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Wedding of the Week: Ann-Marie Brooks and Alex Nowell

08 Jan 2018

Timeless elegance exudes from Bride's Wedding of the Week which featured a traditional church ceremony, DIY stationery and plenty of entertainment for the children guests

How did you meet?

We met each other at Bangor University in North Wales. Alex was studying environmental sciences and I was studying Spanish. We lived together with each other in halls and in the second year lived in private accommodation with our university friends. In May 2008 of the second year, Alex asked me to the summer ball and we have been inseparable ever since.

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Tell us about the proposal.

Earlier this year in January, Alex whisked me away to Italy for the first time. We travelled around places like Rome, Florence and Pisa in a hire car. Alex was going to propose to me in Pisa but according to him, I was not impressed with paying to go up the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Instead, Alex proposed to me in a gorgeous town called Fiesole just outside Florence. That Saturday afternoon, Alex and I walked around the town exploring and he took me up to a hill with spectacular views across Florence. After our walk we headed over towards a bench, sat down and gazed out with awe across the stunning views of Florence. He said: “This is too perfect”. I silently agreed with him: blue skies, great views, what else could you ask for? He bent down on one knee, took out a small box... as I sat, confused: “What on earth is he doing?”, I thought. He then opened the box and in the box my engagement ring lay rested. I was so shocked and surprised when he asked me to marry him. The first response was “wow” and that’s all I could say for some time. After a few minutes of excitement I finally said yes. It was an extraordinary experience. We finished the day off by watching the sun set in the town and went for a meal in one of the local restaurants.

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What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme?

We didn't have much of a theme but our colour scheme was ivory and navy blue.

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What venue did you choose and why did you choose it?

We chose the Hartnoll Hotel in Bolham, Tiverton, because we went to a wedding fair in January 2017 at the Hartnoll and we were impressed with the hotel and staff and it looked very inviting. We quickly warmed to the place and felt it was the perfect place for our guests. The ceremony took place in St Andrew's Church in Cullompton. 

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When did you know when you’d found ‘the’ dress? 

I went to a wedding shop in Exeter to try some dresses on, but I felt none of them represented me and I wanted something unique and special to me. I then decided to book an appointment with Kate Walker in Honiton, Devon and managed to go along this time with my mother-in-law. I tried on five to six different  dresses according to my shape, size and budget. Some dresses did not make me stand out but when I tried on my dress, I just knew. It fit me well, made me look elegant and a sophisticated grown woman. I was even moved to tears when I tried it on and even my mother-in-law, Linda, and Kate knew that I found that special dress. Kate designs her own dresses; the one I wore was designed by Lou Lou - it was called Loretta.

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What did the bridesmaids wear?

My bridesmaid sister wore a gorgeous long navy blue dress from Debenhams and sandals and my niece wore a ivory dress also from Debenhams, with a matching cardigan and frilly white socks (her shoes were from Next).

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Where did you find your suits?

The groom and best man wore matching three-piece navy blue suits and ties from Marks and Spencer. My shoes were from Clarks and my brother’s were from TopMan.

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Tell us about your floral arrangements.

For the church, we chose Darling Buds in Cullompton and the florist, Ellie, arranged my beautiful bouquet and the buttonholes, corsages and my sister’s bridesmaid flowers. In the church we wanted to make it simple and had gysophila scattered along the church pews. My bouquet consisted of blues and ivory white colours, featuring roses and cornflowers with some gysophila interwoven inbetween the bouquet.

As for the reception, we had Alex’s great aunt arrange the table flowers which were displayed on wooden logs sawn from an existing log from Alex parents' garden. The colour combination for her flowers were pink and the flowers were placed in oasis.

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Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day.

We had jars of chutney and jams made by family members for the guests. Diana, Alex's grandmother, made two different types of chutney, while Alex's great aunt, Anne, made two different jams and the ingredients were from her garden at home.

As we had a few children coming to the wedding, we created a mini bag of gifts wrapped in cellophane for them to use. Items included a mini crayon set, notepad, building blocks and games. The children could identify their bags by a an individual letter magnet. In the garden, we had a simple goal post and footballs and a frisbee. 

We used logs which were cut into slices then varnished and used as table decorations. The sliced table decorations were taken from Alex parents garden from an existing log.

We made our own wedding stationery, orders of service, invitations, and table decorations too. We used our computer at home to create and print everything we needed. I made a painting inspired by the Devonshire artist Yvonne Coomber and we scanned the painting onto the computer. This was then used for the background for the rest of the wedding stationery.

We also bought lots of cheap candle light holders which we decorated the tables with and some went outside. Finally, we also bought packets of sweets from a store in South Molton and filled a glass container for guests to take from. 

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How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?

I was a little nervous when I had to wait to go down the aisle, but when I walked down the aisle I felt really excited and very proud. It was a fantastic moment.

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What was your most memorable moment?

Alex’s most memorable moment was when I walked down the aisle. For me, my memorable moments were when I first clapped eyes on Alex as I walked down the aisle. Also, when I threw the bouquet in the air, it landed with a thud on the grass and our niece was the first one to pick it up. As she held it in her hands, she smiled.

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What was the most important investment for you?

We think picking the right venue and photographer were the most important investments.

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What song did you choose for your first dance, and why?

A Thousand Years by Christina Perri because it represented us in many ways. It was also a favourite of mine when the Twilight Saga came out. I remember I got Alex to come with me to watch all the films in the series and he did and it was the start of our relationship blossoming.

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Did you have any evening entertainment?

Yes, we did. We had a live band called Jack Starr Band who were a three-piece. They performed live music and did a disco too. The guests really enjoyed the music and danced all night long.

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Tell us about your wedding cake.

Alex wanted to make the wedding cake himself and he also wanted it to be a gluten-free cake for a few guests who had gluten intolerance. We took out books from the library and Alex got to work perfecting the cake recipes weeks before the wedding. He created three different flavoured tiers in the end. He created the top tier which was lemon and raspberry, the middle was lemon and blueberry, and the bottom tier was chocolate cake and all were gluten-free.

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If you could go back and change anything, what would it be?

We would not change a thing. It just came together and it was a great day.

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Did anything go wrong on the day?

Not really, but I was determined to leave early to get to the church which I did, but we got held up in traffic as the main road on the M5 towards Cullompton was closed. I later discovered that it was closed because someone tried to take their own life, but thankfully the person was persuaded not to and is alive today. I arrived at the church about 10 minutes later.

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Where did you go on honeymoon? 

We had two honeymoons. The first was a mini-moon which was a day after the wedding and was for a few days in a cottage in Saundersfoot in Pembrokeshire, Wales. The second honeymoon was scheduled for the following month in October for two weeks. Alex took us in his car and drove from Devon to Munich in Germany, Zell am Zee and then Graz in Austria, then onto Budapest and Eger in Hungary and finally Dresden in Germany. We did a lot of sightseeing, walking, tasted great food,  spoke a little German, and relaxed in the swimming pools, saunas and jacuzzis.

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Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages?

The advice I would give is try not to stress out over the little things as it will all fall into place on the day and to enjoy every moment of your day as it goes ever so quickly. Also listen to any advice given by family and friends, but do not let it influence your final decision.

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Steal their style: 

Photography: Special Day Wedding Photos
Floristry: Darling Buds  
Reception venue: Hartnoll Hotel
Wedding dress: Kate Walker Bridal
Suits: Marks and Spencer
Car hire: H.Crispin & Sons Wedding Cars
Hair: Simone Waddihoe
Make-up: Sam Lomas of Black Beauty
Band: Jack Starr Band

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