Lady In Red...
21 Sep 2011
Lady In Red...
Alanna and Ben chose the biggest party night of the year - and took exclusive use of their venue - to celebrate their love
The Wedding of Alanna Dove & Ben Townsend
Ben and I met when we were at school; our first date was at the Odeon Cinema followed by a trip to Pizza Hut, true romance when you’re 14 years old!
I’m pleased to say that things did get better from there, and his proposal was unexpected even though we’d been together for 14 years at the time! Ben popped the question when we were on holiday in Mexico on his 29th birthday. Typical Ben, not wanting to conform to the norm, he asked me at breakfast time over champagne and smoked salmon! I was shocked to say the least and I think my stunned expression and inability to speak kept him sweating for a bit, but eventually managed to bumble out a Yes!
When planning our wedding the most important part of our day was our guests, predominantly our friends that have been with us through a majority of happy times but some tragic lows. When planning our day we knew we wanted a venue that we could hire out in its entirety, as we didn’t want to share our day with any other wedding party and took full exclusivity of the Woodlands. With a winter wedding in mind and a view to have a really great party ‘New Years Eve’ seemed like the perfect date.
Having been together for such a long time I really wanted a dress that when I walked down the aisle would blow him away. Ava Rose Hamilton were really excited about my brief, for something ‘different’ and rose to the challenge. When I tried on Ian Stuart’s Masquerade nothing else compared!!! It is truly stunning and I feel so privileged to have worn such an amazing dress! I didn’t set out to wear red dress and it proved to be the most difficult secret I’ve ever had to keep - with only my two sisters and my Mum knowing of the colour of my dress.
Ben didn’t want the traditional formal wear and opted for a less traditional three piece suit and silk scarf with an open shirt. He picked his own suit and with only my two sisters and my mum knowing the colour of my dress we couldn’t believe it when he picked out the same colour for his waistcoat (which I managed to get made in the same material as my dress without him knowing). His outfit finished with a pair of burgundy Jeffery West shoes meant he was the best dressed groom I’ve ever seen!
On the morning of the wedding I was really calm, I can safely say that two rather large hot toddy’s for breakfast followed by two glasses of bucks fizz certainly killed off any nerves. I really enjoyed the morning with my Mum, Aunty and bridesmaids back at home. I’m not sure they felt the same calm as me and were rather frantic when the hair dresser arrived an hour later than expected, my sister couldn’t locate the whereabouts of my lipsticks and my 2 year old nephew was point blank refusing to wear a shirt! It was welcome distraction and meant I arrived at the church fashionably late!
Very different version of events in the boys camp, although they were up on time they were still suffering the effects of the ‘sending off’ the night before, thanks to one of the best men getting some omelettes served up it was questionable if they would help or give them food poisoning!
The moment of walking down the aisle is one I’ll remember forever, it’s the moment that you’ve been building up to for months... it was so exciting to walk in and hear people gasp obviously not expecting a red dress!
We had a Catholic Church service, once we were stood on the alter it was like the rest of the church disappeared and there were only the two of us there, we forgot where we were until we turned round to see everyone looking at us.
When we arrived at the venue it was a fantastic experience walking into the Marquee for the first time, I was a little anxious hoping that all my ideas came together. Luckily I had two really inspiring florists/room dressers on hand who did a fabulous job of dressing the marquee, it looked stunning.
The speeches were great, my Dad started us off, he’d had the speech written for months and was still making changes the night before the wedding, he didn’t disappoint. He commanded the attention of the whole room, you could hear a pin drop... he had the room in laughter and in tears!
The best men are Ben’s two best friends, their speech was hilarious as they bantered between each other, and managed to embarrass themselves and Ben with their amusing stories.
I unexpectedly decided to say a few words, caught up in the moment I was stood on my feet before I even had chance to think what I was doing but simply could not let the moment pass without an emotional thank you to my Mum and Dad for the best day of our lives and telling them how much I love them!
With us not wanting the main focus on having a really good day with our friends and family we didn’t get too involved and hung up on the minor details. We had a really fantastic day, from the emotional vows to both best men (yes both) splitting their trousers through the day! Every moment was captured by Andrea and she put on the most amazing slide show of pictures at the start of the evening reception. It is such a great idea to show your evening guests a bit of what has gone on throughout the day.
We really enjoyed the run to up the wedding and the day itself went so well, we couldn’t have wished for anything more and I think because we were so laid back about it when things didn’t go quite to plan we could laugh about it...nothing was going to ruin the day for us.
We decided on South Africa as a honeymoon destination, we wanted a destination that was special and it didn’t disappoint! We decided to travel a couple of days after the wedding to give us time to spend with our friends and family (and it was just as well, with a swollen face the day after the wedding Ben had a trip to A&E they thought he was joking when they asked for his next of kin and he told them it had just changed as he’d got married the day previous). We flew to Dubai and spent three nights in Dubai then flew to South Africa for 13 nights.
We fell in love with South Africa immediately, the scenery is breath taking. We stayed in the trendy resort of Camps Bay at a beautiful hotel on the beach, we travelled then to Stellenbosch which is absolutely beautiful and very much reminded us of a summer’s day in England. From there we travelled the garden route and stayed at some beautiful resorts, the food was amazing and they are very into their wine, your wine list will nearly double the length of your food menu! We ended our trip in Cape Town in the most fantastic hotel, The Mount Nelson, were we had the world famous afternoon tea that was only topped by Ben’s idol Noel Gallagher was staying in the hotel at the same time!
What you wish you knew before you started?
How hard it would be to book a vodka luge on New Year’s Eve, it was my only regret of the day that we couldn’t get sorted!
The Brides ‘Top Tip’:
Dare to be different, trust your own instincts, if going against tradition is what you want to do ... go for it, make your wedding one to remember!
The Grooms ‘Top Tip’:
Don’t let anyone’s opinion change your mind or sway your decisions. Everyone has their opportunity for their own day at some point ... this is your turn to do what you want!
My special moment of the day was Seeing my Dad’s face when I walked down the stairs in my wedding dress, it was a very special moment. I fill up every time I think about it!
When asked Ben’s was Seeing Alanna walk down the aisle, she looked so beautiful.
Alanna & Ben recommend:
Florist and Venue Dresser:
The Mulberry Tree
Andrea Barrett Photography