Alison and I first met in June 1987 in the Clarence pub in Ashton Under Lyne. Alison was just 16 and I was 18. I know it’s a cliché, but it really was love at first sight. Our relationship soon blossomed and for the next couple of years we were truly inseparable.
Unfortunately, I had always dreamt of travelling, and as hard as I tried, I couldn’t quash that desire so in June 1989 I knew the time had come to follow my dreams. That decision was the hardest decision I had ever made, as I knew I was undoubtedly going to break Alison’s heart. Little did I know then, that I was leaving my real dream behind.
I travelled for several years before returning home, and in those years, Alison was always in my thoughts and still very much in my heart. On my return, I learned that she was happy in a long-term relationship. I was happy that she had moved on and found love but couldn’t help but think “what if”.
In 1992 I started dating and eventually settled down myself. I enjoyed 12 happy years in that relationship, but that quickly changed on February 19th 2004. In a bizarre twist of fate, and not setting eyes on each other for 15 years, Alison and I literally bumped into each other in a car park in Ashton Under Lyne, and we both knew instantly that that chance encounter was going to change our lives forever.
Two days after that chance encounter, I ended my 12-year relationship and moved back into my parents’ home. Shortly after that, Alison ended her relationship and in June 2004, we moved in together. By the grace of God, I’d got my one true love back and I was never going to let her go again.
Our 15 years together since that chance meeting have been truly amazing and the best years of our lives. For the first 11 together, Alison and I dedicated our lives to caring for our parents who were of ill health. One by one we lost them, and in August 2015 the last of our parents passed away, and it was only then that our life together became our own.
It was the 29th May 2016 that the next chapter in our lives began. It was Alison’s birthday and we had organised to go to Manchester with friends to celebrate. Spirits were high, and we were all dancing the night away, when I decided to go outside for a breath of fresh air. A few of our friends joined me. A few moments later Alison came out, I remember it was raining, and before I knew it, Alison, wearing white jeans, dropped onto one knee on the rain drenched floor and said ” I absolutely adore you and worship the ground you walk on… Will you marry me?” Within a heartbeat I said “yes”.
In September 2016 the search for our perfect wedding venue began Both Alison and I had the same vision of a rustic autumnal wedding. Ideally, we wanted to tie the knot in a barn. After viewing numerous venues, all of which were very nice, nothing could prepare us for the overwhelming emotions we both felt the moment we walked into the barn at Alcumlow Hall Farm. Our hearts skipped a beat and tears rolled down my face. The barn had a magical aura about it and our search was complete. We booked there and then, and our wedding was born, and booked for October 13th 2018. We had given ourselves 2 ½ years to plan our dream day and the journey we shared together throughout that time was priceless.
Being 2 brides made the whole journey seamless as we planned everything together from the smallest of details through to the biggest. The only part of our journey we did separately, was our hair and our outfits. As tradition goes, we wanted to keep secret those two very important aspects of our wedding day.
Having lost all our parents, we knew having them with us in some way was of the uppermost importance to us, and so we created “Memory Lane”. This was a wooden pallet, and with hessian string and wooden pegs, we put pictures from when we were babies to the present date depicting both our lives. We also placed pictures of our parents all around the barn for everyone to see. It was extremely poignant not only for Alison and me, but for our families also.
In the blink of an eye it was Friday 12th October, the eve of our wedding. Alison and I along with our immediate families, checked into the Alexander Court Hotel, Congleton. The perfect place to begin our wedding celebrations and only a short distance from Alcumlow Hall Farm.
Following tradition, Alison and I had separate rooms on the Friday evening and after spending a wonderful evening with our families, the time had come to go our separate ways, but before we said good night, I wanted to give Alison her wedding gift. We bid goodnight to our families and went to my room where I presented Alison with a box. On opening the box and seeing what was inside, Alison was overcome with emotion, as lay before her were her wedding shoes. I had had pictures of her dad printed all over them. Alison’s dad was her hero and this was the only way her dad could walk her up the aisle. Tears rolling down her face, she was truly speechless. Safe to say they are now her most treasured possession.
Our wedding day arrived, and before we knew it, people had started to arrive to help us prepare and get ready for our big day. Caro Millington our make-up artist, and Caroline and Gill from Cheshire Lady hair salon arrived, and I have to say they made Alison and I look a million dollars. Sarah Horton photography and her assistant Hannah, and Andy and Jasmine of Great Day Films arrived to capture our day, and I have to say they all fitted in as if they were part of our family.
Our wedding was at 12 noon and at 11.15, Alison left the hotel in the limousine accompanied by her brother in law who was giving her away, Cheryl her niece who was her best woman and our two nieces Georgia and Emily, who were our bridesmaids. The limousine was then to return for myself, my two brothers David and Graham who were giving me away, and my best friend Rachel who was my best woman. At 11.35 I was ready, my brothers were waiting for me in the hotel reception. They escorted me to the car park. I was expecting to see the limousine, but what stood before me were two magnificent black horses pulling the most beautiful of carriages. I was speechless, this was Alison’s wedding gift to me. Being taken to my wedding with my brothers and best friend in a horse and carriage and sharing that experience and time with them was truly priceless, I really did feel like a princess.
Alison and I had booked Chelsea Jade, a beautiful talented singer to perform at our wedding. I was to walk up the aisle first, followed by Alison. At 12 noon on hearing Chelsea Jade begin singing “How long will I love you”, the barn doors opened and once again the sheer beauty of the barn hit me, but this time even more so, as it was filled with the friends and family we hold most dear.
I began my walk up the aisle proudly escorted by my brothers and best friend. On reaching the end I turned to see Alison walking towards me escorted by Phil who looked as proud as I’d ever seen him. Tears filled my eyes, Alison looked stunning, a moment in time I will always cherish.
Our service was conducted by Anette Creighton of East Cheshire registry office with such sincerity and love, it truly was beyond what either of us thought it could be. We sealed our vows with a sand ceremony.
The celebrations began with Chelsea Jade performing whilst we were having photos. The amazing Bev and Todd, the owners of Alcumlow, and two of the nicest people you could ever wish to meet, readied the barn for the wedding breakfast. We indulged in an amazing 3 course meal prepared and served by the award-winning Ridgway Caterers. Chelsea Jade once again performed after our meal before the amazing DJ Ben Malone took the stage at 7pm for what I can only describe as an amazing evening. Throughout the evening our guests were invited to pop into Natty Bee’s vintage caravan for fun, frolics and pictures. At midnight when the music ended and the lights faded, Alison and I realised that our wedding day had not only left a footprint in our hearts, but also in the hearts of our friends and family who were there to share our “perfect wedding.
Alison and I are now looking forward to our honeymoon in December, we will be whale watching in Norway chasing the Northern Lights in Sweden, husky riding, reindeer sledding, and then going up to the Aurora sky station and staying in the ice hotel.
Carriage – Berkhansytch Carriages – www.fgfuneralcarriages.co.uk/horse-drawn-wedding
Flowers – S & S Design – www.facebook.com/sandsdesigns
Dresses – Blush Bridal Boutique – www.blushboutique-weddings.co.uk
Menswear – Slaters – www.slaters.co.uk
Photographer – Sarah Horton Photography -www.sarahhortonphotography.co.uk