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 14, 2006
We met in a nightclub called Arena in Middlesbrough the night that Travis played there in 1997. I was standing near the front as they began the set and Chris came up behind me, grabbed my hand and dragged me away…but I forgave him!
Chris had been asking me to marry him for ages – practically since the start of the relationship – but I had always said no as I had a bit of angst about the whole wedding thing! I must have mellowed in my old age because at a friends wedding in July 2002 I drunkenly said that it didn’t seem so bad and if that’s what he really wanted I’d do it. He didn’t wait for me to sober up and change my mind and took me off to choose a ring the next day!
I had a double celebration. The first was just me and my two best mates (who were my bridesmaids) on a girly long weekend to Amsterdam. Nearer to the wedding I had a seventies themed meal followed by a pub crawl which everyone went to (and yes there was a stripper although I really wasn’t amused!). Chris had a day at the races with his brother and best mate/best man and then he also did a pub crawl with the rest of his friends and family. Unfortunately Chris can’t handle the alcohol as well as he used to and after I picked him up after the pub crawl was a little unwell to say the least. He got progressively worse until I was so worried that I took him to hospital. I spent the next five hours in an A and E cubicle going through feeling worried, embarrassed, annoyed, tired and then very angry as I watched him sleep/snore it off. Despite all this the wedding was still on.
Chris was a big help as he works shifts and he did a lot of phoning around on his days off. He also organised all the music and arranged the men’s suit hire.
Yes, I used the to do list and also browsed through the dress collection. I got a couple of contact numbers through the directory too.
I did start one early on but forgot about it for the most part.
I bought all my table decoration and some balloons from the website.
As we were getting married in October, I quite liked the idea of having some autumnal colours reflected in the dress. I had also seen a couple of Maggie Sottero designs that I liked but I ended up with a D’Zage dress with separate skirt and strapless corset. The corset was burgundy with Swarovski crystals and sequins in crystal and gold and the skirt was ivory and straight with a detachable train, which came in extremely useful for the evening reception. It was the first one I spotted and I loved it straight away. My shoes were ivory silk duchess satin with small pearls stitched onto them. Although they were the most comfortable I had tried on, my feet were still killing me by the end of the day!
My bridesmaids were my two best friends Katie and Charlotte whom I’ve known since we were at sixth form. They both wore strapless dresses in a wine colour with a matching scarf and they looked gorgeous.
Chris had his best friend David as best man. They met at university and have been friends since. The ushers were Chris’s younger brother and my younger brother. Their waistcoats were gold and the cravats matched the colour of my dress.
We had a civil ceremony as neither of us are religious and we would have felt uncomfortable having a church ceremony. It was just what I wanted and we made it personal by including readings and music that were special to us.
The ceremony was held at Gisborough Hall in Guisborough, North Yorkshire.
The reception was held in the same room we got married in due to some very clever partitioning. Quite a few guests got rather confused by it all as it was so seamless!
My father and I arrived in a burgundy Rolls Royce, just after my bridesmaids and mum had pulled up in a white Mercedes. Chris and the boys also had a white Mercedes.
We had around 110 guests to the ceremony and reception and a further 30 for the evening reception.
There was no theme as such but I felt that the colours had to be in keeping with the venue, setting and season. As my dress had a lot of strong colour in it, most of the other outfits were picked to co-ordinate with golds, deep reds and ivory.
The colours were very much reflected in the table settings. Our florist did a wonderful job on the centrepieces which were glass vases filled with ‘Grand Prix’ roses and hypercium berries. Burgundy and gold tea lights sat round the base of each vase and skeleton leaves and deep red rose petals were sprinkled over the tables. The favour boxes were pearlised ivory with small gold hearts which matched the invitations and menus.
Yes, they were our favourite chocolates.
My bouquet was made up of ‘Grand Prix’ roses and white oriental lillies with hypercium berries, foliage and bear grass. The bridesmaids’ bouquets were smaller with cream roses and no lillies. The buttonholes and corsages were also made with ‘Grand Prix’ roses. The table decorations were ‘Grand Prix’ roses with hypercium berries in vases filled with red water and glass beads.
Our venue did all the catering. We had a choice of starter – Galia melon balls in a orange and Cointreau sauce or potato and leek soup. The main course was pork with apple fritters and cider jus served with seasonal vegetables with a vegetarian option of baked peppers stuffed with cous cous. For pudding there was either orange shortcake with strawberries and chantilly cream or summer fruit pudding with clotted cream. It was all absolutely delicious!
Our cake was made by a friend of the family who is a wonderful cook. We had a tier of sponge cake, one of marble cake and one fruit cake so there was something for everyone.
We decided to have the traditional wedding disco and it went really well. We’d given them a list of songs we liked beforehand so there was a good mix of songs we liked in there too.
Our gift list was held with Debenhams.
We spent our first night at Gisborough Hall before flying to the Maldives the following Monday.
Waiting to go into the ceremony, the journey to the venue, signing the register, the speeches, the first dance – there are too many! It was just a very memorable day, I took it all in.
I don’t think I would do anything differently as it all went so well and exactly how I imagined it would be. I think the best advice is that it pays to plan ahead.