The pair had been together for 18 months at the time they set off on a two-week holiday travelling around Italy. “I’d always planned to propose on a gondola in Venice,” Jamie explains, and it being the first stop on their trip he didn’t have to wait long. On the second day, he bravely got down on one knee in a gondola and produced the ring, which Melissa was completely unaware she’d been carrying it around in his sunglasses case the whole time. She said “yes” before Jamie even got to the all-important question, and tells us, “I’ve never been so surprised in all my life. Everything was perfect: the ring, the weather, the setting, the man!”
Following their engagement, Port Lympne was the first and only venue they considered. They’d previously stayed at the hotel together, and having noticed the Aspinal Suite set up for a wedding while they were there, they both commented on what an incredible place it would be to get married. So, no time was wasted and the date was set for that coming summer, just nine months away. Join us as the bride tells us more about the big day…
The overriding theme for this gorgeous wedding day, was Italy, where the couple got engaged. The stationery for example, including invitations, place and table names, and table plan, all featured maps, quotes and photos from their trip. The tables were named after each of the locations they visited with the top table being the city most significant to them – Venice.
Sunflowers were the main focus of the floral displays along with purple lisianthus and ruscus. These beautiful blooms were featured in the bouquets, buttonholes, corsages, pew ends and centrepieces. "We're lucky to have an incredibly talented family friend who did all of our wedding flowers. They were stunning and made our day even more special," Melissa explains.
The centrepieces were white lanterns with purple candles inside, surrounded by flowers to reflect the other arrangements. The top table boasted a linear floral display, which was complemented by the bright purple chair covers and sunflower clip accents. The big-day bake incorporated all of the couple's themes with a purple ribbon, hand-painted map of the world, also in purple, and sunflowers. "It was simple but effective," Melissa remembers.
The bride's father was appointed official wedding carpenter, as he turned his hand to making several fabulous wedding-day decorations including a Mr & Mrs sign, a giant outdoor light-up J&M and a handpainted photo booth frame. Her godmother also joined in making a wooden pallet decoration complete with sunflowers, lights and photos depicting the couple's relationship over the years.
Melissa wore Washington by Diane Harbridge – a ruched satin gown with beaded applique on the side. She found the dream dress at a wedding show, having narrowed down the silhouette she wanted at previous boutique appointments. "Once I could see the dress fitting properly, I knew it was perfect, and really didn't want to take it off on the day," she remembers. She finished the look with something old, new borrowed and blue, including a little cat lucky charm that belonged to her grandpop, and a garter worn by her mum and auntie at their weddings.
The groom wore a bright blue suit paired with a grey waistcoat to make him stand out from the groomsmen. He accessorised with a purple tie, tri-fold pocket square andsmall sunflower buttonhole. Jamie says, "My bride also gave me a sterling silver tie clip and she'd embroidered a message on the underside of my tie, which read: 'our forever starts today,' with our wedding date." The groomsmen were dressed in matching blue suits, with waistcoats for the best man and the couple's fathers.
The bridesmaids wore multi-way purple maxi dresses. Two of the girls wore it in a one-shoulder style and the other two as a halter neck. They were accessorised with matching silver earrings and bracelets, a thank-you gift from the couple.
Melissa had considered making a bride's speech, but instead opted to surprise the groom with a song, which she performed with ladies' vocal chorus Viva Acappella. They sang one of his favourite songs I Don't Want to Miss a Thing by Aerosmith. Melissa recalls, "Jamie's reaction was priceless and definitely made sneaking out to rehearsals worthwhile."
Instead of wedding favours, the newlyweds treated their day guests to a VIP safari around the zoo following the speeches. When they returned, as the evening guests started to arrive, bridesmaid Hannah Bruce performed Make You Feel My Love by Adele/Bob Dylan. "It was an incredible performance and a really special moment," Melissa says.
Thanks to the beautiful summer's evening, they were able to set up the DIY photo booth outside. They'd gathered a range of props and fancy dress for use with the personalised frame, made by the father-of-the-bride. The bride says, "It produced some hilarious photos, which we found on our camera a few weeks later."
Melissa had Jamie had been taking dance lessons inthe lead up to the big day, which were a wedding gift from the bride's godmother and her family. Their teacher had choreographed a routine to Michael Bublé's cover of You've Got a Friend in Me. This choreographed first dance was a surprise to most guests, and they were all suitably impressed. But, despite being dedicated in rehearsals, nothing had prepared them for how much harder the routine would be in a wedding dress!
Melissa says, "Allow plenty of time to get ready and travel to the venue in the morning, if that's what you're doing. Plan the time you need and then add at least an hour. That time in the morning flies by, and you never know what unexpected events might occur along the way."
Jamie says, "It may be a cliché, but try to enjoy every moment. The day will pass in a flash, so soak it in as much as possible. Also, take a moment for you and your partner to appreciate what a special day it is for the two of you, even if it's just a quiet five minutes together."
First dance lessons
Honeymoon travel agent
Venue and catering