Sabina and Saleem June 1999 - How did you meet? We met in the Summer of 1996, when she was over here on a holiday, she came back and we…
Written by Paula Jones Last updated: August 9, 2006
photos by Freeman Photographics
We met on DatingDirect.com at the end of July 2003 and had our first date two weeks later, on 10 August.
Rhys proposed to me at the Roman amphitheatre ruins in Saintes, France, on 23rd October 2003. We had flown in that morning to visit his parents who have retired to France. He’d been very persistent that we go out for a drive that afternoon but I thought nothing of it. I was really excited when we arrived at the ruins as I love gladiatorial history, so I thought it was really sweet that he’d even thought to take me there. We were the only people there which was romantic enough and then, all of a sudden, his 6ft+ frame was sinking on to one knee… With that, he asked me if I would marry him! After I’d said "yes", he told me to close my eyes, took off my glove and slid the stunning engagement ring onto my finger. I couldn’t help but shriek as I opened my eyes and saw three enormous emerald cut diamonds sparkling up at me. My heart was racing – he had planned the whole thing for weeks and I was ecstatic. Also, he’d had the ring especially made, to his design and specifications. The whole thing left me speechless for days.
I had a spa weekend in Bath and Rhys went to Bournemouth for an ‘activity’ weekend including clay-pigeon shooting and quad-biking!
Rhys managed ‘Project Honeymoon’ and did the most fantastic job. Otherwise I did everything myself, more out of choice than anything as I love organising and being creative. However, we made every decision together and were lucky enough to be in-sync with our preferences from the word go.
Yes I did. I registered just after we’d found our venue in December as we then only had 11 months to plan. I mainly used the supplier directory and posted messages on the forums to get recommendations. I also set up a ‘To Do’ list, although, being naturally mega-organised, this was mainly to make myself feel good each Monday morning when I’d go on there and tick a load more boxes. It’s amazing how something like that can calm inklings of paranoia!
I think I might have started one but never got around to finishing it!
I designed my dress myself and had it made by an independent dressmaker, Denise Gribble at Pretty Stitch near to where I work. It was an ivory duchess satin floor-length dress with long, fitted sleeves, a short stand-up collar, fitted riding jacket bodice and a long train with deep purple brushed satin on the underside. The detail of the dress was highlighted with purple embroidery (collar, front, seam of ‘jacket’), Swarovski crystals and purple piping around the seam of the riding jacket-style bodice. My shoes were decorated in clear & tanzanyte Swarovski crystals and I wore I crystal and pearl tiara.
I insisted Rhys keep his outfit a secret from me as I wanted it all to be as much about him as me. I was so looking forward to seeing it on the day – Rhys had his suit and shirt made by the most fantastic tailor in London, Giles Fox. It was dark grey with a mauve pinstripe and beautiful mauve satin lining, which he wore with a tailored pinky-mauve shirt and a "hot" lilac tie that had narrow, but widely spaced, diagonal stripes in white and sage. The wedding date and our initials were embroidered onto the double cuffs and his cufflinks were very glitzy pinky-mauve diamante cubes! His Oliver Sweeney shoes were a mocha colour (and were made even more special as he was served by the man himself at his store in London!). The whole look was finished off with an orchid buttonhole to match my bouquet. He looked utterly sensational! Rhys had two best men – his brother and his best friend. They wore their own very suave designer grey suits and Rhys bought their mauve ties.
We had civil ceremony.
Eastnor Castle in Ledbury, Herefordshire.
As above. We had exclusive use of the castle for the event.
No. I drove myself to the castle from the hotel, in our brand new Jeep Cherokee. It was quite a poignant 15 minutes though – my best friend was with me and we picked out a specific CD to drive to! When we got to the gates, I put on one of the tunes Rhys and I had chosen for our register signing later that day. I’ll never forget that journey up the long, winding drive, through the trees and up to the castle, knowing that today was my wedding day.
We had 68 day guests and another 20 or so came in the evening.
The main ‘theme’ as such, was ‘Candlelight’ which was continued from start to finish. Our key colour was purple, accented with gold.
I put together table centrepieces consisting of circular mirrors with three pillar candles of varying heights – two ivory and one purple. There were eight tea-lights around the edge in small glass holders that I’d decorated alternately with purple organza ribbon and ivory organza ribbon that had gold thread at the edges. The top table had a mauve cloth and ivory napkins, whilst the remaining tables had white cloths and dark purple napkins. The place name-cards doubled up as mini individual menus and were made from deep lilac card. The table numbers were mounted on gold card which included humorous quotes relating to love, marriage, men and women!
Yes – personalised choccy bars with our names and the date on the front and the quote: ‘Marriage is finding that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life’ on the back. Very apt for us – we’re both terrible wind-up merchants!
Purple ‘Vanda’ orchids with blue anemones in a shower bouquet with trailing ivy. We didn’t have any other flowers than button holes for the guys which were also purple orchids.
We wanted something hot and hearty so chose a main course of Carbonnade of Beef with roast potatoes, yorkshire pudding and vegetables. The starter was smoked salmon and prawn parcels and the pudding was profiteroles with a hot chocolate sauce. We didn’t want to be influenced by other people’s preferences so we created the menu and took it to external caterers.
We had the most magnificent chocolate cupcake tower made by a local lady, Rae Heath. Each cake was sumptuously decorated with chocolate ganache and a combination of truffles, Cadbury’s flake, chocolate lattices and chocolate curls. They were each decorated with the same purple and ivory ribbon that adorned the tea-lights. The smell of chocolate in the dining room was mouth-watering!
We had a woodwind trio for the ceremony and drinks reception and a swing band, casino and fireworks display for the evening.
We had a gift list with John Lewis which we would recommend to anyone – it was so simple.
We spent our first night in the castle along with a number of other guests whom we had invited especially. Our 14-night honeymoon was spent at Huvafen Fushi in the Maldives (5 star plus paradise!).
There are so many! Making my entrance down the staircase with my father was very special; meeting Rhys at the bottom and walking to the Gothic Drawing Room for the ceremony; seeing Rhys in his outfit (which had also been a secret); making our vows; being declared husband and wife… the list goes on!
I wouldn’t do anything differently as it was the most perfect, romantic day. My advice would be to keep a check on reality – don’t let yourself get bogged down with the trivial things OR be cajoled into having things that aren’t by your own choice. If you start to feel yourself going into ‘wedding overload’, put it all away for a week. I did just this and found that when I went back to it, it was with renewed vigour and fresh eyes. Try it – you’ll see exactly what I mean!