Written by Paula Jones Last updated: August 10, 2006
photos by Roger Barker Photographic Images
We met on the internet. This was definitely a case of ‘third time lucky’ for me.
I proposed! I’m notorious for my watch being wrong – I thought it was the 29th February but it was the 28th. Still, it was the better of the two days and we were by the spring head at Painswick Roccoco Gardens in Gloucestershire, a stunning location. I just sort of came out with the question, and he said yes! We hadn’t been going out for long, and I was fairly recently divorced so I though he may say no. I knew, this time, I’d found the right man so was delighted when he said yes.
He was wonderful. Not a practical man, so when I started making our wedding invitations with leaves, flowers etc. he watched and then tackled the task in hand. From the very start he was involved, helping chose colours, guest lists, present lists, everything. The only thing I did without him was buy my dress.
I used the message boards a lot, and found our venue as a result of asking questions online. From that, all my wedding suppliers came to light. It was a great help, and stopped me boring all my friends with wedding matters. I think, from one of the questions posed, I was the oldest bride at the time.
I wore a purple bustier and skirt with fishtail from John Lewis, and had a purple silk jacket made to match by a local dressmaker. My shoes were also dyed to match the jacket. It was a spur of the moment purchase – I’d gone to investigate their wedding list service!
Alistair chose one of his best friends as his best man. The wedding was in a hotel so we didn’t have ushers. He wore a beige suit with a pale purple shirt to match my outfit. The best man wore a similar suit.
We had a civil ceremony as I was divorced, although my husband had not been married before.
We were married at the Limpley Stoke Hotel near Bath. This was recommended to us by a confetti bride. Oddly enough, when we found out where it was, it was only a mile from a place we visited when we first met. Fearing I may be stuck on things to say to an internet date, I suggested we go for a walk along a canal. Neither of us were stuck for words and, on the hottest day of 2003, the shade by the canal was a welcome change from central Bath. It really is a magical place, for us, at least.
At the hotel. We arrived the afternoon before the wedding – and went for a peaceful walk along ‘our’ canal; dined with 20 friends in the pub at the end of the hotel drive in the evening. Many friends also stayed over the night of the wedding, which made for a lovely weekend.
We didn’t need it. Everything was in one place.
We invited 80, expected 72 but 5 couldn’t make it on the day. Our guests came for the whole event, from Dorset and London and further afield. We didn’t have a seperate evening party, just drinks in the lounge; the same room we were married in, full of chandaliers, marble fireplaces and flowers.
The reception was reasonably classical. I wanted a bouquet of moth orchids and roses so table decorations, buttonholes, flowers on the cake and the table plan followed this theme, with white linen, silver flower holders and cutlery.
I didn’t want to be traditional and give sugared almonds, especially as I have never worked out what I am supposed to do with them! Instead I ordered small 4oz pots of jam and added our own wedding details as a paper ‘mob-cap’, tied with purple ribbon to match my dress and including a hand made label as a place marker. That way everyone had something they could take home. For the children, I made up some goody bags (paper bags obtained from a confetti bride) with books and toys appropriate to the child’s age and interests.
My flowers were white moth orchids, white ‘Eskimo’ roses, purple lissianthus, ivy, bear grass and eucalyptus. We used the hotel florists, two ladies who work from home. They turned out to be a real bargain.
The hotel naturally did our catering. We decided that, as the photographs would take a while, we’d have vegetarian canapes served with a non alcoholic punch before the meal. The wedding breakfast was then two courses – chicken with a mushroom sauce, with seasonal vegetables, with both a vegetarian and vegan option. Small children had pasta. This was followed by a tuile basket with honeycombe ice cream and fruit coulis. The cake and coffee with chocolates were then served in the lounge so that we could all mingle.
We had a traditional two-tier fruit cake with icing flowers to match my bouquet. It was made by a lady we spotted at the wedding fair held at the hotel on the first time we visited. We were fortunate in finding all our suppliers at the fair or through the hotel! The cake was so scrummy we are thinking of getting another for Christmas!
We didn’t plan any entertainment. With 70 people we thought that that would be enough. I added to the entertainment by being stung by a wasp (I have an allergy to wasps, but fortunately all was well). One of my dress straps also kept coming unhooked, despite best efforts and sewing it in tight to avoid this happening, so there was some entertainment as the groom insisted on helping hook it back in!
We looked at a number of gift lists, but most wanted to deliver after the wedding. We wanted our presents there on the day so made up our own list. In reality, only a few used the list, and the rest gave us gift vouchers. We had planned for the presents to be near the cake table, but this seems to have been overlooked by the hotel, not that this was so important.
The hotel gave us the wedding suite for our first night which was wonderful. We then had three nights in a chateau hotel near Paris. Parisians head south for August so we had the place to ourselves which was wonderful, although a few more guests would have made for more atmosphere. I don’t think we are cut out to be the Lord and Lady of the manor.
The wasp! It even features (by accident) in the photos. The wonderful weather despite the forecast being for rain. The breeze so the little confetti we had blew everywhere except over me! [I'd take my own confetti if I had my time again - I really wanted to be showered with confetti (not that I'm marrying anyone else, this time it's for good)]. The groom’s face as he saw me appear in my outfit for the first time when we went to see the registrar before the ceremony. So many people saying how happy we looked and what a lovely couple we made. This may be second time around, but as the song says ‘love is better the second time around’ and this really was the best day of my life.
I’d done this before. I thought I knew it all. I knew this time to take time out and reflect on the day. Did we? Nope. It truly was perfect. Other than to take my own confetti or make sure my friends brought some, there was nothing I’d change. I can’t speak for the groom, he’s not come back down to earth yet.