"We met around 19 years ago in one of Telford's established night clubs that held a "Gay night". I saw Claire busting her moves to Kung Fu Fighting and fell in love there and then. We became friends but nothing more as we both had partners, also Claire didn't know I had feelings for her! Unfortunately or fortunately our paths did not cross again for another 15 years after that, however thanks to the realms of social media our paths crossed once again. Within 2 weeks of being in touch I knew I was in trouble as my heart had remembered exactly where it had left off from seeing Claire. As soon as I saw her I knew that my life would change and she would be in it for the rest of my days.
Within 2 months we were living together within 4 months we were engaged. I proposed the day before Claire's 40th birthday in one of our favourite places (Brighton). Claire would like to say (as its all about me currently) that as soon as she met me she knew she was going to marry me, so when I proposed it was always going to be a "YES".
We finally set a date for 23rd June 2017 as this was around one of Claire's most favourite times of the year the Summer solstice and Glastonbury, being a young old hippy at heart. Also I found out so she could drag me there one day for an anniversary celebration (Glamping ONLY!) We married on Friday 23rd June 2017 which meant we were together approx. 3 and a half years before we finally said "I DO". One thing I didn't believe would ever happen happened to me when I found Claire again, also it made me realise why we found each other again after all these years and several relationships past. She is my soul mate and I am hers. It really does exist!
As many couples experience trials and tribulations along the way normally not of their doing, which is most certainly what we experienced, from loss of family members to buying a house together, starting a new job(s). Every single day we woke up saying how lucky we were and how we didn't want the bubble to burst. Every day is still exactly like that sometimes just when we think love surely cannot show us any other dimension of emotion it does. The planning commenced back in August 2016 when we arranged to register our intention to marry. We thought we had it sussed, we turned up not actually knowing where we wanted to get married which of course was an issue as the registrar could not assist us any further. So she sent us away advising us to confirm a venue before coming back to register our intention to marry (which by the way was an amazing feeling knowing this was something same sex couples could actually do).
On our rebooking at Wellington registrar we met a wonderful registrar named Toby Dignum, who Claire and I slightly fell in love with. He was just the perfect person to marry us, although we didn't know it at the time we were actually able to ask for him personally to marry us on our special day. What was even more amazing for us both was that Toby came with a very good recommendation of a fantastic photographer his husband Phil Dignum. How lucky were we!"
"We finally both agreed after Claire's extensive research to look at Hadley Park House, it was perfect exactly what we wanted small, intimate, accessible for a lot of our family and friends, also with great staff. The food taster meal was just beautiful."
"Claire being the young old hippy that she is didn't want the traditional wedding gown with a long train or vail, so the on set of finding something that fitted her style was slightly stressful to say the least. After around 8 different wedding dresses/bohemian style dresses tried and sent back she finally found THE ONE! Shoes and accessories closely followed without any dramas.
I however found mine in one shop in Birmingham at the Wedding Quarter, third dress on that was it I was done shoes included! The fact that we brought our dresses and shoes separately didn't seem to be an issue they complimented each other perfectly."
"The most beautiful moment was that we both got to walk down separately with our Dads, then seeing each other at the beginning and at the end of the alter. What an emotion we would both have loved to have bottled for others to experience it was just perfect.
I read "Love is a temporary madness" as part of our vows. Claire got to blame her memory loss to believing she was being given the wrong ring by the best lady! That was a moment beautifully captured by Phil it was just fantastic."
"The whole day was the most single perfect day for both of us, there is so many things and people that made the day just blow us away. It was the most special moment of our life.
From my brother the best man seriously embarrassing me to the hill and having the whole wedding party crying with genuine laughter and slightly falling in love with him. To the speech by Claire's Dad reiterating what we already knew (how much he loves his only little girl) what a star! Leading on to the evening where my brother. and our respective father in laws bursting into the disco to "Its Raining Men" dressed in my sisters dresses dancing around a handbag."
"Advice for couples planning their wedding; just do what "You" want to do......don't get drawn into tradition, express yourself in your wedding plans trust me it works."
"Ain't No Body" by Rufus and Chaka Khan was just the perfect first dance song for us (Claire's choice) which happened to be the most apt song we could have danced to as wife and wife."
From the moment we arranged to see Phil including the pre-wedding shoot, Phil seemed to know us he knew what made us both tick almost as if we were friends. He made us feel at ease as we are both camera shy, but knew we wanted a photographer who captured the whole day. Phil stayed past his time slot capturing so much more than we could have imagined, we didn't even know he was there. Phil gave us such calmness from getting ready together to deciding how we wanted the photographs, to how much time we wanted to spend being photographed.
We cannot recommend Phil enough he's not only a professional talented photographer, but a genuinely lovely person who we were slightly sad that we may not get to see him and Toby again. Phil even gave us some lovely surprises with regards to sending us a few photographs through the post with a beautiful memory stick and album.
Claire's Dress - Monsoon Bridal
Verona's Dress & Shoes - The Wedding Quarter in Birmingham
Photographer - Philip Dignum Photography
Hair Stylist - Zary Stevens
Make Up Artist - Hannah West
Cake - Bake It Special
Venue - Hadley Park House
Florist - Ginger Lily
Best Man - Stephen Cooper (Verona's Brother)
Best Lady - Deb Kelly
Wedding Planner - Kirsty Childs (Hadley Park House)
Master of Ceremonies - Franca (Hadley Park House)
Guitarist - Derek Brooke
DJ / Photo Booth - Mr Gee
Chair Sachs & Table Runners including Wishing Well - Simply Beautiful
Everything else from eBay & Hobby Craft