Sally Rawlins shared a beautiful wedding that is full of smiles and love and just makes me feel like summer is actually round the corner. And there are dogs in the wedding!!!
TELL US THE STORY OF HOW YOU MET
We have been together for over 3 years, and although we went to the same school, we didn’t ever cross paths! We became close through a mutual friendship group and we would frequently go out clubbing together. We knew there was a spark from day 1, and although we had both never been in a lesbian relationship before, we just knew it was more than a friendship. Our amazing friends ended up working their magic and helping us to pluck up the courage to go out on a first date (it was terrifying as we hadn’t come out to our families!). Our first date was at Thorndon Park in Brentwood, Essex – a dog walk with our boys. It was eventful and hilarious, with Charlie falling in the lake (Lorna rescued him!) and Tyson trying to eat the Gregg’s donuts Zoe had brought along. But it was absolutely perfect and we just knew that was going to be the first dog walk of many together.
We had spoken about marriage before and knew it was something we both wanted in the future. On the 18th May, we went out for afternoon tea at a local tea room and came back home with the dogs. Later that day at home, Tyson ran upstairs with an engraved tag on his collar on, reading ‘follow the petals mummy’. I had a lump in my throat as I just knew what this meant. I looked downstairs and there were a trail of rose petals leading to some flowers with a message on. There was another trail leading to a big bag of pic’n’mix (my favourite!) with another message on; the trail continued into the kitchen where there was a piece of art Zoe had made (clay donuts like ones we had on our first date!). The final trail of rose petals led me to the living room where our song begun to play – Beyoncé ‘Die With You’. Zoe read out the most beautiful speech and asked me to read the tag on Charlie’s collar which read ‘will you marry my mummy?’, and she presented me with the most beautiful engagement ring. Of course I said yes, and I’ve never felt so much happiness. To me, it was the most perfect proposal; we were in our tracksuits, having just awoken from a nap, in our beautiful house with our boys. I couldn’t have asked for more.
NOW ABOUT THE BIG DAY! WHAT WAS THE THEME AND INSPIRATION? HOW DID THE DAY LOOK LIKE? DID YOU STYLE IT YOURSELF?
We both love the outdoors, nature and a relaxed bohemian style, so we knew this is what we were going to go for on our wedding day. We chose to have a very small, intimate wedding because for us, marriage was about celebrating our love for each other and not about spending a lot of money trying to please everyone else.
We couldn’t have wished for a dreamier wedding day! We both got ready separately in a beautiful listed cottage nearby our venue, which made for the perfect backdrop for our ‘getting ready’ photos. My Dad and Tyson walked me down the aisle to meet Zoe and Charlie in the middle and he walked us both up the aisle, which he still says is one of his proudest moments! The British weather held out and we married outside in the gardens, under the gazebo, surrounded by our family. Once we married and we’d had some photos taken, we went into the orangery with our family and enjoyed the most wonderful afternoon tea of finger sandwiches, warm scones with clotted cream and jam, and homemade cakes. The speeches everyone prepared were incredibly touching and brought us all to tears. It was the most special moment all being together celebrating our love. It meant so much to us that we were able to share our special day with our dogs, Charlie and Tyson, and my Mum’s dog Poppy. They all did us proud (with a little bit of mischief!), and neither of us ended up being dragged down the aisle!
TELL US ABOUT THE CEREMONY AND RECEPTION LOCATIONS. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THE VENUE AND WHAT DID YOU LIKE ABOUT IT?
We really struggled to find a small venue to hold an intimate wedding that also allowed our dogs all day. We found The Secret Garden online and it just seemed to fit our rustic and natural theme so perfectly. We viewed it and immediately fell in love – the beautiful gardens, the outside gazebo where we chose to get married, and the stunning orangery with all its rustic furniture and greenery. The bonus was that it was dog friendly so it was a complete winner for us! We had lunch at the venue a few weeks before our big day and it just confirmed we’d made the right choice – the food was out of this world, and it was just as good on our big day!
We absolutely loved our journey in finding our dresses. We already agreed we would like to see each other trying on dresses as we’re so used to getting ready together and knowing what looks good on each other. It took us 3 bridal boutiques to find our dresses; Zoe almost gave up hope as she didn’t find anything that gave her that ‘feeling’ until she tried on her chosen dress in Serena Bridal, Wickford. It was the only dress that brought her (and us) to tears so we just knew it was the one. Lorna was a bit more indecisive and had 2 very different styles; a simple strapless dress with a fishtail and a beaded belt, or the beautiful fully beaded and embellished ivory gown, with the delicate capped sleeves and open back detail. We tried them on together and it was then that I just knew it was the one – it brought our family to tears so we were sold! The dresses were from the same designer and we just felt they complimented each other beautifully, whilst still being very different and unique.
FLOWERS & DECORATIONS
We chose to arrange and twine our own bouquets which we ordered from ‘Bloom & Wild’. Lorna’s sister, Rebecca, also kindly hand wrote our name cards and we made our own favour bags full of personalised keepsakes for our family. Lorna’s Mum Lisa is really into crocheting and she hand crocheted our wedding bags as well as Poppy the dogs’ crocheted floral corsage which attached to her collar (with some help from Rebecca)
One of our favourite pieces from the day was our DIY wedding cake – which was a bargain rainbow cake from Marks and Spencer! Zoe then sculpted Tyson and Charlie’s bottoms’ out of clay, to fit into the side of the cake to give the illusion they were digging into the bottom of the cake. It was absolutely perfect and a great way to add a personal touch to our wedding cake.
YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER AND VIDEOGRAPHER
Sally our photographer was recommended to us by one of our good friends.
The photographs are above and beyond what we ever expected. They are natural, raw, and capture the emotions of the day perfectly. We will treasure them forever. We haven’t yet received our video as it’s still in the editing stage, but Dean’s work is incredible and both Sally and Dean made us feel so at ease whilst capturing our day.
Lorna: The sense of pride Dad had walking us both down the aisle, Tyson escaping out of his harness and charging over whilst me and Zoe had our professional photos taken, hearing everyone’s laughter in one room, and saying ‘I do’ and realising we had become each other’s wife.
Zoe: Seeing Lorna at the other end of the aisle and turning into a blubbering mess, seeing Simon’s ‘pull my finger’ badge hidden under his jacket lapel, listening to everyone’s beautiful speeches and coming home to our cottage with our family and changing straight into our PJs and slippers!
We are so grateful to have the most supportive, loving family and friends who supported us since coming out as gay (which came as a bit of a surprise) to being there on the most special day of our lives. It still doesn’t feel real that we are married but we count our blessings everyday for the special love we share and cannot wait to spend the rest of our lives together!
WOULD YOU HAVE ANY PIECE OF ADVICE FOR COUPLES PLANNING THEIR WEDDING?
If you feel like you need to have a big, lavish wedding day to please everyone else, when really all you want to do is run away and marry the love of your life just the two of you, then drop the wedding planner and go and do just that!! We spent a fraction of what the average wedding costs, with absolutely no stress and worry at all. We didn’t break the bank or end up bridezilla’s worrying about the wedding day. It was relaxed; we got married and celebrated our marriage with our loved ones. We couldn’t have wished for more. Also, don’t diet if you don’t want to! Neither of us dieted, in fact we both probably gained a little bit in the lead up to our day! We fell in love with each other just as we are now, so there’s no pressure to be a size 6 on your wedding day.
Ceremony Venue: The Secret Garden, Ashford, Kent
Photography: Sally Rawlins Photography
Video: Hitched Wedding Films Essex – Dean
Dresses: Shop – Serena Bridal in Wickford, Essex, both designed by ‘True Bride’
Bridesmaid dresses: ASOS
Hair and Makeup: L.A.S Hair, Rayleigh, Essex
Flowers: Bloom & Wild
Decorations: Venue’s own
Cake: Marks and Spencer rainbow cake, Zoe made the dog toppers
Music: “We had ‘You are my Sunshine’ by Jasmine Thompson to walk down the aisle and ‘I Giorni’ by Ludovico Einaudi to exit. We didn’t have a first dance as we didn’t feel the need!”
Wedding rings: Alba Rose, Rayleigh (they seem to have renamed to Affinity Fine Jewellers)