How did you two meet?
Chris and I met after a night out in Nantwich. I was sitting with my friend outside B&M Bargains (very classy!) and Chris was walking past on his own. He caught my eye so I shouted and asked why he was on his own!
It took us a while to get together. I was adamant all men were idiots so he had to chase me a bit. Our first date was at the Hand & Trumpet in Betley. He had to admit he didn't know my name and had me saved on his phone as “nurse lady” - not a good start!
It wasn’t until about a month after this that I really gave him a chance. Once I got to know him I realised how different it felt and how everything just happened naturally without having to be forced. As Chris said in his speech, 'I got him and he got me'.
Tell us about the proposal
We had quite a whirlwind romance, you could say, and moved in together after just seven months. I had a suspicion that Chris might propose to me being as it was my 30th birthday but I thought he would do it on the holiday he'd booked for me. Instead, he convinced me we were having a barbecue at our house for family. He even tidied up the garden, which is a rare thing!
I started to become a bit suspicious when the time was getting on and we didn't even have a barbecue. Chris then called me into the kitchen where he got down on one knee and gave me the most beautiful ring. I was shaking and crying and so really happy. Chris struggled to get up off the floor owing to him wearing a pair of jeans that I'd picked out for him and were too tight!
He then whisked me away to the Combermere Arms in Burleydam where our families were waiting for us - it's a good job I said yes! Although Chris said he was nervous asking me, he said he felt more nervous asking my mum and dad - he said he knew I'd say yes! My mum and dad were more than happy to for me to marry Chris and they get on really well. I'm glad he asked my dad, I'm a bit of a traditional girl at heart.
When did you start looking for a wedding venue?
As soon as I had that ring on my finger I wasted no time in planning the wedding, I even got my dad to ring the vicar whilst we were on holiday following our engagement. I really wanted to get married in a church. To me it just felt right and we loved the church at Warmingham, after many nights sitting in the beer garden of the Bear’s Paw peering over!
What made you choose Sandhole Oak Barn?
For the wedding reception venue, I think my mum and I must have looked everywhere, but I always had Sandhole Oak Barn at the back of my mind. I remember driving up there one evening with Chris and my mum and as soon as we pulled up the drive and saw the big lake and amazing views, we knew we had to have our day there. We booked it for just over a year’s time, probably the quickest year of our lives!
Tell us about your wedding dress
There's a running theme through the planning of the wedding - whatever I was choosing I had to explore all areas - so when looking for my wedding dress I think I must have tried on about 80 before I found 'the one'.
The wedding shop in Alderley Edge is like every girls dream. You walk inside and see the most beautiful dresses before your eyes and all the staff were so lovely and helpful. My mum encouraged me to try on the dress I eventually bought. I took it as a good sign when my mum and I started crying!
The dress was Fatima by Enzoani and was made of lace and tulle, a proper princess dress but still very elegant. The price was £1895. I also bought a cathedral length veil and a gorgeous headband.
I found my wedding shoes online on the Dune website and Chris said he'd get them for me as a birthday present. As soon as I saw them in the shop I knew I had to have them, they were very sparkly and eye catching.
For my underwear, I bought a strapless bra and knickers from Marks and Spencer’s Autograph bridal range in Handforth Dean. It felt comfortable and that was the main factor.
What was Chris’ outfit like?
We chose the men's suits from Hightown Menswear in Sandbach as my cousin had recommended them. We found them very helpful and reasonable. I was there when Chris tried suits on but after that, I never went again. I felt there should be some element of surprise and I felt I was making too many of the decisions!
I didn’t know until the day which colour combination Chris had picked. We were having a bit of a nightmare finding any material to match the bridesmaid dress material.
Chris wore a dark grey suit with an ivory patterned waistcoat and ivory ruche and the groomsmen wore the same with a peach ruche - the colour wasn't exactly the same as the bridesmaid dresses but I didn’t think it was vital.
Who were your ushers?
The ushers were my brother, Matthew, Chris’ brother, Kevin, and his good friend Karl. They helped on the day by handing out the orders of service, showing guests to their seats and by looking after our two Chihuahuas, Boots and Bella, who we couldn't imagine the day without!
Chris's best man was Brett, who is also his cousin and his best friend. He arranged two great stag parties for Chris and was a great help on the day.
Who were your bridesmaids and what did they wear?
From the start, I'd wanted the colour scheme to be a pale peach/nude colour because I liked the idea of a romantic lace and pearl theme. I couldn't find any dresses like that on the high street so I decided to have them made.
Locating the exact material was really hard; I must have contacted every fabric company in the UK! I managed to find just what I needed from Milcroft in Nottingham and Leons in Manchester. Pat Fox, a dressmaker in my local area was recommended to me. She was amazing and put up with us turning up at all hours to have fittings.
Chris has three sisters Becky, Beverley and Sophie and I chose my cousin Lisa, my friend Sally, as chief bridesmaid, and my sister-in-law, Jude. During the 12-month planning period, Jude had her first baby, so started her fittings in the June before the wedding. Then in the July, Lisa and Sally announced they were pregnant - timed just right I think!
Flower girl and page boy
I had a flower girl, Chris’s niece, Evie, who looked beautiful in her ivory dress and gold sandals from Monsoon. My page boy, Josh, wore a suit and a tie made by Pat from the dress material.
I bought their shoes from Next. Four of them had lace peep toe stilettos and two of them, who struggled in heels, had a lower heeled shoe in ivory with a butterfly detail. I bought pearl stud earrings and bracelets from River Island and found some cute little ivory flowers for their hair from Peacocks.
What was your ceremony like?
For our church service, we decided on two readings and two hymns. My friend Charlotte did one of the readings, a poem called ‘I Love You’ by Larry S. Chengges. My sister-in-law, Jude, read Corinthians. They both did an amazing job.
The hymns we chose were 'Give Me Joy In My Heart' because it makes me want to smile whenever I hear it. The second was ‘Jerusalem’. Part of the reason I chose it was because Kate and William had it at their wedding!!
My dad was very proud to walk me down the aisle. I’m very close to both my parents. I remember when it was just the two of us in the car on the way to the church, neither of us wanted to say anything too emotional because we were both ready to cry! I honestly thought I would cry my eyes out all through the service as I was quite nervous but just before we walked into the church my dad really calmed me down and I thought “I'm just going to enjoy this!”
What is your favourite memory from the ceremony?
Seeing Chris waiting for me at the bottom of the aisle and just feeling so happy. People said they'd never seen a bride smile so much and I almost ran down the aisle!
Something that made us both laugh in church was one of ours dogs whimpering. She probably wondered what we were doing at the front all dressed up! Our two Chihuahuas are a big part of our lives and we both really wanted them there so they got a front row seat!
A surprise gift
Another memory is Chris’ present to me on the morning of the wedding. He'd given his sister a box to give to me that had a picture of me and him on top. Inside he'd written a letter telling me to open the items inside marked 1-4 in order.
Number 1 was a card; number 2 was a poem, which made me cry my eyes out, number 3 was a pair of the most beautiful earrings I've ever seen and number 4 was his iPod. He'd left a song on there for me to listen to through his headphones. I only listened to the first verse then had to turn it off because I was crying!
I couldn't believe all the effort he'd gone to for me. At that point I just wanted to get to the church so I could see him! I managed to listen to the rest of the song before leaving the house without ruining my make-up anymore!
Styling the Day
I got inspiration from Lily Allen's wedding bouquets. I'd already decided on the pale peach theme and loved how she had incorporated blues and whites in with the peach. As with everything else for the wedding, I shopped around until I found a very reasonable shop in Crewe where I found the staff to be very lovely and accommodating too.
I decided birdcages would be a great table centrepiece. I didn't want anything too big as I felt the room at Sandhole Oak Barn didn't need it. My mum managed to find some reasonably priced on the high street.
My bouquets had blue hydrangea in them and luckily, my nana had a blue hydrangea bush in her front garden so the day before the wedding we cut off some stems. We'd been saving jars for our favours and had some left over so I decorated them with lace and put the flowers in them.
I dotted them about the wedding venue to keep the theme going and I loved how it looked on the day. I was extremely happy with the flowers, it was exactly how I wanted them to look and everyone commented how beautiful they were.
We were very fortunate that we had a friend who has just set up a cake business and offered to make us our cake. I wasn't really sure what I wanted but Chris and I both felt that cupcakes were a little bit different.
We told her the colours of our wedding and about the flowers and let her do the rest - we were so happy with the end result. My only complaint is that I don't remember trying any on the day!!
I knew I wanted classic wedding cars and I knew the company I could trust was Now And Forever based in Congleton. My friend had used them at her wedding the year before.
They are so professional and made me feel very relaxed. We chose an ivory Beauford that we could have the roof down on - until I started to look a bit windswept! My mum and the bridesmaids had a black and ivory Daimler.
We decided to make all our stationery ourselves, or rather, when I say “we” I mean mostly my mum! We came up with the idea of the style of invite using brown Kraft card, lace, some retro printed card with a button and string to tie it together.
On the front we had brown tags which were stamped with 'happy ever after...' We kept with the same style for the order of service. They were very time consuming but very worth it when we saw the end result. I think making things yourself gives it a personal touch and at least no one else will have done the same.
We also made our own favours. My mum collected jars that we filled with either dolly mixtures or marshmallows. We tried to keep the sweets a pastel colour to keep with the theme. We bought some fabric from Abakhan in Chester for the lids and we used the same brown tags as used on the invitations and stamped the guests names on them. As a finishing touch I used a company I found on eBay to have some personalised labels printed for the front of the jars.
I knew vintage suitcases were a good decoration for a wedding. I tried to find them on the internet and in charity shops but could't find anything I liked. Luckily, my mum’s friend’s mum had just what we wanted; she was thrilled we wanted to use it but couldn't see why!
We cut out some lettering and pegged it onto string so it spelt out 'just married' and hung it from the case. It looked amazing just under the entrance porch at Sandhole Oak Barn. We did similar lettering for the cards box which was a picnic hamper that sat on the table as soon as you walked into the room.
We also dotted about some of the hydrangeas and some glass tea light holders we bought from Paperchase. My dad very kindly made us a sign that read 'happy ever after starts here' which pointed to the barn. It looked so good I've told him he should set up a little business!
For the chair covers we used a company called Venue Perfection. Katie was absolutely lovely and had various swatches to help me choose a sash cover. She provided a lot of help and advice. We couldn't have been happier with how the room was decorated. We had pale peach sashes on white chair covers and the tables were covered with a peach and lace runner to match the theme.
We made the table plan ourselves using a piece of wood that we decorated with pictures of Chris and me in sepia and black and white. We bought a picture frame in the shape of a love heart that had various frames within it, which we were able to use for the table plan. We decided on a traditional table plan, which I think is important because, at the end of the day, it is about two families coming together and we're both very family-orientated.
Who was your photographer?
Our photographer was Katherine Barratt. She is so lovely and down to earth and puts you at ease. We're thrilled with how the wedding pictures have turned out, it was a hard task choosing what we wanted in the album as we loved them all!
We definitely made the right decision going with Top Table for the catering. They were more than just the caterers. They managed the whole day and we know it wouldn't have gone so smoothly if it wasn't for them. From the moment we booked with them I was constantly emailing Rene and she always calmed my nerves and made me feel like everything was under control.
We went for two tastings to help decide which food we wanted. It was so hard to choose because it was all gorgeous! In the end we chose a shallot, pepper and brie tart for the starter, chicken breast stuffed with sun dried tomatoes and mushrooms, wrapped in Parma ham with Dauphinoise potatoes for the main course and lemon tart for dessert.
Everybody commented on how nice the food was and they couldn't believe the size of the portions! We loved the barbecue that we had in the evening too, just under the Clock Tower. Luckily it didn't rain which meant everyone could stay outside and enjoy the gorgeous views.
How many guests did you invite?
We catered for 96 people in the day and about 140 in the evening. We're not sure how many people actually came in the evening but we're pretty sure it was a lot more than the 140 we'd thought were coming!
What about the speeches?
I was really nervous about the speeches because I knew Chris and my dad were worried. They've never really done any public speaking. I was completely surprised by how good the speeches were; they didn't seem nervous at all.
My dad talked about how Chris and me moving down the road from them was probably not a good idea owing to us constantly asking them to bring various items around that we run out of such as tuna, chicken and toilet roll! He also made a comment about me having more jobs than boyfriends, which made me blush a bit!
Not a dry eye in the house
I think I cried at all the speeches. Chris made me cry when he himself started to cry when he was saying how much he loved me. I don't think there was a dry eye in the room. He talked about each one of the bridal party. I think we had presents in the room for everyone!
Best man’s speech
Brett’s speech was very funny. He stood up without his piece of paper; he'd rehearsed it that much. He also used a projector screen to show clips of Chris when he was younger which was very funny to watch!
Did you have a band or DJ?
Hipswing were recommended to us for our evening’s entertainment. I love a good dance so we knew we wanted a good disco to get the party going! We were really happy we picked them.
Can you believe we only decided on our first dance four days before the wedding! We couldn't decide which song to choose but in the end we had 'You and Me' by Lifehouse. As soon as we heard it we knew the lyrics meant a lot to us. Chris said he didn't realise how long the song went on for. I think he felt a bit uncomfortable spinning me round in circles on the dance floor!
At the end of the day were so happy that all our planning had been worth it, it really was the best day of our lives.
Do you have any top tips?
My top tips would be not to stress about anything and book all the main things well in advance then you can relax. I think making your own decorations favours etc. is a great personal touch and a cheaper option.
I think it's fair to say we went over our budget but it's hard once you start, you get carried away with all the amazing options there are. I don't regret a single penny, it was worth it all.
Video of the day
We weren't going to have a video but I'm glad my mum’s friend offered to film it for us. It was great watching it back as you see things happening that you didn't know about.
Keep the groom involved
I think it's important for all brides to keep the groom involved. I was probably guilty of doing the opposite at the start. I wanted to do it myself but I soon realised Chris actually had a lot of good ideas and it made him really happy being involved.
Tell us about your honeymoon
We went to America for our honeymoon: LA, San Francisco and New York. We had a fantastic time and saw some wonderful things but I think the best thing was seeing David Beckham at our hotel pool and being at the Expendables 2 premiere where we met Sylvester Stallone, Arnie and Jason Statham… what a wedding present!
Images courtesy of KTB Photography ©