The Bride & Groom Nigel and Gillian Oliver, Thursday 4th September 2008, Newick Park, nr Lewes, East Sussex.
Gillian explains – ‘We met at University and after 11 years together it was becoming a bit of a running joke with our friends that we were still unmarried, so it was the biggest shock when Nigel finally proposed!
We were on holiday visiting friends in Dubai and having spent a dinner with them we headed back to our hotel. We decided to have a romantic stroll along the beach and this is where Nigel asked me if I wanted to go shopping for a ring the next day…’
Planning the day
‘Having waited so long to be asked I wasted no time in planning the big day.
I became slightly addicted to buying wedding magazines and these were really helpful in providing ideas and inspiration.
We knew we wanted a civil ceremony followed by the reception all in one venue and that means you get an event planner there which really helped to ensure everything ran smoothly.’
‘We looked at a couple of venues but we fell in love with Newick Park the moment we arrived.
It was exactly what we wanted, it fitted the bill perfectly. A fabulous property with wonderful staff and just enough bedrooms to ensure we had exclusive use for our wedding.
The bonus was the ability to have the wedding outside, which we really wanted to do. (weather permitting!).’
The hen and stag nights
‘Nigel and the boys took themselves off to the racy location that is The Isle of Wight.
They went for a long weekend which was full of the typical stag activities and the bonus of a win in the Prince of Wales meat raffle!
The hen do on the other hand was a very civilized affair in Tunbridge Wells featuring fine food, lots of champagne, a bit of a boogie and a spa day to aid recovery.’
‘Our hopes of an outdoor wedding were well and truly quashed by the wettest September weather for quite some time. We were lucky that the venue had a lovely Library which was perfect for our ceremony.
The weather also delayed the flowers arriving, which meant that I was over half an hour late even though I was only upstairs (well that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!). Other than that the whole day was perfect.’
‘I wanted a dress that suited an elegant wedding and once I’d tried a Caroline Castigliano dress and felt the beautiful French silk, nothing else was going to do.
It’s important that a bride feels special, and you do every step of the way with Caroline Castigliano. As the bridal gown had a green sash we had a Watters bridesmaid dress made in a matching green with an ivory sash.
Nigel and the best man had green cravats to match too.’
The flowers and table decorations
‘The flowers were simple featuring pink and ivory as well as green tipped roses. We only had table decorations as we didn’t feel we needed to dress the venue too much as it was so stunning.’
‘Nigel’s Mum very kindly made our cake(s) for us – one fruit cake and 60 lemon and chocolate cupcakes, she iced each one with N&G.’
The first dance
‘We didn’t want anything too slushy for our first dance. We liked the idea of a more classic song with quite poignant lyrics so we chose Nina Simone’s Feeling Good.’
‘As we were hoping to have an outdoor ceremony we booked a string quartet for the ceremony and to play until we sat down for the wedding breakfast. It was nice to have something special and kept our guests entertained while we were having photos taken.
In the evening we had a great band called Solid State. I used to work with the lead singer so it felt personal to have them playing too.’
The memorable moments
‘Having had a wonderful day it was great to relax in the hotel lounge with some close friends into the early hours of the morning, we just didn’t want the day to end.’
‘We took a short trip to St Ives and stayed at the Tresanton Hotel which was very relaxing and just what was in order following the busy week or so.’
‘During the meal, try to go together as bride and groom to each table to speak to your guests in stages - it’s a great way to make sure you speak to everybody.
Enjoy every part of the wedding, from the planning to the day itself; don’t let little things stress you out as they really won’t seem important on the big day.’
Venue – Newick Park, Newick, nr Lewes, East Sussex
Brides dress – Caroline Castigliano, London
Photography – Helen England
Flowers – The Style Workshop, Tunbridge Wells
Grooms suit – Simmonds, Tunbridge Wells
Entertainment – Solid State