Where: Judds Folly Hotel, Essex
Theme: Rainbow brights
Photographer: Denise and Kristiana had been together as a couple for 23 years, but only as a gay couple since November 2012.
Kristiana came out as transgender following the renewal of their vows in August 2010 and together they decided to have another renewal of vows, but this time as wife and wife, which meant they both got to wear the dress.
And this is the story of their transgender wedding vow renewal...
Denise and Kristiana had been together as a couple for 23 years, but only as a gay couple since November 2012.
As we were already married we decided to renew our vows as a gay couple but keep the original date on our marriage certificate. We decided that we wanted to include all our special friends who had been on the journey with us over the years. We made the decision to set a date to renew our vows following Kristiana's surgery and completion of her transition (a total of five years) back in April 2016.
The number of guests that we invited to the day, including children, consisted of 60 for the wedding and reception and a further 20 to the evening. We started off with a long list but when we started to look at it in detail and talking to friends, it soon became apparent that we were only inviting certain people as it was seen to be the right thing to do; that's when we realised we only wanted people there who wanted to be there for us - not for the free food and drink. That helped us narrow the list down considerably.
We decided to hold our wedding and reception at Judd's Folly Hotel in Ospringe, Faversham, Kent following a visit to a wedding fair there, where we met the wedding coordinator, Karen, who was warm, welcoming, and knew how special the day was to us both. And, neither Karen, nor her colleague, Jason, came across as being pushy and just after your credit card; we actually felt we had made a connection with them both and to this day we still remain in contact.
Due to the nature of the wedding we wanted the theme and events of the day to be a topic of conversation in years to come. With this in mind we decided on a rainbow theme. We planned a bouncy castle for the children (and us shhh!), a marry-oke by Big Jam Studios in Sittingbourne, a violinist to play our music, and for our dog, Millie to be our ring bearer, dressed in a personalised wedding dress.
We both had separate readings on the day and neither of us knew what we were going to read to each other. I decided to write a rhyming poem reflecting on our life together from when we met to the current day. Kristiana cried I tried to keep it together. Kristiana read The caterpillar and the Butterfly" Kristiana found it very difficult not to cry as this was so dear to her and her life. I too cried it was hard not to.
Kristiana has a very creative mind and we personalised a number of elements ourselves. Trawling Pinterest helped us with the ideas, and then we found people to bring the ideas to fruition.
For our food, we had a few options, and if you speak to Jason he will tell you we were a nightmare!! Being given all the menus was not a good move. We decided that we would have a three course sit down meal. Brilliant, we thought, this will be easy, but no, we had to mess it up - so when we sent the menus out to friends we sent all the menus, not just one! It took us a while to understand that we were only supposed to choose one menu not three (ha-ha). We also catered for gluten free, vegetarians and children. By doing this it helped the parents to not worry about the children and their eating on the day.
Sparkling wine was the toast choice and the guests bought their own drinks throughout the day as this we did find can be very expensive and kept the cost down.
The song for our first dance was Unchained Melodyby the Righteous Brothers from the movie Ghost as this film is much a part of us as a couple and we always cry together when we watch this.
The cake WOW!! There is a story behind the cake. When Kristiana came home from her surgery, a friend recommended a lady called Beverley Riddle to make some vagina cakes, and she did not disappoint. She makes cakes as a hobby when she is not working, and is amazing.
Initially when we asked her to make the cake her first response was I cannot make roses" our reply was you have eight months to practice". With this she watched YouTube videos, emitted lots of swear words, and had a number of failed attempts, but when it came to the day we both cried she did such an amazing and heartfelt job on the cake. It consisted of three tiers with white icing and rainbow ribbon around each one, rainbow coloured flowers winding from the top to the bottom of the cake and the inside was of rainbow coloured sponge. Beverley decorated the table of rainbow satin ribbons, crystal decorations, coloured cupcakes and coloured marshmallow trees.
The venue from start to finish ticked every box possible. Every member of staff is a credit to the establishment and such an inspiration. They were involved with the Magic Mirror that we had for entertainment in the evening, they had drinks with us and became part of our extended family for the day. They reassured us when we panicked and thought things were going wrong, took our worries away when it rained until 10am on the day as we were having the wedding outside, cuddled us when it got a bit too much, and acted professionally when the guests and the photographers etc. arrived. Jason, Karen and the staff involved all made our day special with many memories to cherish.
The advice that we would give to couples planning their big day is to remember no matter how big or small or how much money you have to spend it is about having those special people there to celebrate that day with you. When looking at venues, cars, music to be played etc. look for that personal touch it will be that which is noted to guide you through the process. This is your day as husband and husband or wife and wife and you both will want to have all those special memories to cherish for as long as you both shall live.