We were on a cruise with Nick’s parents and aunt, and halfway through the cruise we docked in the Bahamas. As far as I knew we were going to explore the port and maybe find a beach to relax on for a few hours, however Nick had something rather more special planned. Whilst sat round enjoying our breakfast, Nick ‘confessed’ that he had booked us all a surprise boat trip to go to the beach where Jaws was filmed. Everyone was very happily surprised – or at least his parents and aunt managed to act surprised, they’d known all his plans all along! In the Bahamas port we found a bar and waited for our boat to arrive. An amazing private speedboat had docked outside the bar and was ours for the day! We had an exhilarating 40 minute boat ride however it appeared to be slowing next to a tiny uninhabited island with a single palm tree on. Once the boat had stopped Nick asked me to stand up at the helm and then passed me his phone. On his phone was a map of this island we were docked next to – an island named ‘Goulding Cay’ (Nick’s surname)! As I turned around Nick was on one knee and asked me to marry him. There were a lot of tears and a muffled yes, it was the happiest moment ever! The sun was shining, and we spent the rest of the day on a completely empty beach celebrating our amazing engagement. Back on board the ship later we phoned my parents, who had known for the past 3 months that Nick was going to propose when he asked them for my hand and told them all of his plans! It was incredibly romantic and an amazing memory!
We had been to the Montagu Arm’s for Nikki’s birthday in 2016 and had an amazing meal and loved the atmosphere and feel of the whole place. As soon as we started looking at wedding venue’s we just knew we had to look round The Montagu Arms. The first time we looked round we felt at home. It was so relaxing and comfortable yet at the same time with incredible eye to detail and the staff could not do enough for you. Clara talked us through weddings at Montagu and she came across so organised and confident we just knew she would be an amazing wedding planner! The Montagu Arms classic design, with its relaxing beautiful interiors, stunning gardens and amazing food was the perfect and only choice for our wedding!
I found ‘the one’ at Romsey Bridal, after several weeks and months of trying on many beautiful but not quite right dresses. As soon as I put my dress on, I got goosebumps and welled up – I instantly knew it was THE dress. The detail in the lace and the beautiful low cut back with covered buttons was stunning, and I knew would fit with the classic, vintage feel at the Montagu. I found a thin belt made up of crystals and pearls (from Romsey Bridal) which I had sewn to my dress at my waist. I wore a cathedral length veil with small pearls dotted throughout also from Romsey Bridal, and had the most beautiful hair vine handmade out of crystals and pearls made by White Designs Bespoke Bridal Adornments. My best friend Josie bought me my beautiful ivory wedding shoes with silver design on from Marks and Spencers. I wore a silver tennis bracelet bought my Nick for me on our first anniversary, my maternal Nan Anne’s pearl drop earrings, my paternal Nan Phyllis’s ring and the obligatory blue and white garter! I also had Nick’s paternal Nan Jean’s gold necklace and his maternal Nan Rita’s pearly necklace wrapped around the bottom of my bouquet – ensuring all the Nan’s were with us on our special day!
Nick and his Groomsmen travelled to London to find the perfect suits. We had decided on a lighter waistcoat underneath a blue suit to fit both the venue and our summer wedding. Nick chose the most beautiful suits and had them tailored to all the Groomsmen and my Dad to ensure they fit perfectly for the day! Nick wore some Paul Smith shoes he bought especially for the wedding, and the cuff links I bought for him to celebrate a recent promotion of his.
Our Maid of Honour Nicole (my best friend), and Bridesmaids Sami and Beth (Nick’s 2 sisters) wore beautiful ‘dusty lilac’ floor length dresses which we found almost accidently at Wed2Be Southampton. It was pure luck we found the dresses and Wed2Be had to scour the UK to find the sizes we needed and have them sent to us. They were the most beautiful colour and the girls all looked stunning in them! Our Flower girl Winnifred (Sami’s daughter) wore a delicate white dress with small flowers on from Marks & Spencers, with a ribbon made from cut offs of the girls bridesmaid dresses to go around her waist. Sami had also found the perfect matching shoes from Clarks for her!
Our ceremony was held in the Oakwood Room at The Montagu Arms because we loved the intimate atmosphere and also how light it was thanks to the beautiful diamond shaped windows and the decor inside. We chose ‘Marry Me’ by Train as the Bridal entrance music which was perfect, and during our photographs and signing of the register had a compilation of acoustic songs playing in the background. We kept the ceremony simple with no readings (I think both Nick and I were so nervous we didn’t want to make it too long!), but had fantastic registrars who kept the ceremony romantic and had us laughing throughout. We laugh and tease each other throughout our relationship so a ceremony filled with love and laughter was perfect! We had simple decor, with no chair covers using Montagu’s beautiful chairs and had the focus on us at the front with our table flowers positioned at the front of the room. We love Montagu’s decor and felt we did not need any extra decorations as we did not want to take away from both the venue and us.
We had exclusive use of The Montagu Arms which allowed our guests to relax in the whole venue throughout our reception and thanks to the 32 degree heat on our wedding day, most guests spent the day and evening in the stunning gardens. We chose The Blue Lion Band to provide the evening’s musical entertainment and had a 7 piece band made up of 2 signers, guitarists, drummer, keyboard, saxophone and trombone to get the party started and going long into the night. The band were amazing, and despite the heat the dancefloor was full all night! Again we kept the decor to a minimum as we love The Montagu Arms decor already. We had a couple of confetti filled balloons and 2 large balloons with ‘Nikki’ and ‘Nick’ written on them and had a programme of the day, Royal Mail post box for cards, and candles in the reception area. We filled the Paris room with games and sweets for the children, and the saviour of the day was the ice cream machine we had set up in the conservatory with all manner of flakes, sauces and toppings! We had been lucky enough to win the hire of a beautiful free standing frame from Laurel Designs which our florist Jo Hicks and the venue cleverly hung from the large tree over the decking providing a perfect place for those all important photos and selfies! We also covered the railings of the decking in fairy lights which came on overnight giving a warm yellow, romantic glow. We cut our cake prior to our first dance which was a three tiered cake made by the amazing Sarah Louise Cakes. The three tiers were made up of Victoria sponge cake, carrot cake (chosen by Nick) and a chocolate cake with salted caramel frosting (chosen by Nikki).
Jo Hicks completed all our both our venue flowers and our bridal flowers – they were incredible. Jo’s eye for detail was amazing. We had lots of ivory in amongst lilacs in different shades both matching our bridesmaid dresses and contrasting with them beautifully. We had large centrepieces on each of our tables in stunning tall martini glass, and a long low flower design on our top table. The flowers were our main decoration and we beautiful. We also had some additions designed by Jo Hicks, some beautiful small bouquets hanging in milk bottles in the large tree over the decking outside of the bar. This added a romantic feel to the outside of the venue.
Wedding Breakfast Decor: For our favours we had a small, intricately designed lace cut out boxes filled with our favourite sweets (shrimps, bananas, Haribo hearts and rings and more!). Nikki made children’s activity books for each of the children filled with wedding related colouring pages, a personalised crossword and personalised wordsearch. We had photos of us across all of the tables. We named our table names from each place we visited on the cruise were we got engaged: Goulding Cay, Miami, Puerto Rica, Jamaica, Mexico, Grand Cayman, Grand Turk and Bahamas.
The day was the most perfect, happiest day of our lives! The whole day was incredible and there is nothing either of us would change. Nothing was too much for The Montagu Arms and they made our dreams come true! Everyone who attended had wonderful things to say about the whole day, one particular comment from an evening guest was that when they arrived they could instantly feel the happiness and love in the air. Our families and friends spent hours relaxing in the venue and had the best time. Nick and I were never without a glass of champagne and never had to ask for anything – it truly was the best day ever.
On arrival to the venue I was incredibly nervous, and very unfashionably early!! Andrew and Clara were brilliant keeping me up-to-date with what was going on and Andrew bringing me out a cooling glass of water to help with my nerves!
Nick had also found an app which allowed people to take and share all of their photos at the wedding and with the help of The Montagu Arms staff set up a TV connected to his laptop which pulled through all the photos from the app. Throughout the whole day and evening we had everyone’s photos of our wedding running on the TV screen, it was brilliant!
Our first song had been difficult for us to decide on thanks to our differing tastes in music so we compromised and had 2 first dances! Our first first dance was to ‘As You Are’ Rag and Bone Man, then we surprised everyone by our second first dance of ‘Golddigger’ Kanye West, reflecting our fun relationship full of laughter. Dancing to Golddigger in a wedding dress and suit certainly was a highlight of our evening- it was hilarious and set the tone for the whole evening!!
Photographs by Helen Rushton Photography.
Consider the Montagu Arms Hotel for your wedding venue in the New Forest. Pop by our Wedding Open Day on Sunday 18th November or contact Clara Earp today 01590 614981 to book your show around.
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