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 10, 2006
photos by Andrea Sarlo
We met on the dance floor in a bar in Chelsea, London. We were on separate nights out – both of us on the verge of heading home, when we both went for one last dance. All I remember is this guy with a great smile and he remembers my eyes (or so he says!). We started dancing and he asked me to go on a date with him the following Saturday. Even though he wasn’t my ‘type’ I said yes. We went for dinner, then dancing and had such a great time. Not necessarily love at first sight but definitely love from first ‘proper’ date!
Last Decemeber we went to the Seychelles on holiday – I’d sort of guessed he was planning to propose, but the timing was a complete surprise. We’d moved around hotels and islands and spent the last two nights in a gorgeous hotel. On the second to last night of the holiday we’d been to dinner and were sitting on terrace chatting and listening to music, when My Girl came on and he asked me… ‘would I be his girl?’ He’d planned to do it at dinner on the last night but decided that moment was right. We spent the next day drinking champagne and planning the wedding.
We had a joint one with lots of male and female friends in a salsa bar in Covent Garden. A great party!! We also had separate dinners with two or three very close friends.
We decided the date and venue together and then to be honest most of it fell to me. As a French man he was in charge of the food and drink! Nicolas was always interested in the wedding and had lots of ideas. We both wanted something relaxed, informal and special to us, we bounced lots of ideas off each other especially the music and how to involve our friends.
The website was great for ideas and for finding suppliers. But I have to say the best was the forum and chat rooms, not only for advice but to let off steam! With the best will in the world friends and family can get sick of weddings but the girls in the chat room never will
No but I was very lucky in that the venue supplied a lot of what we needed.
I had two! Dress number one for the day was a cream skirt and bodice, fairly plain but with draped material on the bodice, and an A-line skirt. The shoes were very ‘bling’ and covered in gold sequins! For the evening, dress number two was a shorter cocktail style dress also in cream which allowed me to dance the night away. Both dresses combined cost me £500.
We had three flowergirls – two neices and one goddaughter. The youngest neice (5) wore a lilac dress and bolero jacket, while the eldest two (9 and 11) wore white linen trousers and linen jackets with pink sparkly belts. Their request was to be ‘rock chick’ bridesmaids and I think we achieved that!
Then I had six witnesses! In France you can have as many witnesses as you like so we both picked our sisters for the official registrar and then we had a special front sheet made up for the photo album that all our witnesses signed. It was a great way to include more of our friends into the ceremony and it was a real important part of the day for us.
As above, my husband picked his sister as the official witness and then had five more friends as witnesses. For the speeches his best friend arranged for 26 family and friends to stand up and run through an A to Z dedicated to him – everything from ‘Anglophile’ to ‘zee Wedding’.
We had a civil ceremony at South Lodge, a gorgeous country hotel just outside Horsham, immediately followed by the reception. We kept to the basic ceremony with our favourite music – ‘All I need to get’ by Areatha Franklin, ‘You are the sunshine of my life’ by Stevie Wonder, ‘Lets Fall in Love’ by Ella Fitzgerald and ‘Fly me to the Moon’ by Frank Sinatra. We each had six witnesses!
Our reception was at South Lodge. As everyone was going to have to travel for the wedding party – either from France or through out the UK as I’ve moved around a lot with work – we picked somewhere near an airport and a motorway. The venue is fabulous, large and newly furnished function rooms, stunning gardens and luxourious bedrooms.
We had 130 people for the day and evening.
We wanted the wedding to be low key and informal so we kept the matching to a minimum. Having said that the flowers were lavendar (South of France) and thistles (Scotland) with white roses, so we tied those colours into the bridesmaids dresses. Nicolas wore a blue suit which tied in well too.
We had used gold in the invites and table plan so that tended to be the accent colour (I suppose you could count my shoes in that!)
Not for the adults – but we had 14 children at the wedding and gave each of them a bag of toys. These were decorated in white and gold and placed on the tables for dinner. They went down a storm – the kids were still playing with the toys the next day at breakfast.
The flowers were wonderful – the bouquets and buttonholes for the boys were combinations of thistles, lavender and white roses. The table decorations followed the same theme but contained lots more grasses and herbs, so with small tea lights burning beneath them the smell was sensational and really fresh.
The chef at South Lodge had some great ideas. We had lobster thermidor to start for the ‘wow’ factor. The main course was chargrilled breast of chicken with rosemary fondant potatoes and tio pepe & cepe cream, with a fish option of sea bass for non meat eaters. This was followed by a plate of English and French cheese and finally vanilla ice cream with fresh fruits. The kids had bangers and mash and HUGE ice cream sundaes!
We didn’t have a cake.
We had a band which was labelled as a Blues Brothers tribute band. They had the whole party up dancing with a great combination of soul, funk and disco. In between we had a DJ who really tailored the music to the crowd.
We registered with Wrapit. With so many people coming from overseas it was easier to have something web based. People really appreciated having a list as they knew we were already living together.
Our first night was at South Lodge but we returned back home for a follow up dinner the next day with about 40 people especially those from overseas. We finally headed off on honeymoon on the Sunday morning to Florida and Belize. Even having to escape Hurricane Francis didn’t put a dampener on our holiday!
Walking in the room and seeing Nicolas and that wonderful smile! I don’t think either of us has laughed or smiled so much.
Did you experience any ‘nightmare’ moments in the run up to your wedding or onthe day?
My advice is to choose the things that mean the most to you – for us that was music, food and including as many friends as we could. Everything else just flowed from there – and it meant we really concentrated on getting those elements right and let the rest fall into place. We gave this advice to friends who are getting married in October – the three most important things were tradition, family and setting. They said it really helped them to focus. Their wedding will be different from ours – but it will be what they want and that’s what is important.