Tell us about the proposal – how and where did it happen?
I was 7 months pregnant and it was 6 days before Christmas. Gareth had asked my Dads permission earlier that day without me knowing. We had been out all day shopping. When we got home I had just made a cup of tea and I suddenly heard our song playing and Gareth appeared and got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. It was exactly what I would have wanted from a proposal as I didn’t want a public proposal.
What was your first step in planning your wedding?
We didn’t do any planning straight away as we had our little girl a month and a half after the proposal, so we took 6 months enjoying our newborn. Then we started to plan the wedding. The first thing we booked was the venue. I had a wedding notebook where all my ideas and plans went into.
What were your wedding “must have’s”?
The main things of importance for me for the day was the venue and my dress (as I’m sure is the same for many Brides!). The dream dress and venue were something I had thought about since I was a little girl.
What made you choose Leez Priory?
I had always loved Leez Priory after attending my cousin’s wedding there several years ago but had always thought it was out of our price range. After some more research, I was pleasantly surprised to find out it was not. As soon as I showed my other half the pictures he was sold and wanted to book immediately! So I quickly arranged a viewing and he was blown away by the beauty of it and we booked our date that very day. Leez Priory was the only venue we viewed… as soon as we saw it we couldn’t imagine getting married anywhere else.
How did you personalise your big day?
We didn’t really have a theme for our day. I think the venue has its own character and didn’t want to modernize it too much and take away the feel for the venue that we loved so much. We had a candle package from the venue, so all our tables were decorated with candles and lovely glass holders. There were also candles dotted around each room and as it got dusk there were lanterns with candles all lit around outside which was the perfect setting for our first dance out on the lawn, it couldn’t have been more perfect. Our beautiful wedding cake was made as a gift for us by one of the best men’s Mum Jan. She did an amazing job and we loved our 3 tier cake. We had a sweet cart provided by Leez Priory in the evening for all our children and of course the adults enjoyed some of their old school childhood sweets.
How did you choose your photographer?
We found our amazing photographer through Facebook. I had heard of Naomi Barker as a couple of friends had used her but the first time I properly saw her work was looking on Facebook. Her pictures were amazing, I was blown away by her talent and when we met her she was so lovely and instantly made us feel at ease and made us so excited to have her capture our special day. We certainly weren’t disappointed the photos are more than we could have hoped for…Naomi Barker is simply amazing.
Describe your wedding attire…
I didn’t have a great idea of what I wanted in a wedding dress, I was very open to suggestions and happy to try anything. I went to a shop in Rayleigh called ‘Precious Moments’ which is where 2 of my best friends and my sister had brought their dresses from. They were so helpful, it was only the 3rd dress I tried on that I got all the feelings of this is ‘the one’. I felt like such a princess in my dress and knew that was my dress.
What accessories did you wear on the day?
I wore a beautiful tiara from Debenhams on the day that was chosen on a day out shopping with my Mum. I had diamond earrings and bracelet from Pandora which was all I needed due to the detailing on the dress. I wore a pair of silver wedges, also from Debenhams.
What did your partner wear?
My partner wore a grey 3-piece suit from Moss Bros. He had never been one for shopping even for the wedding day. He knew he wanted a grey suit so went into Moss and picked a suit, tried it on and that was it he went for the first one he saw. He wore a raspberry claret cravat and pocket hankie that was made by the seamstress who altered the bridesmaid’s dresses and the material was ordered from the same place as the bridesmaids dress so it was an exact match. When I saw him for the first time walking down the aisle I couldn’t believe how smart and handsome he looked. The job he does doesn’t involve any suit wearing so was lovely to see him looking so smart.
Tell us about your Bridesmaids, Groomsmen and their outfits
I had 4 adult bridesmaids who were 3 of my best friends and Gareth’s sister. I asked them by having personalised cards made up with bracelets and asked them individually when we were on our own to make it more personal between us. They wore beautiful raspberry claret long dresses with lace detailing at the top from Krystalls Boutique in Essex. They had matching diamanté hair slides from the internet and wore their own shoes. I then had 4 flower girls who were my daughter and my 3 nieces. My nieces were so excited and were on the countdown from the moment I asked. My nieces wore flower girl dresses from Debenhams and my daughter wore a dress from precious moments the bridal shop where I got my dress from.
Gareth had 2 best men and 2 ushers who are his 3 best friends and his brother. They all wore the same suit and colors as Gareth did.
What was your biggest wedding splurge?
Apart from the venue the next biggest splurge would have to be my dress. We set a budget for the dress and of course, the dress I fell in love with was somewhat more than the budget, but my lovely dad treated me to my dress of dreams.
What was your biggest wedding saving?
I would have to say the table plan. I made this myself and managed to do it for £6.50 so saved lots of money by doing it myself.
What was your ceremony like?
Our ceremony was quite simple. We aren’t religious people so had a civil ceremony. The song I walked down the aisle to was ‘A thousand years’ by the piano guys. It makes me tear up every time I hear the song. My dad walked me down the aisle.
Tell us about your drink’s reception and wedding breakfast?
We had a selection of drinks and canapés after the ceremony whilst we were off having photos done then we sat down for our Wedding breakfast. We chose a 3 course meal of carrot and coriander soup followed by chicken with stuffed chorizo with vegetables then we couldn’t decide on dessert so we did alternate lemon tart and salted caramel chocolate brownies followed by tea, coffee and handmade petit fours. Then came the speeches. My dad went first and did a fab speech considering he doesn’t like public speaking. Then Gareth said a few words thanking everybody and then the best men who did a great job. It was funny and entertaining and had everybody laughing.
Did you have a band or DJ for your evening reception?
We had the Leez Priory house DJ and he was great. Played all the right songs to get people dancing.
What song did you choose for your first dance?
We had our first dance out on the lawn surrounded by candle lanterns and the beautiful surroundings, it really was magical. Our song was called ‘Love me like you do’ which was originally performed by Ellie Goulding but we had a version sung by Mcbusted which was the same song that Gareth proposed to.
Based on your own experience, give us some top tips:
If I was to do it all again I would try and not be so stressed. I let the stress of it take over sometimes and made parts not so enjoyable but even if the planning doesn’t always go right it still was a perfect day and couldn’t have gone more smoothly so I would definitely not let myself get caught up in the stress. I think time management would be different as well. Do a few things each month for the planning as the months go so quickly and before you know you have 3 months to go until the day and so much to do which again doesn’t help to keep the stress levels at a low.
Did you go on a honeymoon or mini-moon?
We went for a 2-week honeymoon to Zante in Greece although it was more a babymoon as Sophia our little girl came with us. It was a lovely family holiday our first abroad holiday with Sophia and loved every moment.
Purchase & Hire – Tell us who your suppliers were:
The accessories: Pandora, Debenhams
Bridesmaid’s dresses: Krystalls Boutique, Debenhams and Precious moments bridal wear
Other outfits: Groomsmen- Moss Bros
Wedding rings: Alba Rose In Rayleigh
Wedding cake: The lovely Jan (best man’s mum)
Invitations: Print Warehouse Essex
Photographer: Naomi Barker
DJ: Leez Priory
Other: Hair: Clare at Evolution hairdressers Southend on Sea.
Makeup: Debbie Lloyd from Basildon