A Birthday weekend away in London lead to a surprise Proposal, a Haribo Ring and a Theatre trip to see Wicked, what more could a girl want?!
Tell us about the proposal – how and where did it happen?
“Paul had booked a weekend in London as it was a treat for my birthday, we went on Saturday 29th July 2017 and he had booked a lovely hotel, a trip up the Shard and tickets to see Wicked.
After checking into our hotel, we went to the Shard, admired the top floor view before we sat down with a glass of champagne, after a few minutes, he just casually said, ‘So Miss Stewart, are you going to marry me?’, as this was totally unexpected I laughed, I really didn’t think he was being serious as getting married had never been something that we had spoken about. He said no ‘I’m being serious’, still shocked, I giggled a little more, finished my champagne and said, ‘yes, why not.’
He then presented me with a Haribo sweet ring and said that he wanted for us to go shopping so we could find something just perfect.”
What was your first step in planning your wedding?
“We didn’t agree a date, we said we were just going to go with the flow, so we looked online at a variety of different venues, very quickly we were able to narrow it down to three to view, so in August 2017 we viewed a hotel, a castle and the stunning St. Audries Park– we fell in love with St. Audries Park. We booked our date and that was the first part of the wedding done.
We didn’t have the traditional scrap book for planning, we put all of our ideas onto an excel spreadsheet and booked what we wanted as soon as we found it, all in all, most of the wedding was all booked in a week.”
Inspiration: Did you use blogs or magazines for ideas?
“We knew quickly what our theme colours would be as we linked this to our connections with the Royal Navy, the theme was fairly easy.
We knew from booking St. Audries Park that additional decoration wasn’t needed as the venue had natural beauty and needed nothing more than our guests to make it come to life.
I did download a wedding app to ensure that we could make sure we had booked everything and in the right timescales.
We also visited the Wedding Show as the NEC in Birmingham just to make sure that we had everything covered – that show sells everything you could imagine.”
What were your wedding “must have’s”?
“We needed a venue that was wheelchair friendly and everyone could stay on site – St. Audries Park was perfect for this. We loved that the amount of space St. Audries Park has to offer meant that there was no need to have the room reset after the wedding breakfast so that the room could then be the dance floor. There was enough space for people to have a quiet area if they wanted, could go walking in the grounds or be on the dance floor in the great hall enjoying the DJ.
We knew the venue had to be perfect, but we really wanted to ensure there was that little bit more so we hired a photo booth and casino tables for an added element of evening entertainment.”
What made you choose your wedding venue?
“It was a stunning day as we drove down the winding roads towards St. Audries Park and we were excited to see if it was going to be as amazing as the website had shown it!
We came around the corners, out the trees and there was the gorgeous stag statue, stood there waiting for us and leading the way, we turned right on to the drive, drove past the stunning church before St. Audries Park in all its splendor, revealed itself – the feeling of wow, this is perfect came over us both. We pulled up outside and there were a few people wandering around; we walked into the great hall and couldn’t believe how beautiful it was.
We were met by Jade and she started to talk us through the options, by this point we hadn’t even walked around the entire house and we were in love.
Jade showed us around and it just got better and better, we then started to feel a little disheartened thinking it was going to be an unachievable amount of money for everything that was being offered, then came the surprise, Jade gave us the quote for the day and all that it covered. We took a minute to ourselves and without even having to say anything to each other, we knew this was it, this was the place we would be getting married. That day, we booked our wedding for 9.5 months later and we couldn’t believe that we had gone with a view to look and see and we came out having booked our day – best feeling ever!!”
Styling your wedding: how did you personalise your big day?
“We enlisted the help of a friend who is a wedding dresser and planner, we knew the venue needed little decoration as it was already naturally stunning, but we did know we wanted the tables to be a little more themed, so Dee came up with a design to compliment St. Audries Park and our wedding. For our place names, we had little individual navy blue wooden names cut so that everyone had a little something to take home.
We had the candle package from St. Audries Park to add the extra hint of romantic candle glow around the house and gardens.
Marie designed our cake perfectly, we sent her some pictures of designs that we liked and said to surprise us – the only stipulation was, we wanted a lemon cake as it’s our favorite flavor, along with a small tier of raspberry and white chocolate as this is our daughter, Charlies, favourite flavor.
Our theme was based on our links with the Royal Navy. Paul and I met in the Royal Navy Reserves a few years before hand and before he proposed we had been together for just 9 months. We wanted our Navy links there as it’s a huge part of our life and Paul would be wearing his uniform on the day. The theme colours were Navy blue, gold and white.”
Wedding photographer: how did you choose your photographer?
“This was maybe one of the easiest things to book, Darren Bedding was a friend of a friend and I had seen his work on Facebook, his pictures were beautiful, so with this in mind, we arranged to meet Darren at his studio, we talked through what he had done previously, he showed us his wedding work and we talked about ideas of how it could work for our day, at the end of that meeting, we booked him and a second photographer to capture our day from start to finish. He kept us at ease and we even had a pre-wedding photo session in the fields near his studio so we could all work together and he would get to know us and how to get the best for our photos. Really couldn’t fault him at any point, Darren was amazing.”
Describe your wedding attire
“I had never been the little girl that planned her wedding from a young age and knew what she wanted in terms of the dress.
I visited David’s Bridal on a Saturday in September with my mum, daughter and mother in law to be. I tried on 4 dresses that day, and dress number 3 was the dress that my mum ended up buying for me. The intention had been to go and look, not to buy when we had only booked our wedding a few weeks before hand. The dress sold itself, it was plain which is more what I tend to look for, the item that made it perfect for me was when it was customized by adding a belt, all of a sudden, it was completely perfect for our St. Audries Park wedding, the mums were crying, my daughter was smiling and we just knew it was the dress for me.
It felt right, I didn’t feel that I was trying to wear something that wasn’t very me, I wasn’t trying to like it as my mum liked it, it just felt like me and should be mine – think it was due to the shop sample being my size and was a completely perfect fit.”
What accessories did you wear on the day?
“On the day I always intended to keep it simple. I had my beautiful dress with its crystal belt, I had the matching tiara, small drop earrings with matching drop necklace – this was all finished off with a 3m long cathedral view with delicate lace detail to give a little texture and break up the plainness of my dress. My shoes were the one thing I knew I wanted before I had even seen the dress, ivory heels from Dune with a large crystal brooch on the front and a tiny blue stop on the underside as my something blue.”
What did your partner wear?
“Paul wore his Royal Navy Number Ones with full medals.
As a surprise for him on the day, I had a small charm made with Paul’s dad’s picture on it, Paul’s dad passed away 3 years before we got married so I didn’t want him to be forgotten about. Paul saw the charm when his button hole was delivered to him the morning of the wedding, was the best surprise I could give to him to keep his dad close to his heart.
He always looks so smart in his uniform; it was great to see when I walked down towards him.”
Tell us about your Bridesmaids, Groomsmen and their outfits?
“We kept our bridal and grooms parties super small, we had my daughter Charlie as our bridesmaid and she wore a navy blue Vera Wang dress with a belt added which was the same as the one on my wedding dress; this tied the dresses together and complemented the dresses perfectly.
Paul had his best friend Karen as the Best Woman and she wore her Royal Navy number ones uniform and full medals.
I asked Charlie the day that we got married if she would be my bridesmaid, she is my daughter and best friend and I couldn’t think of anyone better than her to be with me on the special day.
Paul took Karen out for a drink and asked her if she would be his right hand girl and be the best woman on the day to help him through – she of course was thrilled and said yes, her only concern was having to do a speech – don’t know why she worried as it was brilliant on the day.
What was your ceremony like?
“The ceremony was hot! It had become the hottest day of the year so far. It was due to be 19 degrees that day, ended up being 26 degrees and it was so warm in the orangery, was totally worth it though.
We had music played by Minerva String Quartet – they are so talented.
Paul walked down the aisle to James Bond.
We had three poems read by our friends Wilf Pendleton, who was Paul’s dad’s best friend. Shabana Akram, a good friend of the family and Simon Davies who was an old work colleague who we used to do lots of charity events together and have been great friends ever since.
My mum and dad separated when I was young, my mum was then with a chap called John who brought me up. Mum and John never married but I’ve always classed him as my dad and I loved being able to ask him if he would walk me down the aisle – he was over the moon to be asked and wore a navy blue three piece suit and brown brogues from M&S – he looked perfect.”
Tell us about your drinks reception and wedding breakfast?
“With the day being so warm, all of the guests were very happy to see the cocktails being served on the lawn, we had cosmos, mojitos and prosecco – can’t forget the canapes – so delicious.
For lunch we had tomato and mozzarella salad to start. The meat eaters had roast beef and the vegetarians had a vegetable wellington and for pudding we had Lemon Meringue Pie and Lemon Meringue Ice Cream (might want to check that but I’m pretty sure that’s what we had!). We had speeches from Paul, my Dad and our best woman – my dad presented us with the Lady Bird books for husband and one for wife – they were brilliant and made a great read.
Karen the best woman’s speech gave so many laughs, mostly when talking about Paul’s past and asking for the front door keys back to our house, it was all the Royal Navy boys that stood up and returned keys to the front table – was really funny.”
Did you have a band or DJ for your evening reception?
“We had the resident DJ and the sparkly dance floor and uplighters by Andrew Strickland.”
Tell us about your first dance – what song did you chose and why?
“Our first dance was to Ed Sheeran – Perfect. Paul had picked the song and I couldn’t not agree as it really was a great fit for us. We enlisted the help of a local dance teacher as we wanted to do something more than just a standard wiggle on the dance floor. We had a full routine, we practiced it for months and had it to a tea – on the day, not so much, we had never practiced dancing with me in a ball gown wedding dress and a long veil – we have never laughed so much in our lives, the dress got in the way, we slipped on it, we tripped on it and in the end we stopped, bundled it all up so our feet were free and then we danced it better than we did the first part – it gave all of our friends and family something to laugh at we know that we gave it a go and had fun with it.”
“ If we could do it all again, we’d…”
“Get married a little earlier in the day. Our day was perfect for us, it would have been nice to have longer to spend time with everyone and enjoy drinks on the lawn etc. – that’s the only thing we would change, get married before 2.30 especially as we had so many guests to talk to.”
Did you go on a honeymoon or mini-moon?
“We did both. The day after the wedding we flew to Corfu for 4 days in what was supposed to be relaxing in the sun, sadly the warm weather was in England and it rained for 2 of the 4 days we were away – it was still fun and a lovely hotel to relax and enjoy our first days being married.
Our main honeymoon was for 3 weeks in January 2019 in which we travelled around Sri Lanka followed by 5 days in the Maldives before heading home – most amazing trip ever!”
Wedding Cake – Dreams & Wishes Cake Company
Photographer – Darren Bedding
Bridal Wear – David’s Bridal