Time of Our Lives
So writing blog one was a bit weird - especially writing about yourself… why would anyone want to read it!!
But hey - it’s quite fun for me to re-live the ‘good old times’ of life before snotty noses, runny bums and general crap around the house!Both the girls are currently fast asleep (at the same time!!!! WHOOOP) after a lack of sleep last night thanks to Remi and her playtime gurgling at 2am or running Niamh around to ballet to stomp it like she’s Edith in Despicable me!
So I thought we’d continue the blog journey with our wedding! They best day of our lives and definitely the best party ever!
Some wedding tunes while you have a read!
Once we were home from Ibiza the whirl wind of wedding prep began! The excitement was something else! The fact that we also both liked to be super organised meant that plans were well under way!
Right from the start of our planning, and literally from the moment Lydia asked me to marry her, we both knew we would love to have a massive party but also something a little unusual.
To get to the final result was a tough task. Two brides, with the same wedding requests but with two different route plans equals a few evening arguments and disagreements. But as they say - teamwork makes the dream work and that it did!
To kick the plans off - sorting the date was the easiest part… we had already said to each other June 21st (the date Lydia asked me to be her girlfriend in 2008!) was going to fall on a Saturday the following year (2014). It is also the longest day of the year!
So what better day than to spend the summer solstice with close family and friends celebrating our marriage!
The harder part was now to find a venue.
As usual the typical wedding cliche of not wanting to spend a lot but wanting something unique and generally a great party space was a major hurdle.
Looking for our venue
We live in the garden of England and so there are many amazing venues - but every time we went to visit one- it just felt like they were churning out the weddings on a conveyor belt along with the latest Pinterest board ideas and latest trend extras.
One mega frustration whilst looking at these venues - was any brochure handed to us - always said Bride and Groom!
In the March of 2014 - the law was passed for same sex marriage to be legal (not just civil partnerships) and so you’d think venues would keep up to date with this and what with our giant stash of pink pounds you’d thought they’d be keen to be inclusive.
Our wonderful florist was a great help in looking at venues and suggesting places to see whilst giving us vision to what the venues could be like once dressed and styled how we would like.
After visiting an old school hall in a very country church - we felt we needed something bigger.
Our florist then put us in touch with a couple who were looking to offer weddings on their land… well this sounded intriguing… what sort of land? What did it look like? Was it a building?
We ventured into Detling, Kent- along windy roads surrounded by bluebells and into the drive of a bungalow… we were even more intrigued and had no idea what to expect!
After a brief chat, the owners told us to put on our wellies and to head outside to the proposed area they would like to develop…
…wow…arrival in wellies?
As we walked out of the bungalow we were lead down a muddy track and through the woodland. It was beautiful! We were surround by muddy puddles, bluebells, wild flowers and greenery, birds singing and then quiet. Not a sound. Just quiet. As we walked through the woodland we came to a clearing of a large field surrounded by woodland - tall trees and not a person in sight! This was it! This place was just something else. Something we had never seen and had so much potential.
As we talked to the owners - it came to light they did not yet have permission for weddings but this was something they were working on and discussed with us all their ideas and plans.
Luckily, Lydia is highly skilled in planning and permissions (hwandco.co.uk) and was able to support the owners in their application - whilst I was already planning how things would work for us as a wedding venue and what we could do! Not only was the venue incredible but we would be the first to get married there. It was ticking all the boxes and made us twitch with excitement!
We would have a festival wedding. We would hire catering, tents, food and bars. This could be immense! …Lydia was also quick to remind me how quick the pounds would pile up! Spreadsheets and planning here we come!
We started to go to some food tastings for our venue - looking at BBQs and out door catering and bars.
Luckily for me, my mum booked us a shopping trip of dreams. We were off to New York to find a dress! … being the only girl definitely has it’s perks! Sorry boys!
It was bloody cold and even though we’d made several appointments at wedding shops - nothing was jumping out at me and so we went home empty handed… scrap that - empty handed is a lie. We shopped a lot. Just didn’t come home with a wedding dress!
From searching online - it seemed Stevenage was actually the place to go!
First dress I tried on (even though I’d seen it online) - was the one! I think my mum was a little disheartened I wasn’t trying on all the cinderella dresses but hey - when you know you know!
Lydia’s dress experience came from lots of online shopping and delivered to her parents house.After trying various ones on she was able to get her sisters honest opinions. Not sure she appreciated all of them :)
Lydia’s mum was the only one to see both dresses to tell us if they would look good together - We weren’t wearing the same dresses but you also don’t want to look like numpties walking down the aisle!
Every time someone would talk to us about our wedding - they’d always ask if we were going to both wear dresses! Made us laugh in the end, but always wondered why one of us or both would wear anything different!?
Don’t get me wrong I’m not the girliest girl and maybe when I was younger the thought of a wedding dress made me cringe but actually… that’s exactly what we both wanted. White wedding dresses.
The next question was then always - “Well will you wear the same dress?” … Absolutely not! Lydia has such a slim tall figure and I’m short and rounder… not sure how one dress style would look too hot on both of us!
Then it was all change
Everything was falling into place, we’d booked all that was needed for the venue and they were granted permission for their weddings. It was all going so smoothly and organised… then Lydia was given news no daughter wants to hear… her dad had cancer and needed treatment soon.
It was devastating news and we just knew the wedding would be put on hold so that everyone could be together and concentrate on her dad.
He was given a date to remove his tumour - which was very close to June 21st!
We decided it would be best to move the wedding forwards, Lydia and I wanted her dad to walk her down the aisle and be with us at our wedding, we just didn’t know what was around the corner and what his treatment would entail.
Thankfully - as we were the first wedding at the venue - they were extremely accommodating and enabled us to move the wedding to the end of May. Now just to contact all the vendors & update our invites!
Unfortunately each one - from food/bar/band to tent and chair hire couldn’t do it!
THANK GOD FOR WEDDING INSURANCE!!!! John Lewis wedding insurance was fantastic! We could not recommend them enough! Their help, speed and support was fantastic.
They helped to cover the costs to change the vendors, any deposits lost and to be able to re book new vendors!
Thankfully or flukily I am not sure - the vendors we ended up with were bloody brilliant and looking back can’t believe we would have had something else!
On The actual day!
Our invites - were on lanyards to be worn on the day with all the information on from order of the day through to accommodation.
We had managed to re book a giant marquee with tables, chairs and a dance floor! The marquee was a massive L shape which meant we could sit on top table and have two rows coming down for all our guests
We had the most amazing caterers - The Mobile Pizzeria.
For our wedding breakfast we served pizzas cooked in their Land Rover Defender through to salads and antipasti and then they even changed to a noodle bar in the evening.
Their support, pricing and quality of food was impeccable. They were brilliant and we could not recommend them enough!
We are still gutted we didn’t get to try the noodles in the evening as everyone was raving about them! I think we were too busy on the dance floor!
Our bar was a wonderful camper van - The Bug Bar- supplying cocktails as well as the usual beverages. It added a great festival feel to our day and was also reasonably priced.
We had a local ice cream van for the evening serving mr wippy or hot doughnuts! Perfect for the evening treats!
For us the music was critical! We love to dance and party and so wanted something that would get everyone up!
So we started with The Soul Sisters - an amazing cover band singing all our favourites - which got people dancing.
Then as a surprise for Lydia and particularly as I love Garage music we had Lifford Shillingford (he sang with Artful Dodger & recently on Britains Got Talent) perform an acoustic set - as well as sing our first dance song - You To Me Are Everything.
Followed by our wonderful DJ Bill who played all our favourite tunes (and definitely no ABBA) throughout the night until the early hours!
On the day - we both arrived separately.
Our guests were seated on hale bales in the woodlands after walking through a path of hanging lampshades and ribbons.
Lydia & I walked down two aisles - from opposite directions and met in the middle.
Each of our dads walked with us to Ella Henderson - You’re the one that I want (Yes the cover of the song from Greece!) - it just seemed so fitting!
Lydia looked sensational! She was also shaking like a leaf! I don’t think either of us could really believe the day was here!
The whole ceremony was a whirlwind and went so quickly. Neither of us really like being the centre of attention and so wanted nothing more than to get the party started!
We walked towards our festival area singing Love On Top by Beyonce as we greeted all our guests and the Pimms started flowing whilst the band started singing.
The sun was out, there was no breeze and everyone seemed to be having a great time so far!
We danced, we drank (a lot) - we ate our wedding cake (which spelled out Hill-Wood) as we pranced around the dance floor swigging from Apple Sourz… sounds so classy! But it was utterly brilliant!
The party continued until the early hours as we even had our own fire pit to relax and wind down with.
We were sleeping on site in the large bell tents as well as other family members camping on site or travelling back to local hotels. I’m glad we had a good alcohol layer on! As camping is never at the top of our agenda! But what a way to end an evening!
Waking up the day after was so surreal. That it was all over. Time had gone so quickly and we were returning to our house as a married couple.
It really was the time of our lives and the start of our next adventure!
I’m not sure if my writing skills really deliver on the essence of the day - so here is the video for you to decide.
But it was everything we could have asked for and then some!