Nothing can tear us apart

Gill and Simon first met in Bognor Regis in 2001. “Simon was visiting for work,” says Gill. “He was staying at my local pub, and we got chatting over a game of pool. He was only due to stay for one more night, so we made plans to go into town that evening. The next day instead of heading home, he decided to stay. We remained in contact for several months over the phone, and in December of that year, a bunch of beautiful lilies were delivered to the travel agency where I worked. I realised then that he’d been thinking of me and how kind and thoughtful he was. We continued to have a long-distance romance for the next three years, travelling 160 miles either way at every opportunity we had. We quite often got up at 4:30am on a Monday morning to travel home for work so we could have a few more hours together. I decided to move to Warwick in 2005, and we’ve since moved to Leamington.”

A few months after moving, Simon proposed to Gill. “We went for a chilly wander around Warwick on the 23rd December picking up a few last-minute Christmas presents,” shares the bride. “Simon said he had somewhere he wanted to go and pulled me by my hand until we were outside Russell Lane Jewellers. He proposed to me outside and then took me inside to collect the ring he had already purchased. I was so surprised I didn’t even put it on, and as we went for a celebratory drink it was still in its box! We were able to share the happy news with our friends and family the next day on Christmas Eve. We went on to have a 13-year engagement and had two beautiful daughters in that time. It was lovely to return to Russell Lane all those years later to purchase our wedding rings.”

Warwick House "Warwick House was the perfect venue for us," explains Gill. "Having stayed at multiple hotels and venues throughout our relationship, we knew what we liked and didn't. I always remember hearing about the opening of Warwick House, so I had it in the back of my mind from the offset. Over Christmas 2018, we decided it was finally time to get married, and we're so thankful that we did with the subsequent pandemic and how it affected the wedding industry. We visited the property during an open day in January 2019, and fell in love with it and booked it on the spot for just nine months later. It's so unusual to have an exclusive use venue at such a reasonable price. The team were so amazing to work with, and we'd highly recommend them."

Silhouette shot

The couple decided to donate to the Birthmark Support Group instead of giving favours. "They've supported our family for many years as our eldest has a facial port-wine stain birthmark," explains Gill. "We gave each guest a card explaining our donation and our connection with the charity, along with a badge for them to wear. For the children, I made each of them a bag containing an activity book, a disposable camera, a Lego set, pencil, balloon and glow sticks."

Big day bake

Their big-day bake was made by Cake Actually. "We only needed a small design, so we went for a two-tier option," shares Gill. "It was made up of a traditional fruit cake and chocolate. Our talented cake maker hand-crafted a beautiful spray of cascading lilies that looked amazingly realistic."

Confetti Simon and Gill chose candles and silver candelabra for their centrepieces. "It was the natural choice for our theme and colour scheme," says the bride. "Our top table had a beautiful display of lilies, roses, eucalyptus and gypsophila from Jacqueline The Florist. We had this same display for my bouquet, Simon's buttonhole and a corsage for our youngest, Phoebe. As my dad passed away nine years ago, I had a memory charm with a photo of him attached to my bouquet."

Bridesmaids The lovebirds decided to make their stationery. "We did all the painting and handwriting and decorated them with artificial stargazer lilies, silver glitter and ribbons," explains Gill. "Simon also built a ladder to display photos of those that couldn't be with us and wedding photos from the previous generation. While we were on the lookout for wood to use for the welcome sign, we were lucky to spot a pool table in a charity shop. As we met playing pool, we grabbed the opportunity to buy it and were able to play a game on the day. As we had several children there, we set up a games room featuring the pool table, giant snakes and ladders, dominos, Jenga and skittles."

Love letters The happy couple served their guests canapes after the ceremony, followed by a three-course meal and evening buffet.

Newlyweds in garden Gill wore a gorgeous Maggie Sottero gown called Ettia from Serendipity Brides. "I knew I didn't want a traditional design and I wanted to be comfortable, so I could play with our children on the day," says Gill. "I picked out some sparkly styles, but none of them quite hit the button. The owner, Lisa, went to pick a wildcard and came back with my dress. It was so slim compared to other dresses that I barely noticed it on the hanger. As it was such an elaborately beaded design, I kept the accessories simple."

Simon decided to wear a black lounge suit and shirt with a teal pattern from Peter Posh. “We wanted our wedding to be informal, and the look suited our theme perfectly,” explains the bride. “We then used a cut off from the girls’ dress alterations to fashion a handkerchief for his pocket.”

Bridesmaids "My best friend that I'd grown up with since the age of five was my maid-of-honour, and our daughters were my bridesmaids," adds Gill. "We had a fantastic trip to Bea's Bridal Studio to pick out their dresses. We were all able to work together to choose a style that suited them and was age-appropriate. We were so pleased that despite being an autumn wedding we chose bright colours for our bridesmaids as by chance lots of our guests wore dark hues, so it helped them stand out. As a nod to my grandma, our eldest daughter was able to wear her pearl and gold brooch in her hair."

Wedding party "In line with my love for glittery thing I'd have loved to have had fireworks but knew this wouldn't be an option at Warwick House due to their location," shares Gill. "We agreed that we were willing to sacrifice them for the perfect venue. Instead, we chose to celebrate with sparklers on the terrace before the disco started."

Kiss the bride
Pool table

Walking down the aisle "We were excited but nervous on the day – after all, it had been a long time coming," Gill shares. "For the end of October and following a week of rain, we had such a gloriously sunny day and were so lucky. Our registrars were fantastic. I was worried about meeting the person who was due to marry us 20 minutes before the ceremony, but Julia and Dee quickly grasped that we wanted to have a fun, informal ceremony and it really was that. It gave us the perfect start to our marriage."

Sparklers The couple's family and friends made their nuptials perfect. "We went on to have lots of fun and banter with our photographer, Esme Fletcher Photography, and videographers Graham and Lucy from Two Towers Media," adds the bride. "Sam, the waitress from Warwick House, was also great and ensured everyone always had plenty of food. We were so blessed to be surrounded by our loved ones, especially a few who we thought may not make it due to illness. My maid-of-honour, Gemma, and I have shared so much together and to have her by my side every step of the way was so special. She was my right-hand women and covered everything from transporting all the items to the venue, making sure my hair was fixed to rescuing the Prosecco that was being moved away by the venue."

Nothing can tear us apart: Image 12 "Simon did a speech that he made up off the cuff which was special," explains Gill. "My godfather also managed to photobomb us through one of the windows, which was captured perfectly and rather hilariously by our photographer."

Dancefloor "As we have the girls we weren't able to go on a honeymoon," reveals Gill. "Instead, we had a mini-moon at The Welcombe Hotel as we wanted to stay local. We hired the top suite in the hotel which lived up to our expectations. We had some congratulatory truffles on arrival and enjoyed 48 hours there, relaxing, recapping the day and eating delicious food."

Gill and Simon's contact book

Bride's dress

Serendipity Brides
www.serendipitybrides.co.uk

Bride's hair comb

Emma Rose Bridal Accessories
www.emmarosecreations.co.uk

Bride's shoes and bridesmaids' dresses

Bea's Bridal Studio
www.beasbridal.co.uk

Cake

Cake Actually
www.cakeactually.co.uk

Earrings

Liberty in Love
www.libertyinlove.co.uk

Flowers

Jacqueline The Florist
www.jacquelinetheflorist.co.uk

Groom's suit,

Make-up artist

Bryony Dalton
www.bryonydalton.com

Mini-moon

The Welcombe Hotel
www.bestwestern.co.uk

Photographer

Esme Fletcher Photography
www.esmefletcher.co.uk

Stationery

Pure Invitation
www.pureinvitation.co.uk

Venue

Warwick House
www.warwickhouse.co.uk

Videographer

Two Towers Media
www.twotowersmedia.co.uk