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: August 11, 2006
We met years ago, after moving to London to study Drama.
We’d been together for about seven years and had talked about getting married. We spent a day out in York in February 2002, and were talking about how great it would be to get married at York Minster. After sampling the local brew, we arrived back in Doncaster and, walking back to my parents’ house, decided that we’d get married. Gary proposed to me in their kitchen, and then I proposed to him (witnessed by Pumpkin, our cat – more romantic than it sounds!). Gary then asked dad’s permission and we announced the news to my mum and the world!
Gary spent a weekend in Tunbridge Wells and Brighton – bars, clubs and stupid amounts of alcohol. I spent a weekend in London – drag bar, clubbing and stupid amounts of alcohol.
Gary helped with everything. We went along to all the supplier meetings together, he even helped choose my dress (though not in person of course – he saw a picture on the web). As we’d been living together so long we were both keen to be involved, it was about us and our family and friends. There’s no way he’d let me get away with choosing everything on my own! As we lived in London, and my family lived in Yorkshire and we didn’t have bridesmaids, we found this worked very well.
Confetti was an incredibly useful source of information, from merchandise and links to suppliers to tips on etiquette and speeches. Thank you!
We didn’t, though I would recommend it if most of your guests have web access. We don’t have a pc at home and could only use the web in our spare time at work – so we decided to use the info provided by confetti instead.
We bought lots of bits and pieces from the confetti website – petals, name place cards, thank you cards. We found there was plenty of inspiration for putting a look together.
My gown was a two piece design. The fitted bodice in red and gold silk brocade, was complimented by a draped gold skirt with full train. We were very lucky to get this in the sale! My only regret was that my mum wasn’t there to help choose. I had to rely on Gary having a look at the design on the web. I designed and made my own tiara with Swarovski crystal beads. I enjoyed it so much, I’ve been designing ever since! Gary’s outfit was also from the same shop – a classic black frock coat with purple brocade waistcoat and cravat – and a silver topped cane for his nibs and the best man – very dandy.
Because I live far from my home town I didn’t choose a family bridesmaid and found it too difficult to choose from my friends. However, we did have some great hens – Kate, Sally and Lisa – who looked after me very well in the final stages. I should also mention Adrian and Phil, who were honourary hens but were too ill to make it to the hen night frolics.
Gary’s best man was Tom – an old friend from Kent – a real party animal with a wicked sense of humour. His ushers were his brother David (chief usher) and charming man, Jim B (a good friend from Kent who wept lots on the big day), Jon and Fred (top friends who we met years ago in Ealing). Again, they wore the classic black frock coats with purple brocade waistcoats – and we couldn’t get away with not getting the best man a silver topped cane as well. We also had an unofficial usher – the best man’s brother, Ed who was a great help with the preparations and on the day – a real gent. He wore a black suit and looked very dapper.
We had a church wedding. I didn’t have a Christian background, but Gary did. We decided to explore and found something really special in a tiny church near to my parents village. The church wedding gave real meaning to the event.
All Saints Church, Hooton Pagnell, Yorkshire. This had become a very special place to us as we had been travelling up to Yorkshire and worshipping there for some time before the wedding. Father Lethbridge is very friendly with a good sense of humour. He supported us all through the process and it was great to be married by someone who knew us well.
Our reception was at Carlton Towers in Yorkshire. This was a special place which I had visited as a child with my grandparents when it was still open to the public. I remembered the kindness of the people and the special atmosphere there. We found out that Carlton Towers now specialis in weddings and events. It’s a beautiful place with fantastic people and service. We could planned our day around exactly what we wanted and had a fantastic day. We spent the night in a grand room in the old wing of the Towers.
We had three vintage Rolls Royces – hired from companies run by enthusiasts. This made our trips extra special – not only were the cars beautiful and reasonable to hire, our drivers had a true love for the cars and their work. They also knew each other and were from local companies, so we knew we could rely on their friendly service.
Our wedding was at 3pm, so everyone was invited to the whole event. We invited around 130 people in total, and ended up with 80 guests. I was initially worried that we’d never find accommodation for them if they all turned up – but as Gary thought, not everyone could make it.
Our base colours were red, purple and gold – reflected in the invitations, outfits, cars, table decorations and complimenting the rich colours of the interiors at Carlton Towers.
We had tall table centres with dramatic flowers, lit from below by candles in red glass holders, with scattered petals and red and gold place names.
We gave each guest a dainty bar of Green and Blacks organic chocolate.
We went for rich autumnal colours with deep red ‘Baccara’ roses, gerberas, lisianthus, blackberries, lavender and ivy – carried through from my teardrop bouquet to the buttonholes, church decorations, table centres and swags.
Carlton Towers is part of the Duke of Norfolk’s family estate and they are excellent at catering for large parties. I am a very strict vegetarian, and they were careful to make all the arrangements. We also had meat and fish choices. We welcomed guests with champange and canapes. The starter was poached Scotttish salmon and fresh asparagus with a watercress mayonnaise, with fresh asparagus and woodland mushrooms for the vegetarian option. For the main course, there was a choice between medallions of pork with red cabbage and apple, and vegetarian bangers and mash with caramelised onion gravy. Finally, for pudding we had our chocolate wedding cake with Cornish clotted cream.
Our cake was a wedding gift from our best friends, Jon and Lisa. It was a fun organic chocolate cake designed to look like Glastonbury Tor – a favourite place of ours. We had fun helping design it, even down to the cows grazing around the tower on the top of the ‘hill’! We cut the cake with a sword and the cake was delicious.
At the church we had a piper after the ceremony, and to welcome us to the reception we had Dronfield Brass Band – who were wonderful. It was very important to us to have some good northern brass.
We had a very small list, but mostly were lucky to receive vouchers and gifts of money from our lovely guests.
We spent our first night at the reception venue and stayed up until 4.30am with our very own bottle of champagne. We spent our honeymoon in Scotland and Cornwall – not exacly John o’Groats to Lands End, but nearly!
So difficult to choose! Walking up the aisle and saying ‘hello’, being piped out to Amazing Grace, together with a glass of champage and brass band, our first dance, having the place to ourselves when everyone left….Truly a wonderful day, we are so lucky.
I wouldn’t change a thing. Be prepared for thing to go wrong, be flexible and relaxed in the run up and on the day, let your family and friends support you and have a great time!