Written by Paula Jones Last updated: August 9, 2006
Mark and I met when we were both in the Territorial Army. I had just joined and he had been there a few years. Apparently he had his eye on me straight away but we finally got together at the annual Christmas party, when he rescued me from some very boring people! We have been together 9 years now and in between I have been to university and Mark has seen active service in Bosnia and the Gulf – absence does make the heart grow fonder!
I am 26, Mark is 29.
There is a beautiful beach on the Lincolnshire coast, which hardly has any visitors – I used to go there a lot with my parents and brother when we were growing up. Mark and I take our labrador there every year for a swim in the sea! Last September, we made our annual visit and Mark told me to go off down the beach. When he shouted me back, he had changed into a tuxedo and went down onto one knee on the sand! It was beautiful and very romantic. We had already talked about it and knew it was on the cards but he did it properly, so it was very special.
Mark had three best men (I know!) and one of them arranged his stag do for him. They went go-karting and skydiving (Mark’s hobby is skydiving) and then went out in Nottingham for the evening. I ended up organising my own hen night but had a great time – eleven of us went to a Greek night with dancing, food and lots of Ouzo! It was brilliant and I was made to feel very important – maybe it was because I had a tiara, sash and flashing wand?!
Yes, although he left a lot of it to me, which was probably best! He did a lot of running around, sorting things out before the day, and when it nearly all got too much in the week before, he was a real trooper and took everything off me so I could have a breather.
I used the Confetti online shopping a lot and really enjoyed looking at real weddings for inspiration and to be nosey! I looked at the guides for roles of the wedding party and the readings section was good, as I struggled to find the right piece for my mum to read.
No – although I had nearly a year to plan everything, I never got round to organising a web page!
I bought cameras for the tables at the reception, favour boxes and ribbon. All were delivered really quickly and I was very pleased with the products
I bought my dress after a very long search and I never believed it was true that you would find ‘the one’ after trying on so many. I got really fed up trying to find one and finally went to a small shop called Matchmakers in Stamford. I told them what I wanted (plain, simple) and then they suggested one to try on. As soon as I tried it on I knew it was right and it was the complete opposite to what I had been after – it was an Alfred Angelo white, strapless, fitted dress, heavily embroidered with beads and a huge train. I had a cathedral-length veil (after originally saying I didn’t want one at all!) and a silver-coloured tiara with glass beading. My shoes were my favourite though – baby blue with LOVE written across them in diamante – sounds naff but they were stunning and I didn’t want ‘wedding’ shoes. They were fun and a talking point at the reception when I showed them off!
I had 6 bridesmaids: 3 adults and 3 girls. The adults wore blue Alfred Angelo knee-length strapless dresses and tiaras; the girls wore white shift dresses with flower headbands made from blue silk flowers, they also wore silver glitter shoes.
Mark and all ‘his men’ wore navy jackets and grey striped trousers with cream embroidered waistcoats and navy ties, they all came from Youngs suit hire.
We had a religious ceremony, although neither of us are especially religious.
St Bartholomews Church, Sproxton, Leicestershire. I grew up in the village and my parents still live there, so it seemed right to choose it. It has a real country feel and is in a beautiful location.
In a marquee in my parents’ garden.
A blue Mark II Jaguar. My Dad used to own one and has always had a soft spot for them, so when I found this one to hire, it was a done deal.
We had 105 guests in the day with about another 50 at night
We tried to maintain a country feel as it was in a garden and in a very rural village. Both Mark and I like blue, so we used that a lot, although it wasn’t always intentional.
The favour boxes were blue but everything else was white, with a leafy plant in a terrocotta plant pot in the middle of the table.
The favours were sweets – cola bottles, gummy bears, love hearts, haribo star mix… we thought the guests might need a sugar fix to give them energy for the speeches and we thought that everyone would like sweets instead of chocolates.
My mum did all the flowers: from the button holes to the flower arch around the church door. She has had no formal training but did an amazing job – everything was beautiful. My bouquet was a shower-style, full of honeysuckle, freesias, lilies and roses. The bridesmaids had posies of carnations, scabious and roses, and the girls carried little baskets of the same. The men had white carnations as button holes. My mum is proof that weddings bring out your talents if you let them and no one could have done a better job. The flower arch was wonderful and made the church smell lovely. We didn’t have arrangements for the marquee, but borrowed trees from the local garden centre and some fantastic fake trees from a friend’s mum (the ones you get in offices) that really had an impact – flowers would have been lost in the marquee. At the church we used ready-made flower bouquets from the local florist, which were carried back to the reception and given to the mums as gifts.
Mark’s mum did all the food and we had a buffet for the reception, which worked really well and kept the informal, country theme that we were after. In the evening we had a pig roast (supplied ready cooked by a local butcher,) which went down really well.
Our wedding cake was a gift from the chief bridesmaid (her mum makes wedding cakes.) It consisted of three white cakes: two fruit and one sponge, with a large white and blue sugar flower arrangement on each.
We had a disco in the evening and a firework display.
As we have lived together for 5 years, we felt it was inappropriate to have a gift list. We therefore asked anyone who wanted to give us a gift, to give dollars, to buy a drink with on our honeymoon in America. Everyone was very generous and seemed relieved not to have to choose from a list.
We spent our first night at a local hotel, up the road from my parents (the Tollemache Arms, Buckminster). The hotel staff were great, as they waited up for us and gave us Champagne on the house when we arrived. There was also Champagne and chocolates in our room. We went to Las Vegas and San Francisco for our honeymoon. We stayed in Las Vegas first, then hired a car and drove through the national parks to San Francisco, then drove down the Pacific Coast and back to Las Vegas. We arranged it all independently – booking the flights through Continental and the hotels direct. We hired the car while we were out there and picked up discount hotel brochures along the way.
– Seeing Mark as I walked down the aisle – after a year of thinking about it and planning everything, nothing prepares you for the most important bit – marrying the one you love – it was beautiful.
We did have a nightmare – it rained! We had planned that everyone would walk to and from the church and had the marquee in the garden with a bouncy castle for the children but everyone had to drive and spend the whole time in the marquee because it chucked it down! We also really struggled to find bridesmaid dresses for the girls that weren’t expensive and over the top. We left it until late in case they grew but then everything was out of stock and it got really late in the wedding plans to start running around looking for dresses. It worked out well though because we found the dresses in the GUS catalogue for £14 each and they were just what we wanted!
Try not to take on too much. I delegated initially but things didn’t get done or weren’t done how I wanted and I ended up doing it myself, so then I was reluctant to give out any more jobs, which meant I had far too much to do and got really stressed out by it all (it didn’t help that I also changed jobs two weeks before the wedding!). I would also advise that you stick to your guns and tell people what you want. I tried to please people and it didn’t always work. But most of all – enjoy the day and try to spend as much time with your new husband as possible at the reception – it’s your day, the guests can entertain themselves without you checking on them!