How did you meet?
Chris and I first met at my former workplace when he visited as an undercover policeman. My office was very small and quiet so when Chris and his Sergeant walked in everyone stopped what they were doing to 'check out' the hunky strangers!
My manager at the time used her matchmaking techniques to bring Chris and I together; she knew how unlucky in love I'd previously been and thought Chris would be my perfect match. I remember she said to me that this is the 'right' way to meet someone (rather than half-drunk in some bar), handed me Chris's business card and told me to call him that evening. I got in touch and we soon arranged a date in 'trendy' Moseley. We hit it off straight away and I instantly knew what we had was something special.
Tell us about the proposal - how did it happen?
Chris proposed in Paris by the Eiffel Tower. My friends had teased me saying that Chris would definitely pop the question while we were away but I wasn't so sure. Although we'd talked about getting engaged, I didn't think it'd happen in Paris. Chris gave absolutely nothing away and as far as I knew, he had no money and didn't know my ring size!
As we walked around the grounds of the Eiffel Tower, we noticed some trees which were engraved with the initials of other couples. I remember saying how sweet it was and how we should do the same but Chris being a man of the law said we'd get into trouble so we should think of another way to mark the occasion. When I turned around, he was on one knee.
He'd already asked my Dad's permission and bought a 'make do' ring as we'd choose the real one when we got back to England. I was completely surprised and shaking like a leaf. I remember Chris asking me what my answer was as I stood there in shock! It was one of the best days of my life and much better than I could have imagined. It was a moment I'd never forget.
What made you choose Packington Moor?
Chris and I wanted a wedding venue with a more rustic, country feel that represented us and all the things we loved. We wanted a rural setting and when I saw Packington Moor, I knew it was the perfect choice.
It's hard to say what my favorite thing is about Packington Moor - it's all beautiful! It's in such a peaceful and beautiful setting - so different to other wedding venues I'd been to. What makes it so amazing is the fact it's unique. There is nothing else in the local area of its kind. We had to book over a year in advance because it is so popular. We also got married on a Thursday because all Saturday bookings for 2012 had gone!!!
Where did you find your wedding dress?
I got my wedding dress from Prudence Gowns via the National Wedding Show (Birmingham) as they were offering 25% off if you booked with them that day. I'd already chosen the dress I wanted, an ivory figure-hugging A-Line Ellis Bridal dress, which I'd previously tried on at another bridal shop.
Initially I struggled to find a dress I liked, as the ones I thought I'd like didn't look right on me, but when I found the 'one' it instantly felt right and it even made my Mom, Dad and sister shed a tear.
What accessories did you wear on the day?
I wanted to keep the look quite simple so decided against having a tiara but one thing I just had to have was a floor-length church veil - this was also from Prudence Gowns.
For my hair, I opted for an Audrey Hepburn French pleat and chose a beautiful hair slide from Vintage Styler to set it off. I am very traditional and it wouldn't have felt right not to have the something old, new, borrowed, blue so ensured I had it all covered. My something old was my knickers! Something new was my dress, veil, earrings and bra. Something borrowed was my Mom's diamond necklace and my something blue was a West Bromwich Albion garter that my dad bought me - we're both avid fans!!
Where did Chris buy/hire his outfit from?
Chris hired his morning suit from Parkes in Leamington Spa. We opted for a Navy blue suit, ivory waistcoat and cornflower blue cravat. We wanted a pastel colour to complement our shabby-chic French theme and also the light oak wooden beams in the wedding venue. Chris always looks great in a suit, and it was no different when I first saw him in his wedding outfit. The pictures of him on our wedding day speak for themselves.
How many bridesmaids did you have and who were they?
I always knew my little sister would be my chief bridesmaid. I also wanted my cousin, Becky to be a bridesmaid as I'd been a bridesmaid at her Mom's wedding (my Aunty).
I was really lucky with their dresses as I'd planned to go to a bridal boutique but then stumbled across some fab dresses in BHS which were the perfect colour. They were cornflower blue, fitted, floor-length dresses with dainty straps. I wanted to keep their look simple too so they wore pearl earrings and a diamante bracelet.
My bridesmaids wore their hair in side-buns with a vintage hair comb. Chris's daughter, Jessica, was our beautiful flower girl and wore a stunning princess-style dress.
My sister arranged my hen-do in Chester, which was action packed: a lovely meal, tutus and tiaras, learning Michael Jackson's Thriller and exclusive entry in to a posh club - just great!
Who did Chris have as his best man?
Chris chose his younger brother Adam to be his best man. Adam wore the same as Chris but had a silver waistcoat instead of ivory which tied in with the bridesmaid's shoes.
What was your wedding ceremony like?
We had our wedding ceremony at St Mary's Church, Weeford, which was a beautiful small, quaint church about five minutes away from Packington Moor. I instantly fell in love with St Mary's as it reminded me of something from a Jane Austin novel.
The village of Weeford is surrounded by countryside that sets off the church beautifully and the fact that it is tucked away at the bottom of a tiny lane makes it more special - almost like a hidden gem. Fiona, the Reverend instantly made us feel very welcome and there was a real sense of community in the village which we were proud to be a part of.
We decided to have two readings which were selected due to their beautiful message, the first being Corinthians (a bible reading) read by my Aunty Anna-Marie and the second was 'The Art To A Good Marriage' by Wilfred Arlan Peterson, which was read by our friend Paul.
Our flower girl (Jessica) and page boy (Daniel) led the way, with Danny carrying a wooden 'here comes the bride' plaque. Danny looked so cute in his morning suit which was a smaller version of that worn by the groomsmen.
My Dad walked me down the aisle to 'The Bridal Chorus' and I remember feeling a mixture of emotions - pride, anxiety, happiness and excitement knowing that I'd soon be stood at Chris's side exchanging our wedding vows. Our bridesmaids Danielle and Becky followed behind in their stunning full length fishtail dresses.
My best memory was taking our vows and becoming husband and wife. As Chris and I stood at the top of the aisle in full view of our family and friends, it was lovely knowing our loved ones were there to share it with us. I remember Chris was so nervous and later confessed it was because he was terrified of getting the vows wrong and letting me down but that would be impossible. We smiled through the vows and didn't take our eyes off one-another, it was lovely.
We sung three hymns (We Pledge To One Another, The Lord's My Shepherd and One More Step) - each of them specifically chosen for their meaning. When the ceremony was over we exited the church and were greeted by our guests who threw confetti. The confetti was beautiful - cornflower blue dried petals (from Shropshire Petals), in an ivory cone with ivory bow in a beautiful shabby-chic basket.
What was your wedding theme?
As we had got engaged in Paris, we wanted to re-create the Parisian theme. We wanted an accordion player to play traditional French music as our guests arrived and lots of French shabby-chic pieces to recreate our amazing time in Paris.
How did you personalise your day?
We dotted jam jars around the wedding venue along with a dairy milk churn and ordered a personalised wooden crate, which read 'Chris and Kelly, 30.08.12' and filled with wild flowers. I was really pleased at how great this looked and it is something we can keep and place in our garden.
We also had bunting above the dance floor and outside in the courtyard and had wooden K & C initials covered in ditsy fabric to set off the stunning mezzanine within the barn.
For our wedding cards we had an old-fashioned cream distressed royal mail post box and 'wedding tree' whereby guests could add their thumb print as the leaves and sign their name. This would then be framed and hung in our home, almost like a guest book.
To reinforce the French element of our wedding, I draped grapevines above the bar area and hung Parisian artwork made from a distressed wooden crate onto the exposed brick work. Alan played traditional French music and wore a stripy long-sleeved jumper, neck scarf and beret.
Did you have favours for wedding guests?
Our wedding favours were handmade by Chris and me. We went for small glass jars filled with a selection of sweets (each guest had something different) with a piece of blue gingham material draped over the lid of the jar and secured by twine. We added a small note which read 'Chris & Kelly 30.08.12' on each one.
For children we had mini personalised colouring books and crayons to keep them entertained during the wedding breakfast/speeches.
As a little extra I provided an 'emergency kit' in the ladies toilets containing things such as deodorant, mouthwash, sewing kit, plasters, brush, hair grips, hairspray etc. I think this was welcomed by our female guests especially when a friend split her dress!!
Tell us about your wedding flowers
My flowers were done by Barbara at Perfect Day Wedding Flowers in Tamworth. I opted for a hand-held 'country style' bouquet which was made up of blue hydrangeas, lavender and ivory roses. It was secured with string to link in with the rustic theme.
My bridesmaids had the same bouquet but on a smaller scale. We had pew-ends which were hung up by string and had an arch around the entrance to the Church. The pew ends were later transported to Packington Moor and placed in a selection of jam jars which were scattered around the barn.
I had a pedestal arrangement in an old dairy milk churn which I purchased from eBay - it looked great! My table centrepieces were large Champagne glasses, which were made more informal with the inclusion of twine and hessian.
What sort of wedding stationery did you choose?
Our wedding stationery was from Angelic Creations. I'd first met Angie at the National Wedding Show in 2011 and instantly fell in love with her work. We opted for a blue-gingham wooden invite with pearl detail as it was unique and fitted in perfectly with our theme. Angie is super talented and her attention to detail is second to none. We have had so many compliments in relation to our stationery and I'm so glad we found Angie and were able to see her work in person.
Did you have any special wedding transport?
We chose a Rolls Royce Wraith and Daimler Princess to transport us to the church and Packington Moor. The company we used was Celebration Wedding Cars in Sutton Coldfield. The cars were very classy and even the worn leather blue interior linked with our colour scheme perfectly. The drivers were fantastic, very down-to-earth and put us at ease immediately. The journey Chris and I made from the Church to the venue was probably one of the highlights of my day as Chris and I could enjoy some time alone together as husband and wife in the comfort of a beautiful vintage car.
Tell us about your wedding reception
Before our wedding breakfast, and whilst our guests arrived at Packington Moor, we served a selection of the most amazing canapés - spring rolls, chicken skewers, mini fish n' chips (in tiny cones) and mini shepherd's pies that were to die for! We'd already sampled the fish n' chips and shepherd's pies at our tasting event at the venue and we knew we had to include them on our menu.
Our wedding breakfast consisted of three courses - goat's cheese crostini, then fillet of beef with garlic infused potatoes followed by a tower of shortbread with clotted cream and fresh raspberries. To finish off, we were served tea and coffee with chocolate truffles.
The food was fantastic! Many of our guests commented on the great quality of the food and the super-fast service. Galloping Gourmet, the caterers at Packington Moor, were so accommodating and were happy to tweak the menu to suit our needs. We can't thank them enough, it was delicious!
Did you have a top table?
We had a traditional top table that seated 11, and 10 smaller round tables which were all named after Parisian monuments to reinforce our theme. We invited 90 guests in the day and a further 30 or so followed later on and enjoyed our bespoke evening buffet.
We've been married nearly two months now and Chris's work colleagues still comment on how great the evening buffet was - the best they'd ever seen and tasted, which is testament to Galloping Gourmet at Packington Moor.
What were the speeches like; were there any funny moments?
We had three speeches, my Dad, Chris and the best man, Adam. Whist Chris and my Dad's speeches were deeply touching and full of gentle humour, Adam's speech (by complete contrast and probably in true best man-style) was hilariously funny and offensive to Wolverhampton Wanderers fans (I'm a West Brom fan). Little did Adam know half my family are Wanderers fans, so when he implied they all slept with their own family members there were a few open mouths and gasps!!!. It was funny though and something we'll always remember….and smile.
For the evening reception, did you choose a band or DJ?
We had a DJ on the night who played all our favourite tunes and also took special requests from our guests which made it more personal.
Chris and I attended dance lessons six months prior to our wedding and learnt how to Waltz. We're not the best dancers in the world and leading up to it, I didn't feel completely confident performing the routine in front of all our guests, but once we got started it was as if no-one else was in the room (as cheesy as that sounds!!). We danced to 'Kissing You' by Des'ree and at the end of the routine we got the loudest cheer ever, which was really overwhelming!
Did you have any additional entertainment?
We booked a party photo booth from Funbooth Photobooths for the evening reception that went down a storm with our guests of all ages. Funbooth provided a selection of props and an endless supply of photographs that our guests could take home with them.
A copy of the photo was placed in a guest book and our guests were asked to write a brief message next to their photo. It was great and definitely money well spent. A friend of mine is getting married next year and has already booked Funbooth for his wedding.
Based on your own experience, give us some top tips…
- For brides - don't try on too many dresses and keep an open mind when looking as what you think you'll like might not look right on you.
- For grooms - go along with what the bride wants! :)
- For keeping to a budget - keep a budget planner and shop around. Wedding fairs often offer a discount.
If we could do it all again, we'd…
…try to take it all in. The day will go so quickly and you won't remember where you were or what you were doing. If you can, have a videographer so you can re-live your wedding day - especially the bits you missed.
Tell us about the honeymoon - when/where did you go? What did you do?
As I had planned most of the wedding, Chris planned our honeymoon to Italy. We'd never been to Italy before and we had a hard job choosing the destination so we decided to visit three places. We started out in Venice, and then traveled down to Rome before heading further south to Sperlonga (a small town on the coast which was just beautiful).
Venice has beautiful surroundings, a relaxed atmosphere and none of the renowned Italian traffic! Needless to say, we visited St Mark's Square as well as taking a gondola ride, my advice would be to just wander and get lost in Venice. Every corner you turn in this city reveals yet another stunning 'postcard' location.
From the tranquil splendor of Venice, we took a three-hour train journey to Rome which at first felt like a baptism of fire! A much faster-paced city; street vendors were trying to sell us things every step we took and crazy drivers who didn't stop - even when we were on the crossings! Despite this, we got over the huge culture shock and really enjoyed our time there. A beautiful city, the Coliseum and surrounding historic sites are a must for anyone visiting Rome.
Finally, we took a one hour train journey from Rome to Sperlonga - a little beach resort south of Rome that is made up of a commercial new town and a quaint old town on a hilltop that overlooks the sea. Anyone who visits this resort has to stay in the old town. The locals and staff were really friendly. Despite their lack of English and our complete lack of Italian we muddled through and it didn't spoil our time there in the slightest. Lazy days on the beach and a charming understated nightlife made it a perfect way to end our honeymoon.
Images courtesy of Imagine That Studios ©