Your Real Wedding
Harriet and Matthew met in 2003. They were both actors at the time, performing in a show called 'Newsrevue' at The Canal Café. They realised early on that they had a lot in common; a love of theatre, tennis, skiing walking, history and animals.
Matthew, now a teacher, had said that he wanted a break in the October 2011 half-term. They are great hikers and chose to visit Snowdonia in North Wales. Harriet found it quite odd that Matthew was spending so much money on a suite in a Boutique B&B for a few days hiking. As they were driving up from London they decided to stop off just outside Llangollen, a place which is special to them as it was where they had a family holiday with Matthew's late father.
Matthew had found a short 4-mile walk, part of which went up Velvet Hill. They stood looking at the scenery for a bit and then Harriet wanted to get on, so set off across the hill. Matthew stopped her and said "Close your eyes and put out your hand". "Is it a Millionaire's shortbread?" Harriet replied, which is something they often take on a walk, but Matthew placed something else in her hand. When she opened her eyes there was a small square box in her hand, and Matthew was on one knee. He said" Harriet, will do me the honour of becoming my wife?".
"I burst into tears, of course said yes, and was pretty much crying with joy for the whole 3 days we were away."
Hen and Stag Parties
Harriet had a sleep-over with her very close friends on a Friday, with a curry and Prosecco, and then was on a bus to central London the following morning. The day was split into three parts, with a vintage theme. Part 1 was tea at The Secret Soho tea rooms, part 2 a dance lesson to learn the Lind Hop and Labeth Walk, and part 3 was a Cabaret at the Brick House on Brick Lane.
The stag do was a slightly different affair. They went to Go Ape and dressed the groom up as Robin Hood, and then went for a meal and drinks in London Bridge.
"Some of the organisation went awol and the hens were receiving phone calls as to the whereabouts of the rest of the group!"
The Bride and Groom's Outfits
Harriet couldn't find a wedding dress she liked in the shops, as they all seemed to be strapless and covered in sparkles, which just isn't her. So instead she used a dress maker called Linda Grey, the Mother of an old friend from University.
Harriet wanted something classic with sleeves, and also something that she could possibly wear again. She found a photo of the type of dress she wanted, and Linda designed a beautiful dress made from Notthingham lace, with the underneath a material that Harriet found in John Lewis.
Harriet also wanted a veil, and Linda suggested decorating it with Swarovski Crystals. She also made Harriet a bag out of her dress material.
"Linda was amazing. I was very much guided by her as she knew exactly what would suit my shape."
Harriet found a company in Cumbria which sells handmade hair accessories, where she purchased her hair comb. She also found a cream coat with fur collar in an Antique Shop in Hampton Court.
Matthew and his groomsmen's outfits were hired from his father's gentlemen's outfitters in Brierley Hill, near Stourbridge, where Matthew grew up. They chose traditional black morning suits, cream waistcoats and purple ties.
Harriet and Matthew had a Champagne reception in the Fusilier's Museum in the Tower after the service, and decided they didn't need any flowers in there as it is full of regimental silver and really didn't need any more decoration.
The buttonholes were supplied by Elizabeth Sands, the florist for The Chapel at the Tower. The buttonholes were avalanche roses with sprigs of purple and green.
The flowers for the tables at were tulips bought 2 days before the wedding from Tescos.
The Ceremony and Reception
Harriet and Matthew had a tradition church service at The Chapel of St. Peter ad Vincula, HM Tower of London, where they both worship; this was the most important aspect of the day to them.
They had a discussion with the musical director at the Chapel, who helped them with the order of their music. They knew exactly what they wanted, and he also helped them choose one other anthem. In between the readings they had a piece by John Rutter, who is from Harriet's home town of Cambridge, and during the signing of the register they chose a piece by Will Todd, who recently wrote a piece for the Diamond Jubilee.
They left the service as husband and wife to a lone piper from The London Scottish Regiment playing Amazing Grace. Harriet's Grandfather served with this regiment during the Second World War, and his face lit up when he saw this.
The ceremony was attended by 100 guests.
The reception took place at The Garden Museum, Lambeth. This venue is very special to Harriet and Matthew as they both used to pass it on their tours when they worked as Guides on the London Duck Tours. It is now a deconsecrated church, and as soon as they went in there they knew it was the right venue for them.
They had a buffet dinner, followed by a cabaret performed by their friends. They had singing from Kris Milnes, ukulele and compéring from Bernadette Russell, Burlesque dancing from Shirley Windmill and Lady Cheek, and comedy from Stevie Gray. This was followed by The Denmark Street Big Band. They were joined in the evening by 40 other friends.
"It was brilliant seeing so many friends having such a good time."
Originally Harriet and Matthew both wanted a West Bromwich Albion themed cake, but this idea didn't get a great reception! They didn't want to spend a fortune on a cake so found a beautiful black and white 3 tier cake from M&S, which Matthew's mother put extra decoration on the top of. The bottom layer was fruit cake, the middle vanilla sponge and the top layer chocolate.
Harriet and Matthew chose David Connolly of Insightful Light as their photographer. As David has such a calming manner, Harriet completely forgot he was taking photos.
"The pictures are truly amazing and really capture our day; we have had so many compliments. We cannot recommend David highly enough. I think our favourite photo is of us walking in the rain with our brollies, with the soldiers behind us rehearsing the Ceremony of the Keys. David also took a photo of our first dance, which is beautiful."
Matthew's mother decorated all of the tables. They were covered in purple flower petals, silver hearts and there was a vase of yellow tulips in the centre; there was a hand-painted heart from 'By Niki' hanging from each vase. There were also some bubbles and purple chocolate hearts on the tables.
As Harriet's Dad is an amazing artist she asked him to do a print of each of their favourite walks, which was the theme for the tables. He also did a sketch of the Tower of London for the invitations and a beautiful sketch of the Chapel for the Order of Service. The Garden Museum use a professional lighting company called Enhance and they lit up The Garden Museum with gold and amber lighting.
As Matthew is a teacher they had a 48 hour mini-moon in Paris. They spent their wedding night at The St. Pancras Hotel, so they could get straight on the Eurostar the next day. Once in Paris, they stayed at a boutique B7B, and Matthew had organised an Electric Bike Tour. They walked up to Sacré Couer, fell asleep, and got told off for hugging!
"Seeing Matthew's face when he turned round to look at me walking down the aisle, the faces of all of our friends and family during the service, and when we were saying our vows to each other and looking into each other's eyes."
The Wedding Community
"The Real Weddings section is really useful as you can find out about what really happens on the day. There are some lovely tips and ideas on the website too."
Tips and Ideas
"Have a notebook and keep it with you; I filled mine with names and telephone numbers, ideas, quotes etc. Also, try and barter the price on things; it's a competitive market out there so it's always worth a go. When we were first thinking about the wedding, we had a piece of paper in the kitchen and if we had an idea, we'd just write it down."
Bride's Top Tips
"Remember, it is supposed to be the best day of your life. If you have taken on too much, delegate to family to help you out. Also, everyone has an opinion but it is yours and your husband-to-be's day, no one else's."
Groom's Top Tip
"Keep calm and carry on."
"The flowers from Tescos, my vintage cream coat which was £40, and my shoes from Irregular Choice which were £54.99."
Money Saving Ideas
"If you're booking something or making an enquiry, don't mention wedding; they will just put noughts on the end!"
Bride's Beauty Tips
"Don't try to save money by doing your make-up yourself. It is the one day when you need make-up to last all day, through rain (hopefully not!), wind and tears. I used a lady called Miss Honey Bare at Heyday Honey. She specialises in vintage make-up and hair, but does normal bridal too. My make-up looked flawless all day. Also, false eyelashes are a must!"
Photography: Insightful Light
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