Love and Happiness: James and Gemma Beattie (nee Booth)
14 Feb 2012
Love and Happiness: James and Gemma Beattie (nee Booth)
The Beatties celebrated their marriage surrounded by family and friends
James and I met at school when we were about 15; we were in the same group of friends and spent many a weekend together as a result. There was always something between us, and people whispered and teased us, but due to circumstances (I had a boyfriend at the time) nothing ever happened, although we regularly flirted outrageously!
Over the years, throughout university and beyond, our group of friends remained extremely close. When I split with my then boyfriend, James had just got back from travelling and we all went out for drinks. We spent all night catching up and then I finally kissed him as I got bored waiting for him to kiss me! I think we were both a little bit anxious about putting our friendship in jeopardy but we took things relatively slowly, moved in together after about 2½ years, and then got engaged after five.
Both James and I love holidays, and over the course of our relationship we’ve been to many far-flung places together. In 2009, we went to the Maldives, and during the holiday it was our five-year anniversary. I remember getting really annoyed as I had to remind him a couple of times about the anniversary; we booked a spa treatment for the day and I insisted that we book a meal on the beach in the evening, with Champagne and lobster.
Looking back, I suppose he was a bit quieter than usual during the meal but I was so excited about where we were and the food and the surroundings that it didn’t really occur to me. At the end of the meal I told him that we’d had the most perfect day, and he looked at me and said, “Do you know what would make it more perfect?” And got down on one knee. We opened more champers and then went back to the bar and told everyone we’d met and celebrated well into the night!
Choosing the venue was the most important and most difficult decision about the whole day.
After many, many weeks of searching, we went to look at The Saddleworth Hotel, on my mum’s suggestion. We arrived at the venue already quite impressed with the view of the moody Pennines and their sweeping hills, and as soon as we walked around we both just looked at each other and thought, yes, this is it. It is contemporary but still has character, the views are stunning, the gardens are amazing, and there’s a carved-stone gazebo for outdoor ceremonies. We eventually ended up using a brand new building that was under construction on our initial viewing; it was more expensive but also the most perfect room. At no point, throughout the entire process of our wedding, did I ever doubt we had made the right decision about the venue.
I knew I wanted a strapless dress, as that style suits my figure, but beyond that I wasn’t entirely sure. I tried on a number of dresses, but when I put on the Pronovias dress, it took my breath away. It was absolutely incredible: the design was so unusual and like nothing I had seen before, the fit was magical, the material, the colour, the shape, the feel – everything was perfect.
James is exceptionally good at planning and was involved with everything, from helping to make the invitations, to picking the flowers and the colours, and he organised the honeymoon. We decided to feature sunflowers, as they are my favourite flowers and make people feel happy. The florist recommended by the hotel also dressed the room and has serious talent – she eliminated all elements of stress from the whole proceedings and I couldn’t have asked for more.
I slept badly the night before the wedding; I think it was the sheer excitement of it all. I woke up feeling a little bit like it wasn’t really my wedding day – it all felt quite surreal – but once the hairdresser and Bridgette arrived to do the make-up, I started to get really excited! The ceremony was at 2pm and the car was coming to pick us up at about 12.45pm, so the morning was lovely and calm and fun but also run with military precision!
James felt really stressed and nervous in the morning, as he had to organise all our useless groomsmen, and then they got lost en route to the hotel. He was also stressing about the weather as it was cold and cloudy. He made the decision to hold the ceremony inside, as it was freezing, but at the last minute I changed my mind and said I wanted it outside, so they had to drag all the chairs and people back outside!
Although I was nervous walking down the aisle, I was also ridiculously excited. James and I couldn’t take our eyes off each other for the whole ceremony, and although it was freezing I didn’t feel a thing. We both nearly cried through our vows but managed to keep it together!
We chose to have the speeches after the meal in the traditional format. My dad’s speech was heartfelt and funny and brilliantly written. James was nervous but had prepared all he needed to say well and also knew that he just needed to thank people and naturally tell me how fab I looked; I know he was relieved once it was all over. Our best man, Rik, is a great friend, who adores being the centre of attention; everyone commented afterwards on what a brilliant speech he gave – he really did us proud.
The whole day truly was the best day of my entire life, and I didn’t let anything stress me out or upset me, even though it rained all afternoon and night! It was particularly special for us because we share all the same best friends – all the people who watched us flirting with each other for ten years were the same people who saw us finally walk down the aisle. It was absolutely magical. Our photographer, Amanda, took lots of fun pictures; she took a lot of all the guests and lots of natural ones that captured the moment. I wanted to make sure we remembered as much as possible and just had as much fun as possible. We laughed, cried and danced the entire day/night long.
Gemma: Walking down the aisle and seeing each other for the first time and realising we were actually getting married!
James: Saying our vows was the best and most surreal moment of my life, with all of the key moments of our relationship flashing before my eyes.
If you spend money on anything I’d say spend it on your wedding rings; you’ll see them every day for the rest of your life.
Venue: The Saddleworth Hotel
01457 871888, saddleworthhotel.co.uk
Photographer: Amanda Morgan
07890 617030, amandamorganphotographer.co.uk
Dress: The Bridal Path
0161 928 5050, thebridalpath.net
Jewellery: Henry Johnstone
01625 583565, henryjohnstone.co.uk
Venue Dresser: Kelly Louise
Entertainment: Manchester Sing out Choir
07724 780606, singoutproject.co.uk