How did you two meet? Brendan and I had actually been travelling to college on the same bus for a year, getting on and off at the same stop, but never actually spoke to each other. My mum properly met him before I did because she gave him and my cousin a lift back from a rugby game about a year before Brendan and myself spoke to each other! I officially met Brendan on my last day of college when I was walking to the bus stop to go home and Brendan was walking into college, I smiled at him and he then said ‘hello’. He asked me if I was so and so’s cousin, who he knew from Rugby and Cricket (which I am), and we got talking from there. He walked me to the bus stop whilst we were chatting, then when my bus arrived I thought that would be that as it was my last day, but (being back in 2013) he added me on Facebook and we continued chatting through that until we went on our first date not long after.
What about the proposal, how did it go? We got engaged on our anniversary back in the summer of 2020 – the year of Covid and lockdowns. Being locked in a house together during the first lockdown actually brought us closer together, even though we had been living together for about 5 years by this point. Leading up to our anniversary Brendan asked if I was up to going out for a meal on our anniversary (to the restaurant we had our first date at), but I wasn’t feeling very comfortable going out at that point due to Covid, so I asked for us to stay at home for our anniversary. I wasn’t suspecting anything so on the day I went for a long walk with my mum and told Brendan I would be home by 5. I ended up being late and had Brendan messaging me for updates on what time I would be back. I just thought he really wanted to eat! When I arrived home I shouted ‘hello’ and got no response, so I started to look around the house. I then saw there were a load of candles and roses leading up the stairs. As I came upstairs there were more candles and flowers along the landing leading into our bedroom and there was Brendan down on one knee surrounded by flowers and candles holding out the ring with a giant smile on his face! I was so surprised as I had no idea – and of course I said yes! He had some bubbly at the ready (obviously knowing I was going to say yes!) and then made us a nice meal, before we went and told our parents – who also had bubbly at the ready!
What was your wedding style/inspiration? To be honest, our thoughts on the type of wedding we wanted kept shifting and changing during our first year of being engaged. I initially thought I wanted a rustic barn wedding in the summer, but we actually changed our minds when we went for a day out to Chatsworth House in the summer of 2021. As we were leaving we saw a wedding car arriving and realised that they offered weddings there. We assumed it would be way out of our budget so didn’t even enquire. When we got home though I did some research on my own to see if it would be a goer and it turned out it would be if we had a winter wedding there instead of a summer wedding. So, the rustic barn idea was thrown out and we ended up getting married at Chatsworth House, which is quite a different vibe to a rustic barn wedding! If you don’t know it – look it up! We still managed to keep some of the ‘rustic’ elements though as we had our wedding breakfast in what used to be the stables. As we then changed to a winter wedding the colours of the flowers and bridesmaid dresses were re-thought and we opted for winter wine colours, so our flowers were burgundy, pink and white with green foliage.
Tell us about your dress! I had the Raelynn dress, which I went for in ivory, but with silver thread on the flowers to add a little shimmer with it being a winter wedding. It was fitted on the top half with really delicate flowers on the bodice and it had 3 satin bands around the waist with buttons down the back. It then flowed out from the waist, being floor length at the front, and flared out into a train at the back. I absolutely love my dress and loved wearing it on the day! It was lightweight so didn’t pull on my shoulders (which I had been warned about by my Maid of Honour who got married last summer). It fitted like a glove (although I may have had to unzip it a bit though after the wedding breakfast as I may have overstuffed myself!) I had a cathedral length veil which Kim added some matching lace from my dress onto the veil so it matched up with the lace on the bottom half of me dress. I actually kept the veil on all day as I enjoyed wearing it so much! It did get trodden on a couple of times (even in the ceremony by my father in law when he came up to do a reading, but that added a bit of humour to the ceremony!) but it managed to not get ripped! I had so many comments about how gorgeous the dress was and how well it suited the venue too. One of my cousins who has a four year old daughter told me about a month after the wedding that his daughter was still talking about my dress!
What was the favourite part of your wedding day? It’s hard to actually pinpoint a favourite part of the day because I loved every minute of it. When I asked my husband he immediately said the wedding ceremony, but then said that the whole day was perfect! From the moment I arrived at the venue to the moment we left it was fantastic. I was a bit apprehensive about having to disappear to take our pictures of the two of us (and miss out on the drinks and canapes), but it was actually lovely to have that time just the two of us as newlyweds. We got taken out into the grounds on a golf cart, to limit the chances of getting mud etc. on the dress, and then got to take some lovely pictures in the sun, which was actually really fun. We even got back in time to have some drinks and canapés so it was great to not miss too much time with our guests, some of whom had travelled all the way from South Africa to be with us! I love looking back at the photos from our wedding day as we enjoyed every minute so it brings back wonderful memories. Any changes? (Things you wish you’d done or wish you hadn’t!) To be honest, I can’t think of a single thing that I would have changed. Everything worked out even better than we’d hoped. I’d say we were a relatively calm couple with the whole process as we tried to be as organised as we could be. We actually only had just under 6 months from booking the venue to the wedding day to get everything sorted, so we just created a list at the start of the 6 months of what needed ticking off each month before the big day, which really helped. We had a 3pm ceremony, which we were a bit apprehensive about as to whether it would be too late in the day, but the venue advised that so we went with it. I’m glad we did as it meant the day flowed seamlessly, there was no chance for our guests to become bored standing around and they were smiling all day!
Any tips for brides to be? I would say make sure you are well organised from the point that you book your venue. I would highly recommend making yourself a list of what needs doing before the big day. That way you can see your list getting smaller and smaller before the big day, which makes you feel surprisingly calmer! Also, if you are unsure about if you have missed anything off your list – ask a friend who has got married recently, or google is your best friend! I would also say to not get too stressed about things. Just remember, your guests don’t actually know what to expect on your wedding day in terms of flowers, food, music etc. If anything has not gone quite to plan, no one will actually notice as they don’t know how things should have gone! One final tip – you and your husband/wife should leave your phones away from the venue. Live in the moment and remember, everyone else at your wedding will have their phones to take pictures for you to have a look at before you get your official ones from the photographer!
Wedding Dress and Custom Veil: Elizabeth Kate Bridal
Wedding Dress Designer: Rebecca Ingram for Maggie Sottero
Venue: Chatsworth House