Serena and Phil
The Watermill Hotel, Bourne End, Hemel Hempstead
How and when did you meet?
We meet in 1998.
How old are you both?
39 and 40.
Where, when and how did he (or you!) propose?
There wasn’t a proposal as such. We decided after 8 years of living together and one daughter it was time to get married.
Did you have hen and stag celebrations? If so, what did you do?
No, we are going to have them post-wedding. As the wedding was a surprise to everyone except the bride and groom and the bride’s mother.
How did your groom help with the wedding planning?
He kept out of the way!
Did you use confetti to plan your wedding? If so, how did the website help you?
I used the confetti forums for help and advice.
Did you buy any confetti products for your wedding? If so, did you visit a store, buy online or by mail order?
We visited a confetti store and bought bubbles, place cards, confetti and chocolate hearts.
Tell us about your outfit, and where you bought it
My dress was Celeste by Maggie Sottero in soft blush. I bought it from The White Wardrobe in Hitchin.
Did you have bridesmaids? If so, who did you choose and what did they wear?
The groom’s nieces, Hollie and Casey Goodman, were bridesmaids along with the bride and groom’s daughter, Ellie Goodman. As it was a surprise wedding, only Ellie wore a bridesmaid’s dress. Casey and Hollie wore tiaras and carried posies of mixed mini gerberas.
Who did your groom choose for his best man and ushers, and what did they wear?
The best man was Dave Groves.
Did you have a civil or religious ceremony?
We had a civil ceremony.
Where did you hold your ceremony?
At The Watermill Hotel, Bourne End, Hemel Hempstead.
Where did you hold your reception?
At The Watermill Hotel.
Did you have any special wedding transport?
How many guests did you invite to your wedding, and did you have a separate evening guest list?
Approximately 80 guests attended the wedding. They had been invited to Phil’s Surprise 40th Birthday party and had no idea they would be attending a wedding.
Did your reception have a particular theme in terms of colour or style?
The theme was 40th birthday so as not to give away the fact it was a wedding!
How did you incorporate this in to your table settings?
We had bouquets of helium balloons on the tables and a balloon ceiling above the dance floor.
Did you give your guests favours?
No, but we put bowls of retro sweets on each of the tables.
Describe your flowers (bouquets and table decorations). Who was your florist?
My bouquet was a hand tied posy of dark red roses and mini gerberas with hypericum berries and eucalyptus. The bridesmaids had posies of multicoloured mini gerberas. Cindy Annice Floral Designs provided the flowers.
What did you choose to have on your menu? Did you have an outside caterer or did your venue handle the catering?
The venue handled the catering and we had a finger buffet as the wedding wasn’t until 5 pm.
What did you choose for your wedding cake, and who made it?
We had a three tiered heart shaped wedding cake decorated with confetti. It had a bride and groom sitting on the edge of the top tier and a model of the bride and groom’s daughter standing on the bottom tier. The bottom tier was chocolate cake, the middle tier vanilla sponge and the top tier was lemon cake. Jackie Collins of Borehamwood made the cake.
Did you have any entertainment during the day or evening?
We had a disco.
Did you have a gift list? If so, who did you have your list with?
No, we didn’t have a gift list as our guests didn’t know they were attending a wedding.
Where did you spend your first night and honeymoon? Who did you book your honeymoon with?
We spent our wedding night at The Watermill and then had a minimoon in Kingston-upon-Thames. We’ll take a proper honeymoon when Ellie is a bit older.
What was your most memorable moment of the day?
Phil serenaded me at the end of the ceremony. He left me standing in front of all our guests while he went and got his guitar and then he walked down the aisle singing “I want to grow old with you” from The Wedding Singer. It was a total surprise and very moving.
Did you experience any ‘nightmare’ moments in the run up to your wedding or on the day?
Phil’s parents went to the hotel two days before the “party” and I was terrified that someone at the hotel might have let slip that it was a wedding not a 40th birthday party, but the staff at the hotel were marvelous and managed to keep it secret. There was a constant fear in the run up to the wedding that someone was going to find out.
Is there anything you would do differently, or any advice you would give to other brides?
I advise other brides not to spend too much time worrying over every little detail, you probably won’t notice any of it on the day!