Jan 13

Venue and date – tick!

“This is the one,” I whispered to Sean, as my eyes welled up with tears. Happy tears, may I add. We were standing in the room we were going to get married in, and it was perfect.

We were on our all-important venue hunt, a couple of weeks before Christmas. In all honesty, though, our day out barely constituted a hunt. Our dream venue was only the third we’d seen, and we’d done it all in the space of four hours!

Our wedding venue!

Once the initial “Oh my God! We’re engaged!” phase had become normality, we both wanted to set a date quickly. I don’t like things up in the air so all the uncertainty of not knowing exactly when we were getting married, while simultaneously discussing our big day nonstop, was really starting to stress me out. And I know couples who have deliberated for weeks, if not months, over the venue. So we thought we’d best get cracking.

I have to say, I was expecting it to be far more difficult than it turned out to be. I suppose it was easy (ish!) for us, as we knew exactly where we wanted to get married from the outset. Because I want all my grandparents to be at our big day, and they may not fancy long plane journeys and the hassle of travel, we immediately dismissed the possibility of getting married on a beach somewhere exotic. Not to mention how frizzy my hair would look in the photos. Anyone who knows me will vouch for the fact that the combo of my hair and tropical climes doesn’t bear thinking about…

We also knew we were looking for a venue where we could not only hold the reception, but also tie the knot. I’m catholic but Sean isn’t religious, so as a compromise (the key to a successful marriage, I hear!) we decided to have a civil ceremony somewhere that looked chapel-ish.

A ‘chapel-ish’ room to tie the knot in…

Not only that, but I’ve always wanted to get married near to where I grew up, in the Wirral. The tradition of getting married where the bride is from isn’t so strong these days, but it’s something that certainly means a lot to me.

So with all that in mind and my mum and grandma on board doing plenty of research, we set about drawing up a shortlist of venues to look round – three, in the end – got in touch with them to arrange viewings, and promptly booked a train up to Chester.

I cannot wait to have our wedding breakfast in this room!

We went on our venue-viewing tour with my parents. And we were all in agreement – we loved the first place and really didn’t like the second (I actually think it was haunted – I came away with a terrible, uneasy feeling that I couldn’t shake off, and I had a nightmare about it that night!).

But as soon as we got out of the car at the third, Thornton Manor, we knew we loved it. It was absolutely everything we wanted from a venue. Grand yet homely, with friendly staff, gorgeous gardens that will look lovely in the Autumn – when we want to get married – an absolutely breathtaking room for the wedding breakfast, rooms for our guests to stay in overnight, and the most important element – a chapel-ish room to get married in.

Beautiful gardens for photos

It’s just so beautiful. And as we stood there in that room, my eyes prickling with tears and smiles plastered across our faces, we could all absolutely picture how incredible our wedding day is going to be.

We didn’t even need any time to mull over the decision. I’ve never been a big thinker when it comes to buying and booking things anyway – once my mind’s made up, that’s it. We got the diaries out immediately and set a date. So now we know that on October 21st this year, we will be getting married! And it will be in our absolute, dream venue.

Dec 12

Just engaged!

It’s been four whole weeks since I got engaged, and I still can’t quite believe it’s real. Every morning since my now-fiancé got down on one knee I’ve woken up and remembered I have a gorgeous, sparkling ring on my finger… and I get butterflies every time!

We were on a minibreak in Iceland, a country I’ve always wanted to visit, when he proposed two days before my birthday. Looking back on it now, he’d been behaving a bit strangely all day, getting panicky when his hand luggage was searched at Gatwick airport – “But Al, there’s nothing in there!” he insisted – and asking me incessant questions to try to establish my mood. “Are you grumpy? Are you in a good mood? Are you feeling happy, upset, a bit tired…?”



I’d been excited all day anyway – I love a good minibreak. I was even more excited once we arrived in Iceland and we transferred to a secluded resort in the (very) remote southern part of the island, where we had a gorgeous chalet to ourselves complete with outdoor Jacuzzi. It was freezing cold outside, the stars were so much brighter than they ever are in London, and the chalet was cosy and warm and super-chic… it really was romantic.

I still had no clue what was coming though, not even when, over dinner that night, he declared that he was going to buy a bottle of champagne for us to take back to the chalet and drink in the hot tub – to toast the first night of the holiday and my impending birthday.


Once we got back, though, I clocked that something was going on – and I was right. I hadn’t even had time to take off my coat and numerous items of knitwear when he nervously called me into the living room and, in what seems like slow-motion, got down on one knee. The whole time he was speaking to me I was thinking: “Oh my God! This is it! I must remember absolutely everything!” But I was so shocked, so happy, so overwhelmed and so tearful that I actually can’t remember a word he said. It’s all a big, fuzzy, happy blur. All I know is that it was perfect and he has made me the happiest girl in the world.

And that now, we have a wedding to plan!

Being engaged is brilliant. Everyone is so lovely – even the airline staff en route back from Reykjavic. Having not seen any of our friends and family, by the time the holiday was over I was bursting to tell people our news. “We’re engaged!” I exclaimed breathlessly to a sales assistant in Iceland, when I was buying a British wedding magazine I’d managed to find. The sales assistant didn’t seem too impressed by our news – but it didn’t deter me from telling more people. So, when the air hostess asked how our holiday had been when we boarded our WOW air flight back to London, I was surprised to see that news of our engagement had gone down well – and even seemed to have brought a smile to her face. We were incredibly touched when, about an hour into the flight, she announced over the intercom that a couple on board had just got engaged, and made everyone clap as she brought over some champagne. To us! It suddenly all felt very real…


So – I feel like the past few weeks have been a whirlwind of champagne, congratulations and devouring wedding magazines like they’re going out of fashion. But now it’s time to get down to business. My lovely friend Kath, who got married last September, told me to start with the venue and the date. So that’s precisely what I’m going to do…

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