Weddings Abroad

Karen and Paul’s Real Life Wedding

Karen and Paul

Hyatt Regency Sanctuary Cove Chapel, Australia
Sanctuary Cove Country Club

How and when did you meet?

We met in November of 2002. I was working behind the bar in a London club when Paul came into the bar on a stag ‘do’ with some of his friends. He asked for my number. I said to come back at the end of the night if he was still interested. He came back.

How old are you both?
I am 33 and Paul is 32.

Where, when and how did he (or you!) propose?
On a Sunday in July (2005) Paul decided to come shopping with me into London. On the way, he suggested a bit of a detour. We ended up walking over the Westminster Bridge, where we had out first kiss. He got down on one knee and produced a beautiful diamond ring.

Did you have hen and stag celebrations? If so, what did you do?
Yes. I had a hen night two weeks before the wedding. This was in Brisbane, Australia (as I am from Australia). A bunch of girls and I went for dinner at a Chinese restaurant where we could karaoke the night away. Afterwards we ended up dancing in a club, and I had a list of items I needed to collect, including a pair of boxers. We were all surprised when a guy stripped off his jeans and gave me the boxers! Paul had his stag night a week before the wedding at Surfers Paradise, near Brisbane. He was picked up in a limo and the boys worked their way around the clubs, Paul wearing a Wonder Woman suit (and I have the proof!)

How did your groom help with the wedding planning?
It was difficult to plan as I was planning a wedding in Australia all the way from England. However, I took on the main preparations for the wedding and Paul surprised me with the honeymoon.

Did you use confetti to plan your wedding? If so, how did the website help you?
Yes, I did. I used the website to check out certain products as well as visiting the shop.

Did you buy any confetti products for your wedding? If so, did you visit a store, buy online or by mail order?
Yes, I bought a number of products. In fact, I shipped them over to Australia before the wedding. I bought white/silver cameras, silver favour boxes, camera cards as well as a book that contained different readings for a religious wedding.

Tell us about your outfit, and where you bought it
I was back in Australia in August 2005. While I was there I went shopping for my dress, as it made sense to try to get my dress in Oz, as opposed to having to send it from the UK. I ended up getting my dress from a Brisbane designer called Winne Yeung. It was a strapless dress. There was some detail on the bodice. It tapered into the waist and the skirt was an A Line design. My measurements were taken and the dress was made to fit me perfectly. Underneath I wore a corset which the designer had made herself so it fit the dress specifically. I tried on many dresses in Brisbane and also in the UK. This style suited my body shape perfectly, and when you have it on, you just know it is the one.

Did you have bridesmaids? If so, who did you choose and what did they wear?
I had three bridesmaids who were all school friends of mine. As you can imagine, it was difficult to sort out bridesmaids dresses from the UK. We had them made and we found the design on a website, which made it easy for my bridesmaids and me to choose a design. The material was a mint green. I actually bought the material in a street off Oxford street and had the ten metres shipped over to Brisbane.

Who did your groom choose for his best man and ushers, and what did they wear?
Paul chose three friends to be his ushers. They were friends that he met through fishing as well as friends from college. The boys’ hired their suits here in the UK. The groom’s father bought all the suits over in the plane to Brisbane.

Did you have a civil or religious ceremony?
We had a religious ceremony.

Where did you hold your ceremony?
The ceremony was held at the Hyatt Regency Sanctuary Cove Chapel, in the grounds of the Hyatt Regency Resort. This is in between Brisbane and the Gold Coast in Australia. As soon as I saw this beautiful place I knew it had to be here. The back of the chapel was made up of a glass window that looked out over a river. Gorgeous setting.

Where did you hold your reception?
The reception was held at the Sanctuary Cove Country Club, next door to the Hyatt Regency Sanctuary Cove Resort.

Did you have any special wedding transport?
The boys stayed the night before at the Hyatt Regency Resort. I got ready from the house I grew up in, in Brisbane. My dad, my three bridesmaids, and I hopped in the back of a limo for the 40 minute drive from Brisbane to the Sanctuary Cove Chapel. As we were getting photos completed, we got to use the golf buggies to drive us around. One of the ushers commented that the golf buggy driving was the best bit of the day!

How many guests did you invite to your wedding, and did you have a separate evening guest list?
We invited lots of guests from Australia, Ireland and England. We had 75 guests on the day, many traveling out to Australia for the occasion. In Australia, we don’t have a separate evening event. You are invited to the whole day.

Did your reception have a particular theme in terms of colour or style?
We did have a colour scheme. It was silver, white and the bridesmaids’ green colour. There was also a touch of pink.

How did you incorporate this in to your table settings?
I used silver favour boxes with silver chocolates inside. Place cards were white with silver wire. Also, we had silver/white cameras. The centrepieces in the table were white oriental lilies with a touch of pink.

Did you give your guests favours?
Yes. All guests got a silver gift box with silver foiled hearts inside.

Describe your flowers (bouquets and table decorations). Who was your florist?
The flowers were white and pink. My bouquet was a drop bouquet made up of white flowers (mainly oriental lilies) and a touch of pink. My bridesmaids’ each had three white oriental lilies. The florist was a lady from the Gold Coast.

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. We had to pick two starters, two main meals and two desserts. It was alternate drop on the table. We did not try the food beforehand, however, on the day the food was delicious. The best man had trouble eating as he was so nervous about his upcoming speech!

What did you choose for your wedding cake, and who made it?
The wedding cake was a basic three tier wedding cake. The lower tier was a fruit cake with the intention of cutting it up on the evening. The second tier was a chocolate mud cake, which was also cut up on the evening. The top tier was made of fruit cake as I wanted to freeze it and keep it for some time in the future. So at the moment, the top tier is in my mother’s freezer in Brisbane.

Did you have any entertainment during the day or evening?
We hired a professional master of ceremonies. At first I was a bit reluctant to do that (not really an Australian thing), but Paul really liked the idea. It was one of the best things we did. He was actually from Sydney, so we flew him up to the Hyatt Regency Resort. We found him on the Internet. He hosted a wedding TV show in Australia and he was brilliant!

Did you have a gift list? If so, who did you have your list with?
We did the monetary gift idea as we were getting married in Australia and coming back here to the UK. We already were living together so it was easier to get cash and buy particular things we liked.

Where did you spend your first night and honeymoon? Who did you book your honeymoon with?
We spent the first night in the honeymoon suite at the Hyatt Regency Resort. We were picked up by a limo from the reception and whisked away to the hotel. We went to Bora Bora (French Polynesia) for two weeks for the honeymoon. It was a complete surprise for me as Paul organised the entire trip. Absolute paradise in an over the water bungalow with a glass floor.

What was your most memorable moment of the day?
As I walked down the aisle with my dad, I could see tears streaming down Paul’s face, which I thought was memorable. I also planned a presentation for Paul of people that could not attend the wedding in Australia including his Nan.

Did you experience any ‘nightmare’ moments in the run up to your wedding or on the day?
I arrived in Australia three weeks before the wedding. I honestly believed that I would have a lot of time to relax and not do much. I spent all day every day leading up to the wedding doing something. I had to confirm all details like the wedding cake, flowers, etc. The day before the wedding I felt time just got away from me. But by 7pm the night before, I was calm, relaxed and with a glass of champagne in my hand.

Is there anything you would do differently, or any advice you would give to other brides?
The day was absolutely perfect. There was nothing that I would change about the day. I collected my flowers the night before the wedding and they looked a bit wilted on the day, but nobody really noticed. My advice would be just to be really calm on the day. I had a great night’s sleep the night before not waking up until 7am. I stayed really calm and was able to take it all in. Paul and I managed to get a few minutes alone in between the ceremony and the reception to ourselves which was nice and what we had planned. I would definitely recommend having a DVD done of the day. It was great to sit down and watch it all, especially the bits that I didn’t see on the day – and what a fantastic memento! The day went so quick – I didn’t want to leave at midnight and when I got back to the hotel room, I didn’t want to take off my dress!

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