Real Weddings: a beautiful winter wonderland affair

I am SO excited to share Abi and Craig’s winter wedding with you, and it has the added bonus that this article’s release coincides with them having just celebrated their first wedding anniversary! Massive congratulations to them!!

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Your name… Abi J

Partner’s name… Craig

Your ages… We were 23 when we got married

How did you meet…

We met when my friend introduced me to her cousin at her 18th birthday party – I’d had a few drinks and don’t remember much apart from an embarrassing performance of “Oops upside your head” followed by a slow dance and a snog to “I’ve had the time of my life”.  Thankfully, it didn’t put him off (neither did the terrible rendition of “Saving all my love for you” on the karaoke on our second date!) and we became an official couple on New Years Eve 2006!

Engagement story…

Craig got my suspicions up by asking me to keep a Saturday free as he was planning a day out for us – very unusual for him!  We went up to London, where Craig took me to Regents Park to have a picnic he had packed especially.  We had

a lovely, funny pedalo ride on the lake and then he took me to the Queen’s Rose Garden.  By this point, I had convinced myself that the proposal wasn’t going to happen, until he told me he had a present that he was going to unwrap for me.  It was a poem he had written and framed.  He got down on one knee as he read the final line and asked me to marry him! He had designed the ring himself and had his cousin, who is a jewellery designer, make it especially for me!

Wedding date… 3rd November 2012

Wedding venue…

We got married at All Saints Church in Cranham.  This was the church I had attended growing up.  My grandparents married here, and myself and all my brothers and sisters and my nephew were christened here, and it meant a lot to me to have our wedding here.

Reception venue…

We had our wedding reception at Crondon Park in Stock.  The venue search was the hardest thing in my opinion.  I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted, and wasn’t going to compromise.  I rejected one venue which would have been perfect because I didn’t like the carpet colour!  Perhaps a tad bridezilla-ish!  I had come across Crondon Park when my sister-in-law was looking for her venue and fell in love just from the online pictures.  I tried not to get my hopes up, as I expected it to be out of our budget, which is was, but after a little negotiation,

and some compromise of our budget, we booked it.  It really was the only venue I loved out of the 8 we visited (apart from one other that I loved but Craig didn’t!), and it felt like such a relief when we booked it.

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Wedding party…

The best man was Craig’s best friend from college, our 2 ushers were one of my brother’s and one of Craig’s brother’s and I had 4 bridesmaids – my two sisters and my two best friends.  My Stepdad walked me down the aisle.

Colour scheme/theme… I knew straight away that our colour theme would be purple and silver.

How did you decide on your colour scheme/theme…

I have no idea why I chose our colour, I’ve just always wanted it and it fitted nicely with our winter wedding!  I also wanted lots of elegant sparkle as again it went with a winter wedding theme.  I read a lot of wedding magazines to get inspiration, but unfortunately only discovered Pintrest rather late in the planning stages.  I now recommend it to all my engaged friends as a must have app and still use it for getting ideas for everything else in my life!

Describe your wedding in 10 words… Love, fun, winter, family and friends, party, best day ever!

Wedding dress story and your outfit…

I always knew I wanted a massive princess style dress, but tried on a variety of different styles just to make sure!  I only went to one shop and have to admit, I wasn’t a fan of wedding dress shopping. I felt a bit pushed and pulled and got very hot!  But I tried on some beautiful dresses however didn’t quite find the one.  I then was very lucky to come across my dream dress shortly after I got engaged and had to snap it up.  It had an amazing train that added an extra drama to the dress and I wore a large petticoat to give it an even bigger skirt.  I then made my own cathedral length veil with two tiers so I could wear one over my face in the church and a marabou feather shrug to cover my shoulders.

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I had some gorgeous shoes dyed purple to match the colour scheme and some ivory weddington boots to wear outside so my shoes didn’t get muddy.  My amazing friend decorated them in Swarovski crystals for me so they spelt out “Mrs Jones” and I loved them! Craig bought me some stunning Swarovsk earrings and bracelet (just a few of the amazing presents he bought me – he was very generous!).  One thing I would recommend, is don’t have your dress altered too early – I had my final fitting 4 weeks before the wedding and then lost half a stone and the dress was too big on the day, which meant it didn’t quite sit well.  It didn’t make the dress any less gorgeous, but it got a tad annoying having to keep hoisting it up!

Suits…

We hired our suits from Del’s Tailors in Benfleet.  We had black tails suits with silver waistcoats and purple cravats for the groomsmens and a silver one for the groom.  We chose the suits together and used Del’s Tailors as my mum and step-dad used them when they got married and the ladies in there were all lovely!

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Bridesmaid dresses…

I have to admit, I was very very organised when it came to wedding planning.  I had the major wedding things chosen and booked within two months of getting engaged and over a year before the actual wedding date.  Bridemaid’s dresses were no exception!  I do regret slightly not taking my girls out and having them try on a variety of dresses, as I’m sure it would have been such fun, but I was browsing ebay (which became my new best friend) and came across the exact dresses I had always imagined.  I bought them from Evica dresses, from their website rather than ebay, and they were purple sweetheart strapless full length dresses with a corset back.  As we were having a winter wedding and a church wedding, I really wanted more traditional and formal dresses.  They were a bargain at £70 each.

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Photographer…

Our photographer was the amazing Scott from The Edge Photography.  I came across Scott from a recommendation on You and Your Wedding forum and after meeting him, Craig and I both immediately agreed that we loved his style and also his personality.  I later found out that he worked closely with my Bridemaid’s boyfriend at a local wedding venue and they both said how great he was, so he came very highly recommended!  He was brilliant on the day, very quick with our formal shots (we were lucky with the weather and had no rain, but it was November, so was still a tad chilly!) and then I barely noticed him for the rest of the day – which I promise is a good thing!  Our wedding photos were gorgeous, and I love them more every time I look at them.  Everyone asks me what is my favourite photo, and it really is impossible to just have one!

DJ…

We used James from Essex DJ’s as he had DJ’d our friend’s wedding the year before and we thought he was great.

Hairdresser…

After a bit of trouble with my first hairdresser, I had 5 weeks to find a hairdresser before the wedding.  I came across someone I went to school with who was a hairdresser but didn’t do wedding hair very often but luckily she agreed to do mine for me.  The hair trial was good, but not perfect so I asked to change a few things and the result on the day was fab – I really loved my hair and it showed off my amazing (sparkly) tiara.

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Make-up…

My make-up was done by Chelsea from Tanz ‘n’ Hair in Wickford and I would highly recommend her.  She uses airbrushing, so you don’t feel like you’re caked in make up, but you get a lovely coverage that lasts all day.  The only thing I had to top up was my lipgloss.

Wedding cars…

Our wedding cars were from Aristocars in Billericay and we had a Rolls Royce Phantom as our bridal car and a Daimler Landaulette for the Bridesmaids and my Mum.

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Florist… 

I was very lucky to have my amazingly talented Nan as our florist!  She did my bouquet and the bridesmaids, plus all the buttonholes and the flowers in the church.  I originally wanted silk flowers, but we struggled to find the flower I wanted – a Picasso calla lily, which is a white lily with purple middle – so we went for real flowers.  I’m not really a flower person, which is why we didn’t have them for our centrepieces, but I loved the flowers on my wedding day!

Cake…

Again, I was very lucky to have my aunt make our wedding cake.  I didn’t want anything too fancy, so just have a three tier square cake, one fruit and 2 sponge. It was decorated with purple and silver ribbon to match all our stationery, and looked great, but most importantly tasted amazing!  I was gutted there wasn’t much left to take home the next day.

DIY projects…

My biggest DIY project was my stationery.  I made 32 pocketfold invitations from scratch for our day guests, another 30 folded invitations for our evening guest, as well as 60 favour cards, our table plan, a sign for our wishing well, tags for our wishing tree and menus (which all had a spelling mistake in that I only noticed 6 months after the wedding – oops!).

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We also had freestanding letters spelling “Mr and Mrs Jones” for our top table and wooden table numbers which we painted ivory.

I made lots of props for our DIY photobooth, with the help of my bridesmaids the night before the wedding. I made personalised hangers for the bridesmaids’ dresses as well that had their name on – again very simple to make, but they looked so good on the day.

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I made personalised mugs for the wedding party to use on the morning of the wedding that had “Bride”, “Bridesmaid” etc plus their name and our wedding date on them.  They were so  easy to make and looked really good.  I had also made personalised champagne glasses for my hen do, and used one of these to drink my champagne out of on the morning of the wedding – I also had to use a pink curly straw as I couldn’t tip my head back while my hair was being done!

My step-dad made an amazing wooden wishing well to hold our cards and my brother made us a beautiful wishing tree.

My favourite DIY project was my veil(s), which I made with the help of a tutorial from Rock my Wedding and my lovely Nan.  We made a cathedral length one for the church and a shorter version for the evening (which I never actually wore) and it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be and I loved that I had made my own veil!

Favourite memory from your day…

It is so difficult to pick one favourite memory.  I loved our church ceremony as it really did feel like it was just me, Craig and our vicar.  Again, our first dance was lovely as it just felt like the two of us until everyone joined us on the dance floor.

My step-dad’s speech was amazing and made me cry and Craig’s speech was also beautiful – it especially meant a lot as he wrote a poem (a recurring theme in our relationship) and he was so nervous about doing it before hand but it was brilliant.

The funniest moment of the day was when Craig requested a little dubstep section in the evening, where we had about 3 songs in a row of just dubstep, which I really dislike!  Instead of getting annoyed though, I just started busting out the robot, while my friends danced round me – we got some awesome photos!  And it was just fun as Craig was going crazy with his friends and I was going crazy with mine taking the mick – it just summed up our relationship really!

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If you could change one thing…

If I could change one thing, it’s that I would have had a videographer.  I looked into it about 2 months before the wedding, and had two recommended by our photographer who are amazing, but at such short noticed, they were both booked up.  By this point, our budget was already stretched and Craig wasn’t keen on being filmed, so I gave up trying to find one, but it will always be my biggest regret, and something I try and persuade my engaged friends that they really need it!

Best place to buy wedding items…

I used eBay for most of my stationery, but it’s not always cheapest so shop around.  The Range have some lovely bits and it’s where we got our candelabra centre pieces from.  We also got some nice cheap bits from http://www.weddingmall.co.uk.

Your best tip for other Brides…

It’s great to be prepared but there is such a thing as over-planning, and you can’t always plan for everything.  I was super organised, but I was still up to midnight the night before finishing stuff off and I didn’t get time to write down my speech so I had to just wing it on the day which I regret.  Enjoy the planning and try and get the groom involved as much as possible, as it is his wedding as well!  On the day, make sure someone has your schedule (a bridesmaid or usher, or your mum!) and then just have fun marrying the man of your dreams!

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