Lorna admits being very shy when she met Mike for the first time at work she says, “I’m pretty sure I blushed and stuck my head in my computer when he said hi to me.” Their colleagues soon noticed they’d taken a shine to each other: “We used to get tea together every day, and I’m sure many people saw the connection before we admitted to it!” Their first date was a bike ride in Swinley Forest. Lorna says, “Mike forgot the bike pump, and we ended up walking and chatting instead. We found the most gorgeous spot and talked for hours”.

Lorna’s funniest memory of their time dating is another outdoor activity; this time, skydiving: “Mike ignored all his safety training and jumped out looking back at me, waving and singing! I won’t tell you what song though!”

Popping the question

Mike proposed on Bonfire Night, the anniversary of their kiss. He took Lorna back to Swinley Forest, and they hired Segways; “it was so much fun”, Lorna remembers. Afterwards, Lorna and Mike went for a walk in the woods. Lorna started to worry about getting lost as it gradually got dark. But then, as they reached the top of a hill she could see the path leading down to the gate ahead was lit by candlelight from the trees.

When they reached the gate, Lorna could see the whole area was covered with jars of flickering candles. They were “…on the floor, way up high in the trees – it was so beautiful!” she says.

Just as Mike got down on one knee, a couple who were lost asked them for directions. Lorna says, “We were a little distracted and could maybe have been more helpful!”

And the surprises didn’t stop there: “Mike proposed and made me shout, ‘YES.’ When I did, fireworks started, and our friends came running out of the woods with Champagne. We all watched the fireworks, drank Champagne and hugged! It was so special, Mike proposed at the same spot where we had talked for so many hours. It was all those thoughtful things that made it perfect.”

Choosing a wedding venue

Atmosphere and good food were the most important things for Lorna and Mike when it came to choosing a wedding venue. Lorna says seeing Gaynes Park for the first time gave her a warm feeling, like getting a hug! She loved the relaxed and personal service, and thinks, Gaynes Park is “the perfect size and it can feel intimate even with many guests. The grounds are beautiful; the staff could not have done more, and the food was amazing. She also liked the fact that there was an area for each part of the day and guests could wander round and not be stuck in one place.

I think future couples will be very lucky to have the accommodation at Gaynes Park. It’s a huge plus to have your closest friends and family staying over so you can have one last drink with them and relax before heading to the Apple Loft.”

Lorna and Mike wanted a Christmas wedding but were conscious of guests having enough time to travel home for Christmas day. The last Saturday before Christmas was already booked, so they chose Friday 21st. Lorna says, “The sun came out that day, we were very lucky.”

Their wedding ceremony

Lorna thought the Orangery at Gaynes Park was so beautiful they didn’t need to do too much: “the gardens are a wonderful backdrop, and the painted green wall is perfect”. They simply added berried ivy with hurricane lanterns behind the registrar and filled the room with as many of our engagement candles as possible. Lorna says, “It was important that it was candlelit; we just felt it was a simple way to add a romantic and Christmassy feel.”

Lorna’s favourite memory of their ceremony is Mike whispering how beautiful she looked and that he loved her as she approached the Orangery. She remembers, “I couldn’t see anything else but his face, as nervous as I was with everyone watching me. When I saw him, it was just Mike and me in the room”.

Lorna’s and Mike’s wedding outfits

Lorna’s dress was a style called ‘Jennifer’ by Forget Me Not, which she bought from Confetti Bridal, Wokingham. The vintage look lace gown flared out slightly below the knee and was fastened solely by buttons. Lorna recalls, “I had tried many dresses on and I just felt like I was dressing up! I put this dress on and I finally felt perfect! I loved that it was just about the cut, wasn’t overly fancy or fluffy… I felt like a lady.”

Lorna chose to keep her accessories simple she says, “As I think it can get a bit busy with a lace gown, so I kept it to earrings and a hair comb. My earrings were a very special gift: baguette and round diamonds, to match my engagement ring and wedding band, with fresh water pearls. I will cherish them forever!

To compliment her earrings, she chose a special handmade hair comb from Liberty in Love. The comb was made with Swarovski marquise cut crystal gemstones, ivory pearls and sand opal crystal: “I loved the style; it was simple and sparkly.”

Mike picked his outfit, along with his shoes, which cost more than Lorna’s! His suit was a bespoke Italian – black with a blue lining. It even had their wedding date sewn into the inside pocket.

Lorna’s Bridesmaids

Lorna’s Bridesmaid was her best friend Kelly, who she’s known since she was 5-years-old. Her two Flower Girls were Kelly’s daughters, who Lorna loves so much. Kelly was a fantastic bridesmaid. Lorna says, “If I were her I don’t think I could have put up with me! I was very nervous, and she looked after me as she always does.”

Kelly’s dress was from a bridal shop in Blackwater called Bride & Proms. The girl’s dresses were from Debenhams. Kelly says, “I just wanted Kelly to have a dress she felt good in. To be honest, I hadn’t even decided on a colour till we placed the order, so it didn’t fit a theme.

Mike’s groomsmen

Lorna and Mike wanted to keep things small, so Mike just had his Best Man, Aidan. Lorna says Aidan was fantastic: “I gave him three jobs on the day, best man, witness, and he also made all the announcements.”

Decorating Gaynes Park

Lorna says even now she has no idea what her wedding theme was (“I just picked the things I liked and went with it”}. She wanted a simple Christmas feel with candles. And was keen on the vintage look because it’s timeless and elegant.

In the Mill Barn, Lorna and Mike just decorated the tables. Each table had a crystal globe on a mirrored base covered with crystals and candles and circled with ivy and red berries. The top table had about 20 candles and a low crystal globe with ivy sweeping round one side of the table. Lorna says, “This was my favourite bit of the décor! I loved the top table”.

White chocolate wedding cake

The wedding cake was a white chocolate-covered four-tier cake filled with red berries. The sponge was three different flavours: pistachio and marmalade, carrot and chocolate and Bailey’s. Lorna says, “It truly was so much more delicious than it looked, and it looked fab!”

Wedding reception food

Lorna and Mike chose, “the legendary scotch egg, it was AMAZING”. The newly-wed Mr & Mrs Lamb served lamb (“being Mr & Mrs Lamb, we had no choice!”) for their main course with dauphinoise potatoes and winter vegetables. Dessert was the shortbread tower with raspberries and cream. In the evening they had a hog roast, which Lorna says, “went down particularly well with the sparklers!”

The wedding speeches

Lorna was looking forward to the speeches because both Mike and Aidan have a way with words. She had no idea what Mike was going to say, and says, “He can be a bit troublesome, so I was nervous! Apart from talking about the end of the word, the Olson twins and saying I was as determined as Fidel Castro, he managed to make a very loving speech!”

Aidan’s speech, on the other hand, made Mike sweat, “rightly so too!” says Lorna: “Mike has spent years causing all sorts of trouble, and it was time for payback. I particularly liked that he told everyone about Mike’s car that was stolen, and he hadn’t noticed for a week and had not told anyone about it.”

Evening Reception and dancing

We booked our friends five piece function band; they were so much fun, and our guests stayed up on the dance floor till the end!” says Lorna. The couple’s first dance was to ‘Feels Like Home’ by Edwina Hayes. It was a song that they used to listen to when they first got together and so it feels special even though it’s not a typical wedding song or one that people would know. Lorna says they certainly didn’t plan a routine, “Mike always tells me the things he’s bad at are dancing and languages, so just getting him on the dance floor was a win. We danced for a minute or so and asked our guests to join us. It was nice to be sharing our dance with our family. Especially my Nan and Gramps who have now been married 57 years!

Did everything go according to plan?

Lorna says that any hiccups along the way didn’t seem worth worrying about: “it was the most wonderful day. It’s all about the marriage really, and Gaynes Park is just a perfect backdrop and no matter what happens they will make sure your day is beautiful.

I honestly don’t feel Gaynes Park could have done more. I was so pleased with all the help I received with the planning. The food lived up to our high expectations after the tasting evening, and all those with dietary requirements (we had a few!) were very happy.

Things just happened; I look back at pictures and think how/when did they do that/move that… the staff makes such a difference, and you can enjoy your day.”

The best part of the day

Lorna says for her one of the best parts of the day was the Long Walk and then seeing Mike waiting at the end of the Garden Aisle, “looking gorgeous and smiling at me”. The beautiful gardens and music playing made Lorna feel totally emotional: “it was the most perfect moment, the perfect day – perfect husband! I could go on, but I won’t 😉