An intimate elegant wedding at Thornton Manor, Cheshire

11 Apr 2019

Naomi-Lena Watson and Gary Ball spent more than three years planning their romantic celebration

How did you meet?

We met while working at BMW.

Tell us about the proposal.

I had just opened my own coffee and cocktail bar. I was quite ill at the time and Gary had arranged for me and my girls to go for a meal, all paid for by him. On the way home he called saying he was having trouble cashing up so I asked to be dropped off at the bar. 

He had arranged the whole thing; there was a candlelit aisle leading to the back of the building which was covered in fairylights and candles with Gary at the end in a suit, down on one knee. After I said yes one of the staff came out with a bottle of champagne. It was perfect – just the two of us.

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

Rose gold, navy and blush. The theme was elegant romance with lots of florals.

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

We chose Thornton Manor in Cheshire for its exclusivity. It is simply stunning and romantic. 

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

I didn’t want to take it off – that's when I knew. It was a Randy Fenoli and I tried roughly 10 to 15 dresses on.

What did the bridesmaids wear? 

I had three bridesmaids: my oldest friend, my closest friend and my best friend from university. They wore navy skirts and blush tops from Coast. As I was wearing a two piece I thought it fitting that the girls should too. 

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Where did you find your suits?

Whitfield and Ward. We had seen them on an open day and Gary fell in love with the suits. He is always impeccably dressed. 

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Tell us about your floral arrangements.

Red Floral brought our dreams to life with two huge white and blush blossom trees and lots of cherry blossoms for the centrepieces. We also had a weeping blossom tree at the end of the aisle which we were married under. I wanted a touch of navy in my flowers so we added anemones to the bouquet which worked perfectly. 

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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.

  • Our tables were named after different gins. As I own a cocktail bar there had to be lots of alcohol involved. Each table had its own bottle of gin on the table and then everyone had an individual miniature gin, a Fever Tree mixer and a bottle opener shaped like a key with names handwritten on. 
  • Instead of a standard drinks reception we had a Cocktail Hour with ‘His and Hers’ cocktails, his being an Espresso Martini and mine being a creation from my bar called Drunk In Love. The cocktail was topped with a miniature picture of the two of us.
  • As we had exclusive use of the venue a lot of our guests stayed over so I made every room a hangover kit packed with water, sweets, chocolate, crisps and paracetamol. 
  • We had a polaroid guestbook, the idea being that our guests take a picture of themselves and then write a message in the book, as something a little more unusual. Its great to see everyone strike a pose.
  • We also did the obligatory toilet accessory baskets with perfume, hair products and mints, all with personalised signs. We also had a few A3 personalised signs, one with a picture from our engagement shoot and a Cinderella quote.  

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How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?

In all honesty I was absolutely fine. My childhood friend walked me down the aisle and because he was so nervous that set me off. As soon as it was my turn to walk I sort of froze – he was the one who gave me a little nudge. 

How did you make the ceremony personal to you?

We hired a pianist who played some of our favourite songs. I am a huge Disney fan so while the guests were being seated Disney songs were being played. We had two readings by Gary’s sister and my chief bridesmaid. Both of Gary’s best men gave out the rings and my childhood friend walked me down the aisle.

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What was your most memorable moment?

I would say the ceremony itself. After that it is just a whirlwind of people congratulating you and sticking to time schedules. During the ceremony I felt like me and Gary were the only people in the room. As soon as I saw him everything else just faded into the background. I am so pleased the photographer captured the room as I didn’t get chance to take it all in.

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What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?

Trying to plan it while running a business. We were leaving for our month-long honeymoon one day after the wedding so trying to arrange work before I left was pretty stressful. The planning itself was fine, Gary was amazing and wanted to be involved and help with everything.

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What was the most important investment for you?

It was a combination of everything for us. Flowers were a huge part of our day and we spent a lot of the budget on them. However, drinks were also important and having a cocktail reception was more expensive but we felt it suited our day better. And, of course, a month-long honeymoon was utterly amazing – it is, after all, supposed to be the best vacation you take. 

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

Rewrite The Stars from The Greatest Showman. Our original choice was Ed Sheeran but we changed our minds a couple of weeks prior to the wedding after watching the film. We had a choreographed dance and everyone loved it. I, of course, was terrified but Gary led the way.

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Tell us about your wedding cake.

We wanted a geometric marble cake with navy, rose gold and blush colours. The flavours were raspberry and champagne, passionfruit and chocolate orange. 

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

Absolutely nothing. 

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Did anything go wrong on the day?

A few little things… The straps on my dress broke, Gary split his pants, our cake wasn’t exactly what we had hoped for and the canapés were wrong. But at the end of the day the things we stressed over no one even noticed. And you are so caught up in everything that nothing matters other than the two of you. 

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Where did you go on honeymoon?

We went to Disneyland in Florida for two weeks. We stayed at the Yacht club for a week, then moved to International Drive to do Universal Studios and then on to Mexico for the third week, for a relaxing all-inclusive week in the sun.

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

Make planning fun. We turned our meetings with the florist and other suppliers into date days. When it came to stuffing confetti bags and organising table plans, we did it with a bottle of wine and some good food.

Watch a snippet of their wedding video below.

Steal their style:

Videographer: RTP Productions
Band: The Rush 
Photographer: Stella Photos
Venue: Thornton Manor
Cake: Sweetest Thing 
Flowers: Red Floral
Suits: Whitfield and Ward
Wedding dress: Ava Rose Hamilton
Aisle Dresoing: The Venue Stylist
Caterer: Barrets  
Calligraphy: Sam Williams
Pianist: Ed Alexander
Confetti: Adam Apple

Click here to read the latest edition of Cheshire Bride magazine.

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