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Posted by Danielle Harvey on 24 November 2022
After meeting online, the first time Joseph set eyes on Francesca, he knew straight away that she was the one. "Joseph says that as soon as I opened the door to him and smiled for the first time, he knew he was going to marry me, however I took a little longer to realise this," admits Francesca.
At first, she thought the relationship wasn't likely to go anywhere because Joseph was just too good to be true. However, she changed her mind after confiding in a good friend. "I'm so glad I listened to them as they swiftly told me I was talking nonsense!"
Romance blossomed and when the time came, Joseph surprised Francesca by asking her to marry him during a trip away just before the first Covid lockdown. "Ever since we started dating, he'd always said he'd never propose on holiday. In fact, it became a running joke between us and whenever we went away, I'd always stop, as if to ask if this was the moment, or he'd get down on one knee, look up at me and then proceed to tie his shoelace. So when we went to Northern Ireland, the thought of him proposing was the furthest thing from my mind!" However, on a windy day, in a quiet spot while visiting The Giants Causeway, Joseph suddenly got down on one knee – and this time it was for real!
They set the date for 14th May 2022 and began the hunt for the perfect setting for their big day. They knew they wanted a barn venue with a laid-back vibe and fell in love with Alpheton Hall Barns in Suffolk. "The venue was beautiful and secluded with everything we wanted, including a separate ceremony room and the barn for the reception was full of character. We ended up getting married outside in the woodland area though, which we hadn't even seen when we first looked, and it was definitely the right decision. So many people commented on how beautiful the setting was," recalls Francesca.
Despite having a clear vision of what she wanted, Francesca struggled to find her dream dress. "I was sure I would know straight away but that wasn't the case. I was beginning to panic a little until I went to Pure Brides in Norwich and they couldn't have been more helpful."
She ended up going for a classic, A-line Essense of Australia dress, style D3080, the opposite to previous styles she'd tried on. "I was so glad I went with their recommended seamstress for my alterations too, as she was absolutely amazing!"
Joseph had a clear vision of what he wanted and found his three-piece green suit on ASOS.
"It was super-skinny and looked amazing with his red hair," adds Francesca.
The bridesmaids completed the picture in matching deep blue dresses.
"When I saw Joseph, my eyes filled with the happiest of tears. He cried too before I'd even got down the aisle and one of my favourite photos from the day is of him wiping his eyes," recalls Francesca.
"The ceremony was incredible.
Joseph says that seeing me walk down the aisle with our children was a memory he will never forget. It felt really special to include them and for the older two to be of an age that they will be able to remember it. We stood facing our guests for the ceremony which made the occasion feel even more intimate," she adds. Despite being overcast the day before, the weather was beautiful too with clear blue skies and glorious sunshine.
Their florist Nichola made eye-catching hoops with greenery and coloured ribbons to hang in the woods and then reuse for the reception afterwards. The bouquets were a mix of bright blooms and each of the matching buttonholes for the groom's party included a thistle in a nod to Joseph's Scottish roots.
The wedding car was actually Francesca's dad's. "It was a Volvo SP1800, the one The Saint used to drive to be precise.
It had been sat as a shell in a garage for more than 30 years and when Francesca asked her dad if she could have for the wedding, he made it his mission to get it ready.
It was a bit hairy as to whether it would be ready or not, right down to the day before!
Fortunately, it all worked out for the best and her dad drove them both to the ceremony," explains Joseph.
The table plan for the reception was a DIY affair made from a picture frame with strings and pegs for the printed names.
The floral centrepieces were also homemade combining small vases and tea light holders which Francesca decorated to go with the wedding colour scheme.
"I drew flowers and hearts on the vases and a zigzag pattern on the tea light holders, which matched the colours of the table names.
The tables were named after gig venues they'd been to during their relationship. "We got our children to write and decorate the table name cards as we loved the idea of them being involved and they were really excited to be part of the planning," explains Francesca.
"Music has always been an important part of our relationship and we named our top table The Village Underground as that was where we saw our first gig together."
As favours, they gave their guests personalised pots of Strawberry and Champagne Tiptree jam as it was one of Joseph's late mother's favourite flavours.
Special pin badges were also attached to the place names in aid of the charity they recently launched in memory of their son Felix who died of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
Their three-tier cake was a fresh take on the traditional with a bottom Snickers layer, followed by pistachio, white chocolate and raspberry and carrot cake on top, all decorated in keeping with the colourful, floral theme of the day.
The Asian-inspired food was another highlight with a selection of canapés, chicken pad Thai or vegetable green curry for the main course and pizza in the evening. "We filled up so much on the canapés that by the time we'd finished we could have gone without the main meal, although they were so delicious, I'm glad we didn't.
We never made it to the pizzas in the evening but we heard from our guests that they were outstanding. The bar was great too and we gave everyone tokens towards their drinks,” adds Francesca.
The Legends band nailed the evening entertainment. "We took ages deciding on who to go for and are happy we stumbled across these guys.
So many of our guests said how good the music was and how much they enjoyed themselves. We specifically asked the band to come as they would for a pub gig as we wanted the atmosphere to be relaxed and fun and for everyone to just party and enjoy themselves and they definitely did just that!
Joseph spent a long time compiling the playlist for during the day and after the band had finished.
“He was particularly proud that somehow it seamlessly went from Peter Andre’s Mysterious Girl to Rage Against the Machine’s protest song Killing In the Name.
It shouldn’t have worked but somehow it did!” laughs Francesca.
They also had a photo booth which was great fun for adults and children alike. "It also provided us with photo memories we can keep forever including some that people don't even remember being taken!"