"Maria asked her friend about me the moment she first saw me. Despite being told I wasn't looking to date anyone at the time, she then went on to wager a crate of wine that she'd be able to charm me," Jessica says of the pair's initial encounter on a night out with mutual friends. We're pleased to report that after several months Maria's charms did indeed win Jessica over, "combined with her humour, intelligence, obvious beauty, and dance moves," she recalls.
Fast forward to Maria's 30th birthday, for which a big party had been organised at The Counting House in Eastbourne. Unbeknown to her, Jessica had also arranged a special treasure hunt as a daytime activity. Each clue led her to a location in the town that held special meaning for the couple and at each, they'd collect another friend or family member. The final clue led to Gildredge Park where the pair walk their dog, Saffy, and as Maria discovered their beloved pet she scooped her up giving her a big hug. A few anxious moments passed while they waited for her to notice the little bag attached to the canine's collar containing the engagement ring! Jessica remembers, "After what seemed like an age, our friends shouted at me to get down on one knee, which I did as I tearfully asked Maria to marry me and she said 'yes'!"
Read on as Jessica shares the story of their big day at Gildredge Manor on 25th May, 2019…
Jessica and Maria are both huge fans of traditional listed buildings, so when they became engaged the first place they thought of that fit the bill as a venue, and already special to them was, of course, Gildredge Manor.Jessica explains, "We were completely blown away by it. The building is absolutely stunning and they've done an incredible renovation with fantastic attention to detail." There was a sense of serendipity as they were presented with a recommended supplier list and it contained a number of their friends."Everything seemed to slot into place," Jessica says.
The pair opted for a blue colour palette with an emphasis on navy. Their seasonal flowers were in mixed pastel shades including ice white, lilac, apricot, parchment and sky blue. The blooms of choice were dainty delphiniums, foxgloves, nigella, campanulas and lisianthuses, as well as beautifully scented varieties such as sweet peas, stocks and Margaret Merril English garden roses.The floral crown was created using white wax flowers and eucalyptus leaves with buttonholes including nigella, eryngium thistles and mixed greens.
Flowers also formed the centrepieces but were otherwise kept simple withan empty wine bottle displaying each table name. The tables were also decorated with bottles of homemade elderflower gin and sloe gin labelled witha personalised sticker and coupled with a skeleton key bottle opener. An ornate mirror with twine stretched across its frame held the table plan and was illuminated with twinkling fairylights. Each table was named after one of the couple's favourite red wines. Further atmospheric lighting came from LOVE letters and romantic garden candle lanterns.
The menu for the day was designed to be interactive from beginning to end. The pair served their guests a sharing platter to start with, followed by a roast lamb joint, which required a carver for each table and a crème brûlée for dessert. Guests were also treated to a help yourself cheese tower. Food heaven!
Neither bride wanted to see the other's dress before the day so they were both surprised to see how similar their tastes were when the big reveal happened. Maria wore a stunning Pronovias gown and Jessica chose a lovely Martina Liana number. Both dresses were beautifully elegant so the brides opted for minimal accessories to complement their looks, wearing just a simple pair of earrings each. They also both chose flowers as the only other accessory, Maria wearing hers as a crown and Jessica weaving hers into her hair.
"A friend of ours, Steve Carville, who plays guitar, provided the music as we walked down the aisle and again as we walked back up. He played Happy Together by The Turtles as we exited and we'd had the lyrics printed out to encourage guests to sing along, which they did with gusto!" Jessica says. Later in the afternoon Team Jig were victorious over Team Maria in a tug of war battle. Jessica remembers,"It made for some great photos, especially with Maria's grandma holding her own against all the boys the other end!" There was plenty more to entertain guests with Jenga, Connect 4, beer pong and limbo.
The photo booth provided one of the newlyweds' favourite aspects of the day. Jessica explains, "Prior to the wedding, I took a photo of Saffy in front of Gildredge Manor and sent it to the photo booth company. Each picture taken at the wedding was then printed out on a small square sticker to create a mosaic of this lovely image. By far, the best photo experience we've had."
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