Mr & Mrs Horrocks
4th June 2016
4th June 2007 to the 4th June 2016. How it all began and what happened in between.
I was out having a drink with my oldest friend and returned from the bar with two Budweisers only to find her chatting to two brothers who were at school with me many years ago. When Paul cheekily took a beer out of my hand and said “thanks very much” I thought he was joking… he wasn’t! He let me go back and queue for another! Not the best way to win a girl over, but somehow it worked! He took my number and we had our first date on the 4th June at a pub in Lymm. After that, I guess we were officially a couple.
We made plans. We talked long term. We moved in together. We travelled to far off places. From Europe to Asia, Australia to Africa and America we created some amazing memories. The trip to his Grandmother’s family home in Uganda was one of the best travelling experiences I’ve ever had.
Sadly, a few months before that trip, I lost the most important person in my life, my dear Dad, who’d raised me on his own from being a young girl. After tough times, happier times followed but I didn’t want to marry as I couldn’t think of a wedding day without my Dad to give me away. One day after our children were born, on a day out with our 8-day-old baby girl, Paul and I talked about marriage over lunch. It was a brief discussion. We said we would and we joked about a ring and that was that!
Exactly one year later to the day, Paul suggested that we spend the day together without our children. We sat down to lunch in the same restaurant and I showed him a photo of us on my iPhone saying “Look… it’s exactly a year ago today!” Little did I know he’d planned the whole thing. He pulled out a ring and apologised for not being able to ask my Dad, but said he was pretty sure it would be ok.
We planned our wedding day on Saturday 4th June 2016 – nine years to the day after our first date.
I was never the big white wedding day type of girl. I wanted small, minimum fuss. Just us! But Paul didn’t. He wanted a big event, best man, ushers and a party so that was what we had.
Statham Lodge Hotel in Cheshire was the only choice for me if we were to have a big wedding day. It is a beautiful Georgian manor house set in 11 acres with a long-standing reputation for excellent food, personal service and stunning gardens. I worked there before I went to university and I fell in love with the place.
On the morning of our big day, I cycled across town to the cemetery on my Dad’s old bike, so I could share a Guinness with him. Then I turned myself into a Bride for the day. I’d chosen my dress whilst out shopping with our children, my local hairdresser popped in to pin my hair up and my sister did my make-up. Minimal fuss… just as I wanted. After photos, everyone left leaving just me and our four-year-old son. I drove the two of us in my wedding dress to St Thomas’s Church in Stockton Heath, in a friend’s gleaming Aston Martin where we were greeted by my maid of honour, my sister and our daughter at the gates.
Our children walked hand in hand up the aisle with me – a moment which I’d cried thinking about for many years. I was fine. Paul was waiting, all our guests were smiling and so we became Mr & Mrs Horrocks. Finally.
The children looked beautiful. They made us so proud. Our son stood at the front of the church and read from the children’s book ‘I want to be your Personal Penguin’, a surprise we’d planned together for Paul. It brought a tear to his eye.
We left the church hand in hand with more smiles from our guests and made our way to Statham Lodge in the Aston Martin, this time driven by Paul. Wanting to have a few minutes to ourselves, we pulled up at Lymm Dam, right next to the pub where it all began for us nine years earlier to that day. Friends had left us champagne and two glasses in a cooler in the car. We popped the cork, just the two of us and stood as Bride and Groom, at the dam on this beautiful sunny day. Usually I moan at Paul being attached to his phone, but when I asked if he had it on him for ‘a selfie’, I was pleased when he said “yes”. The photo we took will always make us smile.
We drove the short distance to Statham Lodge where Andrew, our Master of Ceremonies was waiting to greet us at the end of the carriage drive. The guests were already on the lawn at the front of the manor house enjoying a drinks reception with delicious canapés.
Before we knew it, it was time to make our way into the stunning Gainsborough Suite. With it’s tall Georgian windows and fairy lights, the room looked magical. We paused before entering to a round of applause as Mr & Mrs Horrocks.
Having said that we didn’t want a traditional three-course dinner, the head chef came up with an excellent BBQ feast. Steak and salmon and all the sides you could ever imagine. Plates were piled high and the wine flowed. It was awesome. This was followed by various flavoured cheesecakes (Paul’s favourite dessert) served in usherette boxes, hence the movie style first speech.
I’d created a slideshow of photos and quotes taken from the day I was born, to the moment I met Paul and then from our lives together to this date. We’d dressed up as cheese and crackers at a fancy dress party, visited Gorillas in the wild in Uganda and scuba dived hand in hand off Rotness Island. We’d created two amazing children and that topped everything. I was filling in for the missing father of the bride. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
This was followed by Paul’s speech in which he kindly had someone return the bottle of Budweiser he’d taken from me all those years ago, and then the best man’s speech that quite rightly caused some laughs at Paul’s expense.
The day turned into night. The band ‘Superfreak’ put on an amazing show. Our first dance was to ‘You are so beautiful’ by Joe Cocker and after that we didn’t stop dancing all night. The hotel laid on a wonderful buffet in the Garden Room for our evening guests and we turned our wedding cake of cheese into our cheeseboard. The whole day went so quickly. I wish we could do it all over again just to savour it and to relish the amazing day.