What Jo Did… Completed The Final Chapter. (Part 1)

We have a very special wedding for you lucky folks today.

Many of you will have followed Jo’s story since she became one of our real brides way back in September 2011.

So, the very final chapter is upon us and what an emotional chapter it is. Full of tears, raindrops and absoloutely brimming with love.

Jo’s dress, that went through quite a transformation by good old Dot the seamstress looks absolutely fab, as does her second dress that she wore as a cathedral length veil after some crafty work from Mrs A Snr!

It’s a really beautiful account from Jo so make sure you have tea and biscuits at the ready beofre going any further. The imagery is all by the very talented Guy Hearn.

Five months! FIVE MONTHS since I became a Mrs. Time has flown. I’m so sorry for not writing my final blog sooner – it would appear that being an NQT does not lend itself to getting anything else done!

So, where to begin… I previously left you 14 days before the big day. Fast forward to the day before the wedding and you have 25 friends and family waiting in the wings to

  1. Set up the venue.
  2. attend the rehearsal.

Come 6pm, the wedding party walked the same route to the chapel that we would take the next day. THAT is when it all became very, very real. When we arrived back at the dining room an hour later, it was pretty much finished. All that remained was for Mr A and I to have one last unmarried smooch, and for me to drop my car off at the garage, before the girls and I gathered for drinks and nibbles. N.B: Don’t ever be tempted to book your car in for its MOT on your wedding day. Just don’t.

7.30am, Thursday 7th June 2012. Cue the girls all bursting in shouting, “It’s your wedding day!!” Cue me, barely opening my eyes, drinking tea, and wondering if I have something inherently wrong with me – I just wanted to go back to bed! I am not a morning person.

It wasn’t until we drove up the driveway to the venue and it appeared through the trees that I FINALLY woke up and realised it was MY wedding day. TODAY!! Eeeeeeeep.

The ace Richard from White Dress Wedding films had beaten me to it and was busy filming the exterior shots of the venue. My lovely friend Sarah wasn’t far behind, make up in tow, ready to make me look like a bride. Kelly, fantastic friend and hair guru arrived a wee while later to turn my locks from Tina Turner c. 1985 to Jessica Alba(ish) c. 2011. No mean feat!

The room where we got ready is the old school chapel – beautiful big windows, lots of light and lots of space. It provided the venue for four hours of serious fun. I had to keep pinching myself – having my best girls around me, with family popping in and out to say hello, plus Mia and Tilly getting more excitable by the second, was such an amazing feeling. I spent a lot of time laughing, as well as sporadically bursting into tears every half an hour or so… When Kelly arrived, when Debbie gave me a card from Mr A, when Vicky & Lois gave me a book of notes and photos from my hen weekend, when the flower supremo Emma Walker brought in our awesome bouquets… tears of happiness and joy. Guy Hearn our photographer has managed to capture this time brilliantly – every time I look at the pictures of us getting ready, I am transported back to the fun, the noise, the chaos.

Meanwhile, the boys were out in the wind, inflating balloons, hammering in signposts… generally working their bums off to get everything sorted. They must have had SOME time to spruce themselves up, though, because they made a ruddy gorgeous group by the time of the ceremony. I went to have another look at the dining room (being careful not to bump into Mr A) – it had turned out better than I could have hoped, thanks to Emma’s ability to listen to our flower/table ideas, actually understand them AND bring them to life. Every table was named after our favourite ‘things’ (skiing, tea, cheese, gardening, cricket, travel, Venice, film/theatre, music etc) and had flowers/decor to match – my cousin and aunt helped enormously with making all the bits and bobs.

The long table in the Marble Saloon looked superb – In addition to our cake of cheese, a friend had bought us a traditional cake from the awesome Jaidee Cakes as a wedding gift. As a surprise for Mr A, I asked another very creative friend of ours to make a cricket ball cake stand – it looked awesome! These were next to the mismatched tea cups, the photos of our grandparents, or guest book and the antique whisky box for guests to put cards into.

My wonderful Dad popped in to see us few times. It was a bit girly for him, I think, but the little ones loved having him there – he was the only person not having his hair done/doing his make-up and, therefore, had time to play the games they had discovered in their goody bags! Mia had told him that morning that this day felt ‘better than Christmas’ – a sentiment I completely agreed with!

The ceremony was due to start at 2.00pm. At 2.10, we left the room in a state that can only be described as the most feminine bombsite the world has ever seen. Walking through the Marble Saloon of the venue set me off again – my old boss, from the incredible catering company, Lemon Zest, was waiting to see me off. I (just) managed to keep it together and prepared myself for a fairly long (in heels) and very wet walk to the Chapel.

That walk was one of my favourite parts of the day. Two wee flowergirls carrying huge brollies, the girls and I with our dresses hitched up, my dad holding on to me whilst shouting “Step to the left, girls… puddle on the right!” and an impromptu sing-along to ‘Going to the Chapel’. All the while, Richard was running ahead, capturing the action, with our poor friend Nathan carrying out his usher duty by running alongside, sheltering him with an umbrella. Guy, too, was with us, brolly-less, and with his gorgeous (and expensive) shoes getting completely wrecked in the mud.

Other than soggy shoes, I couldn’t have cared less about the rain, though I do remember feeling very pleased with our decision to line the path with balloons – the bright colours broke up the dreary, grey weather.

When we arrived at the Chapel (now TWENTY minutes late!), the entrance was full of wet umbrellas. Thus, the floor resembled a small lake. My dad was lamenting the lack of a sheet to cover the floor(!) and the girls were wondering how to put my dress and veil down without soaking them. I remember feeling a calm come over me at this point. All I wanted to do was race down the aisle to Mr A. So into the water went the dress and the veil, and the doors were slowly opened. Simon, on the organ above us, was powering out ‘Music for the Royal Fireworks’ by Handel – he had recommended a ceremonial tune to fill the huge space, and he was absolutely right – it sounded incredible.

The girls went ahead of dad and I. Waiting for them to start walking so I could see down the aisle seemed to take forever. Despite rehearsing the time between us each starting to walk, I still tried to take off too quickly, only to be slowed down by Dad. I made it about half way down the aisle before I caught the eye of Sarah (who had done my make-up) and Ellen (one of my closest friends, who had been with me since the night before). Big mistake. Richard has captured on film the moment where I said, “I’m gonna go!” followed by me bursting into tears and making a fairly undignified rest of the walk up the aisle. I felt like a total plonker, but just couldn’t control it.

Seeing Rev J beaming from the altar and the back of Mr A’s head (he decided not to break tradition, and didn’t turn around until Rev J gave him ‘the signal’), along with all our friends and family gathered in one place, was a completely overwhelming feeling. Mrs A Snr told me later that she and Mr A Snr thought something awful had happened as I was so emotional! Oh dear, not the K-Mid aura of calm I was hoping for. Seeing me crying set Debbie (chief BM) off. BM Lottie whipped a tissue out of her bra (all class!), gave it to her, leaving herself tissueless when she needed one later on!

When Mr A finally turned around, I STILL couldn’t stop. He and my Dad simultaneously whipped out handkerchiefs in a move slicker than Westlife standing up for a key-change, bless them. Once Rev J started talking, a sense of calm took over – our ceremony had begun!

Much of the next hour is a blur, albeit a wonderful one. We sang four of our favourite hymns (Guide Me, O Thou Great Redeemer; Love Divine, All Loves Excelling; Be Thou My Vision and I Vow to Thee, My Country) and heard three fantastic readings (an extract from Far from the Madding Crowd from my friend Emma (who managed to stop crying and pull herself together just in time!); part of ‘Song of Solomon’, read by Mr A Snr and an extract from ‘A Natural History of Love’, read by Faye, one of Mr A’s closest friends, who managed to walk up the steps to the pulpit wearing VERY high heels!) There was an incredibly moving yet modern sermon from Rev J, which resonated with many of the congregation and, of course, our vows. I lost it again at this point, crying throughout, then grinning straight afterwards. I must have looked demented.

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

Dress: Lusan Mandongus at Ellie Sanderson Bridal

Shoes: Roland Cartier at Debenhams (with shoe clips from Ebay)

Make-up: Clinique

Hair slide: Rendevous at Liberty in Love

Veil: Made by MrsA Snr

Groomsmen attire: Moss

Equipment hire: Festival Hire (crockery, chairs and cutlery), Millie Miles (linen) and Top Table (all glassware)

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!

Come back later on today folks for the rest of this complete tear jerker! Oh… And we’ll have video for you too. Don’t miss it.

P.S – ‘Slicker than Westlife standing up for a key-change’ might just be sentence of the century.