Real Life: Lee and Mickey Birkin
01 Oct 2012
Real Life: Lee and Mickey Birkin
Lee is a self employed tiler and I (Michaela, or Mickey as everyone knows me) am a graphic designer working for a company in Chelmsford I’ve been with for over 10 years now. We’ve been together for four and a half years and live in Tiptree in our lovely character cottage. We love socialising with our fab friends, snowboarding – which Lee introduced me to - walking in the countryside, and seeing live music. My main passion is horse riding and Lee’s is photography and playing the guitar. We’ve got the same outlook on life and make sure we try to have fun in almost everything we do. And we love each other to bits of course.
How we met
My best friend was out for her brother’s engagement meal and I met her after at about 10.30pm – I nearly didn’t bother. Lee was dragged out by his best mate too. We bumped into each other in what was O’Neills bar in Colchester. My best friend Jules used to go to the same college as Lee and Ross (Lee’s best friend) so they recognised each other and came over for a chat. We went onto Valentino’s nightclub and danced to Dirty Dancing – how cheesy! Lee being a true gent walked us back to my car and we had our first kiss and swapped numbers. I do believe I told my mum I was in love after a week of knowing him, but didn’t let him know that of course.
A total surprise. We’d talked about ‘one day’ when we get married etc, but I never guessed it would be there and then on Lee’s 30th birthday, in front of all our friends and family at a big BBQ/picnic we’d organised on the hottest day for years on Mersea Island, July 10, 2010. Lee made a birthday speech and then got down on one knee. He had chosen the most stunning beautiful ring himself. I was ecstatic and said yes, of course.
Lee was straight on the case the day after the proposal, searching the internet for ideas. As he’s an up and coming wedding photographer himself he had lots of inspirational websites to show me. We wrote a list of what we wanted – down to the fine details and pretty much had the whole thing ready to organise! We booked the main bits pretty quickly as we knew what we were looking for and totally agreed on the style – relaxed, fun, country, home-made, and budget. Being a graphic designer, I designed all the invites, name cards and orders of service and my kind boss paid for all the professional print as our wedding gift.
It’s by Spanish designer Raul Novias.
After trying on every dress is Essex with my mum, I knew what colour, style and shape I wanted and found my beautiful dress on sale on the internet. It arrived (a few days late – bit of stress) and fitted great. It just needed a nip in here and there and a ruffle moving down to make it a bit longer. I created my own bird cage veil with a cream flower headband for a vintage-type look.
The groom’s outfit
It was a tweed flat cap, tie and waistcoat, braces and tan trousers for the real countryside theme. All the ushers and my dad had a variation of the same and we made pheasant feather and stag and pheasant pin corsages rather than flowers.
We had a ‘just picked from the English country garden’ idea. All the fresh flowers were supplied by Michelle Rogers at Papillion Flowers in white, cream, yellow and purple - her suggestions were perfect. We arranged them all in jam jars we’d collected throughout the year and also made our own bouquets. Mum, being expertly green-fingered, also supplied potted plants in jam jars she’d grown from seed and large white marguerites for the church.
We had found our church well before proposals were even on the cards. On a walk along the river Chelmer from Papermill Lock towards Maldon, we heard lovely music flowing out of the sweetest little church right on the river bank – All Saints Ulting. It was an almost magical moment and we sat and listened to the quartet for a while and talked about how that would be a very special place to get married – again ‘one day!’ So of course we remembered that and it was one of the first things we booked. The ceremony was amazing, we made it extremely personal and sentimental but fun.
The Revd Stephen Northfield was great and embraced all our ideas. We had three uplifting not so traditional hymns so that everyone could have a good old sing song. We had two of Lee’s friends (The Lartey Sisters) playing guitar and singing. Lee chose my entrance song for them to sing and I didn’t know what it was until I walked in – it was ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’. Our signing the register song was their own song they had written and our exit song was Mumford and Sons ‘Lover of the Light’ which they learnt especially for us. There was much laughter and clapping and banter but of course with emotion and very sentimental moments too with readings from our friends and family and Lee and I also created our own promises to say to each other as an addition to our vows.
We left the church in a rowing boat and rowed up river for a short while before rowing back again, once our guests had left for the reception.
I love yellow, and really wanted a yellow sapphire eternity ring. Again, on a budget, the best place to get it from was America! So Lee’s sister’s friends out there ordered it for us and they brought it back after a holiday visiting. Lee wanted an old looking ring with a bit of character and again, after searching the good old internet, found a ‘hammered’ silver ring with yellow gold band in the middle.
This was at Elms Farm West Hanningfield, in their stunning farm barn with the beautiful old farmhouse for us and our families to stay in that night. The Charnleys who own the farm could not have been nicer people and made us feel part of the family.
We arrived at the barn on the horse I’ve been riding for the past 11 years - ‘my other man’ as I introduced him as to our guests. It sounds a bit poncy turning up on horseback, but far from it, I hitched my dress up and tied it in a ball and had my jodhpurs and riding boots on underneath. And Lee led us up the driveway.
We had a sit down meal in the barn with the tables in two long lines like a street party. Speeches were before dessert. I made a speech too, and much to our surprise, our best man and ‘best girl’ made a video of all our friends dancing, dressing up as us and going crazy to the song ‘Hey Mickey’ and ‘Lee’ by Tenacious D, hilarious! We then had a buffet in the evening and a very lively electric barn dance band with a caller for some great barn dancing.
Lots of our friends camped over in the horse field and we all had breakfast the next day in the barn together which was actually Lee’s birthday too.
Through my work, we are good friends with ‘Creative Rail Dining’ (producing their company logo, website, menus etc). They are silver service caterers on UK rail tours, and having sampled the fantastic food on a trip or two, and knowing they were keen to branch into other forms of catering, we asked if they’d like to cater our wedding and they said yes! They came up with the menu ideas and did an amazing job with lots of really personal touches too.
The menu included dressed local crab with a pea shoot salad, poached breast of Suffolk chicken in a white wine, leek and pancetta sauce and triple chocolate bavarois with strawberry coulis and Cornish clotted cream.
Chocolate and vanilla cup cakes with a huge cupcake on top to cut – all made by Lee’s mum and sister. They were wrapped in about three cake cases each as the oil kept seeping through and making the bows fall off. Needless to say, they never want to see another cup cake again.
We had two girls singing and on guitars in the church and a real barn dance band with a caller – ‘Bushes and Briars’ in the evening for real barn dancing.
Well, here’s another story. About two years ago, Lee and I were on a walk at Pinmill Ipswich on a random day out. We stumbled upon a wedding fair being held at Woolverstone Hall, and went in to look at wedding photography – for Lee’s benefit. We spent ages talking to a lovely couple from Bushfire Photography as their work was stunning. Anyway, when it came to booking our photographer, we remembered them but they were fully booked. They gave us Dave Bulow’s details as he is a good friend of theirs and we were blown away by the images he had on his website and booked him straight away, and we weren’t disappointed, the photos – all 718 of them - are absolutely stunning and he and his wife Amanda were so lovely, we felt they were life long friends as soon as we met them.
Most memorable moment
Oh my goodness, there are so many. The whole day was way beyond our expectations, but if I really had to pick it would be holding hands with Lee and saying our promises off by heart to each other and when we were alone in the rowing boat in the glorious sunshine floating along the river hearing all our friends chattering and laughter in the distance.
Lee’s most memorable moment: “When Mickey laughed out loud outside the church, making everyone giggle and making me relax straight away. Seeing my stunning bride enter the church, standing beside her and gazing into her eyes whilst saying our vows made me fall in love all over again!”
Was two weeks in Rovinj in Croatia – amazing, lovely people, food, scenery. Neither of us have been to Croatia before, and it was actually our first ‘summer holiday’ together as Lee got me into snowboarding as soon as I met him and it’s been snow all the way.
Plans for the future
To go snowboarding again as soon as possible as we missed out this year paying for the wedding. To enjoy married life in Tiptree, for Lee’s photography to take off and to just keep on doing what we’re doing, we always say ‘I love my life!’ and are blessed with each other and the people around us.