Jonty and I met in July 2015 on what was a very unplanned evening out for the both of us. Both out with very good friends, we caught each other’s eye across the dance floor. After spending the full evening dancing with each other (1950’s style) my friend, with my best interests at heart, pulled me away concerned about the strange man I was dancing with. She basically thought he was a little odd so planned on giving him a fake phone number, I didn’t and gave him my correct number. Best decision I ever made!
Nine months after meeting, Jonty and I had combined our lives and moved in together as we just knew it was right. They always say that when you meet the right person, you just know and with us that’s exactly how it was. We both already had two children each, and the younger ones would chat about us getting married.
As time passed, life together just felt so natural, like it had always been this way and it was just meant to be. In the September, Jonty arranged a fantastic romantic break to Dubai just for the two of us. We stayed In the Jumeirah Emirates Towers and did everything we could imagine there. He knew I had a love of sapphire engagement rings and as we walked around the gold souk we would both make comments about the beautiful sapphire rings as engagement rings, talking of us one day getting married. My mum has a sapphire ring and so had Jonty’s mum so the sapphire stone was close to both of us.
On the last day of our holiday we went for drinks at the Madinat Hotel, looking out at the ocean and the Burj Al Arab. I remember the waitress bringing out a bottle of champagne and Jonty being ever so traditional bending down on one knee, and saying those wonderful words “will you do me the honour of becoming my wife”. Of course I said yes, how could I not!
Our children were so excited when we returned home to tell them, however my father already knew as even at the age that we are, Jonty still asked my father for his permission. My mum was incredibly excited and for the next month asked a lot if we had any date planned.
So in November we decided let’s go for it, and we planned a wedding for the following year. First we decided something small and maybe just a meal with close family, but then after a few days and thinking of all our wonderful family across the country and the age that we were, it would be nice to get everyone together.
Before I met Jonty I had owned a business in the wedding industry for a few years and I always thought that if it ever came around to my wedding, then it could only be Thornton Manor. I knew Philip’s service at Thornton Manor was second to none, so we booked an appointment and Jonty and the children fell in love with the place straight away. They had one date left for the following May so this gave us a tiny six months to plan.
I would say that I also had a lucky advantage of knowing all my favourite suppliers. However, I was laid back and missed some for not booking early enough. First on the list was the photographer, Jeff Langhorne. I knew he could shoot the most epic pictures and have fun with us and that he did.
Choosing the dress was truly amazing as my mum and I visited quite a few bridal shops. Being petite presents its challenges and thick fabrics drown me (I found this out quickly). J&J Bridal in Newcastle under Lyme knew exactly what was right for me and they have to be the friendliest, most helpful ladies I have come across in the industry. As soon as I put on the dress, it was a wow factor. Dropped back, long lace sleeves and a train to die for. My dress was by Alessandra Rinaudo and went perfectly with my Jimmy Choos that Thornton Manor had given us a voucher for.
We chose our colours from things we loved. Sapphire blue from my engagement ring, pale pink because its spring and then touches of gold as we felt that would match Thornton Manor.
Jonty’s suit had to be sapphire blue to bring everything in and Whitfield and Ward tailored Jonty’s three-piece morning suit to perfection. The groomsmen and page boys wore matching navy morning suits with grey tweed waistcoats.
A trip to London with my sister and mum was needed for the bridesmaids dresses, with my other bridesmaid in Dubai trying on the exact same Jenny Packham dresses in Debenhams over there at the same time. My two younger bridesmaids were so easy and Monsoon in the Trafford Centre had so much to choose from, it was a little girl’s dream.
When working in the industry it puts a lot of pressure on to get it right, so visually we knew we only had one option when it came to the venue dressing and the flowers. Jonty and I wanted something fun and fresh and to feel like a spring day. We contacted Mat at Red Floral and of course he knew what to do. We took the sapphire blue from my engagement ring and had navy velvet table cloths. Logs and candles galore with the most outstanding flowers you could imagine. I think they were bigger than me.
We spent days doing our own added extras for the wedding. We didn’t want to have stationery as a cost, so we printed our invites on the Papier website and sprayed toy dinosaurs gold for our name cards. I had an old large gold gilded mirror from home and with white chalk pen, I hand drew our table plan. I also had other gold gilded picture frames and filled them with moss making signs for lawn games and a hand made photo booth area.
Jonty and I loved the planning although we did very little until four months prior, so it put the pressure on us towards the end. Fitting in all the appointments with everyone and looking after a blended family at the same time was definitely challenging. The children would say the best appointment was the tasting session with Barretts as the food was delicious.
One of the hardest parts of the wedding planning was the wedding cake because this was my wedding business. I hadn’t done it for two years but had to make my own cake. I would not suggest to anyone to make their own cake, as it’s very stressful and very last minute. I went for clean, simple lines, white icing and an array of sugar flowers. It had to be a tall cake at Thornton Manor, no doubt about that. Even Jonty helped with the making of the flowers, however they were put at the back!
The day itself was more amazing than both of us could have imagined. We actually made it into a wedding weekend. Lots of family travelled from around the world to be part of the day, so the day before we booked dinner at the Red Fox in Thornton Hough to catch up with distant and close relatives. We decided to give our gifts at this point to everyone that had been part of the planning and the day. They all were presented with either earrings, bracelets or cufflinks engraved from us so they could wear them on the day if they chose to.
Still at the age of 41 and 37 and four children between us, I stayed with my parents in a cottage at Thornton Manor and Jonty stayed in the Gatehouse with his children. The morning of the wedding was all go and so exciting and Duncan Fisher arrived and started on our hair and Anna May Stock on make up. Without these two I would have looked terrible, but boy do they work miracles. I had already had a couple of trials with them and decided on a style. They worked timings out to perfection.
Jeff the photographer arrived and with Kevin his second photographer and I confessed my one regret was not having a videographer. Luckily to my surprise, Kevin was a videographer and after agreeing on a price and a quick twenty-minute trip home, Kevin was all set up. (His filming is epic).
I cannot say enough about all of the staff at both Thornton Manor and Barretts, they worked seamlessly together and made everything so so easy. As we all stood outside waiting to walk up the aisle, I had one little joke awaiting the love of my life. I knew he would be nervous as the string quartet were playing and he was standing with his brother waiting. At this point I had requested the Imperial March from Star Wars to start by the quartet. It made him laugh as I intended and also calmed the nerves of us all waiting outside.
I don’t think either of us have ever been so nervous and excited at the same time but saying our vows was incredibly emotional and beautiful at the same time. The day went without a flaw and our guests were full of compliments throughout the day. My mum and my sister were rocks for me on the day and looked so beautiful, especially mum’s hat. My dad’s speech brought me to tears and laughter at the same time. Jonty’s speech was incredibly romantic and the best man’s involved quite a bit of guest participation.
We started the evening with a mash up dance of a mixture of funky songs, some slightly comically rude. After three lessons with a dance instructor we totally smashed it on the night, even after a couple of glasses of prosecco. We then danced the night away with Six15 events and their sax player.
The following morning all the guests joined us for the most amazing breakfast in the ceremony room where we all shared stories of our wonderful wedding day.
There is no doubt that any wedding can provide its stresses, but no more than your marriage ahead. Enjoy every minute of planning, every minute of your day and definitely every minute of your life ahead together as we have and will.
Venue – Thornton Manor – www.thorntonmanor.co.uk
Photographer – Jeff Langhorne Photography– www.jefflanghornephotography.com
Dress – J & J Designs – www.jandjdesignsbridal.com
Menswear – Whitfield & Ward – www.whitfieldandward.co.uk