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A lunch date blossomed into romance for Ella and Tom. After meeting online in 2010, they arranged to meet up in for a meal in London and got on so well they spent the whole day together sight-seeing, ending with their first kiss at Waterloo station. "That night Tom sent me a text to say he was very taken with me and we had our second date just two days later," recalls Ella. Tom eventually popped the question in August 2018 in Mexico, one of Ella's favourite places. "He made me wait quite a long time," she laughs. "I was chilling out on the terrace after a day of sunbathing and he was inside, claiming he'd had enough of the heat. Little did I know he was setting up a camera to record the proposal." He set everything up with the ring on the bed surrounded by rose petals before asking her to marry him. He even timed it perfectly to make sure it wasn't too late to call home and share the news. As a final surprise he also arranged a private candlelight dinner on the beach to celebrate.
They booked the wedding for 9th August, 2019 at Sopley Mill near Christchurch. Ella had her heart set on the venue from the get go. "I knew it was where I wanted to get married. It's so different and I loved the idea of having parts of the day on each floor. It's beautiful without decoration and even more so when you put your own stamp on it," she explains. They stayed nearby the night before and Ella and her dad travelled to the venue in a vintage VW Beetle while the bridesmaids, Tom and his groomsmen arrived in a Campervan.
On the wedding morning, Ella stayed cool and collected, chilling with her bridal party. "I felt really calm, which unnerved everyone else," she jokes. "I had such a great time with my girls, mum and make-up artist that I didn't really get the jitters." Her lace and tulle Essence of Australia dress complemented the venue and wedding theme. "I loved the Bardot-style neckline and I knew it was the one as soon as I tried it on." She added a pair of sparkly Jimmy Choo heels and carried a bouquet of David Austin roses with a flower crown to match and a pink denim jacket, hand-painted with 'Mrs' on the back, for the evening. Tom sported a check Ted Baker suit with a pink waistcoat which tied in with their blush colour scheme. The groomsmen and Ella's dad wore the same and the bridesmaids completed the picture in lace and tulle soft pink dresses.
Ella left no stone unturned when it came to the personal touches to make the day their own; even down to a 'Mr and Mrs Ringer' stencil for the coffees served from a barista bike in the evening. "My bridesmaids laughed at me as they said I'd thought of everything from the coffee topper to personalised hangover kits for our hotel guests!"
The wedding favours were sachets of Tajin seasoning, in a nod to Ella's love of Mexico and their engagment. "As I'm a Spanish teacher too I wanted to reflect it in the wedding and share a little bit of Mexico with our guests," she explains. Inspired by their love of travel, the tables were named after favourite places they'd been to together, with photos of them in each country.
Ella made personalised menus which doubled up as place names and included guests' individual meal choices. Pink napkins and gold charger plates added an extra pop of colour.
The venue was filled with flowers, including jam jars of blush roses and foliage dotted around and used as centrepieces for guests to take home at the end of the night. "I still dream about our flowers, they were so beautiful," Ella recalls. "My friend made huge paper flowers for inside the mill and we had photos of us from our nine years together hanging up downstairs. We also had a flower wall inside as a photo backdrop for selfies and giant floral LOVE letters outside that people posed with all day.
"My uncle's sister and her husband made us the most incredible cake decorated with macarons and flowers. It had champagne and strawberry, raspberry and white chocolate and lemon and lime flavoured tiers and we had a handmade box to display it."
"We got married at 12.30 so we wanted to provide lots of entertainment to keep our guests amused. We hired a caricaturist who was amazing and everyone loved getting involved. We also had a coconut shy and buzz wire on the lawn," says Ella. "My mum and dad, along with our amazing wedding coordinator Anna, also arranged our singing waiters."
The guyswere there all day serving drinks and food and after the dessert they gave a surprise performance. At first, I had no idea what was happening; it was amazing, the whole place came alive!"
After the meal Sangria was served, they had a traditional ice cream van too and a burger bar with all the trimmings for the evening along with the barista bike serving coffee and cake. The DJ kept the party buzzing and included a Spice Girls mega-mix from the hen party which the bride tribe performed for everyone. "I loved hitting the dancefloor with all my friends, my dad even did a surprise DJ set," Ella adds.