Heart and Home: Ash & Rachel Davies (née Hopwood)

01 Feb 2012

Heart and Home: Ash & Rachel Davies (née Hopwood)

When Rachel first learned that she had a new neighbour, she had no idea how her life would be transformed forever

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Image gallery

As a busy single mother, I had my hands full with a job in sales and looking after my six-year-old daughter Charlotte, but I couldn’t help noticing the new man who had moved into the house next door but one. Ash Davies had bought the old house as a renovation project, and we soon discovered we had friends in common and began spending time together. We were friends for ages before it started to grow into something more.

Once we became a couple we decided to sell our two homes and bought one of our own – another major renovation project. It was very George and Mildred – it hadn’t been touched since the 1950s – so it’s taken us four years to finish it. We also had our son, William, now four, so it’s taken that long to find time to organize our wedding!

We’re both very down-to-earth people, not mushy at all, and Ash’s proposal was typical of his low-key (or is that non-existent?) romantic style. We were both watching Eastenders, in the same room on different sofas, when Ash sent me a text: ‘Will You Marry Me?’ I laughed and texted back ‘Yes’!

We’d been guests at a few hotel-based weddings and so we knew we wanted an unusual venue with space for a large party. We’d looked at castles and lots of other large venues but they were all so expensive. We wanted something different that didn’t cost the earth.

Ash had got really despondent going to visit venues, so I went to The Monastery with my mum and completely fell in love with it – I actually burst into tears when I walked into the main space, I knew I’d found the perfect place. Luckily, Ash loved it too! We later found out that we were to be the 50th couple to wed at The Monastery in the two years since it gained its civil weddings licence.

Our wedding day offered typical May weather: a bit windy and threatening rain. Luckily, I had my hair done at my sister’s salon, Amirage in Hazel Grove, and then we went straight to The Monastery to get ready. Tom, my wedding coordinator, really calmed me down when I arrived as I was feeling a lot more nervous than I thought I would. We had a private room upstairs in the Friary, where my dress had been waiting since the previous day. We were soon drinking Champagne and feeling really chilled out.

Ash arrived with his brother Pete, who was also his best man, and William, in a Rolls-Royce Phantom – a special surprise for Ash from Pete. William then came up to join me with my daughter Charlotte, now 12, who was my bridesmaid and right-hand-woman for the day, plus our flower girl, three-year-old Nicole. Ash greeted our friends and family downstairs in the Cloisters.

When I put on my dress, simply beaded ivory silk and tulle, it felt exactly right for the day ahead. Of course, I found myself crying again when I joined everyone in the old church downstairs and we finally got married. The whole day was fantastic but the best bit was the wedding ceremony itself, which is how it should be, I suppose!

Once it was over, we went into the Archangel Garden for photos, some pink fizz and the chance to chat to our guests, and the sun even made an appearance. Then it was back into the rearranged main space for an absolutely fantastic meal. We had chosen a cake made of cheese from The Cheese Hamlet in Didsbury as neither of us is a big fan of cake.

The impressive scale of the venue inspired me to go large with everything, so we had really oversized martini glasses for the floral centerpieces on each table, full of twinkly lights and crystals. During the wedding ceremony we had tall floral topiaries either side of the aisle, too. We chose silk flowers with a two-tone pink theme that continued with chair covers and bows from Beautiful Chairs in Brooklands, Manchester. The men all wore pink cravats, except William, who insisted on a bow-tie, which wasn’t the easiest thing to find!

My niece, Emily-Jane, took all of our photos and in the evening we had music from an old friend Andy, aka Throb Lovelace and The Pits, who created an amazing party atmosphere. I was determined I didn’t want a single person sitting down and looking bored, and Throb made sure that didn’t happen. He performs a wonderfully kitsch soul and funk set and then DJs for the rest of the evening.

It really was the most amazing day – I wish we could do it all over again!

The Details

Dress: Wedding Belles Bridal Studio, 0161 474 0448, weddingbellesbridalstudio.co.uk

Menswear: Best Man, 0161 480 8856, bestmanhire.com

Cake: The Cheese Hamlet, 0161 434 4781, cheesehamlet.com

Venue & catering: The Monastery, 0161 223 3211, themonastery.co.uk

Venue dressing: Beautiful Chairs, 07713 148938, beautifulchairs.co.uk

Entertainment: Strelitzia String Quartet, 07813 347657, strelitziamusic.co.uk

Catering: Chapman Holmes, 0161 789 3262, chapmanholmes.co.uk

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