Gemma and James spent their first date in Brighton, where a flight on the i360 was followed by a walk along the seafront, rides on the pier and a meander into Hove for dinner. Gemma says, “It was the longest first date! We spent eight hours chatting, but conversation between us was easy.”
James proposed on a beach in Cape Verde. “He’d been joking about giving me a shell as a ring for days, so when he told me he had something to give me as we walked along the beach I just kept going. But he got down on one knee and proposed with an actual ring,” Gemma tells us. While she was surprised, she did have a sneaking suspicion that the all-important question was imminent as a week beforehand her dad let it slip that he and James had met for a coffee.
The couple looked at a variety of venues before deciding on The Ravenswood. “We wanted somewhere that would be exclusively ours with a bar and on-site accommodation,” the bride explains. Most important was their dream of an al fresco ceremony and The Ravenswood offered the ideal spot, alongside an indoor bad-weather alternative that the couple loved equally. “We’d have been happy with either space, but fortunately the weather was kind to us,” Gemma comments.
Read on to discover more about the big day as we get the lowdown from the bride…
The table plan was made from a mirror and was entitled Be Our Guest as a nod to the first dance song Tale As Old As Time, also from Beauty And The Beast. The string quartet played the former as the newlyweds entered the wedding breakfast reception.
To fit the romantic theme, centrepieces were candelabras draped in flowers including amnesia roses to match the bridal bouquet. The blooms also matched the arrangements placed either side of the Little Castle outdoor ceremony space. Gemma says, "Our flowers were stunningly chic with beautiful, soft pastels and vintage lilacs paired with silver-toned greenery. They perfectly matched the bridesmaid dresses as well as the boys' cravats and chair sashes." They also had love heart glass bottles containing fairylights dotted around the venue for an added air of romance.
The big-day bake was a four-tier showstopper with a salted caramel base, followed by a lemon drizzle layer, gluten-free chocolate orange ganache, and a fruit cake. A cascade of beautiful edible roses flowed down its side in a light purple, lavender and ivory paired with mink to tie it in with the floral arrangements and stationery.
The newlyweds and their guests all sat down to a traditional three-course wedding breakfast with a choice of goat cheese or salmon to start, lamb or roasted butternut squash for main, and a trio of desserts to finish. In the evening everyone enjoyed the traditional buffet spread.
Gemma wore Harrogate from the Blue by Enzoani collection. From her very first bridal boutique appointment she realised a fitted style was best suited to her body shape. "I chose this dress as it had a little something extra that the others didn't. I also wore a 30-inch plain veil since the dress was so detailed," she explains.
James looked dapper in a blue tail suit with a silver waistcoat and cravat to complement the sparkles on his bride's dress and accessories. His groomsmen wore suits and waistcoats to match the groom's with lilac/mink cravats to match the bridesmaid dresses.
Speaking of the bride tribe, they looked beautiful in long dusty lilac gowns, which tied in with the flowers and venue decorations. They also wore silver shoes and accessories to reflect the colour palette of the day.
As guests arrived Just Strings quartet were there to entertain them as well as throughout the drinks reception. "They were great and really set off the classic, romantic ambience we were aiming for," Gemma recalls. Garden games were set out on the lawn, including stilts, hoopla, giant Jenga, bowls and croquet.
There was also a selfie pod in the evening, which everyone enjoyed immensely and doubled up as a guest book for the happy couple to treasure. One highlight of the celebrations was the confetti canon going off during the first dance and making spectators jump, at which point James dramatically picked up his bride and spun her around – the stuff of dreams for their photographer. The night perfectly drew to a close with sparklers in the secret garden.
"The day was magical," Gemma remembers. "We couldn't believe it had finally arrived and just wanted time to take everything in," she continues. Seeing friends and family turn around as the bride set off down the aisle on her dad's arm, as the groom waited at the end was a real highlight for the pair. "I particularly love looking back on this part of our video," Gemma tells us.
The couple's 18-month-old son had a whale of a time playing with his bubble cart that James put together for him. He certainly loved all the attention he was getting on mum and dad's special day!
Keen to add some personal touches to the day Gemma made the favours and much of the stationery herself. The ladies were gifted candles decorated with glittery ribbon and the men with little sweet-filled tankards. These doubled up as place names since each favour was individually labelled. Plus, elegantly echoed in all stationery throughout the day was the J&G logo the couple had designed together.
Jewellery and accessories
Venue and catering