Melissa and Rhys
07/11/2004 – Eastnor Castle, Ledbury, Herefordshire
photos by Freeman Photographics
How and when did you meet?
We met on DatingDirect.com at the end of July 2003 and had our first date two weeks later, on 10 August.
Where, when and how did he (or you!) propose?
Rhys proposed to me at the Roman amphitheatre ruins in Saintes, France, on 23rd October 2003. We had flown in that morning to visit his parents who have retired to France. He’d been very persistent that we go out for a drive that afternoon but I thought nothing of it. I was really excited when we arrived at the ruins as I love gladiatorial history, so I thought it was really sweet that he’d even thought to take me there. We were the only people there which was romantic enough and then, all of a sudden, his 6ft+ frame was sinking on to one knee… With that, he asked me if I would marry him! After I’d said "yes", he told me to close my eyes, took off my glove and slid the stunning engagement ring onto my finger. I couldn’t help but shriek as I opened my eyes and saw three enormous emerald cut diamonds sparkling up at me. My heart was racing – he had planned the whole thing for weeks and I was ecstatic. Also, he’d had the ring especially made, to his design and specifications. The whole thing left me speechless for days.
Did you have hen and stag celebrations?
I had a spa weekend in Bath and Rhys went to Bournemouth for an ‘activity’ weekend including clay-pigeon shooting and quad-biking!
Did your groom help you with the wedding planning?
Rhys managed ‘Project Honeymoon’ and did the most fantastic job. Otherwise I did everything myself, more out of choice than anything as I love organising and being creative. However, we made every decision together and were lucky enough to be in-sync with our preferences from the word go.
Did you use confetti to plan your wedding? If so, how did the website help you?
Yes I did. I registered just after we’d found our venue in December as we then only had 11 months to plan. I mainly used the supplier directory and posted messages on the forums to get recommendations. I also set up a ‘To Do’ list, although, being naturally mega-organised, this was mainly to make myself feel good each Monday morning when I’d go on there and tick a load more boxes. It’s amazing how something like that can calm inklings of paranoia!
Do you have a confetti web page?
I think I might have started one but never got around to finishing it!
Did you buy any confetti products for your wedding? If so, did you visit a store, buy online or by mail order?
Tell us about your outfit, and where you bought it.
I designed my dress myself and had it made by an independent dressmaker, Denise Gribble at Pretty Stitch near to where I work. It was an ivory duchess satin floor-length dress with long, fitted sleeves, a short stand-up collar, fitted riding jacket bodice and a long train with deep purple brushed satin on the underside. The detail of the dress was highlighted with purple embroidery (collar, front, seam of ‘jacket’), Swarovski crystals and purple piping around the seam of the riding jacket-style bodice. My shoes were decorated in clear & tanzanyte Swarovski crystals and I wore I crystal and pearl tiara.
Did you have bridesmaids? If so, who did you choose and what did they wear?
Who did your groom choose for his best man and ushers, and what did they wear?
I insisted Rhys keep his outfit a secret from me as I wanted it all to be as much about him as me. I was so looking forward to seeing it on the day – Rhys had his suit and shirt made by the most fantastic tailor in London, Giles Fox. It was dark grey with a mauve pinstripe and beautiful mauve satin lining, which he wore with a tailored pinky-mauve shirt and a "hot" lilac tie that had narrow, but widely spaced, diagonal stripes in white and sage. The wedding date and our initials were embroidered onto the double cuffs and his cufflinks were very glitzy pinky-mauve diamante cubes! His Oliver Sweeney shoes were a mocha colour (and were made even more special as he was served by the man himself at his store in London!). The whole look was finished off with an orchid buttonhole to match my bouquet. He looked utterly sensational! Rhys had two best men – his brother and his best friend. They wore their own very suave designer grey suits and Rhys bought their mauve ties.
Did you have a civil or religious ceremony?
We had civil ceremony.
Where did you hold your ceremony?
Eastnor Castle in Ledbury, Herefordshire.
Where did you hold your reception?
As above. We had exclusive use of the castle for the event.
Did you have any special wedding transport?
No. I drove myself to the castle from the hotel, in our brand new Jeep Cherokee. It was quite a poignant 15 minutes though – my best friend was with me and we picked out a specific CD to drive to! When we got to the gates, I put on one of the tunes Rhys and I had chosen for our register signing later that day. I’ll never forget that journey up the long, winding drive, through the trees and up to the castle, knowing that today was my wedding day.
How many guests did you invite to your wedding, and did you have a separate evening guest list?
We had 68 day guests and another 20 or so came in the evening.
Did your reception have a particular theme in terms of colour or style?
The main ‘theme’ as such, was ‘Candlelight’ which was continued from start to finish. Our key colour was purple, accented with gold.
How did you incorporate this in to your table settings?
I put together table centrepieces consisting of circular mirrors with three pillar candles of varying heights – two ivory and one purple. There were eight tea-lights around the edge in small glass holders that I’d decorated alternately with purple organza ribbon and ivory organza ribbon that had gold thread at the edges. The top table had a mauve cloth and ivory napkins, whilst the remaining tables had white cloths and dark purple napkins. The place name-cards doubled up as mini individual menus and were made from deep lilac card. The table numbers were mounted on gold card which included humorous quotes relating to love, marriage, men and women!
Did you give your guests favours?
Yes – personalised choccy bars with our names and the date on the front and the quote: ‘Marriage is finding that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life’ on the back. Very apt for us – we’re both terrible wind-up merchants!
Describe your flowers (bouquets and table decorations). Who was your florist?
Purple ‘Vanda’ orchids with blue anemones in a shower bouquet with trailing ivy. We didn’t have any other flowers than button holes for the guys which were also purple orchids.
What did you choose to have on your menu? Did you have an outside caterer or did your venue handle the catering?
We wanted something hot and hearty so chose a main course of Carbonnade of Beef with roast potatoes, yorkshire pudding and vegetables. The starter was smoked salmon and prawn parcels and the pudding was profiteroles with a hot chocolate sauce. We didn’t want to be influenced by other people’s preferences so we created the menu and took it to external caterers.
What did you choose for your wedding cake?
We had the most magnificent chocolate cupcake tower made by a local lady, Rae Heath. Each cake was sumptuously decorated with chocolate ganache and a combination of truffles, Cadbury’s flake, chocolate lattices and chocolate curls. They were each decorated with the same purple and ivory ribbon that adorned the tea-lights. The smell of chocolate in the dining room was mouth-watering!
Did you have any entertainment during the day or evening?
We had a woodwind trio for the ceremony and drinks reception and a swing band, casino and fireworks display for the evening.
Did you have a gift list? If so, who did you have your list with?
We had a gift list with John Lewis which we would recommend to anyone – it was so simple.
Where did you spend your first night and honeymoon? Who did you book your honeymoon with?
We spent our first night in the castle along with a number of other guests whom we had invited especially. Our 14-night honeymoon was spent at Huvafen Fushi in the Maldives (5 star plus paradise!).
What was your most memorable moment of the day?
There are so many! Making my entrance down the staircase with my father was very special; meeting Rhys at the bottom and walking to the Gothic Drawing Room for the ceremony; seeing Rhys in his outfit (which had also been a secret); making our vows; being declared husband and wife… the list goes on!
Is there anything you would do differently, or any advice you would give to other brides?
I wouldn’t do anything differently as it was the most perfect, romantic day. My advice would be to keep a check on reality – don’t let yourself get bogged down with the trivial things OR be cajoled into having things that aren’t by your own choice. If you start to feel yourself going into ‘wedding overload’, put it all away for a week. I did just this and found that when I went back to it, it was with renewed vigour and fresh eyes. Try it – you’ll see exactly what I mean!