Real Wedding | Samantha & David

I was so touched when I read about Samantha and David’s wedding.  Samantha’s mother passed away several years ago but there were many loving tributes to her woven into the fabric of the day.   There is no doubt in my mind that she was smiling down on them as they became husband and wife.

Samantha & David  | July 18th 2009 | Buckinghamshire UK

How he proposed
David and I met and were living in New Zealand and had decided on a trip to Europe including a romantic mini break in Paris. It was such a wonderful three days away. We stayed in a beautiful loft apartment with views from the balconies overlooking Paris and spent our days wondering along the river, taking in the cultural and artistic sights of Paris. On our last day we meandered up to Sacre Coeur and after a spot of breakfast at the french markets we walked to the cathedral and took in the views of Paris. It was here in front of Sacre Coeur that David proposed with harp music playing in the background. He got down on one knee and I immediately got down on my knees as well, not really sure what to do! We immediately had some champagne and afterwards jumped on the Eurostar back to London where we had dinner with family to celebrate at one of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants.

The wedding:
Although we were living in New Zealand, all of our family were in England. Family is very important to both of us, hence we decided to get married at my local family church and have the wedding reception at my father’s home. Having been living away from home for quite some years, we wanted a truly English wedding with a ‘Garden Party’ theme. My mother passed away years ago, and it was important to me that I get married at the church where she is buried and to have the reception at our family home where I have so many fabulous memories of her. It was difficult organising a wedding from the other side of the world, however I had amazing Bridesmaids to help me and also set up a wedding website with all of the information for our guests so that everyone was informed and could access the wedding details easily without having to call New Zealand!

The ceremony:
We were married in an old English church with stain glassed windows which was over a thousand years old. It was a very traditional service with the traditional marriage vows and old English hymns.

David is Welsh and for his wedding present I organised a Welsh choir to sing welsh hymns where the guests arrived and also to sing ‘Calon Lan’ at the service which is his favourite. He had tears in his eyes when they sang it and his family all sang along. It was wonderful.

I held yellow roses which were my Mother’s favourite and instead of confetti all our guests were given pots of bubbles which looked so pretty as the wind carried the bubbles over the hillside outside the church.

The moment Samantha will never forget
Standing up in front of all our friends and family and saying my wedding vows to David. For richer, for poorer, for better and for worse. I was committing to spending the rest of my life with the man that I truly loved and it was the most memorable moment of the day and the most special moment of my life. The celebration of your marriage is where all the planning comes in to make it a great party after you have become husband and wife. And it is such fun. However the true essence of the day for me was marrying David.

The reception
We held the reception in my father’s garden, with a marquee on the tennis court.

It has always been my dream to get married at home and when my mother passed away, it became even more important to me that we have our reception at home so she would feel closer on the day. We had champagne on the lawn with our wedding breakfast in the marquee. This also enabled us to have lots of personal touches.

We decorated the hurricane lamps and candles with flowers from the garden and brought in plant pots of flowers to add colour. It was really important to us that each and every guest felt special and really part of our day. So we hand wrote messages to each of our guests and on the back of the card wrote their table names. We then put these in ivory envelopes to match the cards and hung them from midnight blue ribbons in the garden. I handmade all of our place cards which also meant that we could use the informal names our friends and family had as we hand wrote them!

.. And each guest was given a CD of our favourite tunes which we had put together. We designed the graphics for the CD and a friend helped put the cover of the CDs together for us. We then put a label on each CD tied with ribbon – again to each individual guest.

We asked our guests to write messages on a canvass for us and we now have this hanging in our home. I love walking past it and re reading it!

We had balloons in the marquee hanging from the ceiling to add more colour as it was such a big space and our favourite part of the marquee was having the dance floor sealed off from sight by an ivory curtain. When the music played for our first dance, we walked the length of the marquee and our ushers pulled the curtain down to reveal a wooden dance floor with live band and black canvass ceiling with starry fairy lights. It was magical and a huge surprise for our guests! The final touch was having fireworks just before the guests left.

Splurges and Savings:
We were able to save money by making a lot of the stationary ourselves, and it really made the day more personal. We also saved money on flowers as we
used a lot of the flowers from the garden to decorate the marquee. We bought our own wine and champagne and our guitar soloist who played as our guests drank champagne was a family friend. The splurges for us included the band

.. we felt it was really important to get a live band that we loved and my biggest expense was my wedding dress. Having a dress that I absolutely loved was so important to me and once I found Vera there really was no going back!

Wedding Dress
I looked for a wedding dress in New Zealand for seven months. I went to designers, flew all around the country to try different bridal shops and found nothing that I fell in love with. I must have tried on 100!! With every dress something wasn’t quite right. I liked the shape of the skirt, but the detail was too fussy, or I liked the neckline but the skirt wasn’t right. So I flew to Sydney with one of my bridesmaids and planned three days of appointments to try on dresses. Our first stop was Helen Rodrigues in Neutral Bay, Sydney. We talked about the shape and the feel of the wedding day and what I thought I wanted. The first dress Helen picked out for me was Vera Wang Joan de Luxe and I instantly lit up. The gown felt so amazing and I had the biggest smile on my face that I just couldn’t wipe off. When I came out of the changing room I only had to look at my bridesmaids face to know that this was a truly amazing bridal gown. I tried on others afterwards and nothing compared to Joan. I instantly just ‘knew!’. Joan was out of my price range and I tried to think about other gowns I had tried on, but the smile I had when I wore her and the way I felt was just priceless. There really was no going back, she was the one!! When I walked down the aisle, David said to me afterwards that it was as if I was floating. I was so happy to be marrying him and I was wearing my perfect bridal gown!

Her advice for other brides
Try to do as much preparation as possible for your big day in advance so that you can enjoy the few days beforehand and not be stressed. Also, plan for rain!! Our marquee was big enough that we knew we would be able to drink our champagne under cover if the unpredictable weather turned rainy. As it happened it was a beautiful sunny day, however I was so much more relaxed knowing that it really didn’t matter what the weather did!

Samantha’s Wedding Dress: Vera Wang Joan | Luxe Collection