“We chose the stunning Samlesbury Hall near Preston. The fact it was a Tudor-style building made it even more apt, as Graham’s surname is Tudor”.
My first glimpse of Graham was in 2005, at a production meeting in a tiny office in Covent Garden. The cast of Jack and the Beanstalk had been invited to meet each other mid-October before the pantomime season began in November. Graham launched into the room sporting a Mohican with a bright red stripe down the middle due to the show. Although we exchanged pleasantries, I remember thinking that he looked like a bit of nutter. According to Graham, he vaguely remembers meeting me at all!
Our initial impressions of each other soon changed. Four weeks later, we arrived in Plymouth for the first day of rehearsals. After being greeted by the Chuckle Brothers, I was then met by a relaxed and smiling Graham minus the red stripe and Mohican! He was chatty and complimentary; it wasn’t long before I was smitten by his outrageous personality and charm. Within a few days of rehearsals, my initial thoughts had changed to ‘wow, my mum would love this guy’!
It wasn’t long before Graham had taken me out for dinner several times. We had already shared stage kisses, which helped calm our nerves for the ‘real’ first kiss. It was obvious to the other cast members that Graham and I were besotted with each other. My parents were curious to meet this Graham character, who I seemed to mention during every phone call to them. The panto season was in full swing, Graham played Jack, and I played his princess. Considering we got married twice a day for seven weeks, it was inevitable that our fairytale was only just beginning.
Twelve months on, we returned to Plymouth for our one year anniversary. Plymouth may not strike people as the romantic capital of the world, but it certainly became ours as we visited all the places where we had first fallen in love. Graham topped it off by proposing to me in a secluded beach cove on the Plymouth Hoe. It was a freezing cold but bright and sunny day in November. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect proposal. After catching my breath, wiping away the tears and clarifying that he had asked my dad’s permission first, I finally said ‘yes’!
It wasn’t until June 2009 that we finally decided to plan our wedding. It was the day I dreamt of since I was a little girl; I was determined to put my heart and soul into the planning of it. My sister, Sarah, was a huge help and made us our beautiful wedding stationery. She was on hand for advice throughout the decision making. We considered marrying abroad, but deep down I knew I wanted a big white wedding. After our fairytale beginning, we knew that we wanted a fairytale themed wedding, hence my nine bridesmaids and huge dress! We wanted hints of our theatrical background and pantomime romance to play a role in our day, but at the same time, ensure it was classy and magical.
Graham and I felt it was important that we marry in a church as I’m from a Catholic family. We chose to marry in the village of Upholland where I grew up, in the church next door to my old primary school. We then chose a reception venue that was within easy reach. We chose the stunning Samlesbury Hall near Preston. The fact it was a Tudor-style building made it even more apt, as Graham’s surname is Tudor. The Tudor Bridal Lodge at the end of the driveway was enough to draw me to tears. Graham and I knew we had found our perfect venue. Angela and Lindsay were absolutely amazing. From the moment we first met to the end of the wedding day, they helped to make everything stress-free. They made us feel individual as opposed to just another bride and groom. We sampled the restaurant’s food several times before the wedding and we could not fault it. Everything was homemade using local produce. It was important for us to get the food right, after all, my older brother is a chef. The food and overall service was outstanding.
The day came round so quickly. We got married Friday 14th May 2010. It had been beautiful and sunny on the days before and after the day of the wedding, but we ended up with a lot of rain on the day. However, it was amazing how it didn’t make any difference to our day and the photos prove this. We had chosen John Burrows to do our wedding photography. I knew John already when we worked together on ‘Hollyoaks’ from 2000-2005. He was a camera operator at the time and he was always brilliant to work with on set, so I thought he would make Graham and I feel totally at ease on our special day. We had a consultation with John and had expressed how we wanted our photos to tell the story of our day. We wanted spontaneous photographs that picked out the special moments and reactions that you can easily miss or forget. John did not disappoint and he was one of the highlights of our day. All our guests raved about him as he stayed until nearly 11pm. The photos themselves are like watching a documentary of our day!
Our fairytale theme made our guests giggle at times, which was exactly what we wanted. We had named the top table ‘Happily Ever After’ and the rest of the tables as pantomime characters. We dressed the tables with candelabras surrounded by pale pink and ivory roses, glazed with a glitter that gave a soft sparkle to the room. The flowers were created by Kerry at Wild Flowers, whose artistic flair was outstanding. She had even added the odd pink sugar mice to the tables too. Our favours were made up of bags of magic beans for the men, and princess tiara tea lights for the ladies. My favourite creation of all was our wedding cake. My mum has always made the greatest Christmas cake, so much so that I had taken a sample with me to Plymouth when Graham and I first met. Graham fell in love with it, so I had to ask my mum to make our three-tier fruit cake. We had the cake decorated at Have your Cake and Eat it, Coppull. Sarah took our idea from a photograph of us taken during our panto season, and created our perfect cake. She made figures of a princess sat at the top, and Jack climbing a beanstalk that crawled up the tiers of the cake. It was brilliant. As we walked into the candlelit room at Samlesbury Hall, all our creations literally took our breath away. Our perfect day was rounded off by, in our opinion, the best party band you could ask for. The Funtime Frankies left our guests begging for more, they were simply excellent and catered for all musical tastes from Elvis to Lady GaGa!
Our lasting memory of the magical day was when Graham and I stood at the back of the room and witnessed our guests having a fantastic time. Our families and friends had come together to share our fairytale. All that was left for us to do was to live happily ever after!
Suppliers list for a Tudor Fairytale
Venue – Samlesbury Hall – 01254 812229
Photographer – John Burrows Photography – 07810 857981
Band – The Funtime Frankies – 01772 466486