When, at the tender age of 15 Charlene and Lee attended the school prom together, it’s unlikely that either of them seriously imagined that their love would grow, and grow, and grow… and that one day they would become husband and wife! There’s nothing we like better than a real-life love story, so thanks go to Charlene and Lee for allowing us a glimpse of their special day, to Kathryn Edwards, their professional wedding photographer for sharing these wonderful photos, and to Southdowns Manor, the beautiful venue for their nuptials.
Choosing Southdowns Manor had not been a difficult decision for Lee and Charlene; while researching their perfect venue, they attended an open evening there and knew instantly that it was exactly what they were looking for. They had wanted somewhere elegant yet modern, with gorgeous grounds and with overnight accommodation for their family and friends. As Charlene explains, ‘as soon as we walked through the doors we looked at each other and thought wow, this is it!’
The bridal party took over the luxurious bridal suite for their final preparations, making the most of this special time together. It’s often the little things that make a difference, and we love the thoughtful touches put in place such as the personalised wooden hangers for the bridal gown and bridesmaids dresses, each one decorated with the words Maid of Honour, the bridesmaid’s name, and the date.
Charlene says they wanted their wedding to be a beautiful blend of shabby chic, coupled with a natural colour theme of muted greys, vintage pinks and silver, but still with plenty of sparkle. From start to finish they achieved this mix perfectly; the vintage pink roses in the bouquets, the gorgeous grey of the bridesmaids dresses… and the light-catching diamonds of the bride’s and flower girl’s tiaras, the ornate sequin work of the bridesmaid’s bodices, and hiding under her floor-length gown, these pretty silver sandals.
You’d never know it, but one of these stunning dresses had a last-minute mishap, as the zip broke just moments before the bridesmaid needed to be ready! To save the day (and her blushes), the wedding planner did a speedy on-the-spot repair by sewing her in to her dress; and an excellent job she made of it too!
Meanwhile, the groom and his ushers were getting ready too, and looking very dapper indeed in their traditional morning suits.
While weddings are the ultimate celebration of love and happiness, these joyous times of togetherness often bring other emotions to the foreground, particularly the feelings of loss for those who are no longer with us to celebrate. So, sensing how important it was to both them and their families, Charlene and Lee took great care to pay their respects to two greatly loved family members who were keenly missed at their wedding celebrations, while not detracting from the romance of the day.
In remembrance of Lee’s father, Charlene had arranged some heart-felt surprises for her husband-to-be. On the day of their wedding, she presented him with Lee’s dad’s watch to wear, which she had had specially cleaned, along with his father’s flask, engraved with a message.
They also reserved him a seat in the front row of their ceremony, with a photo in a heart-shaped frame and a single white rose.
Lee’s buttonhole was also a touching mark of respect, with the addition of his father’s photo in a miniature pendant.
Southdowns Manor has two settings licensed for weddings and civil partnerships, and Charlene and Lee chose to exchange their wedding vows in the Banqueting Suite, the larger of the two rooms, with space for up to 150 guests.
Lee and Charlene’s seven year old son played a vital part in the proceedings, being included every step of the way. One of his very important jobs was to present the rings to his mum and dad during the ceremony, and no doubt utterly charming all the guests in the process!
With the ceremony over, the newlyweds led their guests out into the gardens, signalling the start of the reception celebrations.
While their friends and family enjoyed catching up with each other, helped along with a few glasses of bubbly and a delicious selection of canapes, the photographer, Kathryn Edwards, was able to capture some fabulous shots of the happy couple alone and with their wedding party.
With everyone gathered together it was time to commemorate the other individual sadly missed; in the October before the wedding, Charlene and Lee lost their baby daughter, a little sister to their son. As a family, they released two helium balloons up to Heaven, in remembrance of their baby girl.
Once the wedding photo shoot was completed, the children had had a chance to run around and play in the gorgeous gardens and the guests had shared a relaxed reception, it was time to move back inside for the wedding breakfast.
The Banqueting Suite had been transformed from ceremonial hall into an elegant dining room, each table looking exquisite, ready for the delicious three-course wedding breakfast. Charlene and Lee opted for elegant simplicity in the decoration, with white die-cut wedding favour boxes for each guest, and delicate hummingbirds sitting prettily on the wine glasses.
With not one, not two, not three, but four tiers to their wedding cake, Lee and Charlene had chosen a spectacular cake with which to wow their guests. The dove grey satin ribbons and delicate icing decoration looked so pretty that it almost seemed a shame to cut into it, but in time-honoured tradition they joined hands and did just that.
When asked about her favourite part of the day, Charlene replied, ‘of course every girl dreams of walking down the aisle but the best part of the our day was when the music started. Everyone was on the dance floor until the music ended.’
During the evening, the Southdowns Manor team brought out an indulgent selection of late night cheeses and biscuits, which were enjoyed by all the family and friends.
For Charlene and Lee, this had been the day of their dreams. In Charlene’s own words, ‘the whole day was amazing!’ With a special acknowledgement to the dedication of her father she goes on, ‘we wouldn’t have had our dream wedding, and I wouldn’t have become the princess my dad always called me, if it wasn’t for him!’ Aww, there’s little doubt he was unbelievably proud of his daughter too.
Of course, a wedding is just one day of celebration, usually over far too quickly. The marriage that follows is the ongoing testament to the love and commitment of the couple, and we are always thrilled when we get some ‘what happened next’ details.
The delightful next stage for this happy couple is that just one week after the wedding, Charlene fell pregnant with a little baby boy. As Charlene explains, ‘this rainbow baby has completed our family and us, as a married couple.’
Thank you, Charlene and Lee for filling us in on the next chapter of your lives together; we wish you every happiness. Now, just look at the bond between these brothers and try telling me that your heart isn’t melting!
You too can make your wedding day dreams come true at Southdowns Manor; if you’d like to know more, just get in touch!