Gareth and Paul met at university; 17 years later they were still going strong and after an eight-year engagement, they married. This is their story...
We met at a party when we were at university in Norwich. Gareth had just returned from a year abroad in France; Paul was starting out as a first year student. The following year, Gareth graduated and went to Paris to study for his Masters for 18 months. We saw each other every six weeks or so, and spoke on the phone daily. We're testament that long distance relationships can work!
We had talked about marriage quite a bit, but it was Gareth who popped the question to Paul at Gareth's 30th birthday party at a bar in Soho. We decided to not get married straightaway as we wanted to get on the housing ladder. Then, when we bought a house, we needed to spend money on it, with one thing and another it was over eight years before we actually tied the knot, but it was worth the wait!
Both the ceremony and the reception were held at the Merchant Taylors' Hall in the City of London. We wanted a central London venue which was easy for people to get to as we had guests travelling considerable distances to be with us, and we also wanted a venue with interesting history and features. On top of that, Gareth is a freeman and liveryman in the City, and so the Merchant Taylors' Hall - which is a livery hall - seemed like the perfect choice.
Our day started with a close shave at Ruffians...
Narrowing down the guest list was probably one of the most difficult aspects of organising our day, and in the end we had around 130 people at our ceremony and reception.
Choosing our readings was another tricky element of the organisation: there are lots of readings out there, but most are geared to opposite sex couples. In the end, we came up with a passage from Louis de Bernire's Captain Correlli's Mandolin, an excerpt from From Beginning to End; the Rituals of our Livesby Robert Fulghum, and another extract from the Velveteen Rabbitby Margery Williams. We chose each of them because of the sentiments expressed, in our case the importance of growing together as people.
We had a drinks reception after the ceremony, followed by a traditional sit-down wedding breakfast. The Merchant Taylors' Hall has the oldest working kitchen in the City of London, and is known for its excellent food. It more than lived up to its reputation. The food was amazing...
... and our wedding cake was designed and made by Marks & Spencer!
We didn't have a vision for a theme, as such, but we knew we wanted to keep things fairly classic in terms of look (neutral colour schemes for flowers, stationery etc.). Most important to us (aside from the actual marriage itself) was involving people close to us. For example, Paul plays in London big band King Groovy and the Hornstars, which provided some of the evening entertainment.
We didn't choose the song for our first dance, only the dance: a folk waltz called Rosa, which one of our friends had written the tune to for us as a wedding present, which was a lovely surprise. We did a few turns on our own then everyone else came on the dance floor. We had a ceilidh band as part of our evening entertainment, too.
The day could not have gone any better from our point of view. The staff at the venue were absolutely fantastic absolutely nothing was too much trouble.
We had given a lot of thought to timings on the day and made sure everyone knew what had to happen at precisely what time. It turned out there were a few minor hiccoughs on the day but nothing anyone would notice and nothing we found out about until well after the wedding day itself!
Think carefully about what you want for your day and what you can happily do without. There is a whole list of things that can be added to the arrangements for a price. For example, we did not bother with wedding favours and we don't think anybody noticed...
Try to take a step back from time to time during the day to take it all in; everything happens so quickly take the time to enjoy the moment.