How it all began
"David and I had known each other for about five years before we finally got together at mutual friend's wedding. We were both single for a long time before that, waiting for the right person. The wedding was on Sat 11th Oct 2008, and our first date was two days later! We met at Charing Cross station and went for a few drinks and dinner in Covent Garden. It felt really special as we both went to the wedding single and left 'together'. My best memory of our time dating is kicking leaves through Hyde Park a week after our friends wedding and deciding we should be Facebook boyfriend and girlfriend!
We had been talking about getting engaged, but I didn't expect David to just blurt it out on a normal Monday night as I was just about to get ready for bed! It was very spontaneous - apparently he couldn't keep it in any longer! David didn't ask my Dad's permission first but we decided not to tell anyone the next day at work (which was torture) until we'd driven to see my Mum and Dad so he could ask them!
Choosing a wedding venue
We chose Bartholomew Barn in the beautiful West Sussex countryside for our wedding venue. We were living in Kent at the time and trying to find the kind of country/barn wedding we wanted was almost impossible on our budget. So we just moved over a couple of counties!
When I first saw Bartholomew Barn I was speechless, which is rare for me. It was just stunning; in the middle of nowhere with beautiful Autumn leaves on the trees. The owner, Frances, really swung it for us. She was so laid back and let us do whatever we liked. We didn't have a huge budget but the flexibility of the wedding venue meant we could decide what to spend it on without it looking like we'd cut corners. We had seen several other wedding venues that day, which were alright but we felt like we had to always compromise on something. We drove out of the driveway of the barn on our way home and both said 'I love it!' so that was it really- sold.
Dawn's wedding dress
I got my dress at a shop in Tunbridge Wells called Go Bridal. I had been researching dresses for months and months and I thought I wanted something really on trend and vintage with lots of lace and beading. In the end I got something really traditional, but still quite vintage and it was the first dress I tried on! I couldn't believe it. Martine at Go Bridal was amazing. She said it was all about personality and as soon as I put it on I could imagine David seeing me in it and his face. I felt like a bride! Both me and my Mum cried, so I thought that was a good sign. David wore a petrol blue suit from Marks & Spencer.
My Bridesmaids were my best friend Saira (Me and David got together at her wedding where I was a bridesmaid so I sought of owed her!) and one of my oldest college friends Otterlie. They organised a brilliant hen do with afternoon tea, bowling and karaoke and a singing Gorilla Elvis!
I got their dresses in the sale at Monsoon. I had seen them on the internet and loved the colour, plus I wanted to buy them a dress they could wear again. I don't buy into many traditions so I bought them way before I'd even tried on any dresses.
David couldn't decide on one Best Man so he chose two! Chris and Alex. David was Chris's Best Man a couple of years ago and all three have known each other since school. They wore their own outfits and we bought them a purple tie to go with the Bridesmaid's dresses.
Dawn and David's wedding ceremony
The ceremony was really important to us. We didn't want a church wedding and we didn't want a civil ceremony where you just choose words from a package or a list. We went for a humanist ceremony instead as it reflected our values and outlook on life. I walked down the aisle to Claire de Lune by Claude Debussey. We had two readings. My good friend Eleni read 'He never leaves the seat up' by Pam Ayres and David's sister read 'Wedding Song' by Bob Dylan- which is a song but we just loved the words. My favourite memory is seeing David's face for the first time as I stepped into the barn with my Dad.
Styling the day
The barn didn't need decorating. The fireplace and tea lights everywhere set the tone perfectly. However, I love flowers and they were really important to me. I wanted something different and went for vintage roses, scabiosa, hydrangea, astrantia, herbs and berries. Angellike flowers, a local supplier, provided all the flowers. Angel was fantastic I wanted a country garden look so we chose vintage teapots, vases and tea cups for the table centres.
Surprise wedding car
My Dad was adamant that I should have a classic car and arrive in style. It was a complete surprise when a gorgeous 1950s White rolls Royce turned up to take me to the barn.
David's sister Joanna and her husband made our wedding cake! It was a red velvet sponge, three tiers, purple and lace ribbon and flowers from the florist to decorate. Not too complicated and it was scrummy! We keep joking that they should go into business.
For the wedding breakfast, we started off with a range of canapés; my fave was mini fish and chips in little silver buckets! For dinner we had bangers and mash and sticky toffee pudding for dessert. In the evening we had a simple cheese board to serve with the wedding cake, all catered for by David Tyrrell hospitality. We had a traditional top table- but only Bride, Groom and parents - I thought Bridesmaids and Best Men would prefer to sit with their other halves.
David's speech was my favourite part of the whole day. It was so well written and heartfelt. Loads of people cried, including me. It had everything a good speech should have- a few laughs, a few memories and some personal words that only I knew the real significance of. I am so proud of him. And, it was the only part of the whole wedding that I had no control over whatsoever- go figure!
For our evening reception we used a local DJ company who were really good. They took note of all our requests and judged the vibe of the room really well. Loads of people were dancing! Including my Dad! Our first dance was to What a Difference a Day Makes by Jamie Cullum. On the way home from the wedding we met at three years ago, this song randomly came on David's iPod and he just thought 'how true.' So it's been our song ever since- even if it is a bit long to dance to in front of everyone!
Dawn's top tips
My tip for other Brides is know what you want and don't let other people tell you different. Yes people like to give their opinions, especially if they are already married- but they've had their day! I was not very good at delegating, but that's how I like it. However, sometimes you cannot have control over everything and you just have to go with the flow.
My advice for grooms is just be supportive. It is absolutely fine if you don't care about flowers and cake- as long as you appreciate that the Bride cares about these things a lot!
For keeping to a budget; choose carefully what you want to spend your money on. Photos will last a lifetime but who really cares about favours? People will remember your day if the wedding venue is as stunning as you can afford and everyone is fed and watered until they are fit to burst! We saved a lot of money on our outfits, and roping in as many people as possible to help out.
If we could do it all again...
we'd not do anything different!"
Images courtesy of Nicki Feltham Photography.