Dan and Demi share their beautiful wedding at Leez Priory in Essex…
Tell us about the proposal – how and where did it happen?
“In the beautiful town of Sheringham in Norfolk. I spent a lot of time growing up in Norfolk with my grandparents, a place which has always been close to my heart. After the passing of my granddad Dan and I would often visit the town to reminisce fond memories, one of which being climbing the ‘Beeston bump’ a cliff which overlooks the sea, village and my grandparents house.
On 12th March 2016 Dan took me to Sheringham for the weekend and I had no idea of what Dan planned to do.
Dan had positioned himself at the top of the cliff and asked family members to give me a number of gift bags, all of which included hints on where I needed to go to find him. On a cold, but beautifully sunny day I found herself climbing the cliff on my own with the gift bags in hand, to find Dan at the top surrounded by candles, on one knee.”
What was your first step in planning your wedding?
“Most definitely finding the venue. I had found Leez Priory through website searches years before Dan actually proposed (we had been together for 10 years so I had plenty of time to live in hope). As soon as we were back from Norfolk we enquired about visiting Leez Priory for a show around. We had another venue, which we had planned to see, however after one visit to Leez we knew that it had to be the place. Without hesitation we booked Leez and were filled with pride that we would be getting married at the most beautiful venue we had ever seen.”
What were your wedding “must-haves”?
“On-site accommodation was a big plus for us so that our elderly guests and more ‘merry’ guests didn’t have to travel too far after the reception. We would also only consider venues that hosted both the ceremony and venue in one place. Getting married outside was also a fantastic experience.”
How did you organise your wedding budget?
“After booking the venue we created a spreadsheet and based on research and advise we set limits for everything we had to include i.e. photographer, dresses, suits etc. We then used this as a guideline, sticking to it as much as possible. We updated it every time we secured a new supplier, and every time we made any kind of payment.”
What made you choose Leez Priory?
“We (and our family) live over 90 minutes’ drive from Leez Priory and therefore we did have hesitations on whether it was going to work for us logistically, and if our guests would travel. After arranging our visit we did discuss our concerns and debated cancelling our appointment. Thank goodness we didn’t! From the minute we drove into the grounds we knew it was something special, but the moment that truly captured us was when we parked in the top car park and stood at the top of the walkway down to the main building. The sheer beauty and grandeur of the building absolutely took our breath away. It was at that moment that we realized we wanted our guests to have the same ‘wow’ experience that we did.”
How did you personalise your big day?
“We left most of the organising to Leez and so didn’t really need to add any extra personalised touches, as our excellent wedding coordinator Kathryn did this for us.”
Which wedding suppliers did you have and how did you choose them?
“As Leez Priory is not located close to where we live we decided to use mainly local suppliers in Essex. These were sourced through Essex based wedding fairs (Chelmsford race course) and through the recommended suppliers list supplied in our bridal pack.”
Describe your wedding attire:
“I went for a traditional ‘princess’ style dress, which suited the grandeur of Leez’s grounds. Dan and the groomsmen opted for dark grey tails, with light grey waistcoats. As it turned out we had fantastic weather and so the tails were not worn. The bridesmaids wore simple but elegant floor-length dresses in a powder blue to endorse the summer theme.”
What accessories did you wear on the day?
“As I had opted for a ‘princess style dress’ with a jeweled bust I decided to keep jewellery to a minimum. My bracelet was my something borrowed kindly provided by my bridesmaid and initially purchased from Swarovski. I slightly blew the budget when it came to my shoes and opted for ivory glittery Louboutins.”
What was your favorite part of the day?
“Demi: Walking down the aisle, hitting the red carpet and at that moment Dan turned around to look at me. I instantly felt relaxed, like we were the only 2 people there.
Dan: It’s very hard to say because the whole day was fantastic. One memory which is discussed a lot is the moment the Proclaimers 500 miles was played and nearly all of the guests made their way to the dance floor. This was one of the only songs I requested, so it was a great moment for me.”
What was your biggest wedding splurge?
“Most probably one of our wedding gifts. I treated Dan to a Tag watch, which wasn’t planned or included in the budget. Oops!”
What was your biggest wedding saving?
“If the DJ hadn’t of been included in our package I can imagine that would have cost us a fair amount, so I’d have to say this.”
What were your menu choices and welcome drinks?
“We opted for the Tomato and Red Pepper soup for starter, Chicken stuffed with Chorizo and paprika sauce for main, Lemon tart for dessert. Our welcome drinks were Belini’s and Mojitos.”
Where did you have your ceremony and wedding breakfast?
“We got married on the grass outside of the Tower. My father walked me down the aisle to ‘Can You Feel The Love’ and my twin younger sisters performed a reading named ‘On Your Wedding Day’.”
Did you have a band or DJ for your evening reception?
“We had Pete, the resident DJ.”
Tell us about your first dance – what song did you chose and why?
“The first dance was something Dan dreaded on the day. We went for the simple ‘sway’ routine to Michael Buble’s Close Your Eyes. We were lucky to be able to have our first dance outside on the grass in the sunset light. It felt very natural and ended with us being joined by our friends and family.”
Have you got a favourite photo from the day? If so why is it your favorite?
“Our favorite photo has to be the one of all our day guests. Our photographer Ben Brown took the shot from the window upstairs and told us all to form the shape of a heart out the front of the main house. It sounded mad at first, but it turned out amazingly well. We used it as the cover for our thank you cards and we’re also going to turn it into a canvas for our home.”
Based on your own experience, give us some top tips:
“When putting together your budget add a £500 buffer for anything you might have forgotten. Make sure to go for comfy shoes. You’re in them for a long time and the last thing you want is sore feet.”
“If we could do it all again, we’d…”
“…do it all exactly the same!”
Did you go on a honeymoon or mini-moon?
“We flew to Mauritius the day after the wedding for 2 weeks. Having not had a holiday for a few years we took the opportunity to fully relax, whilst also taking in the beautiful sights of the island.”
Date of wedding: 3rd June 2018
Dan’s attire: From Dapper Chaps (Martels wedding village).
The bride’s accessories: Shoes from Christian Louboutin and jewellery from Swarovski.
Bridesmaid’s dresses: Emma Bridals dresses purchased from Martels wedding village
Wedding rings: Chisholm Hunter
Wedding cake: The Organic Cakery
Photographer: Ben Brown – Lavenham Photographic
Music: House DJ Pete
Wedding favours: Hand-made glass jars with M&S Percy pigs
Flowers: Bouquets and button holes from Blossom Florists