by Shelly
Florist – Cherubs Florist
Styling – JF Styling

If you have any questions relating to having your wedding at Leez Priory, please don't hesitate to call Gemma via the contact details below:


T: 01245 362 555

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