How did you meet?
We met at university, one drunken evening in the union bar. I had recently come out of a long term relationship and wasn’t look for anything serious at all. I had been turned down by a gorgeous guy and when I walked past Duncan he said something horrendous like ‘hello gorgeous’ and asked me how I was getting home! We got chatting and his family were originally from my home town even though we met 200 miles away, so we had things in common straight away, and from that day on we have barely spent a day apart. Having a relationship throughout university was tricky and we argued constantly, but I suppose we grew up together, grew out of all that and, as corny as it sounds, grew more and more in love.
Describe the marriage proposal.
We were on holiday in Spain and apparently Duncan had the ring in his pocket all the time waiting for the right moment (I didn’t know). We were in Ronda one day, which is a beautiful village in the mountains and we were standing by a huge waterfall in the blazing sunshine. After walking round it for about an hour with Duncan taking pictures from every angle, I was hot and getting bored. I kept suggesting we went for a drink (I have subsequently found out he was plucking up the courage), and at that moment he got down one knee pulled out this gorgeous ring and asked me to marry him. I was quite surprised, I didn’t cry, but I said ‘yes’ straight away and it was amazing.
How long did you spend preparing for the day and how was it?
About 11 months. We talked about setting a date straight away, we were engaged at the end of September 2001. We came back in October and started thinking about setting the date for May 2003. I had an idea of a venue straight away as I had always loved Cooling Castle in Kent, although my dad had always said it was too expensive. As soon as we got back though we went to see it with my dad and I think it was him who persuaded us to bring it forward and get married there in September 2002.
What type of wedding ceremony did you have and where?
After we had recited our own vows, my friend read a poem (The Art of Marriage) and then we signed the register to Frank Sinatra’s ‘It Had to Be You’. We walked out to Andy Williams ‘Can’t take my eyes off of you’ which was funny because of the loud chorus, everyone was cheering and clapping and it was absolutely perfect. The only hiccup was the registrar who asked me if I would take Duncan to be my lawful wedded wife!
Where did you hold the reception and what was it like?
The reception was also held at Cooling Castle in the Fathom barn, we had a sit down meal for 100 people which seemed to fly by. The speeches were great and very funny. I was quite nervous as one of my best friends had been killed tragically a few months before the wedding and I knew Duncan wanted to mention him, but he did it perfectly and everyone raised their glasses. He then moved onto the presents for the bridesmaids and page boys who were all under five. He ended his speech by saying that there was only one reason we were all here, then he looked quite shocked as he said ‘because I have got a wife’. He didn’t harp on but he turned to me and said he loved me and I looked gorgeous, which was a complete surprise as he is not one for public affection! The evening guests arrived at 7pm and we had a fantastic night. We had a band (a couple who are friends of ours), who were brilliant, and everyone said what a wonderful time they had, which is a great feeling after all that planning!
Is there anything you’d like to change, with hindsight?
I didn’t choose any adult bridesmaids as I didn’t want to chose two or three and upset everyone else (I am still close to all my school friends and I went to an all girls school!). I got them all involved and it was fine during the actual wedding, but the morning before was quite lonely. I am being Matron of Honour for a close friend in August this year and we are planning the morning at the hairdressers having champagne and chocolates and I felt I missed out on that a bit. But it didn’t spoil the day at all.
What advice would you give to couples currently planning their wedding?
Don’t panic, it will be wonderful and you will get everything done eventually because you have to!!
And for all those women trying to lose weight, don’t go over the top, I didn’t lose nearly enough, although in the last few weeks it falls off because you are so busy. I thought when I looked at my pictures I would be disappointed but I wasn’t at all, if you are truly that happy you will look beautiful whatever! Everyone said how good I looked and without blowing my own trumpet (although I have been skinnier before) I know I looked great because I couldn’t stop smiling (plus I had every beauty treatment and a fake tan can do wonders!!!).
Is there any other detail that you would like to share?
Make the most of every part, never let anyone make you try to play it down. It is one of the best days of your life, and you should milk it for all it’s worth. Duncan and I had four day hen and stag ‘weekends’, a huge wedding and a wonderful honeymoon and I wouldn’t change it for the world. It is only one day but it is an amazing day.