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101 Chic




by sports car! for the drive of your life!

❤ Lakes Como & Lucerne ❤ St Moritz ❤ Milan ❤ Cote d’Azur


venues, fashions & accessories for sandy beaches, floral gazebos & exotic gardens

Real weddIngs Steal their style! destinations, dresses and fab accessories

Expert advice ❤ CHECK the weather! ❤ ASK the planners! ❤ START counting the days!

wow-factor weddings

in cool locations


Amazing special offers from Brides Abroad

SAVE £10,000 on honeymoons! Greek Islands, Tenerife, Maldives, Sri Lanka and more

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Issue 11



Credits Published by Joint Venture Media Ltd Tel: 01937 58 48 92

Publisher Martin Cody-Owen

Editor-in-Chief Terri Cody-Owen Congratulations

Congratulations! Winter is the season when it’s chilly outside – but warm hearts turn to love. Many guys chose to propose to their beloved over the festive season and even more pop the question on Valentine’s Day on 14th February. If you have said, ‘YES!” to your other half or you are already excitedly planning your wedding in 2014, then the Brides Abroad team are first at hand to help you every step of the way with your wedding and honeymoon in some of the world’s most delightful destinations. So where do you start? Firstly would you prefer a sun-kissed tropical wedding on a palm-fringed Caribbean beach (p.46 & 90) or a totally cool ceremony in Iceland (p.72)? Or how about an ICE CHAPEL in snowy Quebec (p.68)? Perhaps you’d delight in exchanging your vows with the blessing of an elephant in Thailand (p. 34), in tropical gardens in Marrakech (p.78) or under a floral gazebo overlooking the Med in historical Malta (p. 18)? We feature Real Weddings across the world to give you ideas and tips from real couples who have said “I do” in gorgeous destinations to suit their individual style. If you are not quite sure where’s hot and where’s not at any particular time of year, check our world weather chart (p.98) and guide to planning your wedding step-by-step in the lead up to your Big Day (p.102). For honeymooners, the world’s your oyster. The Indian Ocean is popular whatever time of year you’re travelling (p.116). You can even combine a sublime stay in The Maldives with an enchanting en-route stop-over in Sri Lanka to get up close with the wildlife (p.124). Or go for the drive of your life on an adventurous road trip to Sardinia, taking in the lakes and mountains of Europe en-route. (p.108). With all this food for thought, turn to p.17 to Brides Abroad’s amazing honeymoon offers to snaffle a bargain trip of a lifetime. And be sure to check out our website, and book through us for the best honeymoon advice and deals, or call the Brides Abroad Travel Desk on: 0800 211 8255.

Editorial Assistant Lily Gish

Assistant to Publisher Patsy Owen

Contributors Lisa Burton Holly Catz Louis Hardwick Alan Benstock Martin Cody-Owen

Photography Dreamstime Peter Rameau Xavier Dachez Larus Signudarson Crash Taylor Robyn Geffery

Design Chris Peach Centrical Solutions

Printer Polstar

Advertising Sales Joint Venture Media 01937 58 48 92

Director of Sales Terri Cody Owen EDITOR

To Subscribe to Brides Abroad for just £22 for 6 issues, email

0800 211 8255

©Joint Venture Media Ltd. All material in this publication is strictly copyright and all rights are reserved. Reproduction without permission is prohibited. The views expressed in Brides Abroad magazine do not necessarily represent the views of Joint Venture Media. Every care is taken in compiling the contents but the publisher of Brides Abroad magazine assume no responsibility for any damage, loss or injury arising from participation in any offer, competition or advertisement contained within Brides Abroad magazine.

Sylvia Oakley 0113 284 31 00

Sales Executive Nigel Notley


Photographed at Jumeirah Dhevanafushi, Jumeirah’s new luxury hotel in The Maldives.


Contents 68

In this issue 8 17 32 44 55 60 76 84

Wedding and honeymoon news Honeymoon Offers Steal Emmalene’s style Steal Kristina’s style Steal Stephanie’s style Steal Lesley’s style Get the look – Ice Wedding Steal Melissa’s style



Facebook lovers wed in Malta

Emmalene and Paul exchange vows, not emails in Malta


True love in Thailand

Kristina and Ramuna’s barefoot beach ceremony in Thailand

50 56 68

Stephanie and John tie the knot in St Lucia





Sizzling ch Wed to magic venues from dings Dominic al Mauritius Bali and an Repu blic

w wedow din

USAgs !

Cowboy Elvis in style att Sail throu endance Medieval gh Manhattan n America feast n-Pie the movie n





SPE orini ciA l

Totally chilled in Iceland

Nicole and Andy’s heart-warming ceremony in Iceland



Cool ceremony in Quebec

Lauren and Charles say, “I do” in winter wonderland


Autumn 201

Love vows in St Lucia

Lesley and Robert’s romantic beach nuptials


“I do” at Smugglers’ Cove

Centre stage in Marrakech


Melissa and Tim star in their Moroccan wedding

Bliss in the Bahamas

Clare and Gary’s tropical garden ceremony


n Venu es with n Bliss ful hone iconic views n Delig ymoons ht n Suns your gues

ts! hine gu aranteed !

Pamperm Couples oons ’ rituals in world -class sp as



Steal l Weddin g

their Desti fab acnation dressestyle! cessor ies s and

SUBSCRIBE Mald ives Sri L ank& a

SAVE Greek £10,00 Islan 0o twic www ds, Tenerife, n honeym e as Your gui .Brid de to du esAb Maldives, Sr oons! al-destina nice road i Lanka ! tion hon .tv eymoons and m ore £3.99

Six issues FOR ONLY £18.00 Worth £23.94 inc FREE P&P 6





Marry in Malta


Thai the knot


Beach brides in St Lucia


Snow brides


Bahamas weddings

However you want to say “I do”, the historical island of Malta has the perfect venue

Have a wow-factor wedding and exchange your vows in exotic Thailand

The palm fringed Caribbean island of St Lucia offers truly romantic settings for couples seeking beach weddings in paradise

From snow-capped mountain peaks to dazzling ice hotels in the Arctic Circle, you too can have a fairytale wedding in a winter wonderland

Stunning weddings under swaying palms




Weather permitting


Your worldwide weather guide

102 Wedding countdown

Month-by-month planning for your wedding abroad

104 Pop the question

Your questions answered by expert wedding planners

106 Ask the planner

Tips and advice from Lisa Burton of the Bridal Consultancy


HONEYMOONS road to Sardinia 108 The - the drive of your life!

Forget the plane; take the high road through the Alps to Sardinia in the sunny Mediterranean

116 Indian Ocean favourites

White sand beaches, turquoise ocean and swaying palms, no wonder the Island gems in the Indian Ocean are the world’s number one honeymoon destinations

124 Paradise is twice as nice

Lauren and Pete’s amazing two-centre honeymoon in tropical Sri Lanka and the stunning Maldives 7

BRIDES ABROADNEWS Be inspired, informed and amazed by the latest news on overseas weddings & honeymoons

8 9

Indulge in a blissful honeymoon in the Maldives at the luxurious Jumeirah Dhevanafushi and Jumeirah Vittaveli resorts, which are both offering a new ‘Island Romance’ package that includes spa treatments, fine-dining and romantic indulgences. Jumeirah Dhevanafushi is offering complete seclusion on a Robinson Crusoe island in a choice of opulent beach or over water villas, all with private pools and personal butlers. The resort’s ‘Island Romance’ experience comprises four nights of unforgettable moments, including a sunken candlelit dinner on a private beach, a bespoke ‘Couples Connect’ Chakra treatment at the overwater Talise Spa, and a guided snorkeling tour of the coral reef. Alternatively, couples looking for romance closer to Malé can opt for Jumeirah Vittaveli, just a 20-minute boat ride from Malé International Airport. The four-night ‘Island Romance’ package includes luxurious accommodation in an Ocean Suite Water Villa with private pool, sun deck and butler service, plus a couples’ spa treatment, followed by a private romantic dinner in a choice of stunning locations. A sunrise breakfast on the pristine beach will make each couple feel like the only inhabitants of this idyllic island

Book it! or call +960 682 8800/ +960 665 8111. Price depends on date booked. Rates from £1,675 per night. Minimum length of stay is four nights

Honeymooners looking for spa heaven will discover that Laucala Island, Fiji’s luxury, all-inclusive resort, offers sublime spa experiences unlike any other in a true island paradise. Laucala Island is situated on a private island in the Fijian Pacific archipelago and is a beyond-five-star resort, set amidst coconut plantations, sandy beaches, turquoise lagoons, lush mountains and breathtaking natural beauty. The resort offers luxury accommodation in 25 villas and a variety of activities ranging from watersport and pro-golfing to horse riding along the beach. The intimate spa comprises four treatment villas, each with a private treatment room, hot stone relaxation room, outdoor hot tub and changing room. It offers an indulgent range of treatments and couples rituals that combine South Pacific traditions and modern techniques, including the Fijian Hot and Cold River Stone Therapy; Volcanic Scrubs and Mineral Crystal Therapy. The spa incorporates the natural resources of the island in its four signature scents. Couples can create their own essential oil in the resort’s distillery so that they can return from Fiji with their own unique scent of this honeymoon paradise.

Book it! 10

THAILAND 5★ Mai Samui Beach Resort & Spa, Koh Samui Tropical Sky has partnered with Mai Samui Beach Resort & Spa to offer an exclusive wedding package. This beautifully appointed hideaway located on Koh Samui is situated on one of the most picturesque secluded beaches – ideal for a wedding and honeymoon. Book your wedding with us before 28 February 2014 and enjoy some exclusive extras*. • Receive a FREE* room upgrade to the next room category • Stay a minimum of 3 nights and receive a FREE* 1hr spa treatment for you and your partner during your stay • A resort credit to the value of 2,000 baht (£40) per booking* Find us at the Spring Wedding Shows Wedding Fair, Glow, Bluewater 7-9 February 2014, Stand S24 The National Wedding Show Birmingham NEC 28 February - 2 March, Stand D38 Wedding Fair, EventCity, Manchester 7-9 March 2013, Stand D11

Start planning today

0843 636 7539 @TSkyweddings

Caribbean • United States • Canada • Central & South America • Africa • Indian Ocean • Far East • Australia • New Zealand • Pacific Islands *Offer applies to all bookings confirmed by 28 February 2014 for stays between 1 February 2014 – 31 March 2015. All room types qualify for this offer. The resort credit offer can be used by guests on food and beverages at the hotel as well as treatments in the Spa. The resort credit cannot be exchanged for cash. The complimentary spa treatment is 1 hour and 1 treatment per couple. This offer is subject to availability and prices are subject to change. Prices correct at time of going to print November 2013. Open 7 days a week. Monday – Sunday 9am to 9pm.

Calls are charged at 5p per minute from UK landlines. Call charges from mobiles may vary. Please check with your provider.

BA/NOV13/NM 11









12 12

B E YO N D A L L I N C LUSIVE , B E YOND ALL COM PAR E USA – CAN: 866 868 0922 |


We’re moments

We’re timeless

We’re Egypt

Hello, I’ll never forget the look of awe on my wife’s face when we took our first Nile cruise thirty years ago. Special moments like that made this one of our favourite trips. It’s like you’re time travelling as you go through different historical dynasties on the Nile’s banks. Now, my granddaughter is back from the pool. She wants me to tell her stories about our ancient kings and the Karnak Temple… for the fifth time! Join us.

ETA NEW.indd 1 14

See you on a Nile Cruise


27/11/2013 17:49

All deals subject to availability. Savings based on two people sharing. 17

18 19

20 21


Marfa Road, Cirkewwa, MLH 9068, Malta T. (+356) 2152 1166 F. (+356) 2152 1153 E.

Say ‘I do’ in Malta

Plan your dream destination wedding in Malta and say your vows under a warm sunny sky surrounded by the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean. With breath-taking views and a unique romantic setting, Corinthia Hotel St George’s Bay is the perfect choice for your special day. CORINTHIA HOTEL ST GEORGE’S BAY, ST JULIANS, MALTA STJ 3301 +356 2370 0000 | BANQUESTSALES.STGEORGES@CORINTHIA.COM WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/CORINTHIAHOTELSTGEORGESBAY CORINTHIA.COM


Facebook lovers wed in Malta

Emmalene and Paul exchange vows not emails in Malta 26


ocial networking is playing Cupid to more couples than ever before as more people are meeting the loves of their lives on the Internet. So when Emmalene McLaughlin, a florest from Liverpool met Paul Haddock on Facebook, it was clear that Cupid had struck again. However, when Paul finally proposed, he chose to do it face to face on the beautiful island of Malta.

Finding ‘the one’ Believe it or not, we met on Facebook! And it was love at first sight for both of us when we first met one another at Belfast Airport, cheesy I know!

The proposal Paul proposed to me in St Julians in Malta. We were sunbathing alone on the water’s edge of one of the best 5-star hotels on the island of Malta. Paul slipped off and returned with a bottle of Champagne which I thought was nice but I never expected what came next. I was laying with my glass in my hand admiring the scenery and said to Paul, who was kneeling behind me: “I feel so happy right now.” To which Paul replied: “Will this make you happier?” He placed the opened box in front of me. The sun was shinning down, making this beautiful ring sparkle so much I could hardly see the detail. Paul then came around to my side and asked me to marry him. I said yes immediately. It was a wonderful day. When Paul booked a holiday for four days, without our then four-year- old daughter Lola, everyone was saying that he could be about to propose to me. So I

guess I thought he may, but I worried that I had got it all wrong and would feel stupid when I returned home without the ring! I had always imagined he would do it on an evening over a romantic dinner, so he did catch me by surprise!

Location, location It was Paul who originally wanted to get married outside of the UK, he loved the idea of saying our vows by the sea. Paul and I are not religious so we wanted to marry somewhere beautiful and meaningful to us. I loved the hotel we stayed at when Paul proposed – the sea views were spectacular and so, we thought, what better place to get married than where we got engaged!

The planning I knew if I was getting married aboard then I would need a good wedding planner. I decided on Sarah Young as she has the best reputation in Malta and from day one, I felt like we were on the same page. Not only was she efficient and a perfectionist, she also brought so many wonderful ideas to our day. She only uses the very best suppliers on the island and I trusted that she would make our wedding exactly how we visualised it. All the guests booked their own flights online and we went through Sarah Young to book our accommodation, as she has exclusive rates with many of the best hotels in Malta – this saved our guests quite a lot of money. Sarah Young’s team was very efficient in helping our guests choose a suitable hotel for their families. 27

Trial run I started planning our wedding just over 12 months before our special day. We were lucky enough to visit Malta twice before the actual wedding. The first visit was to meet Sarah and view the wedding venues with her and also to plan the post wedding BBQ on the following day. Sarah also arranged meetings with her suppliers including a florist, DJ, photographer etc. On the second visit, we took over from England our wedding favours, cake topper, all the jewels I had bought to go in my flowers and a few other special touches as I knew there would be so much to take over for the actual wedding. My daughter Lola and I also had our hair trial, which was booked through Sarah. We sampled our wedding menu, evening buffet and wine and met the head chef. Lola also got to sample the children’s menu and give her feedback and yes, she made a few amendments! These visits gave us the confidence and satisfaction that everything was going to be just perfect.

The guests We had 44 guests attending our wedding. Most stayed at the same 5-star hotel we picked to host our wedding. Other guests stayed in the many hotels close by. We invited 56 guests and were delighted that 44 accepted. It’s funny that some of the guests you think will most definitely come are put off by the travel, and those you’re sure won’t travel, pleasantly surprise you! We felt truly honoured with the number of friends and family that travelled to Malta to be present on our day; it was overwhelming. 28

Getting the look I absolutely loved my wedding dress. I couldn’t contain my smiles whenever I tried it on. It was a David Tutera for Mon Cheri, Tianna dress. My parents bought it from Bethany Hanna in Stockton Heath. My dress was princess style and that’s how I felt on the day. The bodice was incrusted with Swarovski crystals, the rest was ivory finished with vintage lace going all the way round at the bottom. I had the train removed as I wanted to move freely. The excess lace removed from my dress was attached to the bottom of my daughters ivory dress, our dresses were pretty much the same dress. She was my mini bride! I had a lovely veil which had diamonds dotted on it which sparkled in the sunlight. Again I had it shortened to the length of my dress and what was left over was for a little veil for Lola; she looked so cute. My headdress was more like a hair band, flat against my head, quite wide and filled with diamonds and pearls. I wore gold/silver pointed Jimmy Choo shoes, and I had a hairdresser come to the hotel and do my hair on the day. Although I had a trial, I was a bit nervous as I had since changed my headdress and my hair colour from blonde to brunette. It turned out amazing, much better than I imagined. I did my own makeup as I think you know what suits you best and I didn’t want to take the chance of not feeling myself.

Something old, something new? My something old was a diamond hair clip, which belonged to my mother. My something new was my dress. Something borrowed

was my sister Sarah’s earrings that she wore for her wedding the year before. Lastly my something blue was a blue glass mirror given to me by my friend’s daughter.

Groom & bridesmaids Paul wore a slim fit navy Dolce & Gabbana suit, slim navy tie, white shirt and black patent leather shoes. He didn’t want to wear the typical grooms attire. Paul loves his suits and wanted to wear something he felt comfortable in. I thought he looked so handsome when I walked down the aisle, I felt so proud. I had five bridesmaids, my two sisters, Jenny and Sarah, my friend, Nicola and my two nieces, Megan and Milli. They all wore lilac satin knee length dresses from Karen Millen. I added a diamond brooch to the centre of the dresses and had the shoes dyed the same colour, which really worked well. All five wore their hair in side buns and they all looked beautiful!

The details My theme was vintage glamour and the colour scheme was lilac. I used a lot of vintage brooches, rings and earring in my flowers and I also had a pearl necklace running through the flowers. The chairs had white covers but I also brought over lace hoods, which gathered at the back of the chair then tied together with a diamond brooch. I had old-fashioned photo frames on the tables with funny black and white photographs of Paul and me. The table plan was set out on a French white framed mirror which my sister Sarah and I made ourselves along with the place cards, table numbers and hand fans. I explained all the details to Sarah and her team and they set everything 29

up on the day so I could relax and enjoy the ‘getting ready’ part with the girls.

Flowers and cake I choose hand tied bouquets with Pacific blue roses and no foliage and completed with a crescent shape vintage brooch for Lola’s and my bouquets. My other bridesmaids each had hand tied ivory roses. I had pew ends on white wooden stands and an amazing arch filled with lilac, purple and cream roses, lizzianthus and gypsy grass with trailing ivy, toul and pearls. The cake was a simple design. It had three tiers, white icing with lilac ribbon and diamante décor. The layers consisted of carrot cake, chocolate fudge and Victoria sponge with vanilla cream. I had the letters E&P in Swarovski crystal as a cake topper.

The ceremony My dad gave me away at our 15-minute ceremony, which took place outside a beautiful white villa in the grounds of the Westin Dragonara Resort, one of the most famous five-star hotels in Malta with a spectacular sea view. The ceremony was short, simple and very intimate. We had an incredible female vocalist and pianist singing Eva Cassidy’s Song Bird as my bridesmaids and I walked down the aisle. My mum was my witness and Paul’s brother/bestman was his. After the ceremony, we cut the cake and our guests enjoyed Champagne and canapés for an hour whilst the singer performed and we continued with photographs.

The reception Our reception was held at the same villa and we dined at five round tables. Rather than having the traditional top table, we sat our parents with their friends and family and my two sisters, their husbands and Paul’s two friends sat with us at our table so that everyone would enjoy themselves as much as possible. The tables looked beautiful. For my favours I gave each female guest a Jo Malone candle Lime and Basil or Pomegranate Noir I imagined each time they light up the candle, the scent will take them back to our wedding day. For the children’s table, we had sweet jars with name tags for their favours. We had vintage style flowers and frames, the place 30

cards and table numbers had a diamond brooch with lilac ribbon (all which my sister and I made and brought over). The meal was delicious. Our starters was a choice of cured duck Cristina or roasted onion tart followed by a Champagne sorbet. The main course was a choice of sea bass or pan fried beef fillet. For dessert we had white chocolate mousse then coffee and date cakes were served. During the dinner we had a band play in the background and then they lifted the tempo after dinner so our guests could have a little dance before going on to the after party.

First dance We danced our First Dance to A Thousand Years by Christina Perry. A week before the wedding I asked a friend to give us a dance lesson. Just something simple as I’ve never had a slow dance with Paul before and I didn’t want to just hang onto him wondering when this song is going to end. It actually went extremely well and we had such a laugh practicing the dance. After the first dance, Paul completely surprised me with a spectacular fireworks display, which was fantastic.

Party time! After dinner we walked down a lovely pathway to a breathtaking venue just by the sea’s edge for our after party. Through my wedding planner, we hired a lighting company to decorate the outdoor venue with lilac and purple lighting, fairy lights and modern furniture that also lit up. The evening flowers were glass bowls with grass and orchids and I brought over circular shaped bases that light up through the glass. We had a DJ playing songs that we had chosen. A few weeks before the wedding we asked each guest to pick a favourite song for the DJ to play, that way Paul and I could pick the contemporary music and it would guarantee that there would be something for everyone.

Photographic memories We had a photographer and videographer. They captured every moment of the day, I could not have asked for more. At the after party, we had a photo booth. I wasn’t sure whether this would be tacky, however I would now recommend it to any bride. I have an

album of every picture that was taken in the booth and its hilarious. No photographer could capture these funny photos and it was great for kids too. My favourite photo is the group shot of every guest at the bottom of the staircase looking up at photographer. I love it because all my guests look so happy and they all mean so much to Paul and me. It was a lot of expense for them to travel to Malta and they all made the effort to be there for us, making our day extra special and fun.

Any disasters? The day before the wedding we had a meeting with the hotel advising there were thunder storms forecast for the our wedding day so we would have to look at holding the ceremony, dinner and after party indoors – something which was not a option for me. Online weather forecasts suggested that the weather would clear up by 3pm. Our wedding wasn’t until 5pm so we took the gamble and kept it outdoors. On the day of the wedding the sky was grey and it rained all morning and at 1pm the rain was literally bouncing off the balcony. Then by 2:30pm, out of nowhere, the sun appeared and by the time of our wedding it was completely dry and as if it had never rained. It turned into as a beautiful sunny day. My two grandmothers, who have sadly passed, were my guardian angels on that day.

On budget? We went a little over budget but it was worth it

The honeymoon We stayed in Malta for six nights with our family and friends. A few days after we returned home, we flew to Dubai for our honeymoon. It was amazing!

Further information Wedding Planners: Sarah Young Mobile: +356 9925 3265 Email: sarahyoung@ Venue: Westin Dragonara Resort, Malta



Your wedding should be a dream come true, a magical fairytale with that one moment where everything seems to come to a stop and all that matters is you and your prince charming. Make this a Kempinski Moment, we are here for you every step of the journey! T. +356 2211 0000 . .


Your luxury wedding



owadays everyone wants their ‘Big day’ to be truly memorable one, filled with special moments, so make your dream wedding come true at the Grand Hotel Excelsior. We are located in the historical heart of the Islands, boasting some of the most beautiful views in Malta.

Renowned for our luxurious services, we can definitely provide you and your closest ones with a once in a lifetime experience – whether you opt for a small and intimate, traditional or extravagant wedding day. Our team of professionals will be at your full disposal to ensure that all the preparations and the event run smoothly throughout the whole process - from helping you choose the best venue, designing a menu full of delicious items to all the little touches – and always with a professional approach! Our most popular outdoor venues are the 16th century Bastion Terrace and our pool side, both having the most romantic views when the sun sets. The historical Marsamxett Harbour and its surroundings will create the most beautiful background on your wedding pictures and video, helping you to treasure these sentimental moments whenever you walk down the memory lane of your ‘Special Day’. Should you prefer an indoor setting, the Grand Hotel Excelsior has a number of ideal venues, the most luxurious being our Grand Ballroom, which can host up to 900 guests. Our venues are extremely versatile and can be transformed to your personal vision with the assistance of the professionals.

Our Wedding specialist will also lead you through process of meeting all the legal requirements. We will be more than pleased to assist you on this most exciting journey of your life!

You may contact us directly on +356 2125 0520 or email: UK office on +44 01489 860161 or email


Find out more – visit 35



True love in Thailand

Kristina and Ramuna’s barefoot beach ceremony in Thailand 38


hen you start your first job, you probably don’t expect to find the love of your life at the same time, but for Kristina Paslauskaite, from Staines, Middlesex, that’s exactly what happened when she met Ramuna Zukauskas at her new place of work. A few years later they sealed their love in an intimate ceremony in Thailand.

Finding ‘the one’ We met at work. It was my very first job and he was already working there – however, It was not love at first sight!

The proposal Ramuna proposed at home, on Christmas Eve 2011. I found the gift bag under the Christmas tree as I was trying to light the Christmas lights. There was a Christmas card inside the bag with an engagement ring in it. Special words were written by him in the card, so I was reading them aloud and looking at him as he stood speachless and emotional. It was very unexpected. We had been together for eight years before the proposal, so I thought this was never going to happen.

Location, location We both always dreamed about a beach wedding, about something unusual and private. We were planning to visit Thailand that year, so we thought why not to have

a beach wedding there at the same time. We have always been very passionate about Thailand.

The planning Our wedding was held at the Mai Samui Beach Resort and Spa, Koh Samui, Thailand. We booked it through Tropical Sky Weddings and had the benefit of their wedding planner, Winnie Appolo Shubert’s expertise. Tropical Sky’s team were extremely helpful and very professional. We planned the wedding three months before we went to Thailand. It was an intimate wedding, with just the two of us, we didn’t have any guests.

Getting the look I ordered my wedding dress online. It took a month to be delivered from America – I chose a classicly elegant, long satin dress. I had white orchids in my hair to keep the beach theme. I kept my hair naturaly straight and loose. I did hair and makeup myself. I wanted to keep it as natural as possible like a real beach bride. Ramuna wore white trousers a white shirt and white flip flops.

The details My bouquet was white orchids and red roses. And our cake was a heart shaped fruit cake. 39

The ceremony The actual wedding ceremony was held on the beach at the resort where we stayed. It was a lovely ceremony which lasted for about twenty minutes. An English pastor conducted the service. We chose a Christian Western ceremony, so there were no local customs and rituals involved.

The reception After the wedding we had an intimate meal on the beach. Because it was just the two of us, the dinner table was set up under the decorated gazebo where the blessing took place. It was very romantic with the candle light flickering and we could see the stars right above us. It was Thai menu with crab cakes for starter, tom-yum soup, lemon ice cream and BBQ lobster for the main course, which the chef served for us with three different types of sauces. Finally, we had freshly sliced fruits and fruit cake afterwards. It was absolutely delicious. All the decorations were set up by the hotel management to go with our theme of white and red colours everywhere and there was romantic music set up for us all evening. We didn’t have a First Dance, instead we just sat in front of each other with the glass of Champagne, looking into each others eyes and just enjoing that special moment which felt like a fairytale‌


Photographic memories Two professional photographers took the photos of us and the hotel staff helped by filming the video. All the photos are equally favourite for us as they all capture an amazing and unique moment.

Magic moments Before the wedding we didn’t see any photo samples of the decoration, flowers or cake, we just saw everything at the actual ceremony and it was so amazingly beautiful! We liked every single thing the resort management team had done for us. The wonderful memories will last forever. One of our funniest memories was after dinner, we both jumped naked into our private swimming pool outside our villa, as it was so hot!

On budget It cost so little for such an amazing dream wedding – It was all within our budget.

The honeymoon After the honeymoon we stayed another week in the same gorgeous resort.

Further information Wedding planners: Sarah Jayne Hawkins from Tropical Sky Weddings. Tel: 0843 636 7539 Mai Samui Resort Management team. Venue: Mai Samui Beach Resort and Spa, Koh Samui, Thailand Photographer:


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“I do” at Smugglers Cove

Stephanie and John’s love vows in St Lucia 50


hen Stephanie Francis met John Cooper on a girls’ night out it was truly love at first sight. As time passed, their feelings grew deeper and they sealed their love once and for all with a gorgeous marriage ceremony on a St Lucia beach, surrounded by their families to share in the magic of the day.

Finding ‘the one’ I first met my husband in Bridlington when I hadn’t felt in the mood for going out and was literally dragged out by my best friend – but they say things happen for a reason! I went into a pub and at the bottom of the stairs was a handsome hunk with a great physique, and that was his friend! I then clapped my eyes on John who was so tall, big beautiful blue eyes with long camel like lashes – I remember thinking to myself I would love to put mascara on them! His body was so muscular and he looked great. I went to tell my best friend “thank you for bringing me out!” but before I knew it she was at the bottom of the stairs mauling John’s body! I stood behind laughing as he looked at me like, “is your friend crazy?’ She then ran off laughing and John and I got talking. John took me on a date the following day and he looked just as good and was as funny as I remembered. Our relationship blossomed from there.

The proposal John and I were really mad for each other. We spent so much time together and after only one month he took me on a trip to Bruges, but we missed the ferry and ended up in Rotterdam. The weather was beautiful and he took me round a zoo and in his back pocket was a box that stuck out a mile. I kept asking him what the box was and he just kept looking at me and smiling. We then reached the ‘love lake’ and John got down on one knee and said he needed to tie his shoelace – and when I looked down his shoes had Velcro. I screamed and ran off laughing! The box turned out to be his wallet and he didn’t propose! A month later at our flat John said he had a surprise for me but I had to play the ‘hot and cold’ game to find it. I was looking for something big, and I was upstairs in the sock draw as John was shouting out: “You’re getting hotter!” I was so excited that socks were going everywhere. I then spotted ‘the box’ and John picked it up and opened it and in there was a beautiful diamond ring. With a huge smile he said: “Stephanie Antoinette Francis will you marry me, grow old and wrinkly with me, and love me forever the way I love you?” I burst into tears and cried out “Yes”! John then laughed and said this is the box he’d had in his pocket in Rotterdam but he didn’t want me running away this time.

Location, location John and I have travelled to many different countries. We really love going away on holiday, the hotter the better. We contacted Tropical Sky and they recommended St Lucia. It was also a great opportunity for my in-laws to go to the Caribbean, as they had never been anywhere like that before. It was perfect. Tropical Sky sent us information including photos of Smugglers Cove Beach and Spa Resort. We thought it looked stunning and totally topical and the weather was going to be hot. We booked a year and a half in advance, which gave us plenty of time to save. We used the services of Tropical Sky’s wedding planner, Loran, as we didn’t want the stress of all the planning. It was really reassuring knowing that the company have done many different types of weddings and they practically do everything for you. We flew with Virgin and had transfers provided by the hotel. I did worry about transporting my wedding dress as I had it flat packed into my hand luggage and didn’t want to get to the airport and have my hand luggage emptied. I contacted Virgin, who responded quickly and were great with me.

…and the guests? John took his twin brother, Mike, who was his best man/second witness, his sister, Jo, his mother, Janet and father, Terry. 51

I took my brother, Carl who was my maid of honour/first witness, my mother, Shirley, father, Peter and grandmother, Dulcie.

Getting the look I like a good bargain and wasn’t prepared to pay the prices that some shops were asking for my dress. I had a look to see what style I liked and then searched on eBay. I had my wedding dress hand made in China for a fraction of the price. When I received it, it did need a few alterations but that was the risk I took buying it online, I then had some diamantes glued onto the dress as I love a bit of bling. It was a great bargain dress and I loved it. I had my hair curled and backcombed by the hairdresser at Smugglers Cove Beach Resort & Spa on the day of the wedding, which was lovely and relaxing. I then went back to my room and put my makeup on. When my brother arrived to help me out he sprayed a tin of hairspray on my face telling me it will make my makeup last. It made us all choke but it did last longer than I anticipated, bless him!

Something old, something new? Something Old: my wedding shoes – I picked them when I was only 14-years-old and my mother told me I didn’t need them as they were wedding shoes, but I loved them so much that I told her I would save 52

them for my wedding day and 10 years down the line I did just that! Something Borrowed: my red Swarovski necklace and earrings that my mother and nan lent me to go with our red theme. Something New: my beautiful tiara that my mother in-law bought me (that I still prance around in). Something Blue: a blue ribbon on the inside of my dress to tie the train up.

Groomed to perfection John went for a light grey coloured shiny look three piece suit which was slim fit. He wore his ‘lucky’ boxers. He looked fit as… We decided to go for a red theme because my nan and I have bright red hair, so John went for a red cravat to match, bless! He looked so handsome.

The details I chose to pay for an upgraded bouquet. I asked for the flowers to be as colourful and as tropical as possible. I wanted to have flowers in my bouquet that you rarely see in England but are common in St Lucia. We chose to get married in a tropical location so I wanted to follow the tropical theme. The bouquet was amazing! The flowers were beyond beautiful! I was so pleased. We chose Birds of Paradise for the men’s buttonholes and John had a red orchid.

The ceremony The ceremony took place in the gazebo overlooking the Caribbean Sea. We chose to have the service there because the sights were breathtaking. It was so beautiful and the decorations on the gazebo were stunning.

Photographic memories We used the photographer at Smugglers Cove and Beach Resort. She was amazing and the pictures are fantastic. We decided to buy the smallest package which was a print out of 24 photographs and bought a second package to have all the photographs put on a disc. We didn’t want to miss a moment. We decided against a video just because of the cost but we have enough wonderful memories from the photographs.

Magic moments The whole day was a wonderful memory I will never forget, but it just seemed to go past so fast. If I had to pinpoint a special moment, for me it was the speeches. My father said some beautiful, touching words that will remain in my heart forever. My husband expressed his true feelings of love and commitment to me. Then my brother in-law






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completely changed the atmosphere and read a hilarious speech. It was a brilliant end to such a fantastic, magical day. The funniest memory was when my father and I were walking up the aisle and he kept telling me how beautiful I looked and how proud he was. I had so many different emotions running that I couldn’t speak. All I could do was laugh and cry. What we didn’t realise was the aisle had a bit of a ramp and because I was too busy looking at him my foot caught the ramp and I went flying. Luckily my father had a tight grip so prevented me landing flat on my face. We looked at each other and burst out laughing. We had a photograph taken just after that episode and it’s magical.

Any disasters? There has to be a disaster with every wedding, mine was at the airport. I am a really organised person and normally have everything in hand. We stayed over in London the night before the flight and set off early in the transfer bus provided by the hotel. We arrived at the airport in the queue everyone was so excited, I stood at the front shouting for everyone’s passports I then reached into my bag, I looked and looked again and I felt the colour drain from my face, I had left the passports for John and I at the hotel. I was devastated! The hotel staff was amazing and really saved the day as they found our passports in our car and brought them straight to us. Phew!

On budget? We had to pay fees for things such as the music, table decorations for the evening and the men’s buttonhole flowers and my upgraded bouquet, which came to £67. The holiday itself was around £1,500 each for a two-weeks all inclusive and this came with a free wedding. It was a fantastic deal!

The honeymoon We stayed at the same location for the honeymoon as this was a Caribbean Island that my husband and I had not visited before. We did many excursions to learn more about the culture, there was so much to learn and see!

Further information Wedding planners: Loran at Tropical Sky Venue: Smugglers Cove Beach Resort & Spa

54 55


Love vows in St Lucia

Lesley and Robert’s romantic beach ceremony 56


esley Pusey, a hypnotherapist from London, had always been enchanted by the Caribbean, so when she fell in love with company director Robert Cooper, they headed to the sunshine island of St Lucia to tie the knot.

Finding ‘the one’ We met at Hampton Hill, but the first meeting was not exactly love at first sight!

The proposal Robert’s proposal was totally unexpected. He proposed at home on Christmas morning. His proposal was in a Christmas card, along with a gift wrapped present, which turned out to be the engagement ring!

Location, location We decided to get married abroad because we both enjoy beach holidays, and we didn’t want it to be too formal. Neither of us had been to St Lucia before, but we both love the Caribbean Islands, so it seemed like a good choice!

The planning We used Tropical Sky for our travel arrangements and planning of the wedding. They were absolutely superb and very helpful. We didn’t need to plan much before we left, because Karen Andrews at Tropical Sky made it very easy for us.

The guests We took ten guests with us, made up of close family members. They all stayed with us at Windjammer Estate in St Lucia. We were lucky because everyone we invited joined us in St Lucia.

Getting the look My wedding dress was not a traditional wedding dress, I think it was more suited to the beach theme – it was calf length, in ivory chiffon with pearl beaded bodice, which I bought on line. I also wore a pearl necklace and pearl earrings. On the day of the wedding I had my hair styled at the studio at Windjammers and my makeup was done by my neice, who is a beautician. 57

Something old, something new? Something Old – A pearl ring my late mother gave me many years ago; Something New – my pearl necklace and earrings; Something Borrowed – A beautiful gold bracelet (clasping hands) from my twin sister; Something Blue – I had some blue flowers in my bouquet.

wedding, but we decided to just embrace the setting around us – beach, sun, sunset etc. With this in mind, our wedding flowers were all local to St Lucia. As for the cake, we didn’t actually have one on our wedding day, but we had a traditional wedding cake at our reception party in London once we got back home.

The ceremony Groom & bridesmaids Robert chose an off white linen suit, pale blue shirt, blue/gold tie and brown shoes. My daughter was my bridesmaid and she wore a white chiffon knee length dress with a wide gold sash around the waist and gold sandals.

The details We didn’t have a particular theme for the


The ceremony lasted around 45 minutes and was held in the pretty, thatched roof gazebo on the Windjammer Beach, overlooking the sea. We were married by Sherwin Griffith, the Minister of Religion, and I was given away by my twin sister Linda. During the ceremony we were accompanied by a steel band playing for us on the beach. The band continiued to play whilst we sipped Champagne, followed by our wedding meal with our guests.

The reception We had a lovely wedding reception at Papa Don’s Restaurant at Windjammer, with a lovely variety of dishes on the menu. We had our First Dnce down on the beach immediately after the ceremony to the Steel Band as they played The Pina Colada Song, but we had our proper First Dance at our London reception, where our song was ‘Touch of Paradise’ by John Farnham.

Photographic memories Peter Rameau was our photographer – he was superb and really captured the moment. We also had a video done of the ceremony.

Magic moments My favourite memory was seeing Rob’s face when he turned around as I arrived – his face lit up. My favourite recollection was of the minister, Sherwin. He was very entertaining whilst carrying out the ceremony. He was really delightful and made us all laugh.

Any disasters? Almost – the rain was torrential during the entire morning of our wedding day, there were discussions about changing the venue etc. but at 2 pm in the afternoon the weather completely changed. It was sunny and very hot and by 4.30 pm everything had dried out and our dream came true.

On budget? It cost £15,000 for 12 people. That was right on budget!

The honeymoon We stayed on at the hotel for our honeymoon, which we shared with our family, although we did manage to escape for one evening for a quiet romantic meal!

Further information Wedding planners: Karen Andrews at Tropical Sky: Telephone : 0843 249 5405 Lynn & Mel (Windjammer Estate, St Lucia) Venue: Windjammer Estate, St Lucia Photographer: Peter Rameau 59










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Cool ceremony in Quebec

Lauren and Charles say, “I do” in winter wonderland 68


hen American sweethearts Lauren Silk and Charles Smyth from Austin, Texas got married, they swapped the arid landscapes of Texas for a totally romantic, snow covered setting in Quebec, Canada to wow their guests with a sparkling wedding at Quebec’s Hotel le Glace – in a wedding chapel constructed entirely out of snow and ice.

Finding ‘the one’ We met at a bar in Dallas, Texas. Charles was celebrating his birthday and I was attending my company Christmas party. It was love at first sight for me, and I hunted him down!

The proposal Charles whisked me off to San Francisco for a long weekend. The first night there he took me to a tiny romantic Italian restaurant in the nearby town of Sausalito. Towards the end of dinner, and out of nowhere, he got down on one knee and proposed to me. Everyone in the restaurant (including the staff) stopped what they were doing, and clapped and cheered. I was so overwhelmed and full of adrenaline; I snatched the ring out of the box, placed it on my own finger, and hysterically wept for the next two hours!

Location, location We wanted a romantic, memorable event that was intimate, so we invited just our

close family and friends. A few years earlier, we had come across a travel promotion to spend a night at the Ice Hotel, in Quebec City, Canada. It was an opportunity to do something we had never done before. That experience was so different and unique that when we got engaged and were planning a destination wedding, the Ice Hotel was at the top of the list.

The planning Elisabeth Boudreau was our amazing wedding planner, and is associated with the Ice Hotel. Her organization of all the things required was paramount in our having such a phenomenal wedding. The Ice Hotel staff assisted us with all the arrangements, and even helped us create wedding ‘welcome bags’ filled with Ice Hotel souvenirs for our guests. We flew to Quebec six months before our wedding to meet with the Ice Hotel wedding planner who recommended our florist, baker, and introduced us to our photographer. We also checked out several reception venues during that time.

The guests We had 25 guests at our wedding. We found the best contemporary boutique hotel in Quebec, and provided accommodation for them all at Hotel 71. Many of our guests expressed their trepidations about the snow and cold weather, but after some convincing, they realised they wouldn’t miss our wedding for the world. 69

Getting the look I wore a satin ivory trumpet gown, ornamented with beaded appliques, a lace up back and a semi-cathedral train. The dress was from Terry Costa, designed by Christina Wu. I wore white fur boots, a pearl clip to pull back my hair on one side, big crystal earrings with a matching crystal bracelet. My husband and I wore custom made wedding coats specifically designed for the extreme cold experience of the Ice Hotel. Corine Markey created one-of-a-kind pieces that were perfect additions to our wedding attire. I had a professional makeup artist from a local salon and two friends who styled my hair.

Something Old, Something New? Something old - my mom’s handkerchief; Something New - white fur boots; Something Borrowed - ivory winter coat; Something Blue - blue garter belt. 70

Groom & bridesmaids Charles wore a custom tailored tuxedo designed by Tom James. He paired it with a grey silk paisley printed vest and black bow tie. My mom was my matron of honour. She wore a fur coat, grey hat and black pants to keep her warm during the ceremony.

The details Our theme was to incorporate the natural elements of the Ice Hotel, which included white, silver and crystal. My wedding bouquet consisted of calla lilies, roses, tulips, and orchids. We had a three tiered cake trimmed with a silver ribbon and sugar flowers. My husband and I have different tastes, so each tier was a different flavour. The bottom was dark chocolate, hazelnut, and chocolate ganache; the second tier was lemon cake with raspberry cream; the top tier was a combination of all our choices.

The ceremony Our magical ceremony took place at the Wedding Chapel at the Ice Hotel. It lasted approximately 30 minutes and my father gave me away. We were married by Reverend Louis La France. We didn’t have the typical dinner/dance reception – so instead, our First Dance was down the aisle after the reverend pronounced us husband and wife. We danced to Frank Sinatra’s It Had To Be You. After the ceremony, the entire wedding party took part in a wedding toast drinking ice wine from glasses made of ice.

The reeption The reception was held at Hotel 71 in their meeting room, and the catering was by IL Matto (a neighbouring restaurant). The delicious menu included Lobster bisque, spring salad greens, Osso Bucco, Salmon, Frutti de Mari pasta, and lots of wine! We didn’t have particular table decorations, but I just wanted lots and lots of candles! Our


guests all told stories and wished us many of years of happiness through repeated toasts throughout the evening. Our first romantic meal together was breakfast in bed the morning after our wedding day.

Photographic memories We used the nationally acclaimed photographer Xavier Dachez who is the photographer for the Ice Hotel. To escape from the many tourists that were taking our pictures at the chapel, we dashed into the snow filled woods behind the Ice Hotel. Our photographer captured us having a snowball fight. He snapped the perfect action shot where the snowballs that we flung at each other were caught mid-flight. We absolutely love that picture!

Magic moments Our entire wedding was full of wonderful memories, however one of the funniest was when we cut our cake and were about to feed each other a piece when I felt hazelnut

cream engulf my nostrils. I realized that my husband shoved the cake up my nose and smeared it on my face. I got him back with a big face smearing!

On budget? The whole wedding cost us £12,500 in total – £1,500 outfits, £4,700 wedding and reception, £6,300 for accommodation. This was reasonably within our budget.

The honeymoon We celebrated our honeymoon six months later in Bali, Indonesia.

Further information Wedding Planners: Elisabeth Boudreau Venue: Hotel de Glace (Ice Hotel) Quebec City, Canada Photographer: Xavier Dachez 71


Totally chilled in


Nicole and Andy’s heart-warming ceremony in Iceland 72


ndy Best and Nicole Andrews’ eyes first met in Montreal when Andy, from London, was on a stag party and Nicole, who lived in Toronto, was chilling with the girls. They quickly fell in love and turned up the heat with a sizzling courtship that saw them jetting between Canada and the UK for romantic rendezvous. Eventually Nicole moved to London to be with Andy and the couple sealed their love with a wonderful winter wedding in Iceland.

Finding ‘the one’ Our metting in Montreal, Canada, was very random as neither of us was from Montreal. Andrew had flown over from England for a friend’s bachelor party. I was in Montreal for the weekend with three of my girlfriends for a city break to escape the summer heat of Toronto. We met outside a bar. I don’t believe in love at first sight, but we both definitely liked what we saw. Love takes time to develop. My friends swear that I looked up at all 6’5 of him and my eyes lit up. We instantly got along, and I have never felt that way about anyone so quickly before. We made each other laugh and never stopped talking, still haven’t. And so began our courtship! Long story short, he cut his trip in Montreal and flew to Toronto to visit me two days after we met. While we only spent three days together, I was hooked and could not shake the feeling that we

really had something. When he left to go back to England we were in constant contact – email, BBM, Facebook, telephone – you name it! I flew back and forth between Toronto and London three times over the next four months at which point we decided I should move to London. Risky, but fortune definitely favours the brave! We have lived together ever since!

The proposal He proposed on Christmas morning at his Mum’s house! It was nice to be able to share the experience with family around and on such an amazing day of the year! We had finished opening our gifts and he leaned in and told me he had another gift for me but couldn’t give it to me in front of the family because it was too racy. He led me into another room and there was a big, big box waiting for me. My first thought was it’s a kitten! A smaller box was in the big box, and then a smaller one inside that. This continued until only a small jewellery box was left. He dropped to his knee and said some beautiful words, which I cannot remember because I had blood rushing through my body and all I heard was whooshing in my ears! Turns out the whole family had been in on it, and as we rushed out to tell them the good news, they had the Champagne waiting! 73

Location, location When planning our wedding venue, it came down to the fact that we both love to travel. Having a wedding in the UK would have resulted in a very large affair – something we did not want and having the wedding in Canada would have resulted in many of our friends and family not being able to travel so far. We had visited Iceland the previous year and completely fell in love with the country and the people. The following February we went for a long weekend and there was snow up to our knees when we finally made it to Hotel Ranga. Our room had a hot tub outside that you had to walk through the snow to reach. It was so cool. We drank Champagne as the snow fell and dared each other to roll in the snow and get back into the hot tub. The food was incredible too. We reckoned it was halfway between the UK and Canada, and it was somewhere that not a lot of people would visit if not for a reason. All our guests fell in love with Iceland, and we are so happy that we chose Ranga!

The planning We made our own arrangements with the help of the hotel’s wedding co-ordinator, who was pivotal in recommending everything from flower vendors to where I could buy 40 Viking drinking horns. We booked our own flights and rental car through various companies and our guests also booked their own flights, but we provided buses to pick them up at the airport to take them to and from the hotel. The hotel’s wedding team was incredibly 74

helpful with all the arrangements. Icelanders are very laid back by nature, which was a very calming factor in the lead-up to the wedding. We made a trip to the hotel the summer before the wedding with both of our mothers in tow to help out. We met with the District Commissioner who would marry us and chose our food, wine and flowers. It was a logistical mission. We met with the hotel wedding co-ordinator and went over everything in detail.

The guests We had 41 guests in total and everyone stayed at Hotel Ranga. Most people accepted our wedding invitation, although we had a few who couldn’t make it because of child minding conflicts as we asked guests to leave their tots at home.

Getting the look My wedding dress belonged to my grandmother, it was from the late 1940s. The dress was quite big for me, and had to be altered. My mother in law offered to help out. Having had two boys, I think she was thrilled at the chance to be involved in the girly side of the wedding! We took the sleeves off and dipped the back in the dress to make it a little more modern. The dress had quite a high neck, so a necklace was out. I bought a deco bracelet on eBay for £6 and borrowed a pair of clip on deco earrings from a friend that matched. I bought a light yellow vintage mink stole to wear for outdoor photos, as well as a pair of vintage goat fur boots with red trim to wear outdoors so as not to mess up my pristine

off white silk shoes. I also had a crown of red flowers and ivy in my hair. As for my makeup, I did a tutorial at Bobbi Brown a few weeks before the wedding with a picture of what I wanted to look like. I did my own make up on the day. A friend did my hair.

Something old, Something new? Something Old was the dress, Something New was my pretty underwear that had ‘Mrs Best’ embroidered into the bum, Something Borrowed were the earrings, and Something Blue was Andy’s suit lining!

Groom & bridesmaids Andy wore a navy blue three-piece suit custom-made, with a light blue lining. He also carried his wedding gift from me – a silver pocket watch, which had ‘You and me against the world’ engraved on it. I did not have any bridesmaids. I wanted my friends and family to come and enjoy themselves without any hassle.

The details We didn’t have a theme to our wedding. Just a mixture of both our tastes. I had cream roses for myself and my sister to carry. The boys wore cream rose boutineers, and the moms wore cream rose wrist corsages. We had an arrangement that was on the table during the ceremony that doubled as a table centre piece. The dinner table had some greenery and candles in it. We didn’t want to overdue it because the hotel itself was so pretty and it was the middle of winter in Iceland. Not

much growing! Our wedding cake was a traditional Icelandic marzipan cake.

The ceremony The ceremony took place in the dining room of the hotel. They cleared out all the tables to make room, it has glass walls on all three sides and you can see a volcano in the distance and the river Ranga outside the hotel. We had a short and sweet civil ceremony that lasted around 20 minutes. I walked down the aisle to an acoustic version of Queen’s You’re My Best Friend. We had no formal run through with the District Commissioner who married us, so it was very spontaneous and sweet. My younger brother walked me down the aisle, which was really nice. He kept cracking jokes so I would not trip and fall.

The reception We wanted to keep it simple, so we had some green ivy and candles set up on the U shaped table. I handmade different Icelandic themed magnets for gifts and we also gave our guests leather luggage tags with a personal message in each. Instead of nametags we put embarrassing pictures of our guests into hand made wine cork holders – they were a great conversation starter! The meal was delicious. For starters there was a choice of fish soup or salmon cooked three ways. Mains of salmon, chicken or beef and dessert was something called Skyr cake, it is a milky sugar Icelandic dessert. Our First Dance was to Let’s Stay Together by Al Green, and we had an open bar and a disco ball! And four Scots in kilts!

Photographic memories Our photographer was a great guy called Lalli Sig. I had Googled wedding photography in Iceland and his photos were the best. We did photographs before the ceremony – it was great to spend the time together alone and enjoy the calm before the storm. We had hoped to have the snow fall we had on our first visit for our wedding in February. We, instead, woke up to sideways rain and no snow whatsoever. We had planned to go to a nearby waterfall to take our photos, but ended up taking them in and around the hotel. My favourite shot is one where we are jumping in the air and our backs are to the camera. I know it isn’t very original, but we have been perfecting our jump shots for years!

Oops! I might have spilled some red wine on my dress and ripped a portion from the bottom – we had a very large reception planned for the following week in London that I had planned to wear the dress again for. The dry cleaners managed to get the wine out, but it was replaced with little holes. We are making the dress into some sort of fancy outfit for our first born instead.

On budget? We aren’t sure exactly how much the wedding cost altogether, all we know is that it was amazing and we wouldn’t have done anything differently!

Magic moments One of my best memories is being on a dance floor with everyone I love in one room having an amazing time. Never again in my life will our many different worlds collide the way they did over the three days we had in Iceland. Funniest memories? Oh where to start? The Scots lifting my husband up as if he were a bride. Brian May staying at the remote hotel on the same day as our wedding and getting honeymoon tips for Maui off of his wife, Anita Dobson. The 2am conga line around the breakfast table that had been set up in the dining room downstairs. The photographer telling all our guests in the group shot to roar like Vikings. The guest who streaked with toilet paper alight from his bottom... There was also a very expensive, very broken bench that gave way under our weight!

The honeymoon We decided to postpone our honeymoon, as we knew a move abroad was coming up. We moved to Alaska in September and I am currently six months pregnant.

Further information Hotel Wedding Coordinator: Hugrún Pétursdóttir Venue: Hotel Ranga Photographer: Larus Sigurdarson (Lalli Sig) 75


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Photograph: Andreas Holm. Photograph: Robyn Jeffery. 79


Centre stage in Marrakech

Melissa and Tim star in their Moroccan wedding ceremony 80


he Moroccan city of Marrakech is a dramatic backdrop to any destination wedding, but for actors Melissa Simpson and Tim Smith, from Nottingham, this enchanting location provided the perfect setting for them to perform in their own magical wedding ceremony.

Finding ‘the one’ We met in Nottingham at a young persons drama group called The Television Workshop. We were cast in Romeo & Juliet – I played Juliet and Tim played Mercutio! I would say we instantly had a connection and we did date very briefly at that time, but we were so young (I was only 17) so it wasn’t the right time. We then had about eight years apart, living our separate lives, setting up businesses and travelling the world. Bizarrely we both moved to London at one point and lived just down the road from each other in East London but never realised it! Then, about four years ago Tim randomly got in touch as he was casting for a short film he was making (Tim runs a film production company called Fourmost Films) and asked if I had any young actors in my group (I run a drama workshop for young people called Urban Young Actors) that would like to audition – I did. We met to discuss this and another project he was working on and it soon became clear that we still had feelings for each other. And the rest is history!

The proposal Tim proposed to me in Bourton-on-thewater in The Cotswolds. We had been there previously in the autumn and just happened to look in a local jewellers. I saw a ring in there that I was particularly smitten with. The following January Tim said he wanted us to go back to The Cotswolds. It was snowing heavily and looked incredibly romantic. Tim then walked me onto a little bridge over the canal and got down on one knee and proposed with ‘THE’ ring – he had reserved it in the autumn during our last visit! Of course I said yes! He also handed me a card he had made for me that simply said ‘fiancé’ on it. He then took me to a beautiful country hotel called Lords of the Manor where there was Champagne on ice and a bouquet of roses waiting for me. We dined in their Michelin starred restaurant that evening and had the most wonderful time! The boy did good! It wasn’t totally unexpected as we had discussed marriage, but the way he proposed was a lovely surprise!

Location, location We both love travelling, it’s a big part of our relationship, and so it felt right that our wedding represented this. We always knew we would want to do something a bit different from a traditional UK wedding. Also we thought it would be so amazing to head off to somewhere exotic with

all of our favourite people! I purchased a copy of Brides Abroad magazine and saw a Moroccan wedding in there, which really inspired me. I had been on holiday to Marrakech the year before with my friend and had fallen in love with the city; I just hadn’t considered it as a wedding venue! All I had to do was convince Tim, as he had never been to Marrakech. I showed him my Morocco photographs and talked about the people, culture, history and the vibrancy of the place and Tim needed little convincing. He instantly said yes. I thought he would love it and he did! None of our friends and family had been there either and I felt they should all experience it! When I visited Marrakech previously I briefly visited a hotel called La Mamounia, as it was mentioned in our tour guide as ‘the place to be’. Winston Churchill spent his winters there and pretty much any A-lister that was ever in town stays there – Jennifer Aniston, Will Smith and Sarah Jessica-Parker to name a few! We had already made the decision we wanted less guests so we could really spoil the ones that we had, so this was to be the venue!

The planning I mainly planned everything myself before I left the UK, but the hotel staff were great and turned my ideas into a reality! I also had some help from a wedding planner in Marrakech called Dawn Boyes-Stones from Marrakech Weddings and she was very helpful finding a celebrant, booking our 81

pre-wedding meal and giving information of local services. On arrival in Marrakech we just had a few meetings to finalise details and we wanted to buy our wedding favours in the souks so that everyone had a souvenir of Morocco. We chose to buy them all a key ring of the hand of Fatima, which is supposed to offer protection to its wearer and is very popular in Morocco.

The guests We took 30 guests with us, which was always our ideal number. Enough people to ensure a good celebration but not too many that it became too overwhelming! We were fortunate that most guests accepted our invitation. Everybody stayed in different hotels around the city. Dawn gave me a list of local recommended accommodation to suit all budgets to pass onto my guests, which was very useful. We also made a wedding website to provide as much information as possible for our guests. We tried to give as much notice as possible, which I think helped and the fact that Marrakech can be very reasonable costwise worked in our favour. All our guests were very excited to visit somewhere that seems so exotic but is actually only a few hours on the plane!

Getting the look I had a wedding dress shopping day with my bridesmaids and the females in my family but didn’t expect to find ‘the dress’ on that day. I also thought I wanted a very 82

light and simple dress that would be easy to transport. Wrong on both counts! I ended up trying the perfect dress in the very first shop and it was big! For the first time in my life I felt like a princess. It was a Rosetta Nicolini dress from Berketex, which I felt was classic and wouldn’t date. My mum treated me to a beautiful pearl tiara and a lovely ribbon-edged veil, both from Berketex. I always knew I wanted ‘special’ shoes for my wedding day so I splurged on a pair of peep toe nude heels by Christian Louboutin (I later discovered that Christian Louboutin had actually stayed at our wedding hotel just a few months before we did). Also, Tim surprised me with a wedding gift, which was a beautiful diamond necklace he had designed himself at the jewellers that made my wedding ring. I had my hair and makeup done professionally at the spa at La Mamounia.

Something old, something new? My ‘Something Old’ was my Nana’s pearls (who is no longer with us) they meant a lot to me and it felt like she was with me on the day; ‘New’ was my tiara; ‘Borrowed’ was my mum’s hair clip, and ‘Blue’ was a lovely garter made of Nottingham lace that my mother-in-law had bought for me – it is traditional that she always buys them for brides in the family.

Groom & bridesmaids Tim wore a Ted Baker suit and Ted Baker shoes. And my bridesmaids were fine with the fact that I saw their dresses on a whim

and bought them there and then! They know I can be very impulsive! I just knew the colour and cut would suit them all and go with the wedding colours perfectly. Luckily they all agreed and looked stunning! I got them from a boutique that was closing down so got them at a bargain price too!

The details I wouldn’t say our wedding had a theme but we did embrace Morocco and the local culture. Tim designed our wedding stationary, which incorporated fuchsia pinks and purple flower colours into a traditional Moroccan design. We wanted vibrant colours to suit Marrakech. Tim also made the menus, name cards and table numbers in Moroccan style and we had peach roses in the middle of each table in a big glass bowl for our reception. For my bouquet, I found a bouquet online that another bride had used and asked the hotel’s florist to create something similar. The only specific flowers I requested were pink roses as they are particularly beautiful in Morocco. We decided that, as we were having a wedding party once we got back to the UK, we wouldn’t have a cake in Marrakech, but would save the ‘cake cutting’ for the wedding party instead.

The ceremony The ceremony took place in the hotel’s magnificent gardens, which were originally a wedding gift from the King to the Prince and really are breathtaking. Seeing them

previously was one of the main reasons I wanted to get married at that hotel. The ceremony lasted around 30 minutes and included three readings, beautifully read by my brother, sister-in-law and mother-in-law. We were married by a local celebrant called Peter Mercer, and my lovely dad gave me away – I have never seen him cry so much, bless him! It was such a special moment.

Customs and traditions We decided to incorporate some local language into the ceremony, so Peter delivered some of the service and pronounced us as husband and wife in English, French and Arabic! And just as he did, the call to prayer started – perfect timing! Also we had a local Andalusian trio playing for the entrance and exit.

The reception Directly after the ceremony guests enjoyed canapés and an open bar in the gardens and then afterwards moved into Le Marocain restaurant within the hotel grounds, which had an open terrace overlooking the gardens. The terrace had cosy seats, which was perfect for our speeches, and then we went inside into the atmospheric Moroccan tent for our sixcourse wedding breakfast, which consisted of a variety of local dishes, including Lemon Chicken, Tagines, Veal and Pastillas. We finished with Chocolate Macaroons, pastries and Mint Tea. There was one surprise on the menu though – our first course was described to us as Fine Moroccan Salads. Within this salad was actually the local delicacy of lamb’s brains! I was a bit taken aback by this but some guests seemed to really enjoy them!

An evening’s entertainment We wanted to save our ‘official’ First Dance until our UK party (Which was Bob Marley, Is this love?) But couldn’t resist a little unofficial one when the local musicians

played a traditional Moroccan wedding song for us! We had a local Gnawa troupe for the evening and they were absolutely amazing! It is so hard to describe what they do but it is a mixture of dancing, singing, instruments, chanting and ENERGY! They got everyone up on their feet and were just electrifying! We even did a conga! We ended the night in the Churchill Bar in the hotel for a nightcap – with it’s bright red leather and leopard print walls it was yet another unique part of the hotel for people to admire!

Photographic memories Crash Taylor did our photography and he was just incredible! He did an amazing job at capturing our day in a very honest and unobtrusive manner but he also was a wonderful guest to have there with us. We also had the wedding filmed by Alex Lawler of The Wedding Film Co who was just as fantastic and I am very excited to see the final results and re-live the whole day!

Magic moments Our wedding day was so magical – just knowing how happy the day made our families, friends and us will warm my heart forever. My funniest memory has to be seeing everyone ‘let go’ as soon as the Gnawa Troupe arrived. It was like a switch was turned on within everyone and they were instantly full of electric energy! Particularly our dads! We have never seen them so happy and animated. They were even borrowing the Gnawa’s hats and swinging napkins around! Very funny!

Any disasters? Once we arrived in Marrakech we looked at the forecast for Saturday to work out if we needed to buy fans/parasols for guests and the weather forecast said rain and thunderstorms! We were shocked and couldn’t believe it! Because Morocco is in North Africa, the one thing we had always

felt sure about was the weather. We started to panic slightly. The hotel showed us an indoor ‘back-up’ location for our ceremony and, whilst it was lovely, I really had my heart set on a wedding in the gardens. I just prayed the forecast was wrong! The day of the wedding arrived and there was not a cloud in the sky. It was the perfect temperature too, lovely and warm but not too hot. Panic Over!

On budget? We went over budget but it was worth every penny.

The honeymoon We went to the Atlas Mountains for our first honeymoon to Kasbah Tamadot, which is Richard Branson’s Moroccan Retreat and it was unbelievably beautiful, the perfect end to our Moroccan adventure! We explained to our guests what we planned to do for our honeymoon in Morocco and they totally understood. They were very happy to do their own thing after the wedding and enjoy their own holidays. Also we had arranged a pre-wedding meal at Café Arabe in the souks the evening before the wedding so we got to spend some time with everybody then as well as on the wedding day. Honeymoon part two is going to be a tour of China for New Year.

Further information Wedding planners: Dawn Boyes-Stones (Marrakech Weddings) Venue: La Mamounia Photographer: Crash Taylor Videographer Alex Lawler, The Wedding Film Co 83


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he Internet is playing Cupid for more and more couples seeking everlasting love, and when Claire Williams and Gary Wright from Basingstoke in Hampshire connected with each other online, it pretty soon became a match made in heaven!

Finding ‘the one’ We actually met on the Internet and our first date was at a local pub – one that we still visit now, although this time with our dog in tow! I’m not sure if it was love at first sight, but we arranged our second date pretty swiftly, so there was obviously a spark there!

Location, location We wanted a wedding that was intimate with only close family present, with guaranteed good weather. We visited Sandals Royal Bahamian last year and had the most fantastic time. We felt that our wedding party would also love the hotel and so we thought it would be the perfect location for our wedding. In addition, my parents used to live in the Bahamas (they used to be teachers out there) and hadn’t been back for 40 years, so I liked the fact there was a family connection to the Bahamas and it was a great excuse for them to go back after all that time.

The planning The proposal He proposed at home – it was rather low key, which is kind of our style really. He asked me if I wanted to go shopping in Tiffanys, well what girl wouldn’t want to do that?! We have been together for eight years and had talked about marriage, so I don’t think it was unexpected to be honest!

We used the wedding planning services provided by Sandals – they were very helpful with all the arrangements. Part of my job is organising events, so I didn’t want to have to do this in my personal life and thankfully the Sandals team made everything so easy. Before we left home I had a couple of calls with the wedding planning team, plus some emailing back and forth to confirm things in writing. Easy! 91

The guests There were 10 of us in total and our whole party stayed at Sandals Royal Bahamian, Nassau. We only invited a small group anyway – my mum and dad, Gary’s mum and dad, my sister and her husband, and Gary’s brother and his girlfired – so we knew everyone would be able to attend.

Getting the look My dress was from Phase Eight on the high street, which lots of people can’t believe looking at the photos! I think that’s a good thing! I wanted something simple and elegant and ideally with a bit of sparkle. I was thinking more along the lines of evening dress, rather than traditional wedding dress. My shoes were from my favourite store – Karen Millen, silver and very sparkly. My bag was from Coast and I wore a ring that we bought in the Bahamas on our first visit there. My sister did my hair and I did my own make up. As I said earlier, fairly low key.

Groom & bridesmaids Gary wore navy trousers and waistcoat (no jacket as it was too hot!), with a white shirt and blue tie. My sister was my bridesmaid and her outfit, a dress from Coast, was customised by my mum, who added lace sleeves and changed the neck line.

The details We didn’t have any particular theme for our wedding. However, we chose beautiful white orchids for the bouquet and we had a wedding cake – a delicious vanilla sponge with white icing.

The ceremony Our wedding ceremony took place in the gardens of the Sandals resort, it lasted around half an hour in total. We were married by a Marriage Officer supplied by the resort, however, Gary and I chose to walk down the aisle together, so I wasn’t ‘given away’ in that sense.

Something old, something new? My Something old – the headband I wore to my sister’s wedding early in the year; Something new – the dress; Something borrowed – a silver bracelet from my mum, which was also my sister’s ‘something borrowed’ at her wedding; Something blue – my mum sewed a blue ribbon onto the inside of my dress! 92

The reception After the wedding ceremony we had a Champagne reception back in our room and then a three-course meal in one of the restaurants on site – the Crystal Ballroom. There was a choice of menu, but mains were prime rib, chicken or fish – all beautifully cooked! We kept our table

decorations simple, with just a scattering of flower petals on the table, plus personalised menus with Mr & Mrs Wright, which was unexpected, but a nice touch!

Photographic memories We used the services of an on-site photographer and my brother-in-law also took photos. I love all our wedding photos and don’t know if I could choose a favourite one – it was a difficult task to have to choose our package of photos, whittling them down from over 400 to under 100!

Funniest memories? When the photos were being taken, the photographer asked me to sniff the flowers and we all just fell about laughing as I looked like such a wally. Needless to say that was not one of the photos we chose!

Magic moments The whole day was magical. It was great to just chill out by the pool in the morning and then me, my mum and sister all getting ready together. Then meeting Gary to walk down the aisle, and how handsome he looked! Then sharing our moment with our nearest family in such a beautiful setting…

On budget? It was just under £2,000 per person/guest, which was right on our wedding budget!

The honeymoon We stayed on at the same hotel and our wedding group shared our honeymoon, which I think is testament to how well everyone gets on. To be honest though, we would often not see each other in the day as everyone just kept themselves to themselves and did their own thing, although we did often meet up in the evenings to all have a drink together after dinner.

Further information Venue: Sandals Royal Bahamian W Bay Street, Nassau, The Bahamas Tel: 0800 742 742 Web: Photographer: Sandals Snapshots 93

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Brides abroad issue 11  

101 Chic Tropical Wedding Ideas