Real Weddings

Claire and Oli.

What’s your very first memory of the love of your life? Was it that magical moment your eyes meet across a crowded bar? Did their smiling face catch your eye when you were swiping left? Or could it be the time you pushed them down the slope of the school playing field…?

To be fair, Claire was very young at the time – in primary school, to be precise, at the same time as Oli.

“Clearly, I had the hots for him even back then,” she says. However, despite her best efforts at flirting, Oli moved to a different school.

“We lost touch until we found ourselves at the same sixth form. We became good friends, and even tried dating very briefly, but it didn’t work out.

“For the next 10 years we remained close. One night, while I was hosting a New Year’s Eve party for all of our friends, Oli plucked up enough Dutch courage to lean in for a kiss. This was met with a very firm slap. However, in the face of my best efforts, I ended up falling for him and we began dating. Two and a half years later, halfway up a mountain in Bulgaria, he got on one knee to propose, and I said yes.”

With hills and mountains featuring so strongly in this couple’s love story we half-expected to hear that they’d tied the knot at the crest of some grassy knoll. In fact, the ceremony was held at Rockbeare Manor in Exeter – a beautiful manor house with exceptional grounds, with plenty of room for friends and family to stay over. 

“It was great value,” says Claire, “and the entire team were so helpful with preparations for our day.”

The wedding was a sizeable, fun-filled affair, with hilarious speeches, laughter and dancing, along with ‘Oli and Claire’ games on the tables  “which got all the guests talking”. But for both bride and groom, the standout memory is the moment they exchanged their vows in front of all their family and friends. 

“I know it’s a cliché, but it was such an amazing feeling to see Oli at the end of the aisle, knowing I would be spending the rest of my life with him.”

So, what pearls of wisdom would Claire, who works for the M&S food supply chain, and Oli, a risk manager for a consultancy and training company, pass on to anyone wanting an equally happy and relaxed wedding day?

“Organising a wedding can be stressful, but don’t let it ruin your day,” says Claire, who admits that she relishes making a plan. “We created a schedule which had the whole day mapped out, minute by minute. This was sent out to all the wedding party beforehand, so everyone knew the schedule and what they had to do. However, getting the groomsmen to actually read it proved an impossible task…

“We had a few hiccups which, pre-wedding, would have stressed me out. But you just need remember why you are there, and enjoy every little moment; it’s over before you know it. My sister, who was also my maid of honour, did an incredible job at handling any issues that came up throughout the day, which we only became aware of later. So, I’d say that allowing close friends and family to tackle the small things will help make sure you are free to enjoy your wedding to the fullest.”

Images supplied thanks to Storybox Wedding and Film Photography