Ok, we couldn’t make you wait too long for the final part of RMW Real Bride Jo’s wedding. Here it is, the final par tof the final chapter.
For the last time then, take it away Jo…
As we walked up to sign the register, the breathtaking sound of our friend, Callie’s, voice spilled out from the organ loft into the vast space. She sang Ave Maria, which gave us all goosebumps, followed by ‘Look with your Heart’ from Love Never Dies. Callie is one of my old brides. She and her hubby, Ben, have become our good friends over the past few years. She hails from Texas and has one of the most incredible operatic voices we have ever heard – just perfect!
When we came to the ‘You may now kiss the bride’ part of the ceremony, I remember feeling absolutely elated. To date, the single most awesome moment of my life.
The walk back up the aisle was brilliant – I could finally catch the eye of friends and family without bursting into tears. Jackie Wilson’s ‘Higher and Higher’ crackled into life through the speakers, and off we went, pausing at the Chapel door for a cheeky kiss, before I hitched up my dress (a bit too high, actually – ooops!) and we made a run for MR A’s Triumph TR6. All plans to have the roof down and wave back at our guests went out the window. We raced off, with Guy running close behind, to have our formal shots taken, before joining our guests at the drinks reception. Neither of us could quite believe it – we were married!
After being bombarded with confetti by our guests, we set about trying to speak to everybody – an impossible task! It was such a lovely feeling to see a new face at every turn. There were lots of guests whom we hadn’t seen for a long time, so seeing them was just brilliant. My aunt also brought my Grandmother’s wedding ring for me to wear – very special.
We got an awesome whole party photo, along with some brilliant ‘formal’ shots with the ushers and bridesmaids. The final group shot was of the bridesmaids wearing ‘taches and the ushers sporting heart glasses. Bridesmaid Vicky, in a Prosecco-induced bonkers moment, opted to wear both as she walked in a dining room full of 140 guests – see if you can spot her in the video! We walked in to the funky beat of Booker-T and the MCs’ Test Cricket theme… Guess who chose that?!
I am proud to say that I scoffed all three courses of our wedding breakfast – Lemon Zest were utterly fantastic – the food was EPIC! We started with Buffalo mozzarella, caramelised figs and prosciutto, moved on to a choice of pan-fried sea trout or fillet of Welsh beef (from my Dad’s butcher friend in Wales) and then a ‘his and hers’ dessert – sticky toffee pudding with butterscotch sauce for the boys and a British trio for the ladies: lemon posset, homemade Bakewell tart and a teeny ginger and rhubarb cheesecake. Food was a real priority for us, and Lemon Zest went above and beyond – people are still raving about the food now!
The boys all delivered fantastic speeches – just the right balance of humour and sincerity. I completely forgot to say a few words, which I had planned to. D’oh! Rich, our best man, felt a lot of pressure – we went to 12 weddings last year, so heard countless speeches. He was worried about not matching up, but needn’t have done – absolutely top-class. He had also handed out sheets of paper at the drinks reception for guests to write limericks about us. The result was hilarious (and, in a few cases, quite rude) Dad, too, was very nervous, but did me very proud. Phil couldn’t resist mentioning my MASSIVE faux pas when designing the invitations… The postcode I put on for the venue was actually the postcode for my ex-boyfriend’s parents’ house, 2 miles down the road – we only realised about 5 weeks before the wedding that this had happened. My red face had just about died down by the wedding day(!)
A special mention must go to the table who played Speech Bingo™. Each person had a word chosen for them. Every time that word was said, they had to take a drink. Particularly messy for those who had: ‘and’, ‘thank you’, ‘Phil’ and ‘Jo’ 😉 Finally, we all sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to our lovely usher, Patrick.
Meal and speeches complete, we moved through for coffee in the Marble Saloon and our evening guests arrived to join the party. The cups and saucers I had spent last summer collecting got their moment at last, and looked great. After cutting the cake(s), we had the inevitable first dance to contend with.
I can honestly say that the minutes just beforehand were the most nerve-wracking of my life! I remember telling Guy that I didn’t want to do it and hoped that his photos would somehow mask my two left feet! I changed into a different dress at this point – one that I found for £15.00 in a vintage shop. My wedding dress couldn’t be bustled up and I didn’t need any additional trip hazards! Our band, The Dukes of Havoc, had learnt our first dance song – Some Kind of Wonderful – and sounded AWESOME! Once we started the routine we’d learnt, I felt fine, though it did seem like an eternity before anyone joined us on the floor!
Roger Goodgroves (husband of the gorgeous Shirley, fellow Real Bride) took some absolutely hilarious photobooth pictures – we’ve since had a huge giggle at them. Thank you Rog!!
The rest of the evening was a crazy-brilliant blur of dancing, laughing, cheese scoffing and general merriment. Highlights for me included the whole room dancing in a Conga-style line to Love Train by The O’Jays and, at the very end, everybody getting into a huge circle to dance to Never Forget by Take That, running towards Mr A and I every time the chorus played. Classy? Absolutely not. Sheer fun? Definitely! Wonderful memories.
One thing I would urge every couple to do at some point during the evening of their wedding is stand on a chair so you can see out over the whole room – take 5 to soak it all up… the guests, the music, the fun – the amazing product of all the effort you’ve put in to planning your day.
One piece of advice I can impart is DON’T let the weather ruin your day. We knew it would rain – this June was one of the wettest ever, but didn’t let it affect us. Hire/buy lots of brollies, get guests to bring wellies, if necessary, and have a plan B at your venue. Take heart from the fact that your photos will look brilliant – no squinting, no shadows – and that nobody will get sunstroke or sunburn! There will be no bugs flying around and, in fact, your guests will all stick together, rather than wondering off to walk the grounds of your venue. Never lose sight of the fact that it is your wedding day – you are marrying the love of your life and, as my best friend told me on the day – a wet knot can’t be untied.
Again, DON’T book your car in for its MOT the day (or even the week) of the wedding, but DO get organised so you can go for some pampering the day before the wedding – I booked in for 4 hours of treatments: manicure, pedicure, full body exfoliation, massage and brow wax. I went on my own for some ‘me’ time and it was divine!
DO book suppliers you can trust. Prioritise how you want to spend your budget and do your research – Guy Hearn (photographer), White Dress Films (Video), Lemon Zest, Callie Denbigh (vocalist), The Dukes of Havoc and Emma Walker Flowers were all invaluable on the day – we felt totally supported and nothing was too much trouble. Similarly, DO put your faith in friends and family who want to help – we couldn’t have done half the things we did without the unswerving support of our loved ones. DON’T try and do it all yourself, even if you like to be in control – you will, undoubtedly, enjoy the day less.
Finally, keep an eye on the clock before the ceremony. When you have two hours to go, pretend you only have one. I never intended to be 20 minutes late (maybe 5!!), but ended up keeping my man waiting for much too long!
Sitting in the bar of the hotel we stayed in on the wedding night, surrounded by some of our best friends, my Dad, my Uncle from New York and my cousins from Dubai, reflecting on the day and having a giggle at everyone’s stories, was a brilliant end to the most perfect day. Mr A whisking me off to the Cotswold House Hotel the following day was the icing on the cake and our Christmas honeymoon in Canada (Whistler & Vancouver) will be the cherry on the top.
So, there you (finally!) have it – hope you enjoyed it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing for you for the last 18 months.
Big ‘married life ROCKS’ love,
Mrs A xxx
Venue: Stowe School, Buckingham
Photographer: Guy Hearn
Videographer: Richard at White Dress Films
Caterer: Lemon Zest
Florist: Emma Walker
Ceremony soloist: Callie Denbigh
Band: The Dukes of Havoc
Photobooth: Roger Goodgroves
Shoes: Roland Cartier at Debenhams
Hair slide: Rendevous at Liberty in Love
Veil: Made by MrsA Snr
Groomsmen attire: Moss
Favour jars and bottles: JBC Online
Balloons and helium: ABC Inflatables
Tea cups, table decor and table plan blackboard: Collected by bride and groom and available to hire!
I’ve realy enjoyed following Jo’s journey over the last year and a bit, and this is exactly the finale such a story deserved.
Despite the weather there are smiles all around. It’s great advice that Jo imparts that you should always plan for rain and have preparations in place because let’s face it, after a July like we endured this year there really isn’t a ‘safe weather’ month anymore.
It’s been great fun Jo, and everyone at team RMW wishes you a long and happy future as Mrs A 🙂