We met on Christmas Eve 1999 in a pub. I was 18 and Dave was 23. He was with a group of lads, one of whom was my friend’s boyfriend. My friend’s boyfriend’s dad called me over and said Dave wanted to talk to me. We started talking but nothing much came of it. We then saw each other again on the eve of the millennium and Dave pounced! I later found out he hadn’t asked to talk to me on Christmas Eve but as I was introduced to him, he had a chat!
How old are you both?
I’m 25 and Dave’s 30.
Where, when and how did he (or you!) propose?
It was Valentine’s Day 2003. His parents had gone away for the weekend and he picked me up from work and took me to his house and was going to cook dinner. Way before dinner was ready he waved a ring box in front of me and rather than the traditional words of a proposal he said “I want you to be my wife!” The ring he gave me was his mum’s but the next day we went ring shopping at Lakeside Thurrock instead of the car test drive that he’d pretended we were going on! When I phoned my mum to tell her, the first thing she said was “Bloody hell!” as it also took her by surprise!
Did you have hen and stag celebrations? If so, what did you do?
Dave had a couple of pre-Stag do lads’ nights throughout our engagement! In June he and a group of mates went to Prague. They enjoyed watching the start of the World Cup and sipping lots of Czech beer as well as the usual stag party activities!
I had a girly night in June where a small group of friends stayed at my house and through a company that organise ‘girls nights in’ we had massages, facials, manicures and pedicures. One of my friends bought a chocolate fountain so we gorged ourselves on chocolate and other junk food! I had a ‘Hen & Chicken’ night with my mum and MIL2B and other friends. We had a meze at a Greek restaurant and then went back to my parents’ house where we watched a wedding video of a friend’s wedding from 2000! We laughed at Dave dancing in it!! A few days before the wedding, I had a ‘Hen and Men’ night with my male and female members of my team from work. We had a meal and they brought in photos of their weddings. We looked at the oldest ones first starting from the 70s! I got the same hen night company over the night before the wedding and my mum, aunts and cousins treated ourselves to some pampering! I also had a luxury manicure.
How did your groom help with the wedding planning?
By agreeing with what I said! He did help me staple the order of services together and transported all the stuff to the reception venue.
Tell us about your outfit, and where you bought it
Originally I wanted a dress with straps or sleeves but could not find many. In the end I chose an ivory bodice and princess style skirt by a company called White Rose (Style R144 and R178). I got it from a shop in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire called Atelier. I would not have picked it myself but the assistant told me to try it. Both my nan and mum burst into tears, which was the most dramatic reaction I’d had after trying on about 15! I went back about two weeks later to order it. I got my shoes from Next online. They should have been £35 but the website had made a pricing error saying they were £19.99. After a bit of arguing I got them at the cheaper price! I had to wait ages for them to be delivered but they were worth it!
Did you have bridesmaids? If so, who did you choose and what did they wear?
I had two bridesmaids. David’s niece who is 9 and my French cousin who is 5. I couldn’t find any bridesmaid dresses in the style or colour that I wanted. I felt that some dresses I saw were too grown up for little girls! I found a Vogue pattern in John Lewis and some mint green material and ivory organza overlay in a shop in Watford. My mum’s friend is a retired dressmaker and very kindly offered to make them. My Matron of Honour was my aunty. She lives in France but got her outfit from an Asian dress shop in London for a bargain £20 in the sales! It was mint green with beautiful beading and embroidered detail.
Who did your groom choose for his best man and ushers, and what did they wear?
He chose his best friend from college, Darron, as his best man. The ushers were my uncle, Steve (whose dad introduced us) and my friend Vicky (Steve’s girlfriend) was an usherette. She’s a teacher so I thought her skills would come in handy! We had two pageboys aged 11 who dressed in navy top hat and tails with a cream waistcoat and mint green cravat which was the same as the ushers, best man and dads. Dave wore the same suit but had a chequered waistcoat that specifically matched the mint green cravat. We had a little 3 year old page boy who wore smart beige shorts and a cream shirt with a little bowtie made from the same material as the bridesmaid’s dresses. Vicky chose her own outfit.
Did you have a civil or religious ceremony?
Religious. As we had a lot of foreign guests, we booked the church choir who helped out with the singing. They also sang “Ave Maria” during the signing of the register, which made Dave’s mum cry, again! We also had the church bell ringers, which was lovely as we stood outside greeting guests after the service.
Where did you hold your reception?
We had the reception at Barnsdale Hall Hotel in Rutland. The grounds overlook Rutland water which is a beautiful backdrop for photographs.
Did you have any special wedding transport?
Our car was a cream 1949 Mark V Jaguar. The chauffeur said it had been used by Shaznay Lewis from All Saints when she got married!
To stop our guests getting lost I planned to hire a coach to transport them between venues. I ended up hiring a 1969 vintage double decker bus as it cost about the same as coach hire and had added novelty value. It was a surprise for the guests though and my dad who hitched a ride on it to the reception venue! Vicky’s teaching skills came in handy as she took a register!
How many guests did you invite to your wedding, and did you have a separate evening guest list?
As we have moved from Hertfordshire to Lincolnshire, many of our friends and family had to travel long distances so we invited all of them for the day. We invited about 150 and 119 came. We invited work colleagues to the evening and about 20 out of 35 came.
Did your reception have a particular theme in terms of colour or style?
I had various themes but the colour scheme was mint green.
How did you incorporate this in to your table settings?
I had a cake topper made and did not tell my guests what it was. Vicky, convinced my cake topper involved frogs came up with the idea and made my place cards, which were mint green with a frog on the back. I helped her stick little frogs onto the corners which were actually frog buttons from a craft shop.
Our table centrepieces were an arrangement of artificial cream roses with some small mint green flowers. A sage coloured ribbon was tied around the pot. I bought them from BHS and weirdly enough they were made in Sri Lanka, which is where we went for on our honeymoon. I gave the centrepieces to guests as keepsakes. The tables were named after places that meant something to us. Each table had three balloons in mint green and ivory. Balloon flowers were attached to the front of our top table and we had a mini bride and groom made out of balloons standing in front of us!
Did you give your guests favours?
The male guests had top hats from Confetti filled with chocolate dragees from France. My aunt had little nets made for the female guests that contained the chocolate dragees. The nets were white with mint green butterflies.
Describe your flowers (bouquets and table decorations). Who was your florist?
My bouquet was cream and lime green roses surrounded by gypsophilia. The bridesmaids had pom poms made of gypsophilia and lime green roses on a ribbon. Dave had a lime green and cream buttonhole whilst all the other buttonholes were a cream rose. There were arrangements in the church but I can’t remember them so will have to wait for our video! My florist was my next door neighbour who does floristry in addition to her day job.
What did you choose to have on your menu? Did you have an outside caterer or did your venue handle the catering?
We chose from the hotel’s set menu. We gave guests a choice of seafood chowder or tortellini with sun dried tomato for starters. Lamb, salmon or vegetarian for main and chocolate pyramid or summer pudding for dessert. Under 5s had choices from a kids menu.
We also had an evening buffet. We both didn’t get a chance to look at it as we were too busy mingling but our guests who ate it said it was lovely!
What did you choose for your wedding cake, and who made it?
A local cake maker made our three tiered stacked fruitcake. It was mint green and was decorated with white daisies. It was topped off by a clay cake topper of Zippy and George from Rainbow! George wore a wedding dress and Zippy was in top hat and tails. Dave took a lot of convincing to allow this but once he’d agreed I ordered it from an online company based in Norfolk. As children of the 80’s, my friends all loved it! The cake table had a balloon arch over it made up of colours of the rainbow and was topped off by a balloon sun! One tier of the cake was cut up for the buffet and I also bought a sponge and a chocolate cake from a supermarket for people who dislike fruitcake.
Did you have any entertainment during the day or evening?
We had the hotels resident DJ who was great. He played the music we liked and as my mum comes from Mauritius he played the Mauritian music that I supplied! All guests partied along to that!
Did you have a gift list? If so, who did you have your list with?
We didn’t have a gift list as personally I don’t like the idea of them. We lived together beforehand as well so had all we needed. Dave suggested asking for a gift of money but again I was uncomfortable with the idea so we just left it to our guests to surprise us if they so wished!
Where did you spend your first night and honeymoon? Who did you book your honeymoon with?
We spent our wedding night in a complimentary room at Barnsdale. I was up early enough to use the jacuzzi bath! When we went to breakfast our friends had surprised us by getting a large table in a small room adjacent to the dining room! We were also able to mingle with other guests who we hadn’t seen much on the day!
We went on a brilliant honeymoon to Sri Lanka. We stayed four nights in a hotel, and then did a tour where we saw lots of sights and then we went to the Maldives for 6 nights! The Maldives had awful weather but we were happy to just chill out after a busy couple of weeks.
What was your most memorable moment of the day?
One of the final dances was the Frog Song by Paul McCartney! The DJ made it clear that it was our choice! All the guests stood round us in a circle whilst we danced! We both ended up doing ballerina style twirls and movements! It was great to see everyone ‘standing together’ and enjoying themselves.
Did you experience any ‘nightmare’ moments in the run up to your wedding or on the day?
The restaurant where my hen night was booked had our booking written down but had forgotten about it so there was a bit of chaos when 20 women turned up!
The suit shop supplied some wrong waistcoats but this was discovered a few days before so could be rectified. Dave’s sister gave the suit shop measurements over the phone for one of the pageboys and whatever wires got crossed meant the day before the wedding we had a pageboy with adult sized trousers and a jacket with his cuffs just reaching his elbows! They had no other stock so he ended up wearing a slightly different style of jacket and having the trousers urgently shortened!
On the day, as I was signing the register I noticed the vicar had spelt my name wrong on the certificate! She did correct it on the certificate but I’m going to have to investigate what was written on the registers! The day after the wedding we got home and realised we’d forgotten to pick up the best man’s suit, which he’d left at the hotel’s reception. We had to dash back to get it and just managed to return the suits before the shop closed. Later that night Dave realised he’d forgotten to take our marriage certificate out of the best man’s hat box!! He had to collect it from the shop the next day.
Is there anything you would do differently, or any advice you would give to other brides?
Although I’d prepared a list of photos to give to the ushers I forgot to give it to them. It is a must as its so hard organising groups for photos. The vintage bus also went before Dave and I could have photos with it, which unfortunately was down to me not asking our photographer to do these photos first.
I would make sure your honeymoon is at least two days after the wedding. We just had one day and were exhausted!