A magical Christmas themed wedding in Newmarket

21 Mar 2019

Australian-born Hillary Goldman married Devindra Singh at Our Lady and The English Martyrs in Cambridge, followed by a reception at Swynford Manor in Newmarket 

After a Christmas proposal in Denmark, Hillary and Devindra chose a festive theme for their big day – which was nearly a year to the day of their engagement. 

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Tell us about the proposal. 

We went to Denmark to see the Christmas markets at Tivoli Gardens on a weekend break. Being from Australia, the idea of a cold winter Christmas is a foreign concept to me so I love any chance to see Christmas markets and real snow. Tivoli Gardens is great because it is a theme park with all the traditional markets as well as the rides like dodgems and a Ferris wheel.

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Dev and I love doing Christmas stuff and really make a thing of doing something each year; whether it be the Panto at the Palladium or skating outside Somerset House.

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We paid for the All Day Pass at Tivoli Gardens which meant we could go on as many rides as we liked, but when we got there it was freezing! Being Australian, I never have the correct clothes and the queues were very long. Dev had in his mind that he wanted to propose in the markets but I was absolutely freezing so I was complaining and wanted to go and get a warm drink inside.

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He insisted we go on the Ferris wheel and proposed right at the top. It was very romantic, very cold, but couldn’t have been more perfect. 

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

It was Christmas themed and we had a rough colour scheme of red and black with a touch of silver.

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

We chose Swynford Manor. We drove past it and saw that there was an open day. We originally though it too expensive but decided to have a look inside and decided on the spot to book our wedding there.

Swynford Manor was perfect for what we wanted; a place in the countryside, perfect for the winter and could accommodate out-of-town guests. The staff were absolutely amazing. 

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

I had in my mind a Halfpenny dress when I saw it online, but my girl friend insisted I go to a boutique and try on all different styles with different brands. I did that and it was fun but I just couldn’t get the Halfpenny dress out of my mind, so I made an appointment at the boutique. It was an amazing experience and the dress was even better in real life.

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I was also so lucky to share the experience with my mum who had been diagnosed with cancer six months before my first appointment. She died of cancer the July before the wedding and while she did not get to see me in the dress, I knew that she could visualise me in it. I wore the Gordon top and the Maribou skirt. 

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What did the bridesmaids wear?

The dresses were from Dorothy Perkins. I had three bridesmaids: Devs sister, a school friend from Australia and a friend I have known for eight years since we both lived together in Hong Kong. 

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Where did you find your suits? 

Dev hired his suit from Moss Bros. 

Tell us about your floral arrangements. 

We did not have any real flowers. Instead, I had a brooch bouquet from Love is Vintage. The groomsmen had matching buttonholes. 

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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 Christmas baubles as favours with our initials, H & D, and the date of our wedding on them. On each one we wrote notes to our guests which were personal to them. We also had a personalised table plan made by Dev’s colleague’s sister. It was so memorable and something we can keep forever. 

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How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?

It was quite an emotional day - as you can imagine. I felt sad that my mum could not be there but I was glad to be walking down to Dev. 

How did you make the ceremony personal to you? 

I am catholic so the ceremony and the three months' preparation beforehand was very important to me. We attended classes before to learn about the wedding and what we were entering into. 

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What was your most memorable moment? 

The most memorable moment was the groom’s speech. Dev does not like to talk a lot so it was nice to hear him speak on our behalf. He spoke so kindly about our families and about our history. I knew I’d picked the right one.

What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?  

My mum died six months before the wedding day and it was hard to imagine the day without her but she was there in spirit and was able to provide special touches. 

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What was the most important investment for you? 

The bus! Being from Australia and having so many out-of-town guests it was really important to us to show them a real UK wedding. 

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

Dancing in the Moonlight by Toploader. To be honest, it was very last minute and we only chose it because the band could play it. 

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Did you have any evening entertainment?

Yes, we had Swagger Function Band. They are a live band based in Cambridge. They were amazing and really set the scene for the night. 

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Tell us about your wedding cake. 

Again, a bit like the first dance we left this to last minute. We got a cake stand and had three different cakes of different shapes which turned out really well. 

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

I would probably stay in the venue after I was dressed a bit longer. I was so anxious and excited to get to the ceremony that I didn’t have any photos in the rooms with my bridesmaids. However, we did get some lovely photos with the bridesmaids around the Christmas tree which was more traditional. 

Where did you go on honeymoon?

We have not gone yet but we hope to go to Tanzania. 

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

I would consider what is important to you. Each person has one thing they absolutely want. For me, it was the dress and for Dev, it was the photographer.

I think it’s essential you have a good photographer and that you like their work and style. We are not that comfortable with photos, but our photographer Will of Will Fuller Photography was in the background a lot of the day and I didn’t even realise he was there. He made the day easy and made everything flow. The photos are amazing and really capture the day. 

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Steal their style:

Dress: Halfpenny London 
Photography: Will Fuller Photography
Venue: Swynford Manor
Entertainment: Swagger Function Band
Hair: Thairapy
Rings: Harriet Kelsall 
Makeup: Lucy Anne Makeup
Flowers: Love is Vintage

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