A magical music filled wedding in the South West

01 May 2019

Celena Bridge married Duncan Sandilands at St Marwenne’s church, Bude, followed by a fun filled reception at Buckland House, Devon

How did you meet? 

Duncan: I received a message from a dear friend of mine who was working on a luxury cruise liner in an opera quartet. He was keen to play Cupid however and set us up on a blind date after the cruise. 

Celena: We had a matchmaker. I met Duncan’s old friend, Philip, on a cruise contract and after hearing me in the hot tub talking to the other girl from the quartet, he thought we would be a good match and sent us on a date. Like a good matchmaker he could tell that we had a similar sense of humour, and we did have fun teasing him in separate texts after the date that it had been a complete disaster. However the rest, as they say, is history.

Tell us about the proposal…

Celena: We had gone on a flying visit for my birthday to Duncan’s parents in Cornwall and needed to leave early for my party with friends in London. Unbeknownst to me, Duncan was planning to propose with a beautiful family ring which had belonged to his much loved grandmother. I wondered why he seemed to be delaying our departure by suggesting a long walk on the beach and he was behaving so nervously I actually thought he was trying to work out a nice way to break up. I turned around to find him on one knee in the wet sand, holding the ring and asking me to marry him.

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What was the theme for the day?

Music music music. We’re both professional singers and the day was extremely personal to us. The church was decorated with scraps of musical scores along with the flowers on the stone pillars, our friends from opera and musical theatre performed throughout the service and at the reception, and the table names were the various productions we have performed in. We had a running colour theme of dusky pink and then white, green and fairy lights.

What venue did you choose?

We booked Buckland House, as you can hire the whole house and grounds for the weekend, and as it sleeps 35 people there was room for both families to stay and really get to know each other after the ceremony. We had outside caterers for the day but our siblings all pitched in with some excellent collaboration in the kitchen on Sunday, making sausage sandwiches, loading and unloading the dishwashers – not to mention swimming in the freezing lake.

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

I love the silhouette of A-Line dresses. I ended up wearing a Maggie Sottero dress for the day, but as it was so huge, there was no way I could dance in it, so I had a gorgeous strapless brocaded slip dress for the evening of the wedding.

What did the bridesmaids wear?  

I had seven bridesmaids; my youngest niece, Duncan’s sister, my cousin and four of my girlfriends.  They all chose their own dresses in various styles and shades of dusky pink, but we thought it would look better if they were more or less the same length and luckily they all chose long.

What did the mother of the bride wear?

A gorgeous white and floral dress and jacket by a designed called Zeila Donna which we found with Duncan’s mother in a marvellous specialist shop in Liskeard, Cornwall.

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Where did you find your suits?

The groomsmen were coming in to the wedding from all over the world (the States, Spain, France and Portugal) so we ended up booking the morning suits through Moss Bros who were the easiest for sending measurements and making last minute size alterations.

Did you hire a wedding planner?

With our mothers being as amazingly organised as they are, we had two wedding planners already. They were rewarded with gin – export strength.

Tell us about your floral arrangements…

We were so lucky that one of the ladies who arrange flowers in the church was a retired professional and prize winning florist. Under her guidance, the team at St Marwenne’s did all the flowers for the service as well as the beautiful bouquets, buttonholes and corsages, all co-ordinating, and all for the cost of the flowers and a donation to the church. For the table flowers at the reception, we did our own arrangements of greenery with fairy lights interwoven with the foliage and large hurricane vases with candles between the arrangements.

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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 homemade iced and decorated cakes and home dried rose petal confetti.  

As a wedding present, Duncan's sister Harriet, who lives out in Barcelona teaching art and English, offered to design and create our wedding invitations. We couldn’t have been happier with the result as they were utterly unique to us and slightly bonkers. 

Duncan’s mum made all our truffle wedding favours and her legendary mini chocolate brownies.

My godmother as a wedding present had made a huge wall hanging of felt flowers and leaves. It was like something out of a fairy tale. We had it hanging off the gallery above the wedding cakes at the reception.

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As I have a Scandinavian family and we both liked the Danish tradition that anyone who wants to, can make a speech. So one of my brothers, Sam, performed the role of master of ceremonies and devised his own sobriety test before surrendering the microphone. This resulted in some incredible, funny, tear jerking speeches from beloved friends and family, including a hilarious drinking song led by my Swedish godmother. 

So many of our friends are professional singers and we asked them to sing in the ceremony and at the reception. We had a beautiful interval as drinks were being served in the entrance hallway where our wonderful friend ‘Harry The Piano’ played and our friends sang jazz standards. We were both so spoilt, to have other people singing for us for a change.

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How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?

I literally couldn’t stop smiling. My friend Victoria had arranged a hybrid of two folk songs, My Lagan Love and She Moved Through The Fair, in eight part harmony and I walked down the aisle to our friends singing this. All I could think is that I was getting to marry the love of my life.

How did you make the ceremony personal to you? 

The readings and songs were really important to us. We chose everything carefully for the meaning of the words and tried to avoid the most well-worn pieces such as you might find on ‘best of’ or ‘everyone’s favourite’ kind of wedding website. The senior brothers on both sides put their hearts, souls and latent acting talent into the readings. Our vicar was very special and spoke most movingly, both to the guests and also privately and quietly to us, making the ceremony absolutely personal and unique.

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What was your most memorable moment? 

There are honestly too many moments to choose just one. The overriding feeling for the day was how very touching it was to see a large number of people gathered together, some of whom travelled great distances, just because they loved us.

What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?

Probably keeping everyone from getting too stressed. We both work abroad a lot so couldn’t really organise all the little details until January, which I think worried my mum in particular. As it was a DIY wedding, we had spreadsheets for spreadsheets and sticking to the budget was hard at times. We both agreed to not take on any work abroad for all of January and it was amazing how much we managed to get done in that month.

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What was the most important investment for you? 

Food and drink for us. As everyone was coming such a long way, we wanted to have free flowing wine, champagne, local beer and cider all night, and plenty of food. We went over to France and bought all our wine and fizz in the November before the wedding. Our caterers, Oak Top Caterers, were incredible. They made vast quantities of delicious hot canapés and snacks, a hog roast with roast potatoes and gravy, three mini desserts and then the cheese cake was demolished later in the evening with home made chutneys our mothers had made in the year running up to the wedding. We also organised a ‘sweet shop’ table with big glass jars full of penny sweets.  

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What song did you choose for your first dance?

Chuck Berry - You Never Can Tell (from Pulp Fiction).  

Did you have any evening entertainment?

We had a local ceilidh band, and my brother and nephew acted as DJ.

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Tell us about your wedding cake…

Our wedding cake was made by my mum and a close family friend made fruit cake for the top layer. Duncan’s mum then iced it. We also had a cheese wedding cake from our local farm shop in Devon.

Was there anything you wish you’d known before?

No, but we were very glad that we had allowed a month ‘off’ (just working at home) to finalise the arrangements. There’s such a lot of detail to consider with a DIY wedding but so worthwhile when you manage to keep within the budget.

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

Duncan: Think very carefully before disagreeing. Celena appreciated my enthusiasm.

Celena: Spreadsheets - it was amazingly helpful to list everything for the wedding and then set a budget for each item.

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Steal their style

Photographer: Maxy Maxwell Photography
Venue: Buckland House
Catering: Oaktop Caterers

For more wedding inspiration from Cornwall and Devon pick up the 2019 issue of South West Bride magazine or read the digital edition online here.

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