How they met
“Our first date was playing pool at a local pub in Middlesbrough,” remembers Helen. “It wasn’t the most romantic of settings, but I felt like a giddy lovestruck teenager. We were 18 and 17 when we first got together.”
“We were backpacking around Thailand, and at the very end of the holiday we decided to treat ourselves to a posh meal,” explains Helen. “Nice restaurant booked, we headed back to our hotel to get ready. While I was out chatting to some friends, Ben was faced with a calamity… A rat had jumped up on to the TV table and ran behind the wardrobe! Now, should he tell me, but possibly spoil the romantic mood, or let it go, but face the prospect of a rat running around our room? He decided to ‘fess up in the end, and the hotel staff came to our room and found a hole behind the wardrobe, stuffed it with newspaper and proclaimed ‘problem solved!’ We headed to the beautiful restaurant for our well-earned meal. Just after the main course arrived, Ben got the waitress to bring the ring (that he had hidden at the bottom of his backpack inside a sock) and a couple of glasses of Champagne and then got down on one knee to pop the question.”
The bride’s outfit
“After visiting a few wedding shops I soon decided that they were not for me! Having read a feature online about the new boutique wedding dress range by Anthropologie, I headed over to the website. The range was called BHLDN and I immediately fell in love with the completely different gowns that were available. I kept revisiting the website, and eventually decided to take the plunge and clicked ‘buy’. A few weeks later my husband- to-be took delivery of a very large package for me, and I squeezed my way into it, to find it was the perfect fit. The only problem was I never wanted a strapless wedding dress and the sequin material was going to be pretty difficult to match up. One lucky post-Christmas sales purchase later – a top from Warehouse – and I’d found a very similar shade of sequins. After a visit to a local clothes alteration shop my wedding dress was complete,” beams Helen.
The groom’s outfit
“Ben looked just as dashing as ever – he scrubs up well,” says a very proud Helen. His suit was Vivienne Westwood from Selfridges, which he wore with a Harris Tweed waistcoat and Hugo Boss bow tie.
Helen snapped up her beautiful bridesmaid dresses from high street heroes Coast. However, mild panic ensued when one of her bridesmaids announced she was pregnant, and could no longer fit in her dress! Luckily, they were able to locate a bigger size, just in time!
“We had three readings at the ceremony, ‘I Wanna Be Yours’ by John Cooper Clark, ‘Union’ by Robert Fulghum and ‘I Wanna Grow Old With You’ from the Wedding Singer movie. I was also serenaded down the aisle by my very talented husband who sang All I Want Is You by Barry Louis Polisar while playing acoustic guitar and harmonica! He hadn’t told many guests what was going to happen so I think a few people were taken by surprise when they saw him step up on stage with his guitar,” smiles Helen.
Our couple put their heart and soul into their wedding details, and we absolutely love it all! To tie in with the rustic barn interior, they used bunting to decorate the ceiling rafters, slices of wood for signs and table names, and napkin rings made from twine and birch wood flowers (which were also included in the buttonholes and bridesmaids’ hair). Instead of a traditional seating plan, the couple opted for an American tradition of escort cards, which they made from an old map (to represent their love of travelling) and keys to direct guests to their seats. Finally, the courtyard was Helen’s mum’s area – she decorated pots of flowers that she’d grown in her garden, and lit the outdoor space with candle bags and fairy lights.
The first dance
“For our first dance we started with a fake ode to Twilight with the beginnings of a slow dance to Flightless Bird by Iron and Wine, which then skipped tracks into Canned Heat by Jamiroquai where we did the dance routine from the film Napoleon Dynamite – geeky glasses included. Many an hour was spent dancing round our lounge in front of the telly trying to learn that one!” laughs Helen.