Written by Paula Jones Last updated: November 6, 2006
Ray and I met through an old friend – he was her boyfriend’s brother.
44 and 52.
Soon after we began officially dating (we’d known each other for over 10 years) Ray asked me to marry him – I said NO but it only took me a couple of days to realise that I would be mad not to!
My chief bridesmaid and sister, Gerry, organised that me and sixteen of my friends had a fabulous night at a Greek restaurant (The Appollonia) in Percy Street. The food was really great and the atmosphere was definitely “party”! Ray’s “stag” party was a much more sedate affair – he went to Canvey Island to visit friends who could not make the wedding.
Ray was a Godsend with the wedding planning as he drove my bridesmaids and me practically every week to Colchester, Essex, for dress fittings. Ray also chose the menu and drinks for the complete day.
I have always “popped” onto the confetti website (even before the run-up to the wedding), and it proved to be a great help.
As we planned the wedding within 10 weeks, I really didn’t have time to do so.
Ray and I drove to the Confetti shop in Oxford Street, London (great parking on Sunday!) where we bought our table plan and also cake boxes and cake bags.
I bought my Beaujolais wedding dress by Suzanne Neville and my Richard Designs cathedral length veil (which was dotted with crystals) from Nicola at The Wedding Shop in Colchester. My Warren York crystal tiara came from a bridal shop in Chadwell Heath (more about that later!), my wedding jewellery came from Accessorize and my beautiful Eva shoes were made to order by Gina!
I had two small bridesmaids who wore made to measure cream tulle dresses with black satin bows by House of Nicholas (they’re based in Seven Sisters Road) and my four adult bridesmaids wore Jim Hjelm black satin cocktail dresses trimmed with black tulle, which I bought from Hilary B in Colchester.
Ray decided he and his groomsmen would wear black lounge jackets, dove grey waistcoats and grey pinstripe trouses. The ushers wore pink and cream check ties and Ray wore a grey and cream checked tie. These were all supplied by Debenhams. I must say, Ray was not the most popular man when they all had to have their fittings – it fell on Saturday at 3pm when there was a rather important England match being played during the World Cup!
We had a civil ceremony.
The ceremony was held at Leez Priory in Chelmsford.
The reception was also held at Leez Priory.
As Ray was staying overnight in a cottage on the grounds at Leez Priory with my sister, George, and her boyfriend Boon, they didn’t have a “special” car, though I did travel to the wedding, along with my mum, cousin, sister, niece and her boyfriend in a Mercedes MPV, which thank goodness, had air conditioning!
We invited 50 people to the day, and just 6 people to the evening.
The colour theme of the day was cream, black and pink.
The table plan itself was pink and black and the table numbers and stands were also pink and black. The tables were sprinkled with Milano rose petals.
Our guests’ favours were small photo frames which I bought from Clintons (49p down from £3.99 each – bargain!) which doubled as nameplates.
Kate from Oopsy Daisy in Ilford supplied my gorgeous posy of cream Avalanche roses (I didn’t put it down ALL day). Ray’s double buttonhole was also made with Avalanche roses. My bridesmaids had small pink posies of Milano roses and the groomsmen and guests had pink Milano rose buttonholes. My mother’s corsage was two orchids, to remind her of her own wedding day.
Leez Priory supplied the most glorious food throughout the day. As our wedding was quite early the bar was open at 11 where our guests could have light refreshments. After the wedding ceremony we had champagne, Pimms, canapes and dipped chocolate strawberries (divine!) served on the lawn. The wedding breakfast consisted of a trio of melon drizzled with mango and passion fruit coulis, Beef Wellington served with vegetables (the children had roast chicken) and dessert was strawberry daiquiri syllabub. The evening buffet was a Meditteranean bonanza! I did say to the chef that I would have married him, if I’d known how great his food was!
Our wedding cake was a traditional fruit cake decorated with ivy and silk roses. It was made by a very patient lady from Cake Express in Barking.
We had Kirsten Smith, a very talented harpist, play during the wedding ceremony and whilst drinks were served on the lawn and the photographs were taken. The evening disco was Leez Priory’s resident DJ, Eddie, who was brilliant.
We didn’t have an official gift list, though we did get lots of Debenhams and Marks & Spencer vouchers. We also got some very generous cheques.
We spent our first night of wedded bliss at Leez Priory in The Granary and then went to the Sofitel at Taba Heights in Egypt. My sister and her boyfriend surprised us with a trip to Cairo whilst we were there!
My most memorable moment of the day was being kissed by my husband as we cut the cake – it really took my breath away. Ray’s most special moment was the wedding ceremony itself, and seeing me walk down the aisle.
The most dreadful nightmare was paying for half my D’Zage wedding dress, veil and tiara on the Saturday, deciding on the Sunday we were going to bring the wedding forward, phoning the bridal shop on Tuesday (they were closed on Monday) and being told that they would not be able to supply my dress at such short notice and that they would be keeping my money. As I still wanted the veil and tiara, they also advised me that I would have to pay the other half for that, too! After some firm words by my sister, Gerry, they grudgingly “gave” me the veil and tiara without further cost.
I wish I had a video of the wedding!