Real Wedding: Charmaine & Matt

Real Wedding: Charmaine & Matt

Rome provided the perfect backdrop for this engagement.  Charmaine & Matt had a stunning Cadbury purple wedding set in an enchanting Tudor Mansion.

The Engagement 

We had been together for 3 years before the proposal. Matthew surprised me with a weekend trip to Rome for my birthday in November (Thurs – Sun). I had suspicions that he may propose on the trip. My birthday was the Friday and after a lovely evening, no ring or proposal had materialised so I assumed maybe I was wrong, and it was just a trip for my birthday.

On the Saturday, (sunny and approx 14oc)  we visited the Colosseum in the morning. Matt then took me to a lovely restaurant overlooking the Colosseum for a beautiful meal and I had completely put the idea of a proposal out of my mind. Matt was very quiet throughout the meal and I thought something was wrong, then after dessert, Matt proposed! Very surprised and delighted! Out of the corner of my eye, I could see a woman was taking photographs like a paparazzi horde. It was at this point I realised Matt had hired a photographer based in Rome to capture the moment. It was magical. We had a fantastic photo shoot and a wonderful afternoon.


On the 12.09.15 at 13:00 we were married. With neither of us being particularly religious we were not hoping for a church wedding but wanted somewhere that still presented that aura of a church. We wanted the occasion to be a family occasion for everyone to enjoy from our youngest guests (6 months) to our eldest (88 years old). This was important to us in the whole planning of the wedding that everyone enjoyed themselves. We had approx 70 guests at the ceremony (additional 50 evening guests) and had a very traditional, unique, style wedding, which is something we both agreed on straight away. If I was to summarise my wedding into three words it would be breathtaking, romantic and magical.


We took our time in choosing a venue. Prior to the proposal we had already ‘jokingly’ looked at a couple of venues one of which we had said we would love to get married in. Once Matt had proposed we started looking into venues, dates etc with eagerness. The venue we chose we stumbled across on-line. It was near us and not originally our ‘preferred’ venue. However, once visiting Hengrave Hall, Bury St Edmunds, we instantly fell in love.

We had exclusive use of the building and grounds which meant that we could get married there, have our reception there, and most importantly should it have rained we could have fitted all our guests inside the building. We also had the advantage of about 25 rooms on the site that guests could book if they wanted, so once our guests arrived they could stay till the next morning should they wish. We looked at a couple of venues afterwards but knew that we would not be happy anywhere else.

The staff was exceptionally friendly and helpful, and the day could not have gone smoother. About 6 months after booking the venue, Mark Wright and Michelle Wright (Keegan) announced they had also booked the venue, which made us feel that little bit more proud about the venue we booked!


My dress was from a local shop in my previous hometown, Crown Joolz. I chose this shop because my sister also purchased her wedding dress from the same shop. I felt at ease with the staff and got 1st rate service. It took me about 3 dresses until I knew which dress was the ‘one’. I knew this was my dress because the smile I had was the biggest pre-wedding day and made me feel like ‘belle’ from beauty and the beast. I added a wraparound to give me cover up to my arms.


The groom had two best men, three ushers, and obviously, the FOB and FOG had suits as well.

We hired these from Greenwoods, as they had the Prince Edward style jackets which provided that definition of the wedding party from the other guests but didn’t make the other guests feel undressed by wearing full tails. The value for money was also a major aspect in choosing Greenwoods.

It was a joint decision in the colours, but the style was left to Matt. We choose a grey suit, with ivory waistcoat and purple cravats. The style of suit worked well for all the men who were all of different sizes.


My sister was my bridesmaid and she discovered her own dress from Monsoon. After only just having a baby, she wanted a dress that flattered her, and the colour matched perfectly to our theme. She then found a similar dress to match hers for our niece (flower girl) from the same shop. She had her original wedding shoes dyed to match the dress.


I found a local hair and makeup artist on a wedding website, Sarah Larvin. She was able to visit our home on the day of the wedding and visited pre-wedding day for a hair and makeup trial. The makeup I chose was very minimalistic as I am not too keen on bright or vibrant lipsticks and eye shadows. I kept it neutral, but still providing me with the bridal look I desired.

With regards to my hair, I knew I wanted to keep it up to avoid the nuisance it causes me on a daily basis. I also wanted it to have curls, something I don’t normally have. I found an example image on Google with ringlets and Sarah was able to able to give me this look, which made me feel like a real bride.


We ordered silk flowers for our day. We choose these as we wanted to be able to keep them forever but also to reduce costs. The venue was so beautiful and we could have easily gone over the top with flowers. We ordered from an online company that provided us with the following flowers:

  • Bride and Bridesmaid Bouquets
  • Men’s Buttonholes
  • Table Centrepieces
  • Flowers for ceremony room

Some of the centrepieces have since been gifted to grandparents and are always on display on visits!


The food was exceptional. The food was provided by Milsons, who running up to the wedding provided taster sessions and clear breakdowns of when and how the day would be run.

For the drinks reception we had:

  • PIMs for the ladies and half pint lagers for the gents, with non-alcoholic Norfolk cordials and sparkling water also available.
  • Selection of 4 Canopies’, 2 hot and 2 cold.

For the wedding breakfast we had:

  • Ham hock and vegetable pressing piccalilli, herbs and crostini.
  • Breast of Norfolk chicken with bacon and onion boudin, rosti potato, clapshot, spinach and baby leeks.
  • Salted caramel chocolate brownie, caramel ice-cream, hazelnut brittle
  • Coffee and Chocolates
  • We also had vegetarian and children’s options for the guests that had dietary requirements.
  • We also had Bottles of Red & White Wine for all our guests.

For the evening reception, we had the following:

  • Bacon Baps
  • Sausage Baps
  • Fish and Chip Gondolas
  • Mozzarella and Cheese Gondolas
  • Chip Cones


Our wedding stationery was a mix of purchased and homemade. We purchased, (fridge magnet) save the dates, invitations, place name settings, and a card box from a wonderful eBay shop. This provided the unique style and colours we wanted to continue throughout our day.

We then made all other stationery including the table plan ourselves. This provided the intimate feeling of being involved in our day but also allowed us to save costs to be used elsewhere in the wedding budget. Our stationery was based on the Cadbury purple colour theme we had chosen and joined this with an ivory to present the idea of luxury.


During the day we had various entertainment for the guests. As part of the package at Hengrave Hall, garden games were laid on for the drinks reception on the lawn, which consisted of giant chess, Jenga, and connect four as well as table tennis and some balls for kicking around. Inside the house, there was also a children’s room packed with toys and a relaxing room for the elder guests to escape the sun or the noise.

After the wedding breakfast we had a DJ who had playlists of music that we had requested (mainly cheesy disco types), we also a caricaturist who spent the time to draw lots of our guests. Everyone was very keen to get their portraits drawn and this was a huge success with all of them being collated in a book copy for us, and the originals were sent out to our guests with their thank you letters.


We booked a local photographer called Paul Bailey. We first saw his work at a local wedding fair among about another 50 photographers, his work really stood out to us. He presented different package options as well as stunning albums which he painstakingly puts together. He was approachable and friendly which made him seem more like a friend than a stranger, this was important to us as he made us feel more comfortable and our guests.

He took hundreds of photographs throughout the day from preparation to our dads dancing. He provided all of these to us on disks. We then chose a selection of 150 from approx 700 to be included in an album, he added more to fill in where required. We felt that although this element of the day can seem expensive, you get the quality you pay for, and would always recommend allowing a good budget for photography. We were also very fortunate that a relative who is beginning to develop his career also took a selection of photos of a professional quality and have these available to us.


Both Matt and I had such a fantastic day and having all of our family and friends present helped make the day so wonderful.

Some memories that stick in our minds are:

  • We had guests that travelled from the other side of the world for the weekend to help us celebrate.
  • On the morning of the wedding at 07:30 when everyone was waking up it was pouring with rain, by the time the groomsmen arrived at the venue and drove down the long driveway approach the rain had disappeared and the sun was rising above the Hall.
  • Obviously the absence of my late Mum made the day very bitter-sweet, however, all the good things that happened that day, made us both feel that we were being watched over on our magical day.


  1. I know all brides say enjoy your day because it will go quickly, but it really does go so quick. One second you are saying your vows the next you are dancing on the dance floor. So make sure you relax and take in as much as you can, smile, and enjoy the whole day as you will come to the end of the day and you will both have different memories that were missed by the other.
  2. Remember flat shoes, or as in my case, slippers to change into as your feet will want saving!!



Ceremony & Reception: Hengrave Hall   
Wedding Dress: Crown Joolz  ♥ Bridesmaid Dresses: Monsoon
Hair & Makeup: Sarah Larvin 
Groom & Groomsmen: Greenwoods
  Stationery: eBay shop
Entertainment: Wedding Party Events  & Ric Machin 

Photography: Paul Bailey


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