Real Wedding

Real Wedding: Keighley & Christopher Part 1

What a wedding story we have in store for you today. Keighley & Chris had always dreamed of having the perfect wedding on the beach, but it isn’t always that simple when you want all of your friends and family there. Read the emotional journey for Keighley planning a wedding whilst living in Australia with your family in the UK and then another wedding in Australia! The result – two perfect wedding days filled with those you love.

Today we bring you all the lovely details from their UK wedding. Keep an eye out on Friday for the rest of the story with the Australian Wedding.

I was a very lucky girl and got to have not 1 but 2 amazing wedding days, the 2 of them could not have been more different but were each equally perfect in their own way.

One was a winter wedding in the U.K with 65 of our closest friends and family with a sit-down 3-course meal with an evening reception where we had another 60 guests arrive. The other was a summer wedding In Australia where we got married in a tipi on the grounds of an old renovated cow shed with 40 of our friends in the space of 3 weeks.

Both I had planned by myself and one of which I had to plan all the way from the other side of the world in the space of 9 months. A lot of people don’t know how I did it and sometimes I think about it and don’t know how I did it either! What helped me was having some kind of an idea of how I wanted our wedding to be like, a colour scheme, a budget, a big notepad to make notes in, a wedding planner (which I downloaded off the net) so I knew what to do and when, a Pinterest account so I could save all those amazing ideas of other brides, and the love, generosity and support from my family and friends. Without them, it would have been a lot harder but having them do things for me got them involved in the wedding process which I think is really important because they would have been with me every step of the way if I was in the UK planning the wedding.

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Our UK wedding was a non-legal ceremony as we were unable to be in the country for the 28 days prior but for me, it was just as good as any legal wedding and to me, this will always be our wedding day that we will celebrate every year. This was the one we got to celebrate with our family and friends back home.

It was romantic & perfect.


Chris and I have been together what will be twelve years on the 19th of February. Unlike myself who had my life all planned out and wanted to be married with kids by the age of 25, Chris was the complete opposite and in no rush to do anything! In 2011 we emigrated to Australia which had been our priority for a few years so getting married was put to the bottom of the list.

One thing I had always said to Chris was if and when he does ask me to marry him can he please ask for my dad’s blessing. In February last year, I walked up to a jewellery shop window and instead of Chris walking past like he normally does, he actually stopped and said would you like to have a look at some rings – this was a first! I tried on a few and picked my favourites but left without buying any. It was getting close to Valentine’s day so it could have happened then but Chris isn’t the romantic type and Chris’ brother in law was planning on proposing to Chris’ sister that day. If Chris was planning on doing it then he had to cancel his plans and think of something else and thank god he did.

My parents came over for a holiday and we booked a few nights away and drove up to Airlie Beach. We took an excursion to the great barrier reef and decided that taking a helicopter ride would be an unforgettable experience and what an unforgettable experience it was! As we flew over the heart shaped reef Chris tapped me on the leg and as I turned I was greeted with the most gorgeous white gold and diamond ring. He asked me to be his wife not only in one of the most magical places I have ever seen but he asked for my dad’s permission and my parents were there to witness the whole thing!

We kissed and celebrated with a free bottle of bubbly from the excursion company and spent the rest of the day calling friends and family. Although he made me wait over 11 years it most certainly was worth the wait. Then the planning process started. We were getting married in 9 months!

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Our English wedding was all about our loved ones. My dream wedding was always on a beach at sunset, but Australia was just too far away and expensive for most of our family and friends. We thought about going half way to Thailand but this would still mean our grandparents and my siblings would miss out. We talked about having a legal wedding in the UK but we would have had to be in the UK for at least 28 days prior. So then the idea of getting legally married first in Australia in a registry office, just Chris & I with a couple of witnesses came into mind with a non-legal wedding in the UK. Our Australian friends and family were upset that they weren’t going to be able to be part of either of our wedding days and the thought of not having my dad walk me down the aisle when I legally became a wife upset me. After some serious thought and some sleepless nights I just said to Chris lets get married in England first and then have a legal wedding on the beach here in Australia when we got back. This meant we could celebrate with both sets of families and I got to have 2 amazing wedding days.

Although the UK wedding wasn’t a legal ceremony, to me it was the most important. It meant that our siblings could be in our bridal party. My nieces could be flower girls and my favourite little boy could be our ring bearer. It also meant we could get married in front of  65 of our closest friends and family including my nan’s.

As it was a winter wedding I wanted the theme to be warm and cosy. So I chose a dusty rose, cream, and rose gold theme with lots of candles and mood lighting which all turned out perfectly. Our wedding day was, intimate, romantic and unforgettable.

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I was looking for a venue that was close to where our family lived and somewhere where I could have the ceremony and reception. I had been to the Kings Oak Hotel in High Beech a few times before for some events previously and it looked amazing when it was all decorated and they were doing a special wedding deal at the time. It was perfect. I gave the wedding coordinator an email and asked my family to go and check it out to make sure they were happy with it too. It was kind of weird skyping my family while they were viewing our chosen wedding venue when I was at home but it was the only way.

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The Ceremony

After searching for many hours online and reading many reviews and websites of local celebrants, I came across Samantha’s, she came across really professional but very kind and welcoming too. Samantha was exactly who I wanted to marry us.

With thanks to the internet, we were able to communicate via email. Samantha sent over the questionnaire’s for us to fill in and from those she put together with the most amazing ceremony.

Even down to the reading, she chose to read on the day, it was really special. It was a complete coincidence but the author of the poem shared the same name as my husband’s grandad who passed away. As you can imagine this set off a few tears during the ceremony.

As this was a non-legal ceremony we got to write our own vows which gave it a personal touch, we still had an exchange of rings and Samantha was kind enough to sort a keep sake certificate which was a lovely moment with our mums. and then Samantha wrapped it in a pink tissue paper which matched our theme and put it in a lovely box.

We got to include both sets of parents and siblings in this wedding. My dad gave me away, our mums signed our certificate and my father in law done a reading. Both our sisters were bridesmaids, my gorgeous nieces were our flower girls and my handsome nephew was a ring bearer. Having them be part of my wedding was really important.

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This is a bit of a hard one to answer, as I always thought that I would be able to go bridal shopping with my mum, sister, nan and best friends but this couldn’t happen.  After Chris proposed my mum and I went to go dress shopping but the town we lived in had a show day (all the shops shut) and as she was flying home the next day so I was unable to have that special day with her. Which untill this day still upsets me. I went dress shopping with a friend of mine a couple of weeks later, we went in every shop except one, one that I thought was out of my price range (which later turns out to be the shop I bought my dress in), I tried on so many dresses and I thought I had found the one but I was settling and I am so glad I never bought that gown.

I decided to turn to the internet and found a 2 in 1 gown which looked great in the photographs and was a really good price. It arrived a week or so later, I tried it on and it looked great. It was a tight fitted lace dress with a big detachable skirt (which I never used). I thought this was it.

But in April Chris’ sister came over and I asked her to go dress shopping with me but this time we went to the shop that I thought would be out of my price range. The shop was called Valentine Brides – it was the prettiest shop I had ever seen with gowns that were out of this world and all one off pieces. The minute I walked into the shop I was greeted by the sweetest older lady who reminded me a lot like my nan. To me, this was a great start. I just got the feeling that this was the shop my dream gown was in. Sandra the dressmaker asked me to pick my favourites. I picked 5, the first one could have been it! I tried on 3 which were lovely but not for me and then I looked at the last gown and I think I saved the best till last. I put it on and just felt different, it was like it was made for me. As I looked in the mirror I started to well up and then my mum and dads wedding song came on the radio. If that wasn’t a sign I don’t know what was!

As my mum, nan and friends weren’t able to be there with me I documented the whole process of me finding the one and my fittings etc all on camera and made a video which I sent to them. They all loved it as much as I did. I could not wait to wear it again. I had my last fitting and sent my gown in a box to the other side of the world! Not going to lie I don’t think I had a good night sleep until I knew it had arrived safe and sound.

So the lace gown I bought from the web turned into my evening gown and also the dress I would wear to our Australian wedding. It was 20% off the price of my wedding gown but it was actually some of my guests’ favourite. It looked lovely paired with the sash I bought.

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My wedding dress was really sparkly with a lot of detail so I didn’t want to go too crazy with accessories. I bought a pair of drop diamond earrings and the matching necklace. I had a hair clip with a sash that matched what I later wore with my lace evening gown. Since moving to Australia I don’t really wear heels anymore so I didn’t want to spend too much money on something else I wasn’t going to wear again especially as you couldn’t even see them from under my gown. I bought a lovely pair of high heels from New Look but I did buy the bridesmaids some gorgeous shoes and matching clutch bags from House of Fraser.

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We were originally going to buy some suits from H&M as we had 5 men wearing suits it was going to be a big cost but after speaking to my dad he made the kind gesture of helping us out with paying a bit towards the costs. I found a gorgeous 3 piece royal blue Ted Baker suit from MOSS BROSS that we could hire. They were designer but didn’t come with the crazy price tag if we were to buy them. I showed Chris and he loved it and then asked my dad to arrange a fitting which all the groomsmen attended (minus the groom) and luckily they were all happy with it and they looked amazing in them. They were perfect. The only thing I had trouble with was finding them ties and handkerchiefs that matched the bridesmaid’s dresses. But after looking here, there and everywhere I finally found a site online. I ordered one to colour match and they were spot on. I ordered enough for the groomsmen, including one for my ring bearer.

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I found a few dresses online and ordered a couple, but as you imagine they arrived and did not look like the photographs so I sent them back. I kept looking online and found a local dressmaker here in Australia that specialised in making the gowns that you can wear in multiple ways. This was the kind of dress I wanted for my bridesmaids and instead of paying hundreds of pounds for them she only charged 100 dollars for each dress which at the time was only 50 pound. I don’t think you could find them cheaper than that. They were just as good as the ones I had seen online and the bridesmaids loved them. They were the perfect colour.

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My mum works next to my chosen hair salon so she was able to go to the store for me and book them to do our hair and makeup on the day. I chose to have my hair trial on the night of my hen do which I thought was a great idea as it meant it would save me from having to do my own hair and make up on the night, plus I was pretty limited to spare nights what with it being Christmas etc. I told the hair stylist I wanted an up do and loved the first style she did and that was the style I had on the big day. Lauren my bridesmaid always has her hair down and straight so we decided to add a little wave to give it a more glam look. My sister who was my maid of honor loves big hair and that is what she got, she opted for a beehive half up and down look. They both looked perfect! The girls at the salon are very professional girls and are amazing at what they do highly recommended.

I got in touch with the makeup artist as I found she had an Instagram account and going by the photographs of her previous clients she was very good at what she did. Being an Essex girl I wanted myself and my bridesmaids to look glamorous on my wedding day and she made me look just that. Glowing faces with lovely long eyelashes. We looked amazing.

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As we chose a date during the festive season, most of the local florists were either closed or charged a really high rate! The florist we chose was a customer of my mums and thank god she had built up a friendship with them – the owner opened the shop just for us. He gave us a great price and the flowers were absolutely stunning.

Our bouquets were filled with nothing but blush and cream avalanche roses, lisianthuses and hydrangeas (which were my nans favourite flower) I had a huge round bouquet, the bridesmaids had a smaller version of mine, each of the groomsmen and mums and nans had a cream rose button hole and the flower girls had single stem rose that the florist made into wands.

We had a glass fish bowl in the centre of each round table with an amazing arrangement that matched the bouquets but also had eucalyptus leaves in. Adding the greenery meant the centrepieces would be cheaper and also made them into a bigger arrangement. Surrounding each fish bowl I had 4 tealight holders, 2 had a rose head in (roses that I bought from the supermarket) and the other 2 had a tea light in. So cheap to do but it looked great. We had a 4ft table arrangement on the top table and a 2 ft arrangement on the register table which we then moved onto our cake table. I also put an empty vase on the cake table for my bouquet and 2 empty vases on each end of the top table which the bridesmaids put their bouquets in. I think every bride to be should do this. One it saves bouquets just being put onto tables and 2 it adds extra flowers to the top or cake table without spending extra money.

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I wanted to make this wedding a formal affair so we had a 2 course sit down meal of soup and crusty bread to start, a delicious roast dinner for main and our wedding cake being served as our dessert. Doing this meant we saved money by not having to pay for dessert but it also meant that our wedding cake would get eaten. We also had a dessert table which was made by Collins Catering based in Essex which included homemade doughnuts, macarons, cupcakes and cake pops and there was nothing left at the end of the night.

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Our cake was a 4 tier shimmering hoop chocolate cake from Marks  & Spencers. It was a milk chocolate ganache cake covered in chocolate icing and finished with white and pink decorated hoops. It was stunning! I had searched for hours and checked out many cake makers in our local area but nothing really popped out at me and the ones I liked were really expensive. I looked at various supermarket websites and found the one, it matched our colour scheme and it was in our price range. Not only did it look really expensive it tasted amazing. No one believed me when I said it was a supermarket cake. To me, the cutting of the cake is an important part of the day it’s something the bride and groom do together and it’s a great photo opportunity.

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I wanted to save money where I could and as much as some stationery is beautifully made, this is where I decided to save some pennies. I was going to set up a wedding website but some of our family members don’t have email addresses etc and my mum requested that I send out some invites for the older family members so I got online and found some on Vistaprint that I liked and they were reasonably priced. They were navy blue with a rose gold font which was perfect for our colour theme and all I had to do was fill out the information. They arrived within a week or so and then I popped them all in the post.

I made my own place cards and table plan using a pink font on an ivory card which was then placed onto blush card I then glued a dusty pink rose next to the guest name which matched the napkin decoration.

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We had a DJ arrive at 7 pm to get the party started but we also hired a photo booth which was a great hit with everyone especially the kids it also came with a keepsake book of funny photos and some lovely words written by our family and friends.

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I found that the minute you mention ‘wedding’ the costs of everything went up and I didn’t want anything too fancy as it was only taking my dad and me to the venue- no one else would see it. So I found a guy with a nice Mercedes S-Class and he only charged £90, which I think is really reasonable! The car was just as good as any other wedding car I had seen and the driver was dressed in a suit and even put a ribbon on the front. It was just what I wanted.

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As we had a professional do our photographs we asked around to see if anyone knew someone that was good at filming. My husband’s cousin is in a band and he recommended the guy they used for their music videos. He had never filmed a wedding before but I had seen some of his previous work and since receiving our video he has done for us he is just as good as a professional!

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I typed in my venues name on google and clicked on images, and the photographs that kept catching my eye all belonged to a photographer called Tarik. They were all so natural and that’s the exact style of photography I was after. I went for the standard wedding package which included a pre-wedding shoot but as we were in Australia we were unable to use this, so instead, I asked Tarik to stay for an hour or so longer at the reception which he was more than happy to do. I have recently received the link to my photographs which are all mine to print and I am beyond happy with them. Tarik captured every special moment and more! He is a very talented professional photographer and highly recommended.

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Although we never had our wedding on the beach at sunset, It doesn’t matter anymore! Because having our family and friends be there with us was more important to us than anything.

Being able to have my dad give me away, my sister as my maid of honour,  Chris had his best friend as his best man, our nieces and nephew got to be our flower girls and ring bearer. We got to see our parents get emotional when we were saying our vows, my dad gave the best speech and my 87-year-old nan danced the night away. I got to have special moments with the kids, dance and catch up with friends and we brought family together that probably haven’t seen each other in years. Best of all we got to have all these special moments caught on camera. Getting the photos and seeing so many happy smiley faces made me realise that weddings are not just about the bride and groom, they are about your family and friends too and they all enjoyed the day as much as we did.

If we had the beach wedding we wouldn’t have had these special people with us which means we would not have made the memories or had the amazing photographs. Our family and friends are what made it memorable and it’s going to be a day we will never forget.

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My advice to the next bride, is something that I did and that was I stayed away from drinking too much. I wanted to remember every second of the day. It went so fast. So to all the next brides, try and take in each and every second and take it all in.



Ceremony & Reception: Kings Oak  Celebrant: SD Celebrations 
Wedding Dress Shop: No Longer Trading
Hair: Krystalized Salon  Makeup: Natasha Sandhu
Groom & Groomsmen: Moss Bross  Bridesmaid Dresses: The Gown House
Flowers: The Florist Loughton  Entertainment: DJ Mark Winter

Photography: Photography By Tarik


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