Our homemade Dartmoor wedding 3.9.2011 - a report

Our homemade Dartmoor wedding 3.9.2011 - a report

The month after the wedding has already flown by, and life has returned to normal. To make good use of the clich????s, it really was an amazing day - the best of my life so far - and just thinking of it makes me smile. I loved reading the wedding reports whilst doing my planning, and gleaned (stole!) many of my ideas from them, so I thought I'd write one of my own to share the love! I have a tendency to waffle so I expect this will turn into one of the super long ones, and I'll try to include plenty of pictures as I know they always go down well.

The Early Years

In 2005 I was in my second year at Keele uni in Stoke on Trent. I was 22 and being a few years older than most of my classmates I felt very mature and superior! I very rarely went to the union, but one night my best friend had arranged to meet some bloke there for a few drinks. I agreed to tag along so she would have an easy escape route if it all went pear-shaped, so I put on my miniskirt and trilby (I thought I was so cool!) and out we went. Here's a picture of me from that night - I look so young and innocent!



  • While we were throwing some shapes on the dance floor, I could sense that I was being stared at. I clocked a nice looking lad across the room, and noticed him noticing me for the next hour. I was getting rather frustrated by his lack of ambition (!), so next time we walked past him on our way back from the loos I gave his bottom a little pinch. Within about 5 seconds he was by my side on the dance floor - and the rest, as they say, is history! Despite the fact that I wouldn't even believe his name was Martin to begin with, we got on well, and after a rather prolonged kiss we swapped numbers. He lived in London and was in Stoke visiting his friend, so he had to go home the next day.

    I'd recently come out of an intense 2 year relationship, and there was a part of me that was convinced I would one day get back together with my ex. So from the start I only ever thought of Martin as a friend with benefits. As he lived so far away we kept in touch by text, and met up about once a month for a weekend of, ahem, fun. I'd made a bet with my best friend that I would remain single for the rest of the year - Martin and I met in March - and I was determined to keep to my vow! By January 2006 Martin was wanting a bit more and asked me ???????so am I your boyfriend now????????. My response, which I've never been allowed to live down, was a rather cold-hearted ???????don't ask such a schoolyard question!???????

    Here's a pic of Martin and me in the early days...

  • My parents met at Keele uni MANY years ago and got married at Keele church in 1978. They are still very happily married and I'm getting married in the same church in Jan next year and having the reception at Keele Hall! Am looking forward to reading your report!
  • Aaah that's such a fab story Abby, your wedding will be so romantic! Keele doesn't really feature in my report, other than being where we met, but it's good to hear from other people that have such good memories from there.
  • In summer 2006 I finally accepted that things were getting a bit more serious than friends with benefits between Martin and me. We went to the Isle of Wight fest, and he took me to the big Foo Fighters gig in Hyde Park. As they played an acoustic version Everlong, fireworks were being let off, and Martin turned to me and said ???????I think this is our song???????. I scoffed at him not to be so soppy, but it soon became the most played song on my ipod. I kept this little fact from him though! That September we went on holiday to Japan, and it was while very very drunk in a club full of Russian models that I finally admitted to him that I loved him.

    Here's a pic from that night, with my friend Nathan who lives in Japan now.

  • The next few years were spent in a whirl of gigs, festivals, and fun times. After I graduated I moved to Manchester, and after a year of a proper long distance relationship with weekly visits and lots of pining, Martin moved up too. We moved in together in June 2008 and were very happy, despite me having a few minor panics over how committed we were becoming - commitment had always terrified me, but I was learning to get over my fear and embrace it!

    Here's a pic of Martin and me all loved up - despite Martin rolling his eyes at my smooching

  • ummm, come on, I wanna hear the rest image
  • lisa_mollisa_mol Posts: 114
    Awwww I went to Keele Uni (graduated 2005). Such a great place! Loads of my mates met there husbands there! Looking forward to reading the rest of your report.
  • HannikinsHannikins Posts: 1,046
    I'm loving this report, more please!
  • Ha, I've only just got started! Glad you're liking it so far...

    The Proposal

    In May 2009 we decided to go to Devon for a long weekend. I grew up in Devon and lived there till my family moved to Stoke when I was 16. It's always been a very special place to me and I couldn't wait to share it with Martin. The night before we went I was telling Martin about my favourite place, Brentor. It's a really beautiful church on the edge of Dartmoor overlooking some stunning countryside. Martin started asking loads of questions, and I had a sudden premonition that something could be up...

    That Saturday we climbed up to the top of Brentor. Despite it being a gorgeous day Martin insisted on keeping his jacket on - and in that moment, I just knew what was coming. When we got to the top we walked around the church, and my heart was just pounding. We sat down on a bench overlooking the moors, and Martin turned to me and started a speech about how much he loved me. He got down on one knee - and I burst out laughing! Not been allowed to live that one down either! He pulled out a beautiful antique sapphire and diamond ring which fitted perfectly and I very happily accepted. We spent the rest of the weekend in a daze, and called into Stoke on our way back to Manchester to tell my parents, who were over the moon.

    Here's where Martin proposed:

  • MrsStonetobeMrsStonetobe Posts: 1,136
    I am *really* looking forward to this! I grew up in Tavistock and have a very passionate love affair with Dartmoor. Can't wait to see what happens! Your story is lovely image MORE PLEASE!
  • Here's a picture of my ring. I always wanted an antique, and never really wanted a plain diamond ring, so it was perfect for me. Sadly Wills and Kate soon brought the style of ring very much into the limelight - even if theirs was just a tad bigger - but I love my ring very much.

    Excuse the messy table in the background!

  • Mrs Stone to be, I grew up in Tavi as well! And then Horrabridge. I went to Tavi college, did you?

  • Ha, just realised how rubbish my ring pic is, should have cropped it or something! Oops.
  • Choosing a Venue

    I'd always had my heart set on getting married in the church where I grew up in Devon. We already knew that wherever we got married there would be lots of people that had to travel - either from London, Stoke or Manchester - so we decided that we may as well make everyone travel so it was fair! Hmm, maybe that was just how I pitched it to Martin! But he happily agreed to marry in the church I love, and as I'd lived in the area for years the vicar was happy to agree. We soon set a date - 3rd September 2011 - that would give us enough time to save up and have the wedding we wanted without maxing out the credit cards.

    St. Andrews, Whitchurch - where we had our ceremony (sorry for the rubbish pic):

  • MrsStonetobeMrsStonetobe Posts: 1,136
    Ahh that's amazing! Went to Tavi County Primary but moved in 1998 when I was 8 up to Bristol image But my Dad still lives in Plymouth so I'm down there pretty often (though not as often as I'd like!!).
  • It is a special place, you're lucky to live so near. It's a good 5 hour drive for us!

  • My other dream was to have the reception on Dartmoor. We knew we didn't want the guests to have to travel too far from the church to the reception, so we limited our search to venues within 10 miles or so of the church. I initially loved a hotel/restaurant called the Horn of Plenty. It had stunning views over the Tamar Valley and the food was exquisite. However, you had to take the place exclusively for a wedding of the size we wanted, including all the bedrooms. This upped the price to more than we could afford, so somewhat sadly we had to say no

    The Horn of Plenty:

  • Last post from me tonight, I'm pooped and I have a job interview tomorrow - eeks!

    Loving the Horn of Plenty made me decide to focus on what I really wanted from the wedding. Martin and I sat down and thought about all the weddings we'd been to and what we wanted ours to be. The main thing we both agreed on was that we wanted our guests to have a really good time and the day to be fun for everyone. We just wanted our close friends and family with us and came up with a list of about 65 people. We both love good food so that was important to us, and neither of us wanted an overly formal venue - grand country houses just didn't feel right for us. I became even more certain I wanted a venue on Dartmoor - despite the Horn of Plenty having amazing views, they weren't of the moor, and that was what I'd always wanted. With that in mind, we resumed our search.

    We soon came across our perfect venue. The Two Bridges hotel was an old coach house that had been converted into a hotel many years ago. It was gorgeous - quirky decorations including a really light and airy dining room, a really homely feel, a relaxed atmosphere and very friendly staff. The food was delicious and best of all it was in a stunning location on the middle of Dartmoor, with a glorious drive over the hills from the church to the hotel. They were available on our chosen date, so we signed the contract and had our reception venue. Location - done. Everything else - still a long and somewhat intimidating list torn out of a wedding magazine.

    The Two Bridges hotel:

  • I have the same engagments ring! My h2b proposed to me in june '09 and I wanted something very different too!
  • MrsFaulkyMrsFaulky Posts: 6,671
    A lovely report so far and particularly pleased that you too love the Foo's!! I went to the gig in Mk back in the Summer and boo'ed my eyes out when Everlong came on image it's a fantastic song. Please write more soon!!!
  • Mrsboreham2b, it's a lovely ring isn't it! I love it, although the wills and kate comments get old very quickly!

    Mrsfaulkytobe, Everlong is a great song, gotta love the Foos!
  • Choosing a Photographer

    The other big thing we were keen to get sorted as soon as possible was a photographer. Martin has a degree in photography and worked in technical photography for a couple of years before becoming a graphic designer, so he had very strict ideas on getting a technically good photographer. I know nothing about photography, but one of the wedding mags I'd bought had a supplement on wedding pics and included a picture I absolutely love of a couple laughing in the rain under an umberella.

    This picture, along with others in the mag, made me realise I wanted a relaxed, reportage style photographer. Martin researched different ones in the area and came up with a shortlist of 3 or 4 that he approved of. We met with them and instantly clicked with Georgina who runs Panache Photography. She actually trained with one of the other photographers we liked, but had just started her own business. As it was quite a new business her prices were much cheaper than the others we'd met with - a definite bonus as we were paying for the wedding ourselves and knew we'd be on a reasonably tight budget. We decided to go with Georgina and booked her Emerald package, which included coverage from when I was getting ready up to the speeches. We got almost 400 high res images on a DVD and that includes the copyright. We are so happy with the pictures, they look amazing and she did a fantastic job.

    One of my favourite pics - hmm, not at all similar to my photographer inspiration!

  • The Bridal Party

    I knew as soon as we got engaged that I wanted my best friend Bernadette to be my bridesmaid. I was unsure about having any others. Both Martin and I come from small families and don't have any female relatives other than a couple of aunties. I knew I didn't want more than two bridesmaids, or three at a push, but that would mean I'd have to choose just one or two people from my group of friends and I didn't know how to do it. In the end I decided to keep it simple and just have B. I had many wobbles over this, thinking it would look strange in the pictures, but in the end she was just amazing. She remained really helpful and interested during the whole planning process, was almost more excited than I was, and was so supportive on the day, running around like crazy to get me everything I needed or wanted. I couldn't have dreamed of a better bridesmaid and I'm so glad I went with my instinct and just had the one.

  • loving this report, I drive past Brentor every day (work in Princetown) but your pic of the church doesn't give anyone who doesn't know it a full idea of exactly how high up on the hill it is image also love both the horn of planty and two bridges, but two bridges is defo the best for the picturesque setting
  • hlg81hlg81 Posts: 107
    Loving this report! Currently live in plymouth, but spend a lot of time walking so know dartmoor reasonably well! Cant wait for the rest, have been to a wedding reception at two bridges and it was lovely! I am also surprised to see there are so many other devon girls!
  • I love how you played quite hard to get. Look forward to seeing more pictures of such a beautiful place! image
  • Is it not time for more now please?!?!
  • Ha, sorry for the delay in the next installment, I was away for the weekend at a friend's wedding. Loved being at another wedding, it was so special sitting there thinking about how that had been us only just over a month ago!

    Right, here goes with the next lot...

    Martin found it much harder to choose his best man. His first instinct was to go with his oldest friend Matthew, who Martin was visiting in Stoke the night we met. However, Matthew has a rep for being a bit of a flake, and Martin was worried he wouldn't be able to do things like organise the stag do, the speech, looking after the rings etc. He finally decided to ask his good friend Jason. Martin had been Jason's best man a few years before and trusted him to make a good job of it. However, after a few months Martin began to really regret not asking Matthew. He told me he intended on asking Matt to be the best man and to ask Jason to be an usher instead. I thought this was really really rude! So we decided that Martin should have two best men, Jason and Matthew. It worked out really well as they were able to help each other out and they both shared the planning and responsibilities.

    Finally, we chose Martin's brother Jamie and my brother Asher as ushers, and the bridal party was complete. B and I were very outnumbered by the boys - which added to my wobbles over only having one bridesmaid - but it was all good in the end.
  • The Dress

    Despite knowing there were nearly 2 years to go before the wedding, my mum was bursting to go dress shopping with me. I booked a couple of appointments in bridal shops and went along with my mum and B. I loved this part! As soon as I started trying dresses on I knew I wanted something fairly fitted and with lace. In a shop in Nantwich I tried on a gorgeous dress by Lusan Mandongus. I loved it - it was fitted to the hips, then came out and had a train. It was lace with subtle beading and just what I'd imagined. However, it was £1600, and I'd budgeted £1000 for my dress. I decided to think about it and left the shop.

    A few weeks later, my mum, B and I had a day out to the National Wedding Show in Birmingham. It was a great, if slightly overwhelming, day, and we came back with loads of ideas. During the catwalk show I became even surer about my choice of dress style, and saw a few that I liked and wanted to try on. We made our way to the stand of one of the stockists, and I headed straight to a small rail at the back of the stall. I saw a gorgeous dress that was very similar to the Lusan Mandongus one and decided to try it on. I loved it - it had the buttons up the back that I really liked and just the right amount of sparkle - subtle so that you only saw the beads if I moved and they caught the light. The sales lady informed me that it was a sample and was on sale at below half price for £400. The dress was 2 sizes too big for me but she said that the alterations should come in at less that £100. Even better, it came with a little jacket. While I wasn't keen on the jacket, I didn't want a strapless dress, so the jacket provided plenty of extra material for some straps to be made. We had a glass of champers while I thought it over, then I want back and snapped it up. I can't actually remember the name/style of my dress - but here's a pic instead!

  • Getting Organised

    Once we'd booked the venues, photographer and dress we relaxed and didn't do much else for about 9 months or so. By this time it was September 2010 - a year to go. Booking the venues had taken a while as we had to combine our visits to potential venues with weekends in Devon. This was one major drawback of planning a wedding in Devon whilst living in Manchester - it was never possible to have a quick meeting with a potential supplier, everything had to be planned with military precision. (We spent an absolute fortune on petrol in all our trips, I didn't include this in my wedding budget but it easily added another grand to the cost, oops!)

    I decided it was time to get organised. We had a vague idea of what we wanted, and I made a scrapbook of all the ideas I liked. I then decided ruthlessly on which ideas we'd go for and which we'd have to forgo - I did end up changing a few times over the course of the planning though! I then went through a load of wedding mags and looked in their planning guides. I made a spreadsheet that detailed exactly what I wanted to achieve each month. This was down to the smallest detail that I could think of - from buying ribbon for the favours, to compiling a CD to be played during the wedding breakfast, to choosing my nail polish! This spreadsheet was my bible, I updated it whenever I though of anything and it helped me focus and not get too stressed as everything was in hand - most of the time anyway.
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