Sarah and I were both in peculiar places when we first met. I had just moved across the country for a new job and an uncertain future, Sarah was trying her best to care for her terminally ill mother and her post-stroke grandfather.
I think we both needed someone, and as is becoming increasingly common, we found each other online. We talked back and forth for a couple of months. I spent my days looking forward to reading the messages, and it wasn’t too long before we decided to meet in person.
We first met on Easter Sunday 2015, it was a mildly sunny day, and I drove over to Sarah’s home village. After discovering we were the right kind of weird for one another, we spent the day together in the sun, eating Cannoli’s in Heaton park.
We clicked from the off and spent as much time together as we could. With Sarah’s familial situation, we had to jump straight into the deep end, and I ended up meeting much of her extended family in quick succession.
I was struck by her kindness, warmth and empathy, dealing with such emotionally draining and difficult circumstances, especially at such a young age, before she’d had much of a chance to carve out a life of her own. I knew that I had to be there for her as best as I could, I think that’s when I realised, she was the one. I couldn’t bear the thought of her having to do this alone.
Sarah’s wonderful mother passed away peacefully in her sleep, and a little while later, she lost her grandfather too. It’s an experience that affects her deeply to this day. But the woman I loved, managed to battle through, to build a life, to go back to work, and honour these two monumental parental figures every day from then on.
Then, a few years after we had first met on a rainy, cold winter day, sat in the park, the same place we went on that first Easter Saturday, instead of cannoli’s, we shared a proposal.
Sarah said “Yes”, and I couldn’t ever remember feeling happier than I did in that moment.
We planned to have a long engagement and initially set our sights on a Spring 2020 wedding. We spent some time looking for the ideal venue, we visited several places, but nothing felt right.
We were conscious that a lot of people would have to travel to the wedding, as Sarah and I have loved ones spread throughout the country. So, we thought staying close to Manchester city would be ideal, taking advantage of the transport links and plentiful accommodation, plus it would be easier to plan as we lived locally.
Sarah found the Victoria and Albert Marriott online and reached out to the events team to enquire about the venue. We looked through their packages and brochures, and they seemed like great value in a city centre location, we got back in touch and arranged a visit to the venue.
In the run-up to seeing the venue, Sarah and I had a heart to heart. We’d just had some news that made us consider the future, and we came to the decision that we didn’t want to wait. We didn’t want a jam-packed itinerary, and hundreds of distant acquaintances, that’s not really us. We wanted something small, intimate, relaxed, and genuine, and we really wanted to do it sooner, rather than later.
We sent an email to the events team at the Victoria and Albert to broach the possibility of bringing the wedding forwards, they were very receptive. We went to the venue for a show round, and it was there we met their Wedding Coordinator, Kate Pearson, for the first time.
Kate showed us around the venue, told us about the packages they could offer, gave us a peek at the hotel rooms and took us on a walk of the grounds. We knew then, that we’d found our ideal venue.
It had everything we needed, spacious and varied function suites, a surprisingly large outdoor space for a city venue, plenty of rooms, great transport links and parking facilities nearby and on-site.
When we returned to the venue to go through some dates and start the ball rolling, Kate was there to greet us. Her enthusiasm and candour shone through and we knew we were in great hands. We decided to set the date for April 2019, a year ahead of our initial plan and a little over five months away. We knew it would be a struggle to plan a wedding in such a short time, but we thought this might aid us in having the relaxed, intimate day that we really wanted.
It was here that Kate, and by extension ‘The Manchester Victoria and Albert’, really came through for us. Kate sat down with us and offered to help us as much as we required, to take a truly hands-on role with planning the whole wedding. Looking back, we would have been in deep trouble without her.
Through her contacts and suggestions, we managed to find our photographer, florist, venue dressers, make-up artist and wedding cake. Plus, she was always available at the end of the phone to talk through anything and everything in the run up to our big day.
We’d had food at the venue’s restaurant before, but we were invited to partake in a wedding menu tasting, and it completely blew past our expectations. We were offered a varied menu, we narrowed it down to a few choices before making our final decision. I went in with a preconceived idea of what we’d end up choosing but went away completely befuddled. A couple of the menu items I’d dismissed in advance were now absolute contenders. Which is a testament to their chefs and kitchen staff.
The run-up to the wedding was surprisingly calm, given the quick turnaround from viewing the venue to the big day, but from the off, we felt like everything was in hand, we never for a moment felt like anything was going to be a disaster.
The day itself was absolutely wonderful, Sarah arrived in the morning and had access to a day room, where she and her bridesmaids could get ready. Kate arrived with some bubbly and kind words to kick-start their day. I arrived a little later and checked into our spacious bridal suite to get ready alongside my best man, before heading out to welcome our guests.
The sun had come out for us, and the hotel had made the terrace available for our wedding party away from the function room. The staff were on-hand for everyone and were uniformly kind and gracious. The Albert Suite we used for the ceremony was beautifully arranged, sun-drenched and fresh, and it was there the most fantastic part happened, holding Sarah’s hands in mine as we said our vows, time stopped, and I found my new happiest moment.
The rest of the day was a blur of sumptuous food, plentiful drink, cake, and dancing. Everything felt seamless and effortless, which is no doubt thanks to Kate and the team at the hotel.
Then, as the early morning hours beckoned, we retired to our room to find a wonderful bottle of champagne and a handwritten note.
Our day was everything we hoped for, and it’s amazing that we found everything all under one roof.
Cake – Weeniebakes – Facebook.com/weeniebakes
Flowers – Maybe May – www.maybemay.co.uk
Makeup Artist – Faye Bala -www.missfayebelline.com
Photographer – Alexander Ward – www.alexanderward.com
Venue – Manchester Marriott Victoria & Albert Hotel – www.manchestermarriottva.co.uk