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Becoming Mr and Mrs Pal: Our 'Not Your Run Of The Mill' White Wedding!

Yes, here I am, folks - another secret wedding planning thread reader crawling out of the woodwork! So it's only natural that I write my own planning thread, right? I have loved reading everyone else's over the last few weeks (months, but you didn't hear me say that...) so I thought I would give something back! It's only fair 

Let's see how this goes...

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  • Cara9Cara9 Posts: 69

    Looking forward to hearing about it!! x

  • lubeslubes Posts: 1,555

    LET'S START AT THE VERY BEGINNING - A VERY GOOD PLACE TO START!

    Okay, before I write another word, I should point out that my married name is not going to be 'Pal' (it would be pretty cool though, yes?), but the reason why I refer to myself and my H2B as 'Mr and Mrs Pal' goes right back to day one.

    Rewind to 2008 and I was in my first year of my journalism degree in Nottingham, having moved up from London the September before (with every intention of returning to my roots as soon as I acquired said 'degree'). My parents had decided that now I had flown the nest, they were not funding my summers anymore and that I had to get myself a job (said with stern wiggly fingers and all). Now, I was pretty lucky that my mum lived relatively near Alton Towers - which isn't too far from Nottingham either - so she suggested that I applied for a job there. It didn't really take much persuading as I loved Alton Towers anyway so I dragged my backcombed haired, skinny jean-wearing, pretty-much-constantly-hungover student bee-hind to an interview for the thrill rides team and bagged myself a spot on Team Rita for the season. Happy days (which turned out to be exceptionally happy days for me as I was nearly put on Team Nemesis meaning I wouldn't have crossed paths with Mr Pal)! 

    Our eyes first met across a training room in March 2008 behind the Driving School on my first day of employment, ever. He didn't even notice me (so he says), and that's how life was for the first couple of weeks! I was only in on Saturdays so whilst we worked on the same rides, we didn't really interact much - I was definitely not part of the 'crew' at this point (bearing in mind that the first time I met the team, someone was playing a basketball game, but rather than getting the ball in the net, it bounced off the ring and smacked me right in the face - you couldn't write this.)! I believe the first time we said something to each other went along the lines of (when I was eavesdropping a conversation about a trip he had made to London in the week):

    'Oh, I come from London, where did you stay?'
    'Marble Arch'
    "Oh, right...cool.'

    Good start, right? Well, you'll be pleased to know our conversations did get slightly more riveting, but not at work. I was sat (not) working on my laptop in halls in April sometime when his friend request popped up. I accepted and almost instantly, he messaged me. Basically, he was at his friend's house in Nottingham and wanted to know if I wanted to hang out sometime. Very random really, considering that we had rarely spoken at work. I agreed and in a nutshell, since that conversation started, we have never gone a day without speaking. 

  • lubeslubes Posts: 1,555

    Oh, a reader already! Hi Cara 

  • lubeslubes Posts: 1,555

    FROM 'PALS' TO MR AND MRS PAL...

    Our romance (if I must use that word...) didn't start straight away - it was definitely a slow burner. I had never had a boyfriend before (my dad worked at the school I went to - need I say more?), wasn't really looking for love and was conscious of starting a relationship with someone I worked with in case it went wrong. Our very first 'date' (his words, not mine) was at Pitcher and Piano in Nottingham (for those who know it - great place!) for a casual afternoon drink. We weren't more than friends at this point as far as I was concerned, but once we started dating, Mr Pal admitted to me that he thought I was interested at this point...oops! 

    However, one of the things we immediately bonded over was the fact that we referred to everyone as 'pal'. He had used it for years and I called all my uni friends 'pal' as a pet name. Clearly, the stars were aligning! Now I was hanging out with Mr Pal, I began to get to know the rest of the team at work, who found the 'pal' thing rather amusing. It was a lot easier to come out of my shell knowing I had a solid friend, but we continued to hang out outside work, mainly in and around Nottingham. After about a month, in May 2008, we mutually agreed (this is a recurring theme of our relationship) that we should become a couple!

    Without boring you with the finer details of the next seven years, I never ended up moving back to London (something I struggled with at first as I had never planned it!). We bought our first home in a town very near Alton Towers (though we had moved on at this point to 'proper' jobs after graduating - sob!) during the freak autumn heatwave in 2011, and whilst you may have naturally thought an engagement was on the cards then, I was having a very hard time at work, resulting in me being signed off with work-related anxiety. I ended up changing career from journalist to teacher in 2013, which meant having to pay the mortgage with student loans for a year - eek. Mr Pal wonderfully put up with this for a year and I ended up getting a job at a school in the same town he worked in nearly 30 miles from where we lived. Last November, we upped sticks to be closer to our jobs, and alas, we then started looking towards the next step - marriage.  

  • lubeslubes Posts: 1,555

    HOW DID HE PROPOSE THEN?

    Well, I'll tell you in just a moment! As a side note, I should mention that weddings were never a taboo topic for Mr Pal and I. He does a bit of DJ-ing for some extra dollar, something that he did a lot more of in the first few years of our relationship, so I have been to 100s of wedding receptions in my time! It was a natural conversation point, and of course, once we bought our first house, friends began firing the engagement question at us. However, with my career change in sight, it wasn't the right time. We always wanted to get engaged and marry soon after.

    I must admit that once I began my teacher training that I started to get slightly itchy feet. I loved teaching from day one so I knew Mr Pal and I could begin to plan our future a little more seriously once I secured my job. However, Mr Pal always responded to my questioning with 'Once you're a qualified teacher'. Now, to anyone who knows about teaching, that would be perceived as once I had completed my PGCE, right? Wrong! Mr Pal was going to keep me waiting until I had completed my NQT year - oh, what a tease! - but he did stick to his word. 

    As I mentioned earlier, we mutually agree a lot of things in our relationship, and it seemed that Mr Pal wanted us to 'agree' on getting engaged - I wasn't going to let him cop out of it though! One thing that was super important to me was that he asked my dad as we are really close. This was something that took years of persuasion until my dad mentioned that he would help with the cost of a wedding providing Mr Pal asked - then it got more serious! Whilst many girls get a complete surprise, I did know a proposal was on the cards: Mr Pal had given me a 'mood board' of engagement rings to give him an idea of what I liked and I knew he had asked my dad - they both told me 'in secret' without the other knowing! Ha, oh dear. Once Mr Pal told me this (even though Dad had told me first!), I insisted that his actual proposal was a surprise and he did, indeed, catch me off guard!

    24 hours after we had returned from the now poignant trip to London during which Mr Pal had asked my dad's permission, I was at home frantically tapping away on my laptop (a complete contrast to the first time Mr Pal spoke to me properly!), desperately trying to finish off lessons for the next school year - it was four days before we broke up for summer (20th July 2015, for those wondering!). Mr Pal came home unexpectedly - he had text me 10 minutes earlier telling me to go and get some food shopping for the week - but I hadn't got round to leaving the house. Lesson.must.get.finished. Essentially, I had foiled his plan, but I was so busy working that I didn't notice what he was doing. Not long after, I shut down my laptop and I noticed Mr Pal was playing around with his laptop on the sofa, putting messages to me on our TV screen (using Apple TV if you're familiar with it). I sat down next to him as he invited me to come and see what he was doing. What followed was a presentation beginning with 'Remember this..?' and a montage of pictures of memories from the last seven years. It ended with a 'So, will you..?' and a picture of my ring. I must admit that I thought he was winding me up and he told me the ring was in the room. So I began incredulous, yet frantic searching - I actually missed the ring at first - but when I saw the box, Mr Pal said my face was an absolute picture. Now, he didn't get down on one knee or anything (that isn't his style which I forgave!), but he did open the box to present this rather smashing sparkler! Deed done. 

    I had always imagined Mr Pal would propose at Alton Towers, and he did admit after that he was planning to take...

  • lubeslubes Posts: 1,555

    ...me to the top of the Towers to ask me, but they had closed them off (probably due to 'the incident'...) so he had to think of a plan B. In fact, he was planning to ask me on the day I broke up from school, but he had picked the ring up that morning and couldn't wait! I thought it was lovely though - private and both our beloved pets were with us. Well done Mr Pal!

    A few days later, I happened to be visiting Alton Towers on a school trip. Cue ring photo by Rita, where it all began (and potentially strange looks from all around...):

    image

  • Little JulesLittle Jules Posts: 1,538

    Aw lovely proposal, looking forward to reading about the wedding plans!

  • Karen29Karen29 Posts: 47

    Loving your thread, I'm hooked for the next installment 😄 looking forward to following your planning 💍💍

  • a reader 

  • lubeslubes Posts: 1,555

    Hi ladies - thanks for reading! Feeling the pressure now though !

  • lubeslubes Posts: 1,555

    LET THE WEDDING PLANNING COMMENCE!

    As I mentioned previously, Mr Pal and I have seen our fair share of weddings in our time and even before we got engaged, we had a pretty good idea of what we wanted for our 'big day'. Despite me being from London (and many of our friends now living down there), we wanted to get married 'up north' - or the Midlands to anyone who lives beyond the M25! - in the summer holidays as this was obviously a quiet time for me, but also Mr Pal. 

    We did initially have our eye on a beautiful spa venue near our family homes (my mum is from Staffordshire), Moddershall Oaks:

    image

    However, Mr Pal had DJ'ed there a few times before and he felt, once we started thinking about it seriously, that he didn't want to hold the celebrations somewhere he associated with work. It was a completely fair point, but I was slightly gutted. It is a gorgeous place and just a five minute drive from my family church. Oh well - at least we were now going to get the full wedding planning experience by shopping for another venue! 

    Our initial requirements for a venue were that it had exclusive use, ideally some bedrooms on-site and I was keen on it being surrounded by lots of lovely countryside too (if you could see horses, it would get bonus points!). Whilst most couples probably spend the first few weeks floating around on a fluffy cloud of engagement bliss, Mr Pal and I knew we couldn't hang around if we wanted a date for next summer, and so we put on our wedding planning caps straight away!

  • lubeslubes Posts: 1,555

    THE GREAT VENUE HUNT

    Church or civil ceremony?
    From the moment I understood the concept of weddings (probably since my parents popped me in front of 'Four Wedding and a Funeral' when I was about five...let's forget the '15' certificate for a moment!) I have always seen myself getting married in a church. My mum's side of the family are super religious so the church was quite a big part of my upbringing, whereas Mr Pal's parents aren't religious at all. That said, Mr Pal was happy to go along with a church wedding as he knew it was important to me. At first, we cast the net wide in our wedding venue search - we felt that if we found the 'right' place to hold our reception, that it would be worth committing to whatever the nearest church was (even though Mr Pal wasn't too keen on the prospect of going to the services for six months) - and 24 hours after getting engaged (I told you we didn't hang around!), we went to view our first candidate:

    Losehill House, Hope Valley
    image

    On paper, this venue ticked all our initial boxes. It's a small-ish hotel and therefore, we would have had to book it on exclusive use. Basically, our reception would have been a massive house party which was the vibe we were going for! As it's right in the Peak District, the panoramic views are amazing too. We were so excited when we got there (I had come across it years ago when looking for a 'dog friendly' hotel and kept a mental note of it!), but it slowly crushed our expectations: it didn't quite have enough rooms for everyone and the surrounding accommodation was a bit iffy; they couldn't guarantee me access to a room with enough time to get ready on the morning of the wedding (we couldn't stay the night before any available dates due to other weddings) and it took us AGES to get there - a two hour drive despite being 60 miles away. We felt it was a bit extreme to keep going back and forth to 'qualify' at the local church and that it was a long way for everyone to travel, especially evening guests. A sour taste was also left in our mouth when we left too - the wedding co-ordinator couldn't show us around as she was busy, but when we returned to the desk to thank the receptionist, she was there and ignored us! Mr Pal really liked this venue, despite the distance, but it didn't feel right to me. So, the search continued...

    Langley Priory, Diseworth
    image

    Oh, my heart aches just typing in the name of this wonderful place! I must admit that I wasn't keen on Langley Priory at first as I didn't really want a traditionally decorated stately home - it wasn't very 'us'. However, after the mammoth drive to Losehill House, it was a joy in itself to pop ten minutes down the road. This was a turning point for us as we realised that we would prefer to marry relatively close to home (it also meant we could have the ceremony in our parish church - ideal!). It was possibly the rainiest day EVER when we viewed the venue and despite that, we absolutely fell in love - hook, line and sinker! As someone lives there (I know!!), they only host small weddings inside so our reception would have been in a marquee on the lawns overlooking the lake. So dreamy! The venue only hosts a handful of weddings a year too, as it's still a family home, which meant we had pick of the dates for summer next year. We literally rushed home to do the maths (because we aren't impulsive at all!), but after a few days of reflection and receiving quotations, we worried that the costs of making the marquee 'perfect' would begin to spiral out of control. I should mention that Mr Pal works in events, so he can literally think of everything that could go wrong with a venue (and more!). If money was no object, this would have been our venue hands down, but we didn't feel comfortable with the amount we would probably have ended up spending to quash Mr Pal's concerns. With a heavy heart, we had to let Langley Priory go, but thankfully, another venue was on the horizon to cheer us up!

  • Karen62Karen62 Posts: 244

    lovely story Lubes looking forward to reading more Kxx 

  • lubeslubes Posts: 1,555

    Hi Karen - thank you :) 

    I am interrupting the chronology of my planning thread here, but I bought my dress today. VERY exciting! Anyway, to carry on from where I left off...

  • lubeslubes Posts: 1,555

    OUR 'NOT YOUR RUN OF THE MILL' WEDDING VENUE!

    The day after we visited Langley Priory (at this point being fairly certain we were going to book it), we went to visit what we still describe as our 'wildcard' venue. It was 'A Place in the Sun' type situation when the couple get taken to a house and the presenter is like, 'Well, it's sort of what you asked for, but totally different!'

    It didn't have the countryside views I wanted or any bedrooms - in fact, it was a converted cotton mill on the back of an industrial estate on the outskirts of Derby city centre. Oh, and it hadn't held any weddings yet (we were their first official viewing as a finished venue)! Ladies (and gents, if anybody is out there), I present to you, our chosen wedding venue, The West Mill:

    image

    Mr Pal and I would both admit even now that whilst we liked what we saw, Langley Priory was still our number one as we walked round...until we got home after our viewing and had a good old think about everything.

    To be honest, cost was a primary factor in making our final decision: we had to pay Langley Priory a fee for their land on top of the marquee hire; this equated to the same cost as what The West Mill were charging for venue hire and the catering. What we also liked about The West Mill was:

    - It had the option of no corkage during the drinks reception and for the wedding breakfast. We also thought it would be nice to give our guests a choice on what drink they had with their meal rather than having wine or...wine.
    - The venue (from the picture) is on the far left and is across all the floors. Basically, the ceremony room is at the top, the wedding breakfast room is on the third floor and the bar is one below that so there is no turn around time - people just move down throughout the day. The ground floor is also a good practical space should we need a wet weather plan (but please make my wedding day nice, weather gods!). 
    - It does have a river right next to it so I get my scenery...sort of. In terms of location, it's only five minutes from Derby city centre and a decent hotel, so we don't have to worry about our guests having to travel far to their beds at the end of the night!

    So...the date! Mr Pal and I wanted a Friday or a Saturday wedding, but despite us being their first official viewing as a fully functioning wedding venue, they were fully booked up for next summer. However, they did have Sunday 31st July 2016 available...

  • lubeslubes Posts: 1,555

    A SUNDAY WEDDING? CAN WE DO THAT?!

    These were the initial questions Mr Pal and I fired at each other on the way home from The West Mill. It had never occurred to us to even consider a Sunday wedding as we thought that a lot of people would go home early if they had work the next day. But then we actually thought about it again: a lot of our friends are teachers - it's the summer holidays so a Sunday doesn't matter to them; Mr Pal works in a very small company so the chances are everyone will be allowed to roll into work a little later the next day; people taking the Monday off work is no different to them having to take the Friday off - in fact, even if they have to go to work the next day, at least they should still be able to make the ceremony.

    Of course, another factor we had to consider was whether the church would be able to accommodate a Sunday wedding. I rang our local church to check the date - except the vicar was busy - and after a few (very long, painful) days, he called me back to say it was fine to go ahead. Amazing stuff! I can see the church spire from my house and hear the bells ringing in the garden so I'm really excited for us to become 'Mr and Mrs Pal' there - lovely! Here's ze church:

    image

    So, the date was set - Sunday 31st July 2016. After breathing a very big sigh of relief that we had the most important aspects of the day sorted, it was time to get cracking with everything else!

  • lubeslubes Posts: 1,555

    So I don't leave too much to the imagination for the next eleven and a bit months, here are a few more teaser photos of our wedding venue :

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  • lubeslubes Posts: 1,555

    SNAPPING UP A PHOTOGRAPHER!

    Before we got engaged (years before in fact!), we knew who we wanted to take our wedding photos. Mr Pal absolutely hates having his photo taken and I really didn't want a photographer who forced us into awkward stereotypical wedding poses - we are both a little funny about kissing in public, even more so if we are being ordered to do it! So, to prevent the creation of the most uncomfortable wedding album of all time, it was important that our photographer was good at capturing the moment and documenting our day without having to set up too much of it.

    Our photographer is a guy called Gary who Mr Pal has worked with on a number of events over the years (his main business is photographing corporate events so he does a few weddings on the side, presumably for some extra pocket money!). I am really excited to see how our wedding pictures turn out (which sounds slightly backwards to say, as I will probably be sad that it's over!):

    image

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    We booked Gary as soon as we got back from The West Mill. We wouldn't have confirmed our date with them if we couldn't get him!

  • Memza89xMemza89x Posts: 1,533 New bride

    Enjoying reading lubes! Your venue looks lovely and you've been so productive over the past month well done! Excited hear more about your planning and (hopefully soon  ) your dress!

  • I'm loving your thread, looking forward to keeping up to date with your planning - your venue looks incredible as well,  if I hadn't already booked ours then I might have been copying!

  • lubeslubes Posts: 1,555

    Hi Memza - ha thanks! The summer holidays have been a dream for getting loads done, but it's partly because I will be living and breathing work come September again. I'm trying to leave enough just to tide me over at the weekends, although reading everyone's plans will be just as good - I am, of course, reading your thread too ;)

    It's funny you say that Lavender - the girl designing my stationary has just booked it after I told her about it! 

    Thanks for reading guys - I will do more tomorrow!

  • Karen29Karen29 Posts: 47

    your venue looks stunning, so lovely x

  • Little JulesLittle Jules Posts: 1,538

    Your venue is gorgeous!

  • Karen62Karen62 Posts: 244

    Your venue is stunning, I love the look inside & out. Can sympathise with the wait for the vicar we had the same & its nerve wracking as everything revolves round it such a happy moment to get the go ahead 

    What sort of dress have you gone for?  Kxx 

  • Cara18Cara18 Posts: 101

    Your venue is absolutely beautiful!!

  • lubeslubes Posts: 1,555

    Thanks very much everyone - I'm glad we made a good choice! We did like the idea of a slightly different wedding venue. Hopefully it will be remembered for the right reasons 

    Right, some more (I will try and get the dress in tonight for you, Karen!!)...

  • lubeslubes Posts: 1,555
    Karen62 wrote (see post):

    Your venue is stunning, I love the look inside & out. Can sympathise with the wait for the vicar we had the same & its nerve wracking as everything revolves round it such a happy moment to get the go ahead 

    Kxx 

    Yes hahaha!! It is so nerve wracking - I didn't sleep properly for days (I spoke to his wife who said that if he didn't have time to get back to me by the end of the week, I would have to wait until they got back off holiday - arrrgh!) and probably annoyed everyone at summer school with my fretting too! I do totally believe there is a God as the vicar put me out of my misery at the eleventh hour

  • Karen62Karen62 Posts: 244

    Lol thank you  love seeing others dresses 

    you must have been on a knife edge!! I know we're the brides but others just don't seem to realise the importance!!!lol

    Kxx

  • lubeslubes Posts: 1,555

    ALL ABOARD THE WEDDING TRANSPORT

    I must admit that my toes curl slightly when I think about how much extra it's costing us to have the church wedding (I am toying with the idea of a videographer, which wouldn't be such an issue with the wedding spreadsheet if we were having a civil ceremony at The West Mill!), but then again, I know I won't regret it so the show must go on!

    Now we had our venues confirmed, we moved onto the next pressing issue - getting everyone around! As our venues are about 20 minutes apart by road (we didn't want to get married in a 'random' church for the sake of being slightly closer to The West Mill) and because a lot of guests will be coming from London, we felt it was important to make the day as relaxing for them as possible. It wouldn't have been fair to expect them to spend a lot of money coming up and then have to get around in taxis (or designate a driver who doesn't know the area and pay the extra fuel!). 

    So, we decided to book a good old fashioned London Routemaster bus to take our guests between the venues. It wasn't something I initially considered, as we aren't having a 'vintage' theme as such, but then I realised that it will probably be quite a novelty thing for our guests to experience and it's a nod to my Cockney roots at the same time! We went to view the bus the other day and it was so jokes - I loved it and am a tiny bit gutted I won't get a ride on it! We can provide a CD to be played on the journey which Mr Pal and I are going to have a lot of fun making; we are trying to find a nice person at Alton Towers who has the old Rita 'Thunder Rock Rally Radio' audio for the bus ride as this was the theme music that played in the area when we started dating. Tunes like 'Teenage Dirtbag', 'Livin' On A Prayer', 'Ring Of Fire'...

    We are planning for the bus to pick people up from some local hotels we have set deals up with (hopefully they will book it!!) and get a couple of minibuses to take everyone home at the end of the night - the bus company wanted an extra £400 for the privilege which we couldn't justify when the hotel is a five minute drive away!

    You all probably know what a old school London bus looks like, but have a picture anyway!

    image

    I have booked a Bentley Flying Spur in white for me. The classic vintage bridal cars, though 'classic', just aren't me. My dad was excited about his journey in it...until I told him the church is about a five minute drive from our house which is where I am getting ready. Sorry Dad!

  • lubeslubes Posts: 1,555
    Karen62 wrote (see post):

    Lol thank you  love seeing others dresses 

    you must have been on a knife edge!! I know we're the brides but others just don't seem to realise the importance!!!lol

    Kxx

    It is ridiculous how much I said that before he called me back!!! I'm so glad someone else shares my pain with that!

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