Posts Tagged ‘thornbury’

Our Wedding

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

How do you write a blog post about the happiest day of your life?  I’ve never been much of a wordsmith (which is part of the reason I started writing on this public forum) so I’ll struggle to find the appropriate words and metaphors to describe the events of October 18th, 2011.

I awoke in our London flat early in the morning with my family present and already buzzing about.  The day was about as perfect a day you could ask for on such a special occasion.  White, puffy clouds and sunny skies don’t come every day in the UK so we couldn’t have timed it any better.

Danni, her father and her brides maid Ping had spent the evening prior at a hotel in Thornbury near our venue, so all that remained was to load up my family and make the 2 hour journey.  The trip was uneventful, but in hindsight stopping for a coffee was probably a bad idea as the caffeine wasn’t helping my prenuptial jitters.

Our venue for the day was the amazing Thornbury Castle, which just so happened to be location of our engagement 7 months earlier.  We had actually looked at quite a few other options, but we had such a special time at Thornbury that it just felt right to go back and exchange our vows within it’s walls.  There’s also something to be said for getting married in a castle.

My brother and best friend Robert had agreed to a shared role of best man, so the three of us got ready together in a nearby hotel where most of our guests would be staying.  It wasn’t until we started to get dressed that my nerves really kicked in.  Not so much because I was worried about getting married, but because I was worried that something might go wrong with our carefully laid plans.  It seems like so much hangs on other people (most of whom you’ve never met) getting things just right, and the control freak in my was not happy about this at all.  I think this was very likely the first time I’ve ever paced in my life, it was impossible for me to sit still.

The previously mentioned coffee was certainly not enhancing my calm either.

Our brilliant photographers (the ones who’ve taken all of the images in this post) where on hand to capture the getting ready stages of the day.  I was lucky enough to have a London based wedding photographer (and my good friend) Ian Schofield with his assistant Richard Swaffield (also a good friend) covering our day.  We couldn’t have asked for more professional coverage and the images, as you can see here, were simply stunning.

We were both required by UK law to be interviewed by the registrars before the wedding, presumably to ensure that neither of us were being married under duress.  Great care was taken to prevent Danni and I from accidentally bumping into each other while our separate statements were being given, and we must have answered to their satisfaction as they allowed us to proceed.

I don’t remember much of the waiting period while I chatted with friends and family waiting for the event to begin and Danni to finally arrive.  There were a lot of nervous jokes, more pacing and an awful lot of watch checking.  It wasn’t long before Glinis, the registration officer conducting our ceremony, began to organize the wedding party and give us a run down of what was about to happen.  Before I knew it, we were all lined up, the music had started and Danni was entering the room with her father and bridesmaid.

I remember turning towards the door in time to witness her enter, and then quickly turning back and facing away.  I can’t say for certain why I looked away.  I think part of me didn’t believe I was getting married to someone so amazing, someone so stunning that I was afraid my eyes were actually playing tricks on me.  I didn’t want to look back for fear that it had all been just a wonderful illusion, that maybe none of this was actually real.

It only lasted a second or two before I couldn’t stop myself from glancing back to watch my lovely wife-to-be walk down the aisle in her breathtaking dress.

Glinis was eloquent and warm as she read through our vows and guided us through the ceremony.  She spoke with the slow, even pace and confidence of someone who’d done this a thousand times.  We were made to feel as though she was talking directly to us while still projecting for everyone else in attendance.  My mom also gave a lovely reading which she modified and personalized to more closely reflect our life in the big city of London.  It’s always nice to have that personal touch.

Repeating our customized vows whet smoothly despite our mutual nerves and with no one objecting to our union, we exchanged rings first, and then a kiss.  I even managed to remove Danni’s veil without disrupting her carefully arranged hair and makeup, something I’d been fretting about for most of the morning.  Describing the feeling of actually getting married to the person you love is difficult as for me, there doesn’t seem to be an equivalent and descriptive terms like amazing or incredible just don’t cover it. Everyone says it’s their best day ever, which is vague and accurate all at the same time.

I think the goofy grin that never left my face describes it best.


After the ceremony we chatted for a bit in the lobby, exchanging hugs and receiving congratulations from our family and friends before heading outside for the formal photos.  The October weather was chilly enough force a few people back in, but not before we’d taken several large group shots.  Immediate family and the wedding party got to stay behind for some additional photos before they were allowed back inside to the bar, but we didn’t keep them long.  Once again the photographers were great and moved things along to make sure we got all of the images we wanted.

Our afternoon tea was served at 4 during which a few speeches were given (Danni’s fathers speech being the highlight for me), thanks were offered and scones were slathered in cream and scoffed.   The intimate dining room we were provided with was perfect for the occasion, complete with a roaring, crackling fire to help set the mood.  If there is a better setting for a proper English tea, I haven’t found it yet.

In keeping with the English feel of our wedding, we then set off to a traditional local pub in the town centre for food and a few drinks.  We stayed and chatted till late in the evening before saying farewell to some of our heartier drinking relations and heading back to the castle for a night in the glorious Henry VIII room.  A perfect end to a day that couldn’t have been more ideal.


We want to thank all of our friends and family who made the journey (however long) to be with us on our day.  Thanks to the fine folks at Thornbury Castle for a perfect venue, amazing food and exemplary service.  We really feel that everything we asked for was taken care of to the letter.  The clerks from South Gloucestershire were helpful throughout the process and nothing short of professional on the day. Our two photographers were brilliant as you can see from the photos included, and I can’t recommend their services enough.

And finally, thanks to my lovely new wife for being everything I’ve ever wanted.

Whiney xxx

There are a load of additional photos in the gallery.

Thornbury Castle

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

AKA: Our engagement weekend.

As Danni was still in China for Valentines, I’d arranged for a weekend away for us as a belated Valentines day present.  This year it was two nights in Thornbury Castle’s Plantagenet room.

It was a stunning room filled with old wood, castle brick walls and large, warm tapestries that covered entire walls.  There was champagne on ice waiting for our arrival as well as some cozy sherry just waiting for a couple to relax by the fire with.

We had an amazing time in the hotel and the food was stunning, but the main reason I’d dragged Danni out to the Cotswolds was to pop the question.  I’d been wracking my brain for several weeks to determine the ‘how’ of it all, and the only thing I could decide with any certainty was that I wanted a photo of the moment.  Running with that idea, I took Danni out into the courtyard of the castle at dusk under the guise of wanting to do a few couples shots in the fading light with the castle walls in the background.

After a few shaky setup shots and a couple of just a few more adjustments, I set the timer, sprinted back into place and said ‘for this shot, we’ll need this’.  With a subtle flourish I was down on one knee, the ring held aloft for her to see through shocked and watery eyes while I asked her to marry me just as the camera triggered, capturing the moment forever.

At least, in my head this was how it worked.  The reality of it all was that I was so nervous and the box was large enough to get stuck in my coat pocket that I was a few seconds off beat and this was as close as it came.

If you look closely, there surprise is there on Danni’s face and I’m obviously about to get on one knee (that or I’m doing the worlds first run-by proposal).  It’s not what I had in mind, but photography is a game of chance at the best of times and we’re both pretty happy with the way this shot turned out.

Also, she said yes!

There are a few more photos from our weekend away in the gallery.