Anna and Steph met through on old fashioned dating website, Pink Sofa. They were both living in London at the time, albeit at opposite sides of the River, but their mutual love of food, music and psychology saw them hit it off after their first date on the Kings Road in Chelsea and five years later, they got engaged. This is their love story…
“It was quite early on in our relationship we decided that marriage was probably on the cards for us, although at that stage it was not legal in the UK. For the next few years we focused on our careers and our engagement was put ‘on the back-burner’ despite our many conversations about it. Eventually after five years we got engaged and after seven years we were married.
“After years of talking about marriage, eventually Anna hatched a plan. We had a summer holiday in Slovenia and took a trip to Bled island in the middle of Lake Bled in the northwest of the small country. On the day Steph thought that we were on the brink of an argument because Anna was acting so strangely. It later transpired that Anna was preoccupied because the island of Bled was so crowded and she could not find the right place to pop the question.
“Eventually Anna found a small wall which she made Steph perch on. Steph was confused as Anna fumbled around in her bag but eventually when Anna pulled out a ring box, it all became clear. Anna, not wanting to be presumptuous about Steph’s tastes, had arranged a ring fitting at a small jewellers on Chancery Lane on their return. Steph said yes! Prepared with a piece of ribbon, Anna fashioned ribbon rings for both of them to wear in the meantime. Steph cried for the whole boat journey back to the mainland. Anna, not wanting to be presumptuous about Steph’s tastes, had arranged a ring fitting at a small jewellers on Chancery Lane on their return.”
“As two women we decided not to go down the traditional ‘one dress, one suit’ route. Anna, inspired by Janelle Monáe’s style, wore a blue suit with braces. Steph, inspired by Beyoncé, wore a jumpsuit in her favourite colour, orange (with a touch of lace). For both of us, pockets were an important feature.”
“To capture the ‘Pow’ colours and emotions of the day, we chose the incredible “funtojournalism” photography style of award-winning Marianne Chua.
“As there were elements of our day that were less traditional we decided to decorate the barn in more traditional golds and creams colours. We then decorated our reception marquee in Pride colours. The vibrancy reflected the festival feel which we aimed to bring to the day. We did not have a seating plan but we named each table after our favourite albums, and invited guests to choose a table that best represented their personalities.”
“We had our ceremony and reception at Bellows Mill, on the edge of the Chilterns in Bedfordshire. We invited 90 guests in total and held one big event in one location with our ceremony flowing into reception so there was no separate invitation list. We wanted a relaxed feel to our day and Bellows Mill provided just that; allowing much more flexibility than other venues we had found.”
“We had an eclectic mix of readings; Everybody’s Free (The Sunscreen Song) by Mary Schmich; The House at Pooh Corner by AA Milne and Touched by an Angel by Dr Maya Angelou. We chose readings which we love and to us symbolise what love is all about. Our reader were friends and family representing three different generations. We also read poems in place of vows; ‘Love’ by Roy Croft and ‘I Will Be Here’ by Steven Curtis Chapman. We chose them because the words were so perfect and heartfelt.
“Our ceremony was in the rustic barn, we then moved to the lakeside for champagne, whilst family and friends jammed with percussion and wind instruments; and played lawn games.”
“We also had a chill out area where people could make themselves a hot drink and rest their feet, after all the dancing. A handful of family and friends stayed overnight in the onsite accommodation. We had a relaxing 1st day of marriage, having breakfast together by the lake and reliving the best moments of the day.”
“The wedding breakfast and evening party was held in a marquee by the lakeside.”
“We had a Trinidadian feast in the marquee and invited guests to bring their favourite drinks to accompany their dinner. Later in the evening we had an alfresco bar with plenty of Aperol (matching Steph’s jumpsuit!). Puddings were served from a friend’s vegan restaurant, Vinnie’s Eatery in Cheltenham, and the show-stopping, Pride coloured wedding cake was designed and made by Anna’s godmother, Christine (with a little help from Pinterest).”
“For our first dance we chose Ragtop Car by the Noisettes which our brilliant band, The Hot Keys, learnt for us to dance to live on the day. We had first heard the song and fallen in love with it at a festival some six years earlier. We decided then and there that it would be the first dance at our wedding, even though we years off being engaged at the time!”
“After the wedding we received a card from Anna’s Uncle Mark; who has officiated hundreds of weddings in his career, saying;
“It was so good to go to a wedding that was completely unfussy and where the couple, and indeed everyone, was so relaxed and natural. Such a wedding is rare and therefore all the more precious – and yours was in abundance.”
“These words meant a lot to us as it was exactly what we had been aiming for.”
“We are both aware that marriage is an institution that has been used to control women for centuries (!) so the decision to get married is something we talked about quite a lot together before we were even engaged. We tried, on our day, to remove as many of the institutional quirks of weddings as possible e.g. we walked down the aisle together, we didn’t have a dress code, we didn’t have a seating plan, we both gave speeches, we had many improvised moments. However, we maintained the elements of tradition; we said vows, we exchanged rings, we gave speeches. For us there was something legitimising about having a marriage ceremony and wedding and we both feel that we are somehow ‘taken more seriously’ as a couple now that we are married.”
“Our advice for planning a wedding? We used a Gantt chart! In the beginning we thought about what was high, medium and low priority for us and just got rid of anything that was ‘low priority.’ It was important to us to have a wedding that reflected us. Also we made a Gantt Chart – we couldn’t have got through the planning without it even though it drove Steph mad!
“One brilliant piece of advice which Anna’s dad gave us was to go out for dinner a week before the wedding and just talk together about what we wanted marriage to be like for us. It was so refreshing to shift away from wedding planning and actually think about the point of it all – marriage.”
Credits: Marianne Chua Photography, and band, The Hot Keys, from Alive Network.
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