On a train in November 1998 - I was off to do my Christmas shopping in London and a good looking stranger was sat opposite me. We both gave each other flirty looks and I was quite interested in his chat with his friend about Rugby and Motobikes, so I made sure he noticed I was reading the back pages of the newspaper. There were a couple of kids playing up in the seats opposite and they were making people laugh. As we got off the train, he made a comment to me about the kids, we both smiled and he walked off. With me not too far behind him, I got to the bottom of the concourse and tapped him on the shoulder, asked if he was seeing anyone (no - thankfully) then asked if he'd fancy going out - the rest is history as they say...
I'm 33 and he's 35.
He whisked me off on a surprise midweek break, that he'd arranged leave for me with my boss, to Ravello on the Amalfi coast. After a very special first day, we went for a meal at the hotel restaurant (he was acting a bit distant with hindsight) - we finished dinner and he asked if we'd like to go up to the pool for the view. The hotel had an infinity pool, overlooking the valley to the coast, which was breathtaking and beautiful by day, but stunning by night and very romantic. We were taking the view in, when he turned round, opened up a box with a beautiful platinum diamond solitaire ring inside and said "G, will you marry me?" Cue me, tears in eyes, "You know I will!" Big hugs all round and we sat soaking it all in for an hour or so, before rushing back to our room to open the champagne and ring our follks.
We did - I went to Cheltenham for the weekend with my sister and six mates, stayed in a big country cottage. Friday night chilli, wine and everyone getting re-aquainted. Saturday pampering thing aaallllll day - bliss! Saturday, superb restaurant then onto a piano bar - much more raucous than it sounds! Sunday morning - bacon sarnies all round, sharing stories and pics from the night before, before all heading off home. Nige and 10+ mates went off to Berlin, where they dressed as seventies porn stars and Nige was made to wear the "Daffyd - only gay in the village" outfit - sub zero temperatures - plenty of other stuff entertained them but I'll not go into detail!
We took a lot of joint decisions on venue, catering, scheme, photographer etc. He designed and made the invites, order of service, thank you cards, sorted the cake and his transport (helicopter!) - I did dresses, suits, hotel, flowers, decorations, and transport. We decided on the honeymoon together.
I did - in the early stages it was very good to browse for ideas, then once you have them, good to have other's opinions. Latterly, I'd like to think I helped some others with advice.
My dress was from a shop in Greater London - can't remember the name. Allure #783 was the style from Essence of Australia - it was in the destinations section of the shop, but I wanted simple as I'm only short and big and beautiful might have swamped me!
I had my sister Samantha as my CBM, with two friends' daughters, Ines and Mia (3 and 4) as flowergirls. As it was important for me to have my sister as CBM and she was due her first child two months before, we decided on black, so we could buy something dressy and gorgeous, without it being a BM dress as such, so it was a strapless black satin dress from the High Street. The flowergirls were in black dresses also from the high street with cream fluffy coats over to keep out the cold. They all looked fab!
Nige had two Best Men - his two best mates. They both wore black lounge suits, white shirts and pink ties (specially designed for the bridal party by a friend). Nige wore a bespoke lounge suit made by Oliver Woo in Tunbridge Wells of charcoal grey with a very fine pinstripe, white shirt and orange tie. Ushers (brother-in-law and Nige's brother) and dads - dressed same as the Best Men.
Civil with bits thrown in to make it 'us'.
Gaynes Park, Coopersale, Epping - the most stylish but simple venue and a lovely team.
Nige arrived in a helicopter and I arrived in a friend's Rolls Royce.
90 to the day and only a handful extra to the evening hog roast.
Our two favourite colours are pink and orange - so with the black and white/ivory of the wedding party, it set off our pink and orange gerbera bouquets/buttonholes/decorations off perfectly. We also thought that as it was a February wedding it wouldn't do any harm to have bright and bold flowers!
One pink, one orange gerbera, gently entwined, set in a pomander type base of lime green mini chrysanths and grass. Simple but effective.
No - we spent the money behind the bar, which our friends enjoyed far more!
My sister and I had 'over the arm' bouquets - hers small with pink gerbera/germini and grasses - mine a bit larger with pink and orange, with grasses trimmed with glass beads. The flowergirls had a single gerbera and grass posy - one of which didn't actually make it to the ceremony in one piece! White gerbera corsages for mums, pink gerbera buttonholes for the men, orange gerbera buttonhole for Nige. Florist - Dee & Vicky at Flower-Planet.co.uk - so accommodating and genuinely excited about the day - great girls!
Catering was in house. Cock-a-leekie soup or smoked salmon Beef Bourgignon, roasted veg and mash Tarte tartin Hog roast with stuffing and apple sauce for the evening - yum!
Chocolate single tier - a friend made it.
Our friends acoustic band played for an hour after the speeches, then disco.
Gift voucher list - Heals.co.uk & Habitat as we're doing our house up and will really need the help to furnish it once finished.
First night, was in the Apple Loft - a 'honeymoon' cottage on site at Gaynes Park. Honeymoon was three nights in Singapore, 10 nights in Bali. Booked with Thomas Cook in Tunbridge Wells - we had no idea where to go and only booked it 6 weeks before so a very patient chap called Michael sat us down and went through everything and anything that interested us!
Two things: 1)Waking up in my hotel suite on the morning of the wedding - opened my curtains and saw THE most perfect blue sky with the sun belting down on frosted gardens - I thought, "This is going to be a good day!" 2) The absolute best bit, walking down the (ouside) aisle with my Dad, CBM keeping flowergirls in check and looking up to see Nige looking straight at me - cue massive smile from us both!
Dress was ordered in the wrong size and hellish shop assistants who were very obstructive in trying to rectify the matter despite it being their fault - day saved by a superb seamstress. Suits - wrong sizes delivered to people all over the country week beforehand - online company were very good though and quickly rectified that. Transport at the end of the night - it was very difficult to get taxis to come out to the venue - should have pre-booked. Nothing serious though, eh!
Apart from the taxi thing, I would do absolutely nothing differently (and to be honest, even the taxi thing worked out ok with my sis swinging into charge!) The only advice we would give to propsective brides and grooms - first, get as much as you can done, as soon as you can - we are a bit last minute and some things were being done two weeks before. This will allow you to simply enjoy the immediate run up to the wedding. Second, don't worry about things too much. It might seem like the biggest deal in the world which favours to have, or whether you get a perfect match of BM shoes to dress, etc... on the day it really, really doesn't matter - our cake was nothing like we expected it to look, but it was damn tasty! And last, enjoy your day and take time out to reflect with one another, so you can remember being together.