Wedding of the Week: April Mahoney and David Young

30 Oct 2017

Filled with details from their first few dates, April and David's big day was a perfectly personal affair

How did you meet?  

Our first date, arranged through a dating site, was in a Slug and Lettuce in Colchester. I drank Diet Coke, he was on lemonade and neither of us ordered food in case the other one had already eaten as we didn’t want to look greedy. As it turns out, neither of us had and we both stopped off for food on the way home. When Dave walked in he caught my eye immediately. I was ordering our first drink and could see him enter by his reflection in the mirror above the bar. My immediate thought was “Ah, this won’t work, he is far too tall for me”, but we found a table and completely clicked in a way neither of us had with anyone before. I told him that I had moved away from my family and friends to start my job at Kinfauns Vet Centre in Essex and was fortunate that my colleagues were wonderful and we had become very close friends.  Dave listened intently, then said to me, “I think you might like this” and produced his bank card which said “Lord David Young”.  He explained he had bought the title online and owned a small patch of land somewhere in the Lake District.  At this moment I realised the man sitting opposite me was as weird as I am and I nearly blurted out “Oh my goodness, I love you”. Thankfully, I didn’t, given we’d known each other for less than an hour at this point.

Following an extremely successful first date Dave walked me back to my car. As we approached the multi-storey he asked what car I had and I told him it was a Toyota Yaris. Lo and behold when we opened the door to the car park the first car in front of us was a Toyota Yaris which had been painted to resemble a boat and the dashboard was entirely covered by dozens of rubber ducks. Dave remarked, “Cool car”, clearly aware it wasn’t mine.

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Part of our bonding involved attending medieval festivals in full medieval attire. Just to be clear, the other visitors didn’t dress up, just the performers and exhibitors so we were something of an oddity but we loved doing it. On that first date, upon hearing of the medieval festivals, Dave had suggested he turn up for our second on a horse dressed as my knight in shining armour or maybe he’d just bring a hobby horse.

During the nine days between those first two dates I quietly hoped he would turn up with a hobby horse. We met along the seafront of Clacton and he said he had something for me in his car. Inside the boot there was a hobby horse along with the biggest bouquet of flowers I’d ever been given. It featured sunflowers and was the inspiration for the bouquets I gave my bridesmaids, as well as the many other sunflowers used to line the aisle and then as centrepieces at the reception. There was also a shovel which he told me was in case the date went badly so he could kill me and bury my body in the woods. It turns out his friends had begged him not to buy the hobby horse as it would “freak me out”, but Dave was brave and stuck firm to his belief that I would love it. We named her Peaches and she’s one of our most treasured possessions.

Following dinner neither of us were ready for the date to end. We spent hours talking as we walked along the seafront and visited the pier where we spotted an arcade game which had rubber ducks to be won. We played until we had won two and these little ducks have sat in the front of our cars ever since as a lovely reminder of those early dates.

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Tell us about the proposal.

On our one month anniversary, Dave surprised me by taking me somewhere I had mentioned on our first date. I told him that prior to moving to Essex I had researched Essex attractions and found one on Google Maps called ‘Gnome Magic’. There was one review which simply said: ‘£4 to look at gnomes in someone’s garden, what an absolute waste of money’. Now that was an attraction I wanted to see. Strangely though, no-one else shared my enthusiasm for visiting, so when Dave took me there I was overjoyed. Sure enough, it basically was someone’s garden with gnomes in varying states of weathering and the price had risen to £5 per person but nevertheless we had a great time. Two years and two months later Dave took me back to Gnome Magic where he proposed in a circle of rose petals and candles. He spoke the most beautiful words to me but I cannot remember them at all, only the way they made me feel. 

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

We didn’t have a theme but knew we wanted a very traditional wedding with special details that made the day very personal to us. These included rubber ducks covering the dashboard of our wedding car, gnomes I spray painted gold and positioned climbing the stairs into Escot House in Devon, a replica hobby horse which I decorated with cream roses and used as the main decoration on our top table and on which we galloped into the dining room. Our colour scheme was red and gold.

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

We intended for my parents to play a large role in our wedding. We wanted them to enjoy the day as much as we did and we knew my Mum had her heart set on Escot House ever since she and my sister visited it a few years ago. We chose it knowing how much it meant to her and are so glad we did as it provided several beautiful backdrops for truly exquisite photographs. It was also an excellent venue for keeping our guests entertained while we had couple photographs. We were fortunate with the weather, so our guests were able to play garden games on the lawn during the afternoon and then later in the evening there was a large room away from the dancing in which we set up board games, our DIY photo booth, the fingerprint tree, and guest book.

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When did you know when you’d found ‘the’ dress?

I visited about half a dozen bridal shops and was beginning to feel underwhelmed with each visit, feeling that it was more like an effort than an exciting part of getting married. I knew I wanted a mermaid gown with straps and this was confirmed when I tried different styles that swamped me. I wasn’t specifically looking for a lot of bling, but when Jean in Prima Moda Brides in Ilminster, Somerset, suggested a rather glitzy Venus dress towards the end of my visit I was intrigued. It sparkled as I put it on in the more dimly lit fitting room and I called out to my mum that this dress may actually be the one. She loved it as much as I did but neither of us are impulse buyers so we went away to consider it. I quickly visited a couple more bridal shops and every dress I tried on felt like a boring white dress after that one. We went back, I tried it on a second time, and we left with my dress selected. I must have tried on more than 30 dresses.

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What did the bridesmaids wear?

I chose red for the bridesmaids’ dresses because everyone looks good in red. Nine months before the wedding I invited my five bridesmaids to stay with me as they hadn’t all met. It was a fun weekend which allowed them to bond and me to share ideas with them. We visited a bridal boutique and found a style of dress that closely matched the one I had found online at www.Queeniebridesmaid.co.uk which happily suited all of them. I chose to buy the dresses online as I wanted them to be made to measure. Of course I was worried about the dress quality not matching the glossy photos online so stuck with a company I’d experienced a couple of years ago when I was a bridesmaid. I bought each of them pearl earrings and suggested they wear their own black shoes so there would be no new shoe blisters on the day.

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Where did you find your suits?

My husband was best man for his best man five years ago and they decided to use the same hire shop having been impressed by the service at Formal Hire in Chelmsford, Essex.

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Tell us about your floral arrangements.

All the flowers at our wedding were artificial partly because we both suffer terribly with hayfever and partly because they last forever. An artificial buttonhole won’t wilt in the afternoon sun. My husband loved the Lego men buttonholes he found on Pinterest so carefully selected Lego characters to represent each of his groomsmen.

I gave Mansion House Florists in Holland On Sea, Essex, the task of creating the buttonholes, corsages and bouquets. The buttonholes and corsages were red roses to match the bridesmaids’ dresses with the exception of the groom who wore an ivory rose. I described the bouquet I received our on second date and explained that I wanted the bridesmaids’ bouquets to be based on that with my more traditional white bouquet sharing some of the same blue flowers for cohesion. Within my bouquet was hidden the bracelet I received when I was a bridesmaid at St Mary’s 22 years before my own wedding there – my ‘something old’.

In the church the aisle was lined by sunflowers in white vases as this was the most prominent flower in the bouquet my husband gave to me on our second date. These were then collected by the groomsmen and transported to the reception venue where the large vases became centrepieces and the smaller vases set on mantelpieces.

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

  • I have loved dressing up for silly photos at other people’s weddings but didn’t want to hire a photo booth so I made a frame myself and filled two baskets with all the fancy dress items I’ve accumulated over the years.
  • We didn’t want to spend a fortune on favours so decided to combine them with name cards. I painted cocktail sticks gold, sank them into Ferrero Rochers and to the top added the guest name on one side and an amusing note about them on the other. From the photos we saw on social media after our wedding, it seems pretty much every guest took a selfie with their name card and the note on the reverse so they were clearly popular.

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  • Following the ceremony we had a receiving line into the church hall which ensured we spoke to every single guest without missing anyone. From personal experience we know how hungry people get waiting for the wedding breakfast, so we decided to have a buffet catered for by In The Bag straight away. We didn’t get to eat any of it though as we were too busy talking to guests and posing for photographs. Prior to leaving St Mary’s, my sister and I re-enacted some photos with a woman for whom we were bridesmaids at that very same church 22 years ago and I love the resulting funny photos.

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  • Our guests were transported from the church to the reception at Escot House on two Seward coaches. As they boarded, one bridesmaid punched a heart shaped hole in the golden tickets I’d made and sent within the guests’ invitations and another gave them a mini packet of personalised Love Hearts to enjoy during the journey. I created two CDs for the coaches; one full of upbeat songs, such as ‘Going To The Chapel’ for the outward journey and the other full of mellow love songs, such as ‘When I Fall In Love’ for the ride home at the end of the night.
  • The wedding car was a gift from my cousin which he had wanted to give to me since my first day of vet school as the registration was VET 55. It was particularly popular with my colleagues.

How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?

I was calm and happy throughout the morning up until about 30 minutes before we were due to leave my parents’ house for the church; that’s when the nerves kicked in big time. As I walked down the aisle I remember taking some deep breaths and realising that I was walking faster than I had intended to. We wanted to remember our wedding when we’re old and grey in video as well as picture form so hired Gooseberry Wedding Films to record the day from start to finish. Having watched the brilliant final version, I don’t look anywhere near as nervous as I felt.

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What was your most memorable moment?

My most memorable moment was surprising our guests by making a speech following the bible reading in the church. I didn’t want to be a bride whose role is simply to smile and look pretty nor did I want to add a fourth speech to the wedding breakfast, hence I decided to speak during the ceremony and told everyone the story of our early dates and how my husband proposed. It meant that throughout the day the details we’d included to remind us why we love each other also made sense to our guests.

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What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?

Living in Essex and planning the wedding to take place in Somerset and Devon made for a logistical challenge. On top of the usual wedding spreadsheets I had to keep track of where each item we purchased was being stored.

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What was the most important investment for you?

My husband has always wanted to stay in an over water bungalow in Bora Bora and how could I deny him it? We agreed that if we were going to embark on this expensive once in a lifetime trip then our honeymoon was the time to do it, so this was our most important investment.

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What song did you choose for your first dance, and why?

We struggled to choose a song for our first dance and it was my husband who came across Rest Of My Life by Bruno Mars during his research. We had two dance lessons and learnt a simple routine which I very much recommend to all couples like us who are nervous about dancing in front of everyone and don’t want to awkwardly shuffle from side to side. A routine ending in a lift followed by a dip (technically a lunge) will get your guests whooping.

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Did you have any evening entertainment?

We looked at hiring a band but had so much to fit into one day we realised there wouldn’t be time for live music and a DJ so we asked Simon Cobbledick, my friend’s brother, to provide the disco as he had done a brilliant job at her wedding. We gave him a list of songs we absolutely wanted played plus a longer list of suggestions to give him an idea of the kind of disco we wanted. We chose lots of cheesy tracks like Do You Love Me? to entice guests of all dancing abilities to the dancefloor and it really worked. Our wedding will be remembered for all sorts of reasons with one being that it was the first time many of us discovered my middle-aged cousin can do the splits.

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Tell us about your wedding cake.

When I told my husband I intended to decorate the cake myself, he joked that he’d make one as well and this turned into us loving the idea. My husband’s plan for his cake was to stand caterpillar cakes vertically and balance a bear and gnome cake on top of them. He set them up the afternoon before our wedding and the caterpillars collapsed overnight so the owner of Escot House improvised and the salvageable caterpillars ended up being positioned horizontally. For mine, I bought three cakes from Marks & Spencer, added gold ribbon around the bases, and stacked them. I decorated each layer to tell our story with the base dedicated to our early dates, the middle to the proposal, and the top to the wedding day.

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If you could go back and change anything, what would it be?

I wouldn’t change a thing. I married my best friend which was the most important thing and our guests had a great time celebrating with us.

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Did anything go wrong on the day?

We didn’t have anything big go wrong on the day, though despite arriving at the church two minutes early I kept everyone waiting a few minutes as my dad realised he had forgotten to give me the card my husband wanted me to read on my way to the church. He had to run into the church to ask the chauffeur who was also a wedding guest to unlock the car for him to retrieve the card.

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Was there anything you wish you’d known before?

I believe I thought through everything so many times there was nothing I wish I’d known before. I am so very glad we hired two photographers and videographers as we would deeply regret not having done so.

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Where did you go on honeymoon?

We got married on a Saturday, stayed with my parents for two days and jetted off on the Tuesday. We made our honeymoon a big adventure starting in Los Angeles, then Moorea, Bora Bora and finally Las Vegas. We took my wedding dress with us and I wore it again for a private photo cruise in Bora Bora and again on the last night when we had a second wedding in Vegas with an Elvis impersonator. That was a lot of fun but we’re glad we didn’t elope and chose to share the real day with our family and friends.

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

My advice for couples in the planning stages is to focus on why you want to get married and come up with a few ideas for details that are special to you. Then if things don’t go to plan or you feel overwhelmed, those little touches will bring you back into the zone. I couldn’t help feeling more connected to my husband as he galloped into our reception on our hobby horse.

I also recommend giving your wedding an official end. We decided to do it with a bang in the form of a grand sparkler exit. We walked through a tunnel of our friends and family waving sparklers at us and into the car which whisked us away as we waved goodbye to the cheering crowd. It ended the day on a spectacular high.

Get the look:

Photography: Latitude Photography (Aran and his wife), www.latitudephotography.co.uk
Videography: Gooseberry Wedding Films (Barry and his assistant), www.gooseberryweddingfilms.com
Catering: In The Bag, http://inthebagtogo.co.uk/
Floristry: Mansion House Florists, http://mansionhouseflorists.co.uk/
Dress: Prima Moda Brides, www.primamodabrides.com
Suits: Formal Hire
DJ: Simon Cobbledick
Wedding car: Manor Garage, www.manorgaragebox.co.uk

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

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