Wedding of the Week: Nina Brzezicki and Lee Willis

22 Aug 2016

The sun shone brightly for this seaside wedding in East Devon, which was filled with flowers and sweet treats

How did you meet?

In Teignmouth Club. That waas the first time we ever spoke and we became friends for a couple of years first before actually getting together. 

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Tell us about the proposal.

He surprised me with a trip to Paris. I had no idea what he was planning as I'd built myself up on anniversaries before for a proposal and was left disappointed! And he's not one for planning anything romantic, so I just thought it was a lovely break away. But on our last night, we had an amazing luxury dinner cruise on the river Seine and as we approached the Eiffel Tower all lit up, he stood up and pulled a box from his pocket and got down on one knee. I blubbed like a baby, but said 'yes' obviously. Then he placed it on the wrong hand! We were both a wreck. It only took him six and a half years.

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

Mainly traditional, with extra sparkle, bling, fairylights and candles. The colour scheme was mainly dusky pink and ivory. 

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

My favourite part of all the planning was trying on all the gorgeous dresses! It was the only time in my life I could try on such beautiful dresses and it took me over 100 dresses to find 'the one'. But it was actually the fifth one I tried and the one no other dress could beat. But I needed to be sure, so I kept going back to it and couldn't stop thinking about it. That's definitely a sign. It was a Sottero and Midgley ball gown design from Serenity in Newton Abbot, but I wanted to customise it with a separate sparkly crystal belt and I had extra embellishment added on the sweetheart neckline. I also added a lace bolero, but I didn't actually wear it much on the day even though it was stunning. 

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Where did you find your suits?

Lee really wanted navy blue suits with tails for the boys; something that wasn't too heavy for summer. He also went in to Serenity where I got my dress, tried on one navy blue tails suit with ivory waistcoat and dusky pink cravat, and loved it! So he went with them. He tried on one and I tried on 100... they say opposites attract.

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Tell us about your floral arrangements.

I absolutely love flowers so wanted big displays that were different and had the 'wow' factor. We were fortunate that our best man owns Hollyhocks Florists at Fermoys Garden Centre and we discussed our ideas with Holly there and she created flowers that we couldn't have imagined. We had full bridal party flowers, top table display (that was used in the church first) and table centrepieces. And even flowers in the fountains! The centrepieces were huge flower balls sat within a tall candelabra. Everyone said how amazing the flowers were. 

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Tell us about the details of the day.

It was important to us to create a day that our guests would remember and be as special for them as it was for us. We didn't want it to be just about us. We wanted to personalise it for everyone, so instead of place names we had photos of all our guests pegged to their wine glasses. Funny, old and embarrassing photos; It took me months to collect 80 of them! We made our own huge candy buffet too. I decorated all the jars and we had enough sweets for 10 weddings... but unbelievably it got demolished.

We have been to many weddings ourselves where the favours get left behind and can be wasted. Pretty much all of our guests have been affected by cancer somehow, so we decided on Cancer Research favours. They were personalised pins, pink for the girls and blue for the boys. This meant so much to everyone, who wore them all day. 

We named our tables with places we had been on holiday during our time together. 

We had asked everyone to save us jars over the last few months as I wanted to line the Italian garden at Deer Park with around 200 candle jars. I decorated all the jars and they lit up the garden at night. It looked so pretty and romantic. 

We also made a slideshow set to music showing photos of us as kids, growing up and our adventures together. It also featured photos of our families, bridal party and the hen and stag dos. That played on a loop all day in the conservatory. Our guests loved it.

We hired huge 'love' lights for the corner of the room which lit up all day and I put a basket of toiletries in the girls' toilets so they could freshen up throughout.

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How did you feel when you walked down the aisle?

The walk down the aisle at the church was so emotional. I had built myself up for that moment for so long, but I loved it. My dad had tears and I was trying to hold it together as I didn't want my make-up to run! But it was hard. I didn't even notice any of our guests looking as I was just focused on getting to the front. I had to take many deep breaths at the top of the steps and my legs turned to jelly. But when I saw him waiting for me, it was a very special moment. 

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What was your most memorable moment? 

There were so many memorable moments but the walk down the aisle is definitely one. Every girl dreams of that moment and it didn't disappoint. The day flew by so fast but in the evening, me and Lee stood at one end of the garden at Deer Park and just had a moment taking it all in, watching our guests down at the pizza ovens and enjoying themselves. We said. "Look what we've created!". And the moment where we pushed the button to begin our fantastic fireworks display to Coldplay's A Sky Full of Stars. That was very overwhelming and a moment that we'll remember forever. It was like a dream. 

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What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?

I loved the whole wedding planning process and Lee was also a big help. I think the most challenging part was when we were let down by our venue decorators and at the same time, had a problem with the cars and photographers. So with only weeks to go, we changed cars, photographers and venue decorators all in one week! That was a very stressful time, but it all ended up being for the best and we were so pleased it turned out even better in the end. 

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What was the most important investment for you?

We had a budget, but it was hard to stick to. Especially as we kept adding things! It was important to have the very best photographers as the photos will last a lifetime... and the only thing we would have to remind us of our special day. We also invested in having two brilliant videographers for the whole day so we could watch all the things we missed. It's definitely worth it.

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What was your first dance song?

Our first dance song was A Thousand Years by Christina Perry. It was sung by Devon wedding singer, Ollie Stephens, as I walked into the church and down the aisle, so it was already special to us. Then we had the original track as our first dance. The lyrics are just perfect for a wedding and it's such an emotional song. I cried again during the first dance. 

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Tell us about the cake.

Lee has always called me 'his cupcake', so obviously we had to have cupcakes as our wedding cake. Plus there was more chance they would get eaten and a tower of them looked amazing. We had a heart shaped cake on the top which we cut. 

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

The whole day was so perfect for us, so I'm not sure we would go back and change anything. It ran so smoothly and we were so blessed with sun for most of the day. That's the only thing you can't guarantee. We made an effort to spend lots of time together too as its so easy for the day to just sweep past and not actually see much of each other. Maybe in hindsight, we wouldn't have gone for a bank holiday weekend as some of our guests were either away and then Radio 1's Big Weekend also happened a few miles away, although it didn't really affect us. We thought it would make the weekend longer for people but if we didn't have that weekend, we may have ended up with a rainy day! So again, we were very lucky. 

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Where did you go on honeymoon? 

We have been lucky to have seen some amazing parts of the world, but never been to the Caribbean. So we flew to Barbados and took a weeks' cruise round the Caribbean islands of St Lucia, St Kitts, St Maartan, Puerto Rico and St Thomas. Then we went back and stayed in Barbados for a few nights. It was paradise and a perfect honeymoon. 

We also have a second honeymoon booked for Las Vegas in a few weeks as this is one of our favourite holiday destinations and a special place for us. So I'm glad we can keep the celebrations going.

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What advice would you give couples planning their wedding?

Do plenty of research, go to wedding fayres and haggle costs. Weddings are so expensive, but if you can shave a few quid off each supplier, then it will all add up. And shop round for different quotes, as we found there can be big differences between them. You can also save a lot of money if you can do anything yourselves, plus it's good fun too. Although if something is important to you, then the cheapest isn't always the best.

Do loads of research on what you want from your big day and what's important to you. And personalise it as much as you can so it's different from any other wedding. 

Everyone says it, but it really is the fastest day of your life. So consciously make an effort to spend time together and take it all in. You definitely need to stop for a moment absorb it.

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Steal their style:

Photography: Venetia Norrington
Venue: Deer Park Country Hotel, Honiton
Flowers: Hollyhocks Florists, Fermoys Garden Centre
Dress & Suits: Serenity, Newton Abbot
Cars: Westcountry Limos & Cars, Plymouth
Videography: Abbey Video Productions, Plymouth
Band: Mafia 4
Singer: Ollie Stephens The Devon Wedding Singer
Decorations & Stationery: Pop Goes the Weasel
Make-up: Genevieve Satha Make Up
Hair: McKinlay Martin, Torquay
Cake: Carole's Cupcakes, Teignmouth

To see more Devon weddings, pick up your copy of South West Bride or read it online.

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