Wedding of the Week: Tanya Gledhill and Dale Bradley

21 Aug 2017

For an informal beach wedding, this happy couple found a perfectly personal setting on Tresco, Isles of Scilly

How did you meet?

At a bonfire party 10 years previously, though we weren’t a couple until two years later.

Tell us about the proposal.

We’d organised our wedding very secretly a few months beforehand, and we’d chosen my engagement ring, but there was no formal proposal at the time. Just a sort of, “shall we get married?”. Our lovely daughter Bee, aged four, wandered into our kitchen a few days before the wedding with a beautiful aquamarine Anja Potze ring box tied up with cream silk and said: “Dad says are you still OK to marry him on Saturday?”. It was perfect. Unfussy, funny, heartwarming, and so us.

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

Tresco is such a special place for us; we spend our days out on the water, having picnics on the beach and eating supper at our favourite restaurants. We’ve been holidaying there for a number of years; first as a couple, then with our two girls for the past eight years, and so our theme was really just island life - blue sea, blue skies and island flowers.

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

It's not a traditional story, partly because no-one knew we were getting married, so we didn’t have the huge build-up of traditional weddings and I couldn’t take anyone with me dress shopping. We’d been so flat out working (I run my own PR agency, and my husband runs his own landscaping business) and looking after our girls that I’d honestly not even thought about a dress. I had a pretty clear idea about what I wanted and so naively, a few weeks beforehand, I’d trawled some bridal shops - and found nothing. And then, a couple of days before we flew out, I popped into Phase Eight and found a beautiful, knee-length, ivory, embellished lace dress which I knew would be perfect for the day. A floor-length gown just didn’t seem right for our unfussy day, and I knew we’d be jumping on and off boats and walking up the beach. It’s why our girls wore tiny pink, sparkly Converse - I’d have done the same if I could have got away with it, but I had a pair of very high silver peep-toes from Rainbow Nation, which I carried most of the day.

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Where did you find your suits?

Dale and his best man and closest friend, Josh Gisevicius, wore knee-length navy shorts and blue striped shirts with pink cuffs from Crew, with Sebago deck shoes. Again, not your traditional attire, but perfect for us and the day.

Tell us about your floral arrangements

Steph Haggerty is an amazing florist and lives on St Martin’s, a neighbouring island. I found her through our friends at Boro Farm on Tresco. I’d asked her to create a simple bouquet for me and two for our little girls, just using island flowers - beautiful blue agapanthus and hydrangea are so redolent of Scilly. But she also grew cosmos, sweet peas and love-in-the-mist in her garden for us - flowers that my late sister, Lois, had adored - and she wove those in too, each tied up with hessian ribbon and tiny pearlescent heart buttons. The posies were stunning, and because each of the blooms had so many memories, it made it incredibly special.

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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.

When we’re on Tresco, we always hire a catamaran from Richard Drew at Isles of Scilly Boat Hire, and I’d called to book as usual. Richard told us all of his boats were already booked, and of course, we panicked. He asked why we needed it so urgently and so I had to tell him that we were getting married on neighbouring St Mary’s, and needed a boat to get there. He said we weren’t to worry, that he’d give us his boat for the day, and a driver. So imagine how shocked and excited we were when, on the morning of the wedding, Richard and his wife, Sheila, and one of his lads, Joe, came whizzing into the bay on their enormous new amphibious SeaLegs rib, decorated with beautiful pink and white wedding ribbons. It was the most wonderful gesture - so typical of the generosity and friendliness of the Scillonians, and Richard in particular - and they drove up the beach, James Bond-style, to collect us, delivering us to the registry office in similar style. It was incredibly exciting. Our brilliant photographer, Chris Hall, was in his boat alongside us, ripping across the bay, and made us feel like celebrities as he zoomed alongside, taking photographs. It was an incredible day, and so, so special thanks to Richard’s amazing boat. We can’t thank him enough.

Faye Page, a wonderful jeweller on neighbouring St Martin’s, made our white gold wedding rings for us, and my beautiful pebble earrings (though I also wore my grandmother’s diamond studs during the day). Dale had bought me one of her bracelets on our first trip to Scilly eight years before, and another for my 40th birthday, which I wear every day, and so her work had always had a special place in our hearts. My wedding band is beautifully simple, just a delicate band which looks beautiful underneath my single diamond engagement ring. Dale had asked Faye to make his wedding band look as worn as possible, and she came up with a wide, beaten white gold band that suits him perfectly.

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How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?

There was no aisle to walk down, but walking from our cottage to the Ruin Beach Cafe, where we were to meet our photographer, Chris Hall, and jump on the boat, I felt strangely nervous. We’d been together for such a long time, I didn’t expect it. But I was incredibly shaky on the walk down - partly I think because I’d not had a minute to myself in the morning because I’d been so busy getting the girls into their bridesmaids' dresses and brushing hair and cleaning teeth etc - usual mummy stuff. I think I spent the entire walk fussing over the girls so I didn’t have time to think about anything. And then when we got down to The Ruin and met Chris, and best man, Josh, opened the first bottle of champagne, and my sisters arrived, and the sun was shining, all my nerves disappeared and I just felt this incredible rush of happiness and excitement. We both did.

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What was your most memorable moment?

Apart from Richard’s amazing amphibious rib SeaLegs delivering us to the registry office and back like film stars, there were a few....

  • We’d told my two sisters, Fiona Ricketts and Zoe Kirk, about a week before the wedding that we were getting married, and they secretly booked flights and accommodation and turned up. The night before the wedding, we walked into the New Inn, Tresco’s only pub, for supper, and there they were, with Fiona’s husband, Chris, and my niece, Cala. It was brilliant, and turned what we thought was going to be a quiet, simple affair into a proper party and a day to remember forever.
  • Saying our vows was very moving, too. Our readings were from Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres and I Will Be Here by Stephen Curtis Chapman and the registrar very sweetly let Bee sign the register too, so her little four-year-old moniker will be there to remind us just how small she was. Both Dale and I cried almost all of the way through, as did my sisters. It was truly wonderful.
  • Dale is a mad-keen kayaker, so the boys all went sea kayaking after lunch on our wedding day, and we had a barbecue at the house in the evening with the neighbours, and it just struck me then, that this really was our perfect day - no fuss, no great starchy speeches and fancy wedding cakes - just us, doing what we love most with the people we love the most with no pressure and no stress.

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What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?

Organising everything remotely was a bit nerve-wracking. We’d only seen photos of the registry office, we had no idea whether our wedding rings would fit, we didn’t know if we’d gel with Chris and a last-minute tide glitch meant we had to ask him to pick up the flowers from St Martin’s quay on the way over to meet us. Which he did. Again, it’s typical of the nothing’s-too-much-trouble mentality of the islanders, and everyone involved - Richard, Steph, Faye and Chris, made it all so stress-free. Everything went so smoothly.

What was the most important investment for you?

Our wedding - as you might imagine - cost a fraction of formal, traditional affairs, though the islands aren’t a cheap destination by any means. But money wasn’t the driving factor for us. It was about Dale and I and our daughters, Beatrix (four) and Georgia (two) being together, sealing our love in our favourite place with our favourite people. My only stipulation was that we were all to drink the finest champagne all day, and we did, and ate incredible food on the terrace at The Ruin in glorious sunshine while the girls built sandcastles on the beach and paddled in the sea.

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

We didn’t have a first dance. Though at our wedding party when we got home - in a marquee, in a field, with a ceilidh band on a 1950s flatbed truck as a stage, with bunting and wood-fired pizzas and a rare-breed hog roast - the band played Galway Girl for us, which always gets everyone up dancing. It was a cracking night.

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

Absolutely nothing. It was perfect. Though I think we might have liked a proper wedding video, as well as the stills. It’s so hard to remember everything, because the day goes so quickly.

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Was there anything you wish you’d known before?

I wish I’d started thinking about my dress sooner. Although the one I ended up with was great, I never really felt it was ‘the one’, and I feel I missed out on that.

Where did you go on honeymoon?

We stayed in our cottage on Tresco for a week afterwards. When you’re both self-employed, it’s difficult to get away from the business for any more than a week at at time.

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

Make your day about you, and you alone. You don’t have to invite Great Aunt Mabel and second cousin Derek who you haven’t seen for 20 years. It’s not about them. Avoiding family politics reduces stress considerably, and although people might be cross about your guest list at the time, those who love you will understand, and will get over it in time.

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Steal their style:

Chris Hall Photography, St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly, www.chrishallphotographyuk.com
Floristry: Steph Haggerty, St Martin’s, Isles of Scilly, www.islandbrideflowers.com
Boat: Isles of Scilly Boat Hire, Bryher, Isles of Scilly, www.islesofscillyboathire.com
Catering: Ruin Beach Cafe, Tresco, Isles of Scilly, www.tresco.co.uk/eating-on-tresco/ruin-cafe

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

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