Our Wedding Day – 8th September 2014 at Parley Manor

So with our 1 year anniversary approaching on Tuesday (8th September) I thought I’d blog about the day I married my best friend.

Joe & I first met in December 2010, within a month he had moved in with me & in December 2012 Joe got down on one knee to propose to me whilst we were on holiday in Egypt.

We didn’t look at many wedding venues at all as we’d been to a couple of weddings at our dream venue, Parley Manor in Christchurch, & absolutely fallen in love. It’s a large manor house owned by Gwen who also lives there with her daughter Zara (who’s also the wedding co-ordinator). The venue consists within the grounds of the house with a marquee for the ceremony then going through to another larger marquee within a beautiful walled garden.

To keep cost down I made a lot of the wedding decor myself including the invitations, centrepieces, seating plan, name tags & so on which I really enjoyed doing & then sold on after the big day, mostly actually for a profit. 

In total, the wedding came to £7.5k (not including honeymoon) with 50 guests in the day and approx 70 in the evening. The average UK wedding in 2014 was just under £21k so came in at nearly 1/3 of the price. Getting married on a weekday was approximately half the price & our attitude was that if somebody didn’t want to take a day off work to attend then we didn’t really want them there anyway. I budgeted the entire day using spreadsheets & in the end only went over by £500 as my budget was £7k.

Decor wise, I went with a simple shabby chic look with hessian, lace & peach as my ‘theme’. It was amazing walking in to see all the little bits I had painstakingly made over the last few months & made it all totally worth it. We hired some bits from Maria at Simply Flower who was just wonderful & has recently done our friends wedding at The Harbour Heights in Sandbanks which was gorgeous. 

My DIY baby food jar tea light holder tutorial – see here

My DIY seating plan tutorial post – see here

Here’s some of our photo’s of our day, professional ones are from the incredible Charlotte Marie Photography 

I was actually 9 weeks pregnant when we got married so it involved a lot of ‘pretend drinking’ 

Hair by Caz – here 

Joe bought me a John Lewis sewing machine, sewing lessons & a Cath Kidston sewing box as our wedding present

Personalised Bride/Bridesmaid dressing gowns from here

Make-up by Laura – here 

Joe also surprised me with the most stunning wedding car – I didn’t budget for one so was going to arrive in my parents car 

Beautiful bridesmaids – my best friend Sian & sister Lisa

Elsa was flower girl & my two nephews, William & Benjamin were page boys 

I had my dad (right) & step-dad (left) walk me down the aisle. David has been in my life since I was 4 years old & raised me as his own. I am so thankful for all he does (& continues to do), so felt it was right to have both my dads. 

I walked down the aisle to ‘A thousand years’ by Christina Perry played by a string quartet, which was so beautiful & added a real ‘wow’ factor. They were expensive, but when I first heard them play at a wedding open day I got goose bumps & it was our ‘luxury’ must have. They played whilst guests arrived, during the ceremony then afterwards whilst we had drinks on the lawn including lots of our favourite songs. 

Joe had two best men Oli & Davis – his two bestfriends.

Joe thought he’d got away with nobody seeing him having a little cry

My beautiful Nan, Mary, passed away suddenly 2 days before our wedding whilst getting ready to come down with my Auntie & Uncle. I was absolutely devastated, but knew she’d be watching down on me. I had her cross she wore everyday wrapped around my bouquet (which also sat on top of her coffin 2 weeks later & now lives in my dresser – it would be the one thing i’d save if the house was burning down, aside from the kids/Joe/dog obviously). 

Her hat that she would have worn was sat pride of place on her empty chair

Both my dad & stepdad did speeches

I was trying SO hard not to cry in the above photo, but in the end nobody in the room had a dry eye. Joe’s speech read –

“I have been looking forward to this for a long time and “my wife” and I would like to start by thanking everybody for coming and sharing our special day. We have a few gifts to give our ourselves that we’ll do afterwards.

When my wife and I were discussing the speeches, she told me that according to a strict schedule I was allocated 2 minutes. Within this time I should ‘thank everyone, talk about how beautiful I look and then make a toast’ and whatever I do, I should not make any jokes, as apparently i’m not as funny as I think I am. I think she was more worried about how badly I could embarrass her or myself outside the allotted 2 minutes. So lets find out.

Firstly, thank you to my new mother-in-law Carol for everything you have done for us both; from early on you always made me feel like I was the right man to create a life with your youngest daughter and that you trusted me with her happiness, I hope I always live up to that. I see in Charlotte many qualities that she has gained from you. She is strong, determined, very organised and most prominently…always right. So thank you for that…

Thank you to David for all the advice and on-going support he has given, he deserves a special mention having survived 20 years with Carol, Charlotte and Lisa. If I make it half that long without throttling Charlotte then I see that as an achievement.

Also thank you to John, you welcomed me into the family and created a daughter that makes my life complete and who I never want to be without. When I spoke to you and asked for Charlotte’s hand in marriage, I don’t think I had even finished my sentance before you jumped in shouting ‘of course’ as if you were doing it before I could change my mind. What followed can only be described as the longest sigh of relief I have ever heard.

Now on to my parents. Dad, you are the sort of role model that every child needs growing up and you have always guided me down the right path even when I did not realise it. You may not be the best looking chap so I haven’t got a clue where my freakishly good looks came from but you are an amazing father and grandfather. You are a man of few words, primarily because mum doesnt let you get a word in edgeways but you always know the right thing to say. I only hope that my children will one day respect me the same way I do you.
Now on to my mum, this is probably the longest you’ve ever gone without talking and I know your keen to get going so I’ll speed things up. I can hand on heart say that I could not have asked for a better mum. You love your children unconditionally and let us know everyday just how much we mean to you. I don’t feel like anything I can say will truly comprehend how amazing this woman is and I thank her for everything she has done and will do.
My parents are both amazing in their own right but together demonstrate the safe, stable and enduring family structure I wish to replicate. I can never say thank you enough.

I would like to thank the bridesmaids. Sian and Lisa, who are both looking so beautiful today. You have both offered huge emotional support and help not just today but in the months of preparation leading up to our big day.

Thank you also to my best men, Oli and Chris, they have both been hugely supportive and influential for many years and have helped me to develop into the person I am today. I have many happy memories with these guys and as I approach a new chapter in life, I know they’ll continue to be there. 

Now on to my gorgeous wife, Charlotte you look absolutely stunning and I think everyone here will agree I am honestly the luckiest man in the world. Thank you so much for organising, scheduling, designing and hand making everything around us that has made this day so extra special. You have worked tirelessly to make every detail amazing and it really shows. 
Charlotte is intelligent, creative, strong-willed, independant, caring and beautiful. She is always a considerate and doting partner, a wonderful mother and I adore her. Anyone that knows her will be aware she can be a complete….pickle…but as she always says ‘you wouldnt want to be with someone boring, would you?’
When I first met Charlotte she was the new girl in my office and I had recently been promoted to her boss. Taking advantage of my seniority I introduced myself at the Christmas party a few weeks later. Little did I know that from that moment onwards, I was no longer the boss and from that day she would be the one telling me what to do.
Joking aside, I will always love and treasure Charlotte, she has watched me develop into a man (with some gentle encouragement), started a life with me and given us the most amazing babygirl in Elsa. All of these things I can never thank her enough for but I have the rest of my life to try.
I found a quote that I feel goes some way towards explaining how much this girl means to me. It goes ‘to the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world’.
Charlotte, thank you for making me the happiest and most fulfilled I could ever possibly be. I am so in love with you and I know this is the start of many happy years together.
Please everyone be upstanding for the most important toast I am ever going to make; to my bride, to my world, to Charlotte.

I would also like to say a few words about the most remarkable lady that passed away unexpectedly on Saturday and who Charlotte and I are devastated couldn’t be here to share our wedding day. Mary was wonderful and kind, with an immense excitement about what lay beyond and her moving has left a dent in our hearts.
I would like to think that her memory lives on in all of us and can guarantee that when she arrived at the pearly gates she was let straight through without questions….I wish I could say that would be the case for the rest of us.
Nan was a firm believer that when one person passes, it gives life to another and in her last moments we were able to let her know she was right. Charlotte and I are ecstatic to announce that we are expecting a new addition to our family in April next year.
So ladies and gentlemen, please raise a glass in memory of an inspirational lady who has the best seat in the house.”

Love, Charlotte x 


  1. September 11, 2015 / 5:00 pm

    Omg this is amazing. Such a lovely lovely speech, and whole day. I can't believe you're only 24! So glad I happened to stumble across your blog today. Truly inspirational. X

  2. September 11, 2015 / 5:12 pm

    Not a dry eye reading Joe's speech I am a blubbering mess. Beautiful post x

  3. September 12, 2015 / 11:14 am

    I feel about 80 most of the time!! Thanks so much for reading lovely 🙂 x

  4. September 12, 2015 / 11:16 am

    I was blubbering typing it out – I can hardly remember it from the day as I was trying SO hard not to cry, I was singing ba-ba-blacksheep in my head on repeat! It's lovely looking back through everything 🙂 x

  5. August 9, 2016 / 11:04 am

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. September 2, 2016 / 8:34 am

    I'm getting married in two days and came across your blog while searching something along the lines of "dad and stepdad walking up the aisle" and I'm so glad I did. Maybe it's pre wedding jitters, but I had a good cry pretty much the whole way through this post. That photo of your grandma's hat on the chair was so touching. And that speech was so heartfelt and lovely. It made me really excited for my big day and shifted the focus from the last minute to do list to the most memorable parts of any wedding: celebrating your love with family and friends. So thank you and happy almost anniversary!