Erika and Darren’s Real Life Wedding

Erika and Darren

04/09/2005 – All Saints Parish Church, Streetly, Sutton Coldfield
Moor Hall Hotel and Spa, Four Oaks, Sutton Coldfield

Erika and Darren's wedding photos photos by Adam Smith Photography

How and when did you meet?

We met in March 1995, at a nightclub in Birmingham. Our eyes made instant contact and from then, we have grown a strong and loving relationship as partners and friends.


How old are you both?

I am 29 and Darren is 31.

Where, when and how did he (or you!) propose?

We got engaged 10 months after we met and had a rather long engagement! We were on holiday at the Costa Del Sol in June 2004 and were sitting on the balcony watching the sunset with a glass of Champagne when Darren said, “Do you know what, it is our 10th year together next year and as you are so special to me and it is our special year would you finally make me the proudest man and become my wife?”

Did you have hen and stag celebrations?

I had two hen parties. The first one was as Playboy bunnies – 32 girls (including a couple of lads from work!) went for a nice meal in the Mailbox and onto a few pubs and a nightclub on Broad Street in Birmingham. We had a fantastic night – even had the policemen on the street eating my edible knickers! My second party, nearer to the wedding, was a lovely chilled-out weekend at Moor Hall Spa (my wedding Breakfast/Reception venue) – lots of treatments with the girls, lovely evening meal, we all stayed overnight and enjoyed breakfast together the next morning, walking across the gardens, getting excited that my wedding would be there just two weeks later.

Darren went on a stag do to Benidorm for 4 nights with 12 lads and had good fun. No mad shaving of the eyebrows or anything – they had a really good time – and quite sensible for a group of lads – or so I am led to believe!

Did your groom help you with the wedding planning?

Darren got involved with parts of the planning, however, I preferred to do the planning and surprise him with things on the day. Darren helped by doing lots and lots of overtime so I could happily increase the budget and spend, spend, spend! My mother and father helped me through all the preparation and planning, keeping me on track from time to time and also offering priceless advice.

Did you use confetti to plan your wedding? If so, how did the website help you?

The website is absolutely brilliant and when the shop opened up in Birmingham, Darren continued with even more overtime! Seriously, Confetti is priceless when planning your wedding, the tips, the ideas, the real life weddings, the chat room – absolutely everything is brilliant. I have got to say the staff in the Birmingham Branch were so helpful and friendly and got to recognise me pretty quickly. I have and would certainly recommend you to anybody who is getting married.

Do you have a confetti web page?

I did but I got so busy that I didn’t update it or continue with it.

Did you buy any confetti products for your wedding? If so, did you visit a store, buy online or by mail order?

I bought lots and lots of Confetti products, both online and in the Birmingham store.

Tell us about your outfit, and where you bought it.

For a couple of years I have had an idea in my head of my dream dress, which cropped up quite regularly within my 64 wedding magazines (could become a coordinator with all my knowledge!) My first outing for a dress was with my mum and dad, to a bridal shop called Designs on You in Streetly and, low and behold, as I walked in, there was my dream dress. I tried it on and 6 others but straight away, as soon as I put that dress on, I got very tearful and knew that was the one. My mum and dad were very tearful too. The lady in the shop said it was so stunning but as it was my first trip, she suggested that I look at a few others just to make sure. I took her advice but it was no good, I went straight back and knew I had to have that one. I chose a natural ivory, duchess silk dress with embroidered sparkling features mixed into it. It was an Eddy K. designer dress. I chose an elbow length veil and sparkly tiara. I wore Swarovski earrings, necklace and bracelet. My shoes were from the Rainbow range, the same colour as my dress, with sparkly bits at the front. I loved everything about my outfit and would not have changed it for the world – I felt like a princess and was so happy. Designs on You Bridal Studio were so helpful, friendly and a rock of support. We built up a good rapport and I felt very comfortable with them – they don’t try to force you into anything and give you priceless advice.

Did you have bridesmaids? If so, who did you choose and what did they wear?

I chose three bridesmaids: my Chief Bridesmaid, Sarah, was wife to our Best Man, Mark. She looked stunning and is a very, very close friend. My cousin Linzi, who is absolutely stunning, she is like a model, even wrote and read a poem for us at the church (and has only just turned 14.) My cousin Elena, who is 12, also looked stunning and did us proud.All of them looked beautiful. Linzi and Sarah wore an amethyst bridesmaid dress and Elena, a natural ivory bridesmaid dress. All of which complimented our colour theme of purple and ivory. Amethyst is also my birthstone.

Who did your groom choose for his best man and ushers, and what did they wear?

Darren chose Mark for his best man as they have been best friends since they were kids and grew up together. Darren loves Mark as his best mate.Our ushers were Darren’s two brothers, Anthony and Phil – all 3 did us proud. The ushers, including my dad and Darren’s dad, all wore tail suits, with a patterned, ivory waistcoat, amethyst cravat and hanky with hired black shoes – they all looked amazing.

Did you have a civil or religious ceremony?

We wanted a religious ceremony. I don’t think you can beat the whole feeling of marrying in a church – the walking down the aisle, the blessing, everything about the ceremony was amazing.

Where did you hold your ceremony?

All Saints Parish Church, Foley Road East, Streetly, Sutton Coldfield. It is a stunning church with a long aisle. We had a lady vicar, Sally, who we also know as a friend. The ceremony was amazing and everybody complimented on how different, happy and cheerful it was. I had the full works – the red carpet, the bells, the choir and every pew was filled.

Where did you hold your reception?

Moor Hall Hotel and Spa, Four Oaks, Sutton Coldfield. This is a 4-star country hotel with a Michelin star rating. I would highly recommend this venue to anybody. The service is outstanding, the people so friendly, the wedding coordinator amazingly helpful, the venue is so pretty and the gardens are beautiful. I wanted to stay at a venue where all our friends and family could stay overnight with us and share breakfast with us the next morning. We had the four-poster suite, which was stunning. Pimms and lemonade were served on arrival, then the 5-course wedding breakfast with wines, Champagne for the toasts and a fantastic hot and cold buffet on the evening. There was nothing at all I could fault – It was definitely worth every penny.

Did you have any special wedding transport?

Yes, we hired two 1933 vintage Rolls Royces. My car had the roof down, as it turned out to be the hottest day of the year. The cars were stunning. I felt like royalty with all the bibs, the shouts and the waves, both on the way to church with my dad, and on the way to Moor Hall with Darren. My mum and the bridesmaids travelled to the church in the second Rolls Royce and my dad joined them after the church service.

How many guests did you invite to your wedding, and did you have a separate evening guest list?

We had 130 people to the wedding breakfast and 265 in total for the evening.

Did your reception have a particular theme in terms of colour or style?

I chose amethyst and ivory for our colour scheme. Calla lilies, roses and hydrangeas were our table themes and every table was named after Cyprus, where we went for our honeymoon.

How did you incorporate this in to your table settings?

Lots of hard planning and ‘umming’ and ‘agghhing.’ I changed my mind 3 times. All the table menus and favour boxes were made by our stationers, who also made our orders of service and invitations. They all followed the ivory and purple colour theme, with roses and calla lilies on them.

Did you give your guests favours?

The ladies had a cone-shaped favour box and the men, a tuxedo; they were all embroidered ivory – the men’s have a purple tie, hanky and ivory calla lily and the ladies having diamante spots and a calla lily. The ladies had 5 purple sugared almonds and the men had 5 white ones.

Describe your flowers (bouquets and table decorations). Who was your florist?

My bouquet was a stunning modern shower of calla lilies and foliage; the bridesmaids’ bouquets were roses – all having diamante effects and purple rose pins. I hired a box of rose buttonholes for the guests at the church. Darren had a calla lily buttonhole, my dad and the best man had double roses, the two ushers and Darren’s dad had single roses.

The archway at the church was decorated, as was each pew end. There were also 3 alter pedestal displays.

The entrance into Moor Hall was decorated with flowers and bows and I ordered two bay trees for the entrance from the conservatory into the gardens. There were window displays around the conservatory and vase displays in the bar area. The top table complimented the round tables and the cake table flowers matched the top table.

The tables were tall arrangements of hydrangeas, Calla lilies, roses and complimentary foliage and flowers. The piano had a low display of flowers on it, the table seating plan and the guest book table were also decorated – it was like a fairytale.

There were purple and cream feathers scattered in some of the glasses on the table; rose petals and confetti thrown onto the tables; table cameras and candles sparkled on the tables.

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 chose a 5-course meal, which was absolutely scrumptious – the service was amazing and they never once gave the wrong dish out to anyone.

What did you choose for your wedding cake?

Gadds Cake Makers made our cake. It was an amazing four-tier cake; the bottom layer was fruit, the second and fourth layers were chocolate and Cointreau and the third layer was lemon. It had purple sugared roses in between each tier and Calla lilies and roses at the top with edible sparkly glitter all over. It was a stunning piece of work and three of the four tiers went on the night!

Did you have any entertainment during the day or evening?

We had the choir at the church, a pianist during the photos at Moor Hall and the wedding breakfast and a DJ for the evening. I don’t think you can beat a proper disco in the evening, as there is something for everyone.

Did you have a gift list? If so, who did you have your list with?

We chose Next or Rackhams vouchers

Where did you spend your first night and honeymoon? Who did you book your honeymoon with?

Our first night was at Moor Hall. Our honeymoon was amazing – we stayed at the 5-star Iberostar Ledra Beach Hotel in Paphos, Cyprus and stayed in the honeymoon suite. We were treated to Champagne, chocolates, fresh flowers, fruit, wines on arrival in our room, had specially allocated gala/a la carte evening meals and each day the cleaners would lay our towels in the shapes of two swans kissing on the bed. They say that Cyprus is the island of love – it certainly is. It is definitely a honeymoon/wedding destination – we met lots of honeymooners and watched about 3 weddings a day at our hotel. There is so much to see and do in Cyprus, it is steeped in history, the weather is constantly sunny and hot and it is so pretty – the perfect honeymoon. We booked through Thomsons, had fantastic service and the flight was perfect.

What was your most memorable moment of the day?

First of all seeing Darren at the bottom of the aisle watching me was the most dramatic moment of my life. Darren’s speech was emotional and he cried all the way through, he wasn’t alone – all the guests cried too!

Waking up with my mum and dad in the morning; sitting with my dad on the way to the church and him walking me down the aisle; my dad’s speech was amazing and my mum and dad looked stunning.

Did you experience any ‘nightmare’ moments in the run up to your wedding or on the day?

No, I can’t say I did really – 16 months of hard planning paid off.

Is there anything you would do differently, or any advice you would give to other brides?

There is nothing I would do differently.

My advice would be to love every minute of it, from the planning to the actual day. It all goes so quickly. Savour the time before the wedding that you have with your parents/family/friends. I loved spending the night before, having a meal with my parents and talking about when I was a kid all night. There’s nothing like the morning of your wedding, waking up knowing it’s your wedding day. Walk slowly down the aisle, be happy and look forward to the rest of your lives together.

Take a step back throughout the day and watch your guests – this will leave lasting memories.

Definitely book your photographer for your ‘getting ready’ shots – they are priceless and definitely have a video for the live memories of your day. Our photos and video are amazing – so make sure you do your homework so that you have beautiful memories to look back on. It all went far too fast!

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