Even though Gemma and Ryan had been at the same school, it wasn't until 2011 that a relationship blossomed. During a date at Lakeside for some retail therapy and lunch, the pair got to know each other a little better. Three years later, Ryan surprised Gemma with a splash of spontaneity on their third anniversary. “He wrote 'Will you marry me' in my anniversary card, among other lovely words, and as I was reading it, he got the ring out of his pocket. To say I was surprised was an understatement – it was 6.30am and I was still in my PJs! He'd said he wouldn't propose on our anniversary, and he just did it, spontaneously,” she recalls.
As the couple were also buying their first house, they took their time – two years in fact – to prepare for the big day. Gemma enjoyed every minute of the planning, even with the odd spot of stress that every bride-to-be encounters.
Here, she shares some of her favourite snaps from their vintage day…
Gemma's hairdresser bridesmaid, Jade, styled her locks. The bride says, “She knows me so well and this showed in the style on the day. I absolutely loved it.” The bride was over the moon with her natural make-up too, which suited her dress and vintage theme.
“Tiana and Chloe (my sisters) and Brooke (Ryan's niece) were my little flowergirls – we always knew we'd have them on our big day.”
“I tried on around 15 dresses before I found 'the one', which was actually my wild card. I'd always pictured myself in a princess-style gown, but when I put this one on it felt comfortable and suited my body shape. The detail and lace was gorgeous. It was my Mum who said 'yes to the dress'!”
Picking her favourite blooms, Gemma's bouquet was a gentle fusion of sweet avalanche roses, eryngium thistles, astrantia, pink astilbe and white tulips – which were also used for the table centrepieces and seating plan display.
Ryan's royal blue suit was a lucky, spur of the moment choice. Gemma recalls, “We were at Lakeside together with my dad and we found it, even though it wasn't our intention to look for it that day. Ryan tried it on and liked it so much he called up Joe, his best man, got his measurements over the phone and bought that too! Luckily, it fitted perfectly.”
“We first looked at Down Hall Country House Hotel in 2014. When we were driving up to it, I was blown away and knew immediately that it was 'the one'. Also, our first dance song started playing as we drove up – it was definitely a sign!”
“We didn't need too much to decorate the room as it had lovely vintage décor already. We had wooden crates with flowers in to complement the theme.”
The couple decided to have some fun with their cake. Having been inspired by some pictures on Pinterest, they chose a 'half and half' option, allowing for a mix of tradition and chocolatey fun!
“My sister Charlene and best friend Jade were my best girls. They wore vintage-style dresses in sage green, which were backless to match mine. I picked them myself as I knew the style would suit them both, and it was important to me that they felt happy.”
Gemma met their photographer at a wedding fair and having seen his albums, knew he was the right man for the job. “I'd definitely recommend Marcus – he was laid-back, kind and considerate, and the pictures were really fun to do,” she says. “He made it stress-free!”
Bride's dress and accessories
Lusan Mandongus at Grace and Lace
Tel: 07842 829 867
Ceremony and reception venue
Down Hall Country House Hotel
Flowers by Davina
House of Fraser, Lakeside
Marcus Howlett – Photography.co.uk
The Jewellery Hut
Date Posted: Wednesday, 20 July 2016
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