Real Bride Love Stories- Claire and Gary
Posted on February 08 2021
After a tough year for a lot of brides in the UK we wanted to bring you some love stories to celebrate the week of Valentines day and to remind all the brides that even though there might be many obstacles in the way at the moment- love still prevails!
We're kick starting the week with a beautiful story from bride Claire and her husband Gary, who got married last year during the pandemic. The wedding wasn't how it was originally planned, but I'm sure we can all agree it certainly was romantic and beautiful all the same.
Tell us a little bit about you as a couple?
I met Gary in 2002 in Epsom when we started having guitar lessons. I was 30 and Gary was 26. We hit it off immediately but didn’t become a couple until 2016. I'd been living in Walthamstow and Gary in Sutton, North and South London. When Gary moved to Dorset our relationship blossomed and I followed him two years later. We got engaged in Gary’s Mum’s garden in Spain in July 2018. We thought 2020 had a nice ring to it as a year to get married… These were the days before covid 19 when we had no idea what life would be like in two years’ time.
Tell us about the wedding?
For obvious reasons the wedding we had planned had to be rearranged in the light of restrictions at the time. Our plan was to get married in St Andrew’s Church in Backwell, where Claire had lived with her family for many years, and then to have a reception at a local country house overlooking a lake. Gary is a musician and music brought us together so we planned to have many of our friends playing and singing and to have a disco and a dance.
On our wedding date we were allowed a maximum of 30 people. It was important to us to get married on that date rather than postpone. If nothing else, the rings were already engraved with the date. It was too difficult to choose who to invite and who to leave out so we decided to have only immediate family; parents, brothers, sisters and Gary’s son, Harrison. My sister Beth and two nieces Molly and Ella were my bridesmaids. Gary’s brother Jason was his best man. We had eight guests in total.
We split the wedding in half; cancelled the reception and just had the church ceremony and a meal at Mum and Dad’s afterwards.
We wondered about cancelling the car as it was just a 2 minute journey from the house to the church, but on the day it provided a real sense of excitement to have a Rolls Royce pull up the drive and the neighbours came out with pots and pans to see us off.
Gary wrote a piece of acoustic guitar music for me to walk down the aisle to. The service was beautiful with just the ten of us and a church choir: we weren’t allowed to sing but the choir sang our hymns for us and it was perfect. We walked out to Stevie Wonder; Signed, Sealed, Delivered.
Four of our best friends made a surprise appearance in the church yard as we came out which was incredible.
Despite all the changes the day was incredibly enjoyable.
My sister Beth had arranged life size cut outs of my three bridesmaids who could not come to the wedding and put a string of photos of all our friends on the walls who would have been to the reception: some of them were wearing the outfits they had bought for the event in the photos.
We had planned to have a dream holiday in Thailand for our honeymoon but instead went to a lovely hotel in Bath for two nights and had the rest of the week at home in Crewkerne where we now live.
Many people had told me before hand, if it rains it doesn’t matter, and that was completely true: it poured down as we came out of the church but in the photos we are all smiling and laughing and having a wonderful time. We felt that we were close to our family and friends who couldn’t make it, including Gary’s Mum who couldn’t get here from Spain. Throughout the day they were all sending positive messages and enjoying photos on Whatsapp.
Who was your wedding dress by? Why did you choose it/ makes it special to you?
I found my dress, incredibly, in the first shop I looked in, Lace and Grace in Keynsham. I would highly recommend them as the experience was exactly what you hope for when you go dress shopping. As a lot of brides tell you, when I put it on I knew immediately that it was the one. My Mum was with me and they made a fuss of us with a cup of tea on the sofa (not near the dress obviously). It is a nice memory, as is the day my sister and friend Helen came with me to try it again and order it with a glass of prosecco. The dress was called Honey Bear by Rembo Styling, based in Portugal. Having ordered it in the autumn 2019, when the first lockdown happened I called the shop and asked them if it had arrived. They opened specially for me to go and collect it on the first day of lockdown before they closed for the coming weeks which was a huge relief.
Which Rachel Simpson shoes did you pick and why?
When I discovered the Rachel Simpson website I knew I wanted some shoes from this shop. I thought they were incredibly stylish and had a vintage look about them which I loved. I chose ivory to match my dress with gold detail which fitted with my colour theme. My sister and nieces also had gold shoes. I picked Rosita Ivory as they looked as if they would be low enough to be comfortable to wear all day, which they were.
I also bought some spray waterproofing as the wedding was in October and I imagined it might rain. In the end I wore them all day, in the rain in the churchyard and Mum and Dad’s garden and they were almost as good as new at the end. On the wedding day we were in such a rush getting ready my hairdresser Louise helped me to do up the shoes as everyone else was busy trying to get out of the door. I loved them so much I also wore them for the next two days on our honeymoon.
Tell us about the BEST wedding moment, something that will be unforgettable to you.
There are so many wonderful memories from the day: my sister producing the cardboard cut outs and photos of our friends who couldn’t be with us; sitting in the car with my Dad on the way to the church; saying the words ‘I will’; Gary’s speech which consisted of a song which he sang while we drank champagne. I remember looking around the dinner table during the meal and realising that we had all become one family: that was very special.
What was your first dance song?
We chose Otis Redding: That’s How Much I Love You. We both love Otis Redding and in particular, it was something that Gary’s Dad would have loved. We had our first dance in Mum and Dad’s living room followed by a playlist that Harrison, Gary’s son, had put together on his phone.
What is your Top Tip for wedding planning, what brought everything together?
My main tip for planning a wedding is to go with the flow. Try to get the balance of including the elements that are important to you, as well as letting go the things that are not possible. And start planning EARLY. Try to enjoy the planning as it is part of your day and you will look back on it as much as the wedding as time when you benefited from the help of your friends and family.
What would your advice be for future brides?
Make sure you are marrying someone you love. That’s all that matters. (apart from the shoes, obviously)
Photographer: Adam Barnard
Flowers: The Wilde Bunch
Car: 1964 Rolls Royce – De Gournay Motor Car Company