Real life: Lorraine and Paul Dennis
20 Jun 2013
Real life: Lorraine and Paul Dennis
Lorraine talks Pure Weddings through her gorgeous Italian wedding
We live in Stowmarket and are both self employed. Paul’s business is supplying and fitting flooring and I work in photography.
How we met
We met six years ago when Paul fitted some flooring for my parents. They had to go out so I agreed to stay to make sure everything was OK and to pay him when he had finished. To begin with I thought he seemed a little grumpy when I joked about him making a lot of noise, but I soon changed my mind when we started chatting and conversation flowed really well.
As he left he handed me a leaflet with his name and number on and asked if I’d like to go for a drink with him. We went for a drink a few days later and the rest as they say is history!
We were getting ready to go out for a meal with friends when Paul sat me down and said he had something to ask me. I was so shocked when he proposed that I had to ask if he was joking before I said yes!
He didn’t have a ring as he wanted me to choose it. We went out the next day and I fell in love with a beautiful emerald cut diamond ring.
The whole thing was perfect. I had the most beautiful engagement ring, as well as the most wonderful man.
When it came to planning the wedding Paul wanted us to explore the idea of getting married abroad, Italy in particular. So we started looking online for locations and wedding planning companies. We found a company called Forever Amore Weddings and had a good feeling about the website. It was very honest and open about pricing and seemed to be everything we had been looking for. We arranged a trip out to Lake Como to meet with Sabina, our wedding planner. From the moment that we stepped on to the boat to Bellagio we knew we’d found it - this was the place we were meant to get married.
We met with Sabina and instantly felt at ease and comfortable with her. She was so wonderful and kind and took us to all the possible locations for our wedding. We knew instantly that we wanted Sabina to plan our wedding, we trusted her completely. The difficult part was going to be choosing from all the amazing places we visited.
Shopping for my dress was always going to be difficult, not only because I am a perfectionist but because I have seen so many wedding dresses through work. One dress in particular caught my eye in the first wedding magazine I bought.
It was an Essense of Australia dress and Beautiful Designs in Ipswich had the dress in stock, so I went along with my mum and sister to try it on.
I have to say that I loved it when I put it on, but was reluctant to say it was ‘The One’ as it was the first dress I had tried on.
I spent the next couple of months searching for a dress but found nothing that really compared to the first one. I got so stressed about it, but Jemma , Lucy and all the staff at Beautiful Designs were so wonderful.
They were so attentive, kind and patient with me! I struggled with the dress the whole way really, not knowing if it was ‘The One’. Looking back now though, I wish I hadn’t been so worried about it. I felt so wonderful in it on the day and I now know for certain that it was the perfect dress for me and exactly what I was looking for. I cannot thank Beautiful Designs enough.
Paul, his best man, usher and also my Dad got their suits from Coes in Ipswich. They wore a chocolate brown suit, with a pink tie and handkerchief to match the bridesmaids. Paul decided against having a waistcoat as it was likely to be quite hot in Italy in August. They all looked wonderful.
As we were organising the wedding from so far away we relied on Sabina to help us every step of the way. Through emails and photos we were able to envisage what flowers would go with the colour scheme and with Sabina’s expertise it came together so well.
My bouquet was a mixture of light and dark pink calla lilies, hand tied together with long stems wrapped in champagne ribbon to match my dress. The bridesmaids had a mixture of cream roses and pink calla lilies and my mum had a beautiful corsage in pink and cream that also complimented the colours in her gorgeous dress. Paul wore a calla lily and the other men cream roses. All of the flowers were so beautiful and complimented the stunning surroundings we were in.
We were married in a village called Varenna, just a short boat ride from Bellagio where we were staying.
The ceremony was held in the gardens of Villa Cipressi. We had visited there with Sabina on our first trip to Como and we couldn’t have wished for a more beautiful spot to say our vows.
We wanted the ceremony to have an authentic Italian feel, so as I walked down the aisle Luca our guitarist played and sang Jovanotti’s, A Te – which in English means ‘To You’. I was completely stunned when I heard Luca start to sing, I couldn’t see him from where I was and truly thought it was a recording. He was amazing and the song remains so special to both of us.
The mayor of Varenna took the ceremony in Italian and Sabina translated it for us. He allowed us to write and read our own vows to each other, which was wonderful and very emotional.
My sister read the Pam Ayres poem ‘Yes I’ll marry you’ which was lovely and quite amusing. It made everyone smile and relax.
We bought our rings from Berridges in Ipswich, which is where my engagement ring came from. Paul chose a gorgeous palladium ring with diamond cut grooves and a bevelled edge. And my choice was a plain yellow gold band that sits nicely next to my engagement ring. Jeff at Berridges was so helpful and even had my engagement ring cleaned for me the week before the wedding.
Our reception was actually spread over several different locations. We were so very touched that so many people came all the way to Italy for our wedding so we wanted to make sure everyone got the most out of the day. Immediately after the ceremony we had aperitifs and a delicious lunch on the upper terrace. Everyone relaxed and enjoyed the food whilst we had some photo’s taken in the beautiful gardens of the villa.
After lunch we all walked to the boat which took us around the lake to the stunning Villa Del Balbianello, which we had privately hired for the afternoon.
As we arrived we could hear Luca already singing as we got off the boat, which created such a wonderful atmosphere. It was so special and surreal that it was just for us! We enjoyed a few hours there drinking wine and eating the delicious sweets buffet. Everyone was so amazed at the beauty of the location, and it created the backdrop for some of our favourite wedding photos.
As the afternoon passed we got back on the boat and were taken to Bellagio. We received the most amazing welcome as we arrived. Everyone clapped and cheered as we got off the boat. People were taking photos and congratulating us and it was just a magical moment. Our guests were able to sit by the lake and enjoy a coffee or an ice cream, while we had photos taken in the beautiful cobbled streets of Bellagio.
We then made the trip back to Varenna, where the staff at Villa Cipressi had transformed the terrace in to a beautiful outdoor dining room. It was completely stunning. Sabina had made us the most beautiful table plan and the tables were just amazing, combining gorgeous flowers with individually decorated tea lights and table names. Sabina also made us place settings in the shape of hearts. They were decorated with a pink or brown ribbon, the guests name on the front and had a chocolate inside.
Also on the tables were favours for our guests. We had found online some lovely mini salt and pepper shakers in the shape of love birds, presented in a little box, which we gave to the ladies and for the men Sabina sourced some wonderful miniature bottles of Limoncello from Tuscany.
The majority of the day’s catering was taken care of by Villa Cipressi. They created the buffet lunch after the ceremony which was full of typically Italian treats.
The sweet buffet at the Balbianello was provided by an outside private catering company and it consisted of cream cakes, chocolate mousse and sweet pastries.
For the evening meal back at Villa Cipressi, we had a huge seven courses to get through. The first course was crespelle pasta with fresh ricotta cheese. The next was perch risotto. For the fish course we had golden Turbot filled with Champagne sauce and baby asparagus. We then enjoyed a wonderful lemon sorbet to cleanse the pallet before the meat course, which was guinea fowl supreme with potato fondue in castelmagno cream, followed by a wonderful dessert buffet, with every delicious dessert imaginable. If that wasn’t enough we then had wedding cake to finish the meal.
Our cake was also made by Villa Cipressi. Again we wanted something typically Italian. We had several choices but opted for a stunning heart shaped cake. It was a very light sponge cake, covered in beautifully arranged fresh fruits. It was perfect.
The boats trips throughout the day played a big part of the entertainment. A lot of guests were only staying for two days, so it was great that they got a tour of the lake at the wedding.
Also, as previously mentioned, we had the most amazing guitarist to entertain our guests before, during and after the ceremony, mainly playing and singing traditional Italian love songs. Luca followed us to the Balbianello where he played more wonderful music. In the evening Luca was joined by another singer, pianist and saxophonist. They were fantastic and played so many jazz classics, everyone was dancing and having a wonderful time. We hadn’t planned on doing a first dance but we were told we had to so we just got up and danced to the song the band were already playing, which was Come Fly With Me – not your typical first dance song.
Steve Tarling from A Little Box of Memories came with us to Italy. I used to work for Steve and learnt so much from him. He is an amazing photographer and I would only agree to getting married abroad if Steve would come with us. We now have the most amazing wedding photos. They exceeded our expectations and we cannot express enough how grateful we are that Steve and Jana came to Italy and shared our special day.
We also had a videographer who was recommended to us by Sabina. As always we trusted her judgement completely and could not be happier with the wonderful video that Luca created for us. Luca was so fantastic and captured the day perfectly.
Most memorable moment
One of the most memorable moments from the day has to be walking through the street of Bellagio and Varenna and everyone clapping, cheering and taking photos. It was so special and we felt a bit like celebrities for the day.
Another memory that stands out for us is stealing a moment together during the evening reception. We stood aside from our guests and told each other what a wonderful day we were having. That was a very emotional special moment. We didn’t want the day to end.