Helen and Matt’s Real Life Wedding

Helen and Matt

15/05/2004 – Hartsfield Manor, Betchworth, Surrey

How and when did you meet?

We first met at work in December 1999. Matt was the new boy and I taught him everything he needed to know about the job! We got together when I left work in August 2000.


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

Matt proposed to me on 8 February 2003 in the sitting room of the flat we were living in at the time. We’d been out drinking the night before so we weren’t feeling out best. We were talking about marriage when Matt asked me to marry him! He had to ask several times as I didn’t believe him at first. We went out to buy the ring and had to contact my parents in Singapore as they were on their travels. It all felt very surreal.

Did you have hen and stag celebrations?

My first hen night was in Brighton with over 20 of my girly mates. We went for a Mexican dinner, all dressed in t-shirts saying ‘hel’s angels’ with our names on the back. We went clubbing afterwards. I wore a full length veil, halo and other delights!

Did your groom help you with the wedding planning?

Matt was very involved in the wedding arrangements – he even chose he own suit without me there so I didn’t see the mens’ outfits until the wedding day. I was very trusting (luckily they chose what I would have chosen!).

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

We bought plain white placecards which we decorated ourselves, and cufflinks for both fathers.

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

I wore an ivory Amanda Wyatt bodice with pearl and diamonte beading. My skirt was Sposa Bella. I loved it because it had a train at the back which started from the waist, and floated behind as I walked. I was out-voted and persuaded to wear a veil. As a compromise I wore a short veil with diamonte and wore it at the bottom of my hair.

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

I had three bridesmaids and a matron of honour (my best friend). My sister was chief bridesmaid, and Matt’s sister and my niece were the other two bridesmaids. They wore hyacinth blue dresses that were individually made for them. They were very simple with thin straps and floaty skirts. They wore jewellery that complemented mine.

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

Matt chose his two best friends as best men, and another friend and my nephew as ushers. They wore frock coats with pink stripe trousers, with white and silver waistcoats and blue cravats.

Did you have a civil or religious ceremony?

We had a civil ceremony.

Where did you hold your ceremony?

Our ceremony was at Hartsfield Manor in Betchworth, Surrey.

Where did you hold your reception?

We had our reception at the same place.

Did you have any special wedding transport?

I arrived in a gorgeous Rolls Royce.

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

We had about 70 guests to the ceremony with an additional 26 for the wedding breakfast and a lot more in the evening.

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

The tables were named after sweets and the tables were blue, white and silver.

How did you incorporate this in to your table settings?

We had blue and clear beads scattered on the tables with tea-lights around the flowers in the centre, and bowls of sweets. The top table had taller, square vases with blue stones and a candle insure, as both our mums have a tendency to set the table on fire!

Did you give your guests favours?

We had bowls of sweets on each table which was really popular – especially with the adult guests!

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

My bouquet was a double-ended drop. I used the design of my granny’s wedding bouquet and asked my florist to modernise it. It was very heavy but I soon learnt how to carry it. It contained lilies, orchids, cornflowers, freesias, lily-of-the-valley and grasses. The bridesmaids had a versiou of the smaller end of my bouquet. My matron of honour held a bouquet of orchids and grasses. All the buttonholes complemented my bouquet. Matt had two different orchids and a cornflower, and the best men had a lily, an orchid and a cornflower. The fathers, ushers and my brother had a lily and a cornflower. The ladies all had different corsages which complemented their outfits and my bouquet. On the ceremony table, we had short, square vases with several lilies inside on clear stones with a tuny bouquet of gerberas, lilies and grasses. The vases from the ceremony were put on the top table and the other tables had vases to match.

What did you choose to have on your menu? Did you have an outside caterer or did your venue handle the catering?

We used the caterers at Hartsfield Manor. We were given a food tasting with my parents and, as my dad is in the catering business, he had the final say in our menu. We started with chicken and bacon salad (roasted vegetables for the vegetarian option). The main course was beef wellington (vegetarian was mushroom and spring onion tart) and for pudding we had a chocolate cheesecake with a berry compote.

What did you choose for your wedding cake?

We had a three-tier cake with a sponge tier, a chocolate tier and a fruit tier. It had white icing and the top and middle tier were decorated with white sugar flowers while the middle tier was decorated with silver balls. On the top of the cake and around the middle tier were beads to complement my jewellery.

Did you have any entertainment during the day or evening?

We had a disco in the evening.

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

Our gift list was held at Marks and Spencer.

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

We spent our wedding night at a local hotel and then returned to Hartsfield Manor to see our guests who had stayed overnight. On the Sunday, we flew to Mauritius for a week and then on to South Africa for two weeks which was amazing.

What was your most memorable moment of the day?

It’s difficult to say because the whole day was amazing and better than I could have imagined but… one memory we both share is returning from a drive. All the guests had gathered by the entrance and were cheering. They threw confetti as we walked back in to the house. Again, everyone gathered by the entrance as we left in the evening. They all seemed genuinely happy for us and were always cheering and laughing with us – they sounded like they enjoyed the day as much as we did.

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

No – not really. When I tried my jewellery on with the dress at my final fitting, I pulled my dress on my bracelet and worried that it would mark. Luckily it didn’t show. I had a sore throat the day before and lost my voice towards the end of the wedding day. I also got dressed a bit too quickly and realised during the meal that I wasn’t wearing my skirt in the correct place – which is why I kept tripping over it!

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

We would have gone away on honeymoon a day or two later so we could have spent more time with our families to discuss the day. We would also have taken some wedding photos on our honeymoon. I read about this in a magazine and thought it sounded really silly but I spent the entire honeymoon dying to see some pictures! We took a notebook away on our honeymoon and wrote down some of our memories of the day. We’re really pleased we did it as you do forget some of the smaller things that happen. Lastly, don’t get carried away with worrying about making things perfect – little things sometimes don’t go as you plan them but you really aren’t bothered on the day because you’re enjoying it too much. Other things seem more important. Remember what the real purpose of the day is.

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