Karen Luck and James Marks sealed their commitment with a countryside wedding

When asked how they met, Karen and James often use a line from a Rihanna track. “We say that we found love in a hopeless place,” explains Karen, “although the actual place was Vodka Revolution in Reading!” Karen’s friend (and future matron of honour) Rachael holds a successful reputation of playing matchmaker, and she thought that her best friend would be the perfect girl for James. His tall, dark and handsome aura drew Karen in straightaway, she admits, while for James, the dimples when she smiled were enough to reel him in.

Five and a half years later, James went to great lengths to keep his proposal under wraps, and Karen was blissfully unaware that he’d asked her father’s permission until one Sunday morning he took her by surprise with a proposal. “Of course, I didn’t make it easy; bustling about the house as soon as we got up, putting a wash on before going out, causing James to demand ‘Karen, please will you just stand still!’”

James wanted a wedding day that would be shared with friends and family, “to build memories that would last a lifetime.” Karen wanted to look and feel like a princess while surrounded by as many friends and family as possible, leading to “the absolute best wedding ever!” And the couple were granted their wishes, with a ceremony and reception at St Audries Park that was everything they wanted and more.

“Karen was 110% in charge, it couldn’t have worked any other way!” James admits. “She organised everything and everyone.” Having also admitted to being just a little bit OCD with her organisation, Karen was thrilled with all the suppliers that the couple used. “My wedding dress is the most beautiful dress ever and I still want to wear it 24/7, the cake was delicious and the flowers were absolutely incredible!” she enthuses. “With just a brief conversation with Philip from Buds and Blooms and a ton of images I sent him, he really managed to achieve everything I wanted and more.” For photography, Karen and James booked Martyn Baker from West Photography. “Martyn’s knowledge of the venue and experience of wedding photography shone through.”

With weather that Martyn described as a “photographer’s dream”, the couple’s big day ran perfectly. The best man’s speech had everyone in stitches – “not only did he give a little surprise message from the ‘world’s most photographed puppy’, our Labradoodle Rufus, but he also produced a full sized cardboard cut out of James dressed as Borat!” Karen laughs. “Yes, there is a strange likeness, and yes, mankini style!”

18 months of planning came together flawlessly, and with a honeymoon right around the world to look forward to shortly after, travelling across every time zone in the space of three weeks, Karen and James started married life “grinning from ear to ear with happiness.”