These days, many couples choose to have a smaller wedding and reception. Not only does this often save on cost, but with only the closest of friends and family sharing…
Written by Paula Jones Last updated: November 6, 2006
Birtsmorton Court, Malvern
How and when did you meet?
We met in 2003, when we both worked together in a hotel in Stratford upon Avon. Fran was a chef and I’d just started working there in the summer as a waitress, after I’d finished uni.
How old are you both?
I’m 25 and Fran is 30.
Where, when and how did he (or you!) propose?
Fran proposed in April 2005, when we had gone to stay with his family in Spain. His family live in Asturias in northern Spain, which has some beautiful landscapes. We hired a car one day and drove to the top of the mountains, for the views (or so I was told!) The view wasn’t great as it was really foggy and the top of the mountains were covered in snow. When we had stopped at the top, Fran got out a ring box and proposed! And the ring he had chosen was perfect and it fit!
Did you have hen and stag celebrations? If so, what did you do?
I had two hen nights, one complete surprise that had been organised by the girls I work with – an Ann Summers party. And my bridesmaids had arranged limos and a night out in Birmingham the following weekend. For Fran’s Stag Do, he had booked to go back to Spain where his best man had organised a weekend away with all of his friends. Unfortunately Fran never made it to Spain – as he was flying the day all of the terrorist alerts at Heathrow happened and his flight was cancelled! But the guys he worked with saved the day and arranged a surprise night out at a lap dancing club in Birmingham, the same night as my hen night.
How did your groom help with the wedding planning?
He mainly concentrated on arranging all of his family and friends’ flights and accommodation for the weekend of the wedding. He also spent many hours translating invitations, menus and the order of services into Spanish. He was involved in all the big decisions like the venue, wedding service and menu choices and then he let me get on with all the little details.
Did you use confetti to plan your wedding? If so, how did the website help you?
Yes, just as a starting point for ideas really and to chat to other brides in the cafe.
Tell us about your outfit, and where you bought it
I brought one of the first dresses I tried on – as I just knew it was the one. It was a Mori Lee dress by Madeline Gardener and was strapless and A-line, in white, with beautiful beading.
Did you have bridesmaids? If so, who did you choose and what did they wear?
We had two adult bridesmaids – my sister and best friend. They both wore raspberry pink full length A-line dresses with a sweetheart neckline.
Who did your groom choose for his best man and ushers, and what did they wear?
Fran’s oldest friend was his best man, and then he chose his brother and cousin as ushers. All of the men in the bridal party wore plain black suits with three-quarter length jackets, white shirts, silver waistcoats and pale pink cravats.
Did you have a civil or religious ceremony?
We had a civil ceremony as neither of us are religious.
Where did you hold your ceremony?
We had our ceremony at Birtsmorton Court, a licensed venue near Malvern.
Where did you hold your reception?
The reception was also at the same venue.
Did you have any special wedding transport?
No – as we were staying at the same place for the entire day we didn’t see much point in spending money on wedding cars. So Fran arrived with both dads, best man and the ushers in a people carrier. And my bridesmaids drove me and my mom down earlier in the day so we could get dressed there.
How many guests did you invite to your wedding, and did you have a separate evening guest list?
We invited about 95 guests to the wedding and about an extra 10 came in the evening.
Did your reception have a particular theme in terms of colour or style?
Pink, pink and more pink!
How did you incorporate this in to your table settings?
We had white table linen and napkins. Used fuchsia pink ribbon to attach the “luggage label” style place cards to the napkins and had pink flowers in our table decorations. Rather than having table numbers we named our tables after things you associate with pink like: panther, champagne, flamingo, etc. We had also hired chairs with fuchsia pink seat pads.
Did you give your guests favours?
Yes, every guest had a small box of chocolates had we had wrapped in pink paper. The all the men had cigars (a Spanish tradition). We had designed CDs for the ladies with a selection of songs from the day with a picture of the venue on the sleeve.
Describe your flowers (bouquets and table decorations). Who was your florist?
We used our local florist, Flair with Flowers, based in Studley. I had a bouquet of bright pink hand tied roses with diamantes. The bridesmaid had hand tied roses, but in white with bear grass. The button holes and corsages were the same roses as the bridesmaids’ bouquets, apart from the groom’s that was the same pink as my roses. For the reception we had a mixture of pink and white flowers in a small domed arrangement for each table and then a long and low arrangement for the top table.
What did you choose to have on your menu? Did you have an outside caterer or did your venue handle the catering?
The venue always uses the same caterer, Vine House, based in Tweksbury. The starter was melon with seasonal berries, followed by breast of chicken with mustard and herbs with a tomato sauce. And for dessert we had a trio of lemon meringue, raspberry mousse and chocolate torte. In the evening we had a pig roast with salads.
What did you choose for your wedding cake, and who made it?
Our cake was from Cake Magic in Bromsgrove. It had three tiers and was decorated with white and pink roses made from icing.
Did you have any entertainment during the day or evening?
We had a DJ in the evening.
Did you have a gift list? If so, who did you have your list with?
We had a small gift list with Debenhams – although most of our guests gave us money.
Where did you spend your first night and honeymoon? Who did you book your honeymoon with?
We spent our first night a Birtsmorton Court and then on the Monday flew to Cyprus for our honeymoon. We booked the flights and hotel directly over the Internet.
What was your most memorable moment of the day?
We have both said that the ceremony was the most memorable bit of the day – and certainly the most emotional! But also getting ready with my bridesmaids, as it did suddenly all become real and it was actually my wedding day! We also had fireworks at the end of the night.
Did you experience any ‘nightmare’ moments in the run up to your wedding or on the day?
Everything went really well with all the planning, until the Thursday before our wedding day. We had ordered fuchsia pink and mahogany chairs for the ceremony and reception to match the colour scheme. Although the venue called me to say that they had been delivered and that the seat pads were red and it would cost us an extra £150.00 to sort it out! On the day we had organised coach transport for all the guests to get to the venue so that everyone would be able to have a drink and no one would get lost as it is about an hour’s drive from where we live. Anyway the traffic on the morning was awful as there had been an accident on the M5. The registrar who was conducting the ceremony had told us she could only wait an extra 15 minutes. Luckily the guests literally arrived as I was arriving to the ceremony room. I had brought necklace and earring sets for both of the bridesmaids and gave them to them on the morning – one of the necklace clasps was broke. The ladies at the bridal shop were very helpful and we stopped off at the bridal shop on the way to the wedding to get the one from the display! Finally, we had recorded a CD of music to be played during the ceremony which had the music I was walking down the aisle to. We had set it all up on Friday when we went down to take all the favours and table plans and it worked perfectly. My uncle was supposed to be operating the CD player on the day and had all the instructions of what to play when, but because of the coaches being late he had forgotten to check that it had been switched on at the mains – I ended up walking down the aisle in silence!
Is there anything you would do differently, or any advice you would give to other brides?
We wouldn’t have done anything differently at all – all the little hiccups that happened on the day made it more interesting! My silent entrance was certainly a talking point and in the end the DJ played my entrance music before our first dance and my dad walked me into the room where the disco was – which brought a tear to everyone’s eyes! The only advice I would give to other brides is to plan as well as you can beforehand and enjoy the day, as it is the quickest 24 hours of your life! Also make sure you get to spend a little time alone with your new husband – it is your day after all.