It’s not often I struggle for words, but today’s post is one of those times.
How do you capture in a single, neat little paragraph the incredible honour of helping to organise, be part of, and write about, the wedding day of someone you’ve known your whole life, who is part of some of your happiest childhood memories, who is one of the loveliest people on the planet?
How do you do that justice?
I’ve written, deleted and re-written, but ultimately I guess it boils down to this…
Every wedding is different, but there’s always a single common thread: a love story. I never take lightly the honour of a couple letting us in on this incredibly intimate moment in their lives, and never is this truer than today, as I share with you dear family friend Lesley’s wedding to darling Chris. That’s why I make no apologies for my longer than usual real wedding intro!
Many of my very best childhood memories involve my good friend Daisy and her sister Rosie, along with my sister Emma. Daisy’s mum Lesley, and my mum, have been friends since they were teenagers, and as Emma and I grew up, we spent a great deal of time with Daisy and Rosie, making unbreakable bonds that keep us close to this day, and our children forge these same friendships.
I was SO excited when I knew that Lesley and Chris were getting married in Cornwall. I knew I could help with making recommendations, contacting suppliers and bringing it all together, transforming our little fishing village pub into the perfect setting for their gorgeously relaxed celebrations, full of sparkle, flowers, prettiness, love and happiness.
The day was perfect. I cried my way through Lesley’s entrance to church, the vows, speeches and first dance! Daisy singing on stage brought childhood memories flying back and another tear or twenty in my eye. The love and happiness was palpable. A beautiful day for beautiful people.
I could ramble about this incredible wedding to my heart’s content, but that would be unfair on the bride, who has painstakingly completed my questionnaire. So, suffice to say: Lesley is a lovely, lovely lady and deserves only the very best. She’s got it! The biggest congratulations and much love to you both xx
Chris proposed to me on Coverack Harbour, on new years eve 2014. He said he had to throw some scraps of food for the seagulls. It was about 10pm. I went with him to take pictures of the Christmas decorations in the village. I was complaining, saying that we were behind the lights and that I was going back to the pub (where we had been having dinner with my younger daughter, Rosie).
I turned away from Chris to have a couple of shots of the sea at night and was aware of Chris rattling a plastic carrier bag, which I assumed were the leftovers, for the birds. I turned around and Chris was on one knee thrusting a ring box at me saying, “You will marry me!” I thought it was a joke and couldn’t stop laughing, I think it was nerves. I was unwrapping the box, when I looked down I saw what all the plastic bag noise was him putting it on the ground so he didn’t dirty his trousers. I finally opened the box and took out the most beautiful ring I have ever seen. I said yes, even though he didn’t technically ask me, he told me.
Where it all happened
We were married at St. Peters Church. I got ready at The Bay Hotel, where I stayed the night before and Chris got ready at Chynalls Parc in a static caravan and the reception was at The Paris Hotel – all in Coverack.
We chose this venue because it is my favorite place in the world and all my friends live there. Also, my daughters live in Helston and were nearby to help with arrangements. Everything could be done locally!
We live in Yorkshire at the moment because of work and I wouldn’t have known where to begin. We also had Donna (from Pasties & Petticoats), whose parents and I have been friends since we were in our teens. Donna has been SO helpful. My older daughter had arranged a couple of weddings before, so it was all a no brainer. It had to be in Coverack!!
What they wore
I wore a dress which was made for me by an Italian designer, Maria Lucia Squillari at Larimeloom, who I found on Etsy. I had looked at traditional wedding dress shops but didn’t feel right in any of them. I am older than the average bride and found most of the dresses to be too heavy and uncomfortable and I thought I looked a bit silly.
Although I had turned 60 in March this year, it was my first wedding, so still wanted a very special dress but ‘age appropriate’ (one of my husbands suggestions, when I asked what he would like to see me in. I know, I still married him!!!)
The dress was made of a Hessian bodice with a skirt of very fine soft blush silk covered with swathes of ivory silk chiffon. It had a small train and silk chiffon that just covered the tops of my arms.
My bridesmaids were my two daughters, who wore ivory short dresses from Monsoon. I had my grandchildren as my flower girl and pageboy. Mae was in a lovely gold tulle dress from Monsoon and Jude was in a pageboy outfit that was made for him by a designer, again from Etsy, a company called Mimiikids. They were all fantastic!
Chris had his suit made for him by Moss Bros
There was a colour scheme, to start with, it was blush, ivory, soft green and gold, pastel colours. Chris decided to go with a sand coloured 3 piece suit with a blue paisley lining and blue suede shoes! He looked fantastic! It didn’t really matter that he totally ignored the colour theme, its best not to be too bogged down with getting it all perfect.
My flowers were my favourite part of the whole wedding, they were perfect!! The bouquet was hand tied with big old fashioned Roses Margaret Merrill, sweet peas and lots of white and green foliage. The button holes, bridesmaid posies, my bouquet and the table decorations were by Anna Mait of The Wild Edges. She also had her own brothers wedding to do on the same day, so she did brilliantly.
The bridesmaids and flower girl, Mae and I had flower crowns, which were perfect, These were made by Marianna of Fuller Blooms. Marianna also decorated the wedding arch at The Paris Hotel which was stunning.
The church was decorated by Liz Hanley, whose displays were also fabulous.
Ah the cake, it was a masterpiece! It was from a company called CupCake Mama from Newquay. It was stunning! It was a semi naked cake, covered in real flowers by Marianna again.
We had 5 tiers and 3 different flavours. We booked a tasting a few weeks before, it was heaven, I actually HAD to eat cake. For the 12″ tier, we had a Madagascan vanilla, passion fruit curd and vanilla swiss meringue, the 6″/8/10 Madagascan vanilla cake with raspberry conserve and traditional buttercream and a 4″Rosewater madeira cake with Strawberry preserve and rosewater swiss meringue. All of it was truly delicious! O.K. the flowers AND the cake were both my favourites!
What they ate and drank
The food was all provided by The Paris Hotel. We wanted the wedding to be very informal, relaxed and laid back. So we went with landlord Ian’s idea of a served buffet. He said having a served buffet means that they could keep topping things up and still keep the table tidy and the food fresh. We had a couple of meetings with Ian and his chef Jane, deciding on the menu.
We had several cold meats and a selection of amazing salads, followed by strawberries, meringues and clotted cream. In the evening we had pulled pork baps with stuffing and apple sauce. People are still talking about the wonderful food.
We had a brilliant photographer, found for me by Donna. The photographer, Jo from Enchanted Brides and I, met up about a week before the wedding. We strolled round the village, from The Bay Hotel, to the church and on to The Paris, discussing where we would like certain pictures. Again, we wanted very relaxed feel to the pictures. We had a few slightly formal pics of family, outside the church. Some pictures of us getting ready at The Bay Hotel, then Jo was basically left to her own devices and take lots of pictures of people enjoying themselves. That’s exactly what we got and we couldn’t be happier.
The morning was cloudy but quite magical. It was warm and still and the sea was like a millpond. It seemed the moment we stepped out of the church, the sun came out. It was fantastic! We all walked through the village, bridal party, guests and on lookers (and an unwanted photographer who sold unflattering pics to the press!).
We arrived at the pub where more family pictures were taken. Donna had been in charge of the decorations, which were started the night before and finished by everybody that was around. Donna’s mum and dad, Liz and Martin, along with her sister Emma were all there. Trevor, Donna’s uncle turned up with Steve (Donna’s husband), and brought hay bales for the tent which was filled with toys to keep the children happy. My cousin Nicky and her partner Kylie and son Rhys were brilliant, even the groom was there. Everybody mucked in!
After the pictures Donna came and got me to have a look at the dining room before anybody else did. It was SO SO beautiful. The tables were perfect, all the lanterns and candles that I had been collecting for the past year were all worth the clutter in our house. And my favorite purchase, the giant balloons which were hovering on ribbons above everything. It was as if the fairies had been!
During the meal, music was supplied by a playlist that my daughter Daisy and her husband Ben and Rosie my younger daughter had been working on for months. It was a compilation, a soundtrack of my life. There were songs from every decade of my life, all six decades. It was brilliant! As if that wasn’t enough, Daisy and Ben had rehearsed for months to produce a set of songs that meant something for both of us. It was just wonderful!
Chris’ daughter was his best woman and made a speech, which was so entertaining and funny, any stand up comedian would have been proud of. After the live music another playlist, with some great dance tunes, so everybody danced into the night!
We spent another ten days in Coverack, before heading back up North. we are going on our official honeymoon in September, to a tiny Island in the Ionian Sea in Greece.
What was your favourite part of the day?
I can’t really pick any one moment. There were so many, from the wonderful service in the church, headed by Rev Peter Sharpe, who was just charming. He allowed it to be light and fun in places and told Chris, when the time had come to be serious.
The night before in The Paris, where everybody had gathered for an unexpected stag and hen night. We had to wait until after 9pm, when diners had cleared the room and garden, before we could get in to decorate. At about 10.30pm I said please can we have some strong men to put up the lights in the garden. Loads of chaps just got on with it and in about half an hour, the lights were all up and working.
There was a point when we thought the ‘festoon lights’ we had borrowed, weren’t going to be used. I had imagined that the pub garden had poles in each corner but no. I was lying awake trying to think how I could fix the lights. I mentioned this the Jo, our photographer, during the walk round the village. She said there is someone who hires festoon poles, mobile, festoon poles and they were in Helston! I texted Donna , to let her know, then tried to reserve them online. Damn, they had already gone. I called Donna to tell her and she said, they have gone but to us. She was quicker than me and had reserved them. That was Box and Cox Vintage Hire. I wished I had known about them sooner, they have some brilliant props for hire.
Everything was falling into place.
I think that my best moment was when I wanted to get pictures of everybody on the harbour. (Chris had wanted to get married in Scotland, his spiritual home. For so many reasons, we went with Cornwall. I had tried to get a piper but I didnt manage to find one). Everyone piled down to the harbour, suddenly, as everyone poured out of the pub, I spotted a young lad in a kilt and on his back was a bag that said Cornish pipers. I asked him if he was on his way somewhere or would he do me a huge favour and play for us. “Where” he asked, “Here, now!” “Can my friend play too?”, “The more the merrier”.
I asked one of the guests if he would signal to the pipers, when we were all on the harbour, to start. The sound of the bagpipes cut through the chattering and laughter and Chris’s head spun round and asked, “Did you do this”? I said “Yes, I’ll tell you later”. Chris was so happy, his eyes filled with tears. I let him think that this was all planned, for about two days. Then I told him what really happened. It was a little wedding day miracle!
Advice to others
I would advise brides to not expect their fiances to understand anything about the planning of a wedding! But that doesn’t mean they don’t care.
Get the venue, church, food, photographer, music booked as soon as possible. My daughter Daisy told me that right from the proposal. Some of it I did but I had wanted a Beatles band but was too late and they were all booked. In the end, Daisy and husband Ben sang, which was better than any tribute band.
Stay calm and enjoy, take time to look around at everyone, during the day, drink it all in. Try not to be too strict with getting everything ‘perfect’, a little bit of chaos is not a bad thing!
Pasties & Petticoats played a huge part in our wedding. My older daughter Daisy was going to be my wedding planner but had to have emergency spinal surgery, so was out of action for a while. Donna sourced so many things and once Daisy was better and my younger daughter Rosie designed and had invitations made, all three girls pulled the whole thing together.
I think Pasties & Petticoats is a brilliant place to start planning your wedding. I don’t think there is anyone more knowledgeable about weddings in the west country. Donna found me ‘Cupcake Mama’, near Newquay ,where Suzi made the whole experience a joy, from the cake tasting to making and setting up our 5 tiered, semi naked wedding cake.
Donna also found Joanne Clement at ‘Enchanted Brides’, whose photographs captured the magic of the day. She caught how happy we all were.
I am SO pleased with our wedding, it really was the day I had dreamed of and more.
All the people in Coverack helped too. It really was a dream come true.