A picture tells a thousand words
The first thing I want to tell you about is Helen Thurlwell, our photographer, who arrived around 10:00. Helen was absolutely fantastic thoughout the whole day - she is such a happy, smiley, enthusiastic person. She can be assertive enough to get people to do what she needs them to for photos but in such a lovely, charming way that she doesn’t feel bossy at all.
The photos she took are superb - we have about 450, and I have no idea how we’ll pick just 100 for our album! I honestly cannot recommend her highly enough - if you are getting married in or near Berkshire, please consider using her. Her website is www.helensarah.co.uk.
Included in our package was a second photographer, Ryan. Ryan arrived a little later, came up to say hello, and then went off to find the boys to record their morning. I love having getting ready photos from both the bride and groom’s perspective, it’s really special. Having a second tog also meant we got some great angles of shots, and some lovely candid moments.
Helen started by photographing my dress and accessories - here are a couple of shots that I love:
Hair and make-up
J and K did an amazing job of my hair and make-up. J started with my hair, blow-drying it and putting it in curlers, while K did my Mum’s make-up. J then then headed off to make MrJC look fabulous, while K did my make-up. Then when J got back, he put my hair up, put my head band in, and then attached my veil.
It was really nice sitting there being pampered - to get the best of the light, I was sat by the window, looking straight out over the hotel entrance, and I got to do a lot of people watching. I got to see the earliest of our guests arrive too, which was fun.
It was also a bit strange at times, because I had my back to the rest of the room, and I couldn’t see who was there and who wasn’t, or anything that was happening behind me - but perhaps that’s just as well, as I think it helped me stay calm.
J and K really did do a superb job - I love this shot of me and J, because you can see how lovely my hair looks, as well as my make-up.
And this one, which shows my hair from the side - so perfectly what I wanted, I can’t even tell you:
One thing that I also want to mention here is that on the day of the wedding, my skin was terrible. I often have a lot of trouble with it, but quite honestly, it was the worst it has been for a over a year - I had 3 big, red angry spots on my chin and below my nose.
I really wasn’t surprised as I always suspected it would happen - I’ve had trouble with my skin for years, and although I have a good skincare routine that usually keeps things on an even keel, stress always causes breakouts no matter what I do, and in the couple of weeks leading up to the wedding, I was definitely stressed!
I thought I would be really upset about it, but bizarrely, I wasn’t actually that bothered - I think partly because I knew that there was nothing much I could do about it, and partly because I really trusted both K and Helen to sort it out, and they both did an amazing job. Between K’s super make-up and Helen’s magic photoshop wand - you couldn’t see them on the day, and you can’t see them in the photos.
Top Tip #4 - If you have bad skin, it isn’t the end of the world! MUAs and Togs can work miracles!
I was expecting the flowers and buttonholes to arrive at about 11, so I was a bit surprised when they turned up at 10!
Overall, I was thrilled with them - initially, my bouquet was more pink than I had expected (I thought there would be more freesia), but it was so gorgeous that I fell in love with it straight away:
I especially love my puffy, Bridal Piano roses - honestly, you would be hard pushed to tell them apart from a peony. I would definitely recommend them to any other bride, I thought they looked amazing.
The BM bouquets were exactly what I had imagined:
The buttonholes and corsages also looked really good. Here’s MrJC looking really handsome wearing his:
And this is my MIL and my brother (one of the ushers). MIL’s corsage looks great, but you can kind of see that my brother’s buttonhole is pulling at his lapel, because it’s a bit too heavy:
Top Tip #5 - It you’re going to have roses for buttonholes, make sure they are little spray roses not full size blooms. Ours looks fantastic, but in fact the flowers were too heavy, and all the wedding party had issues trying to keep them upright. Luckily, I don’t think you would notice in the photos unless you were looking for it!
Once I had checked all the flowers over, I dispatched BM2 to deliver the corsages and buttonholes.
Top Tip #6 - If you are staying in a hotel the night before, take careful note of what room numbers the wedding party are staying in. Almost certainly, you will need to send people running between them for a variety of reasons that you haven’t thought of yet. I really wasn’t sure I’d given BM2 the right room number for MrJC, and I’m pretty sure I got it right out of sheer, dumb luck!
All dressed up...
I was really chilled out all morning, right until the hair and make-up was finished - I distinctly remember sitting there, sipping champagne, as J finished attaching my veil, feeling like I had all the time in the world. Here’s the proof!
I wandered through to the other room and grabbed a couple of sandwiches, and as I did so, Helen gently suggested that since it was 12pm, I really needed to be putting my dress on.
I hurried off to start getting ready, put on my hot pink wedding knickers and my charnos bridal hold-ups - then decided I needed the loo before my dress went on. I dashed for the bathroom in just pants, stockings and veil - I must have looked like someone had ordered a really bad bridal themed stripper!
Top Tip #7 - Joking aside, the Charnos bridal hold-ups I wore were just fantastic. They are the ones with the plain satin tops, and they were super comfy. They didn’t cut into me, chafe, rub or fall down. Quite frankly, I forgot I was even wearing them! If you want hold-ups under your dress, I would definitely recommend them.
Eventually, it was time for BM3 to start lacing up my dress:
You can see from the pic how disorganised everything had got by this point!
I don’t know how we would have managed without having two connecting rooms. We used my room for the hair and make-up, and then the other one for generally getting ready. Even so, there didn’t feel like there was enough space for all of us. Then again, with me, 4 BMs, 2 parents, a MUA, a hairdresser and a photographer, there were an awful lot of people!
I felt a bit sorry for my SIL and brother (BM4 and usher), because their room was a real pig sty by the time we had finished!
Meanwhile, back at the ranch…
Of course, all the time that I was getting myself sorted, MrJC was off at the other side of the hotel doing much the same thing!
His day started rather differently to mine - he had shared a room with T, the best man, and when the alarm went off (yes, they needed an alarm), T greeted MrJC with the words: “MrJC, it’s your wedding day - we’re going for a run!” And so they did!
T, MrJC, and J, our good friend and pianist, all headed out bright and early, covering about 5k up the riverbank and back, and then went and had a very hearty breakfast in the hotel restaurant!
They met up with my brother there, as we had kicked him out of his room as we needed it for getting ready, and then they all went back to MrJC’s room to get showered and changed.
By this time, Ryan had arrived, and got some great shots of them making their preparations:
T helps MrJC with his buttonhole:
And also N, my brother:
Before checking out my carefully printed instructions!
MrJC had his own stress to deal with, as Usher J was running late - he and his wife (our second reader) left a bit late, then got stuck in traffic, and then got lost, so were really very late indeed! Thankfully, they arrived just in time, and Ryan was able to get this great shot of the guy’s pink socks:
The Final Countdown
From the point that I started to put my dress on, everything happened so fast! Suddenly, there was just no time at all left. I hadn’t been nervous all morning, and in the blink of an eye, it all changed.
There seemed to be so much to stress about! BM4 had gone off to get her hair done at 10, and no-one had seen her since. BM1 didn’t turn up at all until 12 - I was wondering about sending out a search party! Then she still had to get her hair done (by our good friend and super-talented amateur hairdresser L), so she was really on the last minute.
I remember being really annoyed that it all felt like such a rush, and that there were so many people faffing about with other stuff when I needed help getting ready - My dad was having trouble attaching his buttonhole, and at one point he had more people helping him than I did! I was in my dress, trying to get to the mirror to decide on a necklace and I needed people to move, but no-one was listening to me, so I’m afraid I had a bit of a strop. It’s about as close as I got to a proper Bridezilla moment!
Around about then, the phone rang - it was Phil, and he was on his way to collect me, as it was time to meet the registrar. That was when I really did panic - I wasn’t ready! BM3 hadn’t had chance to tighten my dress (corset dresses can loosen after you’ve worn them for a few minutes), I didn’t have my accessories on, and Helen hadn’t taken any ‘posed pics’ of us getting ready.
I think most people very quickly realised that I was having a melt-down, and all my BMs rallied to calm me down.
BM2 helped with my bracelet:
And BM1 (ready in the nick of time!) sorted out the necklace:
Helen was also fab, telling me that Phil was early and that people would wait. She organised us really quickly for some great shots - although I do wish we had had a little more time. These are some of my favourites, starting with a lovely one of me and my Dad:
This one that shows off my train:
And this one of me and my girls:
Yes, the final hour was rushed, and I would have loved more time. But I wouldn’t be prepared to sacrifice one single moment of being with MrJC on our wedding day, so I absolutely wouldn’t change it - unless I could have a 25 hour day!
Loving the report so far MrsJC! Looking forward to the wedding bit and the celebrations afterwards. You're looking lovely in all the pictures. More please!
Also, I'm another Ealing-ite too
Thanks, Echo - how lovely of you to say so! I'm writing more this afternoon, will be posting again soon with lots more pics!
We're actually in Brentford, but we generally don't admit that to people
Aw lovely to see your photos MrsJC, looking forward to plenty more
I know what you mean about the last hour, i had the same problem (meaning i was 10 minutes late to the Church!) xx
Thanks, MrsA - at least is wasn't just me!
Stand by for more photos!
While all this was going on, MrJC, T and the ushers were downstairs. MrJC had to go off and see the registrar, but other than that, they were all busy in the lobby, greeting our guests.
As people arrived, they were shown into the Riverside Suite, set out for the ceremony. I was thrilled with the decor - it was really beautiful. Our budget ivory aisle runner worked brilliantly, the candelabra on pedestals looked fab, and my lanterns lining the aisle were gorgeous. You can see them all in this pic:
I must admit, I feel a bit envious that I didn’t get to spend any time in there alone to admire it - but I was so happy with how it turned out!
Because N was off hunting for B, T helped J doing a sterling job of ushering everyone, as well as keeping MrJC calm.
Back upstairs, I was eventually ready to leave the hotel room. Phil was waiting for us, and we headed off to the lifts. Frankly, although you (probably!) couldn’t tell from the outside, inside I was a mess. My heart was racing, I felt almost sick with nerves and I felt really shaky. It was a remarkable turnaround from how cool I’d been earlier in the day!
We went straight down to meet the registrar, in a lovely room on the ground floor. I was really flustered, and apologised for being late, but one of the registrars checked her watch and reassured me that we were bang on time!
They asked if I wanted to sit or stand, and I chose to stand - I didn’t want to crease my dress. They asked me a few questions for the marriage certificates, and even though I knew my voice was shaking I just about got through it. They were such lovely ladies that I started to calm down a bit - they really put me at my ease.
When we were finished, the registrars left to go to the ceremony room, and I went to find my Dad and the BMs, who were waiting outside. I was surprised to see N was with them - he should have been in the ceremony room.
It turns out that there had been a bit of a last minute panic. With just 5 minutes to go, B, my close friend and our first reader, was nowhere to be found! Rumour was he had been spotted at the hotel, so N had been dispatched to track him down.
Just then, we heard a baby crying - B was with his wife and their baby son, trying to get him fed and his nappy changed before the ceremony, and had lost track of time. He was quite embarrassed when he realised that the bridal party was waiting for him!
MrJC told me later that the biggest reason for the stress was that, even though we had printed out spare copied of both readings, we had managed to leave them on our printer at home! That meant that, unless we could find B, there might not actually be a first reading, as they couldn’t even ask anyone else to step in.
B scurried off with N, and we followed just behind to give them and the registrars time to get into place.
Here comes the Bride
I had to walk across the hotel lobby to get to the ceremony room, and it was a really odd experience - complete strangers were smiling at me and wishing me good luck, but I didn’t dare meet anyone’s eyes. I was fighting back the tears, and I was sure I was about to dissolve.
I wasn’t upset - it was just the sheer emotion of it. Really and truly, I couldn’t quite cope with the fact that, after so many years, and after coming to terms with the likelihood of it never happening, I was actually about to marry the man of my dreams.
Within moments, we were at the door, waiting outside. I could hear Phil telling everyone to stand up, our pianist J began to play Pachelbel’s Canon, and I sent my BMs into the room, one at a time.
Top Tip #8 It was a good idea to get the BMs to walk in one at a time. Quite often they are sent in pairs, but having them in single file, space out, meant they all got their moment, and it took up a bit more time so I got to hear more of the music.
Finally, it was just me and my dad - I took a deep breath and walked into the room.
Oh wow you look stunning and judging from this pic you couldnt tell you were nervous or shaking! You look soo happy! x
Thanks, MrsE - I really was! I was a bundle of conflicting emotions, and I'm so glad it's the positive ones that show up in the pictures
I love it when a plan comes together
I loved every moment of our wedding day, but the ceremony was hands down my absolute favourite part. It was just perfect - exactly what I had planned and pictured. It was very personal and very ‘us’.
Forgive me if I write quite a lot about it, but I loved it so much, and I’m going to indulge myself by giving lots of detail - and pictures! We spent a lot of time thinking about our choices, and I'm so glad we did - it definitely paid off.
As I followed the BMs into the room, I just about remembered to walk in slowly, and take in the room. It looked gorgeous - but I was still trying not to meet anyone’s eye, in case it was someone I was particularly close to as I was sure I would cry!
I also remember looking at MrJC’s back as I walked up the aisle. T turned and looked at me, and whispered something to him, and I was willing MrJC to turn round too - but he didn’t, not until I was standing right next to him. I asked him about this later, and he said he wanted to, but he thought it was bad luck. You can see in this photo just how hard he was trying not to look!:
He cracked eventually though - I think he was pleased to see me! And I love how having two photographers meant we captured this moment from two different angles:
It was then that I realised two things. Firstly, MrJC was every bit as emotional as me, and while he probably wouldn’t want me to tell you this, he was holding back the tears too.
That actually helped me - I was on the verge of losing it completely, but realising he was choked up too helped me keep it together. I was too worried about him to think about me. I love this photo, though - taken at around that moment. You can really see how emotional we both are.
Secondly - it was really hot in there! The guys all (obviously!) had their jackets still on, and were sweltering. MrJC had sweat beading on his forehead, and I spent much of the ceremony wondering if I should try and wipe it away for him!
Brilliant picture of you stepping in to the room. I'm sure you knocked MrJC's socks off!
As an aside, the interior of the hotel looks great too - a very nice venue to spend your day at and your decor really complements it all.
Ahh, I'm loving reading this and you convey all the emotion to us in the way that you write. You look stunning (and always so calm, despite what you're telling us!). There is one word that keeps coming into my head, and that is that you look so ELEGANT .
Indeed, the ceremony room did look beautiful. I love the photos that capture both your expressions so well. I smiled to myself re spare copies of the reading left on the printer.... You were SO organised, and it just goes to show that on the day, no matter how hard you plan, there will always be something to cause a little panic. ( Bet it was Mr JC's fault though!)
Ahh woweeeeee I've just caught up! The photos are BEAUTIFUL!!! The ceremony room looks gorgeous and you look just stunning.
I love the last photo, it truly captures the emotion. Amazing!
Laughing about you not telling people you live in Brentford I used to live by Syon Lane train station, so know the area well! And will defo PM you re drinks!!
Can't wait to see more
I honestly felt every emotion you went through reading all that!! I wanted to cry when I saw the photo of you walking in! No wonder mr JC was emotional too!! You looked beautiful and like SongBird said so elegant! Can't wait for more! Xx
Loving your report so far .. as I knew I would
You write so beautifully, even I was welling up at the emotion you conveyed. You looked so beautiful and elegant. Mr JC is truly a lucky man.
And I have still managed to steal a couple of ideas .... extra print outs of reading, room numbers (especially as I wont be at the hotel that morning so relying on the men )
Cant wait to read more xx
more more! You are inspiring me to do my own report xx
You looked just absolutely stunning. I am loving reading this report - I feel like I'm going through every emotion you went through on your day as you write so beautifully. My wedding day is in a couple of weeks so I'm finding this report somewhat reassuring and comforting to know what to expect . Can't wait to read more! xx
Congratulations! This is a fantastic report. Can't wait to read more!
Loving the report and the top tips.
You looked stunning and so happy.
We have the issue of flying out soon after the wedding, so im hoping to do most of my packing a week before the wedding to ease it a bit
Cant wait to read more x
Hello everyone! Thanks for the lovely comments And sorry for the break in transmission. Work has been a bit nuts recently, and on top of that we moved offices so it’s been a bit chaotic! I now sit where the MD and my boss can both see my screen, so I have to be a bit more careful about what and when I post. I’m still writing away and I’ve got a lot more prepared, though – so when I can get more up, I will do.
EchoSW – I’m glad you like it! We really love the hotel, it has such a modern but quirky feel. It really was the inspiration behind the whole feel of the day. And I love that picture too.
Songbirdsings – Thank you. Elegant was what I was shooting for Ha! Yes, I am sure I can blame MrJC for the reading incident if I think about it hard enough.
Lou B – Aw, thank you! And how funny - I ran past Syon Lane station a couple of times last week. We are/were practically neighbours
Poppins – It was pretty emotional writing it too! I’ve been working on the report for the rest of the ceremony and I keep welling up!
LOPTM – Thank you! I just don’t know where the time went, but I’m glad it wasn’t just me
MrsM – Thank you! I shall be sure to remind MrJC how lucky he is Steal away with the ideas! I’m glad to be able to help!.
JJ2013 – Do it! Do it! Do it!
ABDec2013 Bride – Wow! Not long to go I’m sure you’ll have a fabulous day.
CrimblesBride – I’m glad you’re enjoying it!
SW84 – Yes, definitely pack ahead! I would say the sooner the better. There’s no way we would have have had the time to do it on the Sunday, but that’s a post for another day
Ahh lovely a local bride nice to see the venue all done up we viewed the Runneymede but was worried that it was a bit too conference style (obviously not when its done up as I now can see from your pics) we ended up going with the Beaumont Estate as we fell in love with it.
You look amazing in your dress though and it sounds like it was a lovely day - congrats
I do…. Me too!
After the registrar’s welcome, our ceremony started with B’s reading:
We asked him to read ‘Union’ by Robert Fulghum. It’s a beautiful piece to start a wedding, and B delivered it brilliantly. He did later confess that he was working hard at not getting choked up (it’s a bit of a tearjerker, in the best possible way), but you couldn’t tell. MrJC and I both kept it together, which was a bit of a miracle!
Next, we made our declarations - this is the ‘I know not of any lawful impediment’ bit. My voice was really shaky the first time I had to say anything - which, embarrassingly, was my name. I almost stumbled over it. Because of that, I worked very hard on speaking slowly and clearly through the rest of the ceremony.
During the ceremony, I looked right into MrJCs eyes for almost the entire time while either of us were speaking - the words we were saying were so important, but it felt like there were a hundred thousand others being said silently between us too. Cheesy, I know - but true!
Then it was vows and promises - we chose the traditional wording wherever we had a choice, so in our case, it was along the lines of ‘I call upon these persons here present to witness that I, FutureMrsJC, take thee, MrJC, to be my lawful wedded husband’
We could have chosen more modern wording that might have fitted with the feel of our day a bit more, but I’ve dreamed of saying those words since I was a little girl, so for me, it was non-negotiable. Luckily, MrJC didn’t object.
Here we are, saying out vows - looks like it's MrJC's turn!
Hi, MrsGB2B2015 - I know what you mean, we had to use a LOT of imagination when we first saw the Riverside Suite (which is the smaller of the two function suites, and the one that we used).
I'm glad we kept the faith though - it worked beautifully for us. The Beaumont Estate is lovely too though - we didn't view it, but I definitely checked out the website during our venue hunt!
With this ring...
After the vows comes exchanging rings - something I had been really looking forward to. Really, I just wanted to get that ring on my finger, but for me, it turned out to be one of the most affecting parts of the ceremony.
I didn’t know exactly what wording the registrar would use for this bit - we didn’t get it in advance, and since it isn’t legally binding wording, each registrar can vary it as they like.
Legally binding or not - explaining to each other that the rings are a symbol of your commitment, and then putting them on each other’s hands was the bit that actually made me ‘feel’ married. It was very special.
I wore my e-ring on the right hand during the rest of the ceremony, so it wasn’t in the way, but even so, we both struggled a bit to put each other’s rings on. I suspect it was mostly because the combination of nerves and the temperature in the room meant our hands were a bit swollen. We got there in the end, even though there was a bit more shoving involved than was entirely dignified - this is me helping MrJC to wrestle my ring onto my finger:
And that was us married! The registrar told MrJC he could kiss the bride - and so he did!
I love this photo - it really captures the moment. And yes, for those that read the post on my planning thread about it, I got just the kiss I wanted I’m glad we talked about it beforehand - and found some time to practice!!
To close the ceremony, we had our second reading - MrJC’s friend P read A Lovely Love Story:
As soon as I read A Lovely Love Story, I knew I wanted it as a reading at the wedding. MrJC wasn’t immediately sold - he thought it meant that I thought of him as a peculiar dinosaur! He gave in eventually though - I told him he could veto any other readings at all, if I could please have that one!
It never, ever fails to make me well up, right at the end, where the dinosaurs grow old together - and during P’s reading, I came as close to breaking down when she reached that part as I did at any point during the day.
P, like B earlier in the ceremony, did a marvellous job. She also won the prize for ‘Guest with the Best Accessory’, for her rather wonderful hat/fascinator!
We always had the idea that for our readers, I would ask a close male friend, and MrJC would ask a close female friend - it was a way of involving people in the ceremony that couldn’t be either BMs or ushers, and it worked really well.