Wedding of the Week: Gillian Collins and Paul Halliwell

27 Aug 2018

This intimate wedding in Cumbria featured two venues, a post-ceremony ramble, and a relaxing afternoon tea reception

How did you meet?

We met online, we had both been single for a number of years and decided the time was right to maybe have a go at meeting someone. We exchanged messages for a couple of weeks then Paul rang and we started chatting before meeting up.

After our first meeting which included talking for around four hours and lots of coffees we discovered how much we had a mutual love of the Lakes, particularly around Rydal and Ambleside, so Paul took me there on our first proper date. He parked up in Bowness and took me on the boat crossing to Ambleside and back again. Paul says that he "Just knew". 


Tell us about the proposal.

I was away on a girly holiday to Mexico that was booked and paid for before I met Paul and in those two weeks we really missed each other. When I returned, Paul arranged for the two of us to stay at Crow How Country Guest House in Rydal for a few days and he took me on a walk to the Stock Ghyll Waterfalls in Ambleside and proposed. Other people were walking through to the waterfalls and saw that he had a bottle of champagne and two glasses, they asked us if they wanted us to take our pictures so we had some snaps of the day. Additionally, Paul had secretly arranged with my daughter, Chloe, and her boyfriend, Billy, to drive up to the lakes and have a meal with us.


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

We wanted a very relaxed day with lots of laughter, so opted for an afternoon tea which had to include a walk/ramble as that is what we do when we are in the Lakes, and also allowed our guests to sit on whichever table they chose to. Our colours were palest green and pink to reflect the surrounding area of the fields and fells of the Lakes. Along our 'ramble' we all stopped on the wooden bridge that crosses over the stream near Rydal Water as we had asked our photographer to take a sunglasses shot of us all on the bridge, we particularly love that photo.


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

We chose Cote How Lakeland Wedding Venue in Rydal. After meeting with Caroline from Cote How we knew that it was the place we wanted to exchange our vows, but as we wanted a ramble we needed a second venue for our afternoon tea reception. We found a second venue and agreed on certain foods etc, but after speaking with a member of staff we received an email out of the blue from the manager telling us we could not hold our reception there.

We then rang Rydal Hall with fingers crossed and explained our situation and they agreed to meet with us. The meeting took place and although Rydal Hall do not host wedding receptions they amazingly agreed to let us hold our intimate afternnon tea there. The staff came to our rescue and we would particularly like to thank them from the bottom of our hearts as they pulled out all the stops for us that day and allowed us to have some amazing memories.                                                                  

Both of our venues are stunning in their own way. They are both in Rydal with the surrounding fells of Loughrigg and lots of waterfalls/walks and Dora's Field, which we included in our ramble. Paul drew a very amateur map for our guests with little footprints on that he had printed, so that they would have a nice keepsake.


When did you know you'd found 'the dress'?

I always knew I wanted a tea-length dress as I love the style and themes from the '50s, but didn't want to rule out trying a long dress. So my daughter came with me when I went to try on dresses, firstly in  Monsoon, Phase Eight and Debenhams. Next stop was WED2B were I tried a few and tried on the tea-length dress.  Before the assistant had finished buttoning it up, I just knew this was what I wanted.


Who were the bridesmaids and what did they wear?

I had two bridesmaides: my daughter, Chloe, and Paul's daughter, Amy. The bridesmaids both wore the palest green long gowns which were slightly different to each other; one was from Monsoon and one was from Debenhams. I also had one flower girl, my grandaughter, Freya, who is four-years-old. Little Freya's dress came from TK Maxx which was shorter in length length and the same style as mine in cream. I added a ribbon that I stitched on to go around her waist in the same palest green as the bridesmaids' dresses which tied into a bow at the back.


Where did you find your suits?

Paul; his dad, David; and my son, Shane (who walked me down the aisle), were all measured and had matching suits from Moss Bros.



Tell us about the flower arrangements.

I made the three bouquets out of artificial flowers. I also came across a little basket in my dad's old greenhouse that I thought was meant to be... a sign that dad was with me. I washed, dried and painted it, then threaded ribbon around it before filling with rose petals from a rose bush that dad had planted. Additionally, I made 20 flower cones and filled them with rose petals from the same bush. A local florist in Ambleside (Joannne from LilyLou's) supplied the beautiful fresh flowers for the register table and fireplace in Cote How. She also created a huge spray for the fireplace in the drawing room at Rydal Hall.



Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day.

  • We decided on a caracaturist to mingle with our guests and also so they could have a further keepsake to take home as favours.
  • I put together all the table decorations, sourced from as far as Whitby, including local antique shops/charity shops where we bought lots of teapots, cups and saucers, glass centre trays, artificial flowers and tea lights and holders.
  • Paul collaged some photographs of the two of us and the waterfalls and surrounding areas with the date of our wedding on and we used them as our invites.



How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?

I was cool as a cucumber all morning, having my hair and make-up sorted and getting into my dress. However, just as I arrived at Cote How and was about to enter the ceremony room, the nerves kicked in and before i said my vows I was having to take deep breaths with all the nerves. Paul was nervous from the moment he woke and went for a run to Rydal Water and back in the early hours.



How did you personalise your ceremony?

We chose our music for the ceremony and one of the song titles I had engraved inside Paul's wedding band. Paul also had something engraved inside mine. Horsman's Jewellers from Ambleside supplied the rings; we met with the owner, Nigel, on a few occasions and discussed what we wanted.


What was your most memorable moment?

Paul's most memorable moment is when I walked into the room and walked towards him, but for me it was when we exchanged the rings and it felt like we were then husband and wife.



What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?

We had two challenging aspects; one was when our first reception venue let us down and we panicked, I cried and Paul - as usual - stayed calm and reasoned it out. He said it would all work out in the end and we had to decide then where to look next. As aforementioned, Rydal Hall came to the rescue. The second was reaching the painful decision that my mother could not attend the wedding, (she has mixed dementia, vascular dementia with Alzheimer's).



What was the most important investment for you?

The most important investment was the rings; we wanted to spend a big chunk on pieces that we knew were to be worn for a lifetime. We both had to really love what we decided on; that's where Nigel at Horsman's Jewellers came in and helped with our choices. I found it difficult to match a wedding ring to my engagement ring, so we changed them round and used the original ring as my wedding band while Nigel found me a beautiful engagement ring that would fit perfectly together.


Tell us about your weddng cake. 

As we were having an afternoon tea reception we didnt want 'cake overload', so opted for one tall tier in palest green to match with our colour scheme by The Cake Boutique. I sourced the flowers and two little doves for the top; we didnt want anything too fussy, but had to have a lemon sponge with cream and injected lemon sauce within it.


Where did you go on honeymoon?

As I am my mother's main carer (I have put my career as a counsellor on hold), we couldn't go on a long honeymoon or go straight away, so we opted for a mini-moon to Malta the week after the wedding. This is a favourite island of ours and we went for a week to chill and enjoy some wonderful architecture, food and drink, catamaran days out, and strolls around Valletta. We plan to go to the Caribbean early next year.



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

The advice we would pass on to other couples is to do what you want to do; don't be swayed into doing what you think you should do. We knew what we wanted and how we wanted ourselves and our guests to enjoy the day, and that's what we arranged. All our guests completely enjoyed not knowing what was going to happen next, from being picked up by the mini-bus and the short ramble, to where we would be eating and our entertainment of the surprise pianist and then caracaturist.


Steal their style:

Ceremony venue: Cote How, Cumbria,
Reception venue: Rydal Hall,
Photography: Aggie Norris Photography,
Jeweller: Horsman's Jewellers,
Floristry: Lily Lou's,
Transport: Mountain Goat,
Cake: The Cake Boutique,
Wedding dress: WED2B,

For more real wedding inspiration, pick up the latest edition of Bride magazine

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