When we decided we wanted to get married, back during the Trojan war, Gay Marriage in the UK wasn’t legal. We had Civil partnerships available but to us that wasn’t equal. We wanted full and equal marriage, to assure the future of our family and to share a full bond instead of a half one.
So when we knew we had royal ascent and gay marriage was passing we started to look into it.
We booked our venue completely by accident. We had intended to book Port Lympne Zoo, somewhere we loved going with the children. It was beautiful and picturesque. We wanted to Marry on the last weekend in the summer holidays, which was a bank holiday weekend so that friends and family who were travelling down were able to stay and not worry about work.
Port Lympne Zoo Manor House – Where the weddings happen
So on the 30th March 2014 we called to place the £600 deposit on the venue. When we called however we were told our date had gone! But the other couple hadn’t paid their deposit. The venue called the couple and they no longer wanted their date. Our luck was in! We paid the deposit and were invited for the wedding fair that weekend.
We arrived at the Zoo the following weekend and rang the buzzer for the guest entrance. The voice on the other end of the buzzer said “We don’t have a wedding fair this weekend, try the castle up the road”. I explained that we had already paid our deposit and they let us in. We wandered around for a while and looked at the venue. In all honesty, the idea of getting married there was great but when we got there I just couldn’t see it working for us. The pictures online were beautiful but somehow I couldn’t see it, our idea was severely flawed. The wedding organiser from the zoo was off that day so we decided to get in the car and take a small trip up the road to the castle.
When we got to the castle we were floored! The views took my breath away and I knew from that moment that was the place for us. We pottered around the castle for a good 2 hours, spoke to some suppliers and then managed to grab one of the people who worked at the castle. They checked the big diary and confirmed that actually they had received our £600 deposit and we were most certainly booked in for 28th August 2015. This must have been fate. Without even talking about it we were both sold on the home for our wedding.
We were elated with our choice of venue. We visited it 6 more times before we were married there.
Our package was remarkably cheap as we had booked it over a year in advance, and had been given a special package, which included wine and food. When we came to finalising the plans we were informed that we were given the “old prices” which was a result as their new packages charged for the wine as an extra.
I will say, when choosing a venue, don’t book it on a whim. Make sure it has everything you want and more, and it is affordable.
I think the venue is the most important choice you make. There are so many things to consider, capacity, size in general, positioning of DJ, ceremony room (if you’re having it at one venue), How many people will come to the ceremony vs. how many will come to the evening do.
The time between booking the venue and the wedding actually happening went so fast! In that period of time we became homeless and had to leave our home. This was a major unexpected expense. Worlds ended and the universe collapsed! Wedding was OFF! Until my dad took us a loan out. We have rather shocking credit (mainly as T’s credit is poo from her last relationship still) .
Overall we did the wedding on £5500ish.
We found a local bridal shop that did a “wedding wardrobe” deal, which included the dress, all suit hire and if we wanted their bridesmaids dresses, those would’ve been included too. Also we got the bridesmaid dresses from John Lewis in the end as all of our bridesmaids were under 10. We got our flowers for free, by using a student florist, and entering a competition – This was a total result! Flowers were beautiful, exactly what we wanted. If you can use a student they will usually do the work for free, if you pay cost for the flowers.
Our Photographer was free also. Someone I know from working in the field (I don’t do weddings). He was great, and brought a second shooter with him. We got some great shots. Only hang up was that it took us almost 6 months to get the photos as he had to unexpectedly go away (family emergency) and the people he left in charge hadn’t processed them!
The hair was all done at one salon, me and Emma (my best “man”) went first and then when we left, T and the kids went.
After hair was done I headed to the castle with Emma and our boys. We checked that all of the stuff was unloaded from our car and all of our suppliers had delivered already. The florist was there and she helped set up the tables too which was lovely of her.
I will say I have two disappointments for the day. Our cake was shocking, we asked for one thing and got something else. We had booked a cake maker, and she was good, but when we contacted her they had double booked us, and as she hadn’t heard from us decided we probably weren’t getting married any more. Frustrating as it would’ve taken one phone call from her to confirm. We had already paid a deposit, which we eventually got back.
My other disappointment was that the day seemed to go so fast! We didn’t have as many guests as we would’ve liked, but the ones that did come were great! It was lovely to see faces I hadn’t seen for ages, and those who I see regularly were elated to let their hair down!
The actual costing was:
Venue Hire Including Sit Down Meal & Evening Buffet – £2224
License and Legal Fee inc certificates and booking fees – £573
DJ Costs – £220
Wedding Wardrobe – £1350
Rings – £289
Cake – £225
Hair and Makeup – £80
Stationary – £150
Venue Decoration Extras £55
Travel to the Venue, Accommodation and everything else was Free, or paid for by family as a gift.
The day went like this:
Wife to be stayed at my mums with all of the girls and we (me and Emma) stayed home with the boys.
Got up at the arse crack of dawn and got in the shower. Then headed over to get our hair done. Left the boys at home to get dressed and breakfasted.
Returned home, Packed the car and took the boys to the castle.
Got to the castle, Unpacked and set up all of the extras that we made. Got all of the tables set, all favours out and table plan up.
Dossed about and supervised for a bit, played with the small boy. Scouted out venue for good places for photos (out of pure habit lol)
Got changed and then went to wander about.
Greeted the first lot of guests which included my aunt and cousins kids.
Wife arrived so I had to go hide so I didn’t see her.
Went back outside and greeted some more people.
Then I went into ceremony room and waited as people came and it filled up.
Went to talk to the registrar, in case I was thinking of doing a bunk (lol apparently normal practice) . They went to check with T also, in case I was holding her hostage, or forcing her to marry me lol.
Then It actually happened.
I stood, everyone else stood. Then they sat, then T walked in! I was floored; she was so beautiful.
We did our bit, said our vows, put rings on. Then BOOM married!
It took about 15 Minutes to sign the register and get all of the photos.
Everyone filed outside and we did photos. Lots of photos.
Everyone wandered around a bit while T and I went to do some coupley photos.
Evening guests started to arrive, and we hadn’t had our sit down – DOH!
Some were ushered into one of the bars (there were 2).
Then we ate, did speeches etc.
The party part then happened. – This is the part that went super fast.
We got into the room at the end of the night and Emma had to help T out of her dress. This took forever and by the end of it I was asleep!