Engaged: planning a 3-day wedding in Tuscany

Gina Lyons and Mark Lee are planning a wedding extravaganza in the Italian countryside. The couple share not only a love of books and travelling but also a great sense of humour. Read the first instalment of their love story as we follow them on their journey from the big screen engagement right up to the big day taking place in June 2017.

 Gina & Mark
Falling in love
Gina is a Comedy TV producer, and Mark works as a sales director. “We met on a dating website called Lovestruck,” recalls Gina. “Neither of us had really used dating apps before – so within an hour of chatting about our favourite book (A million little pieces, by James Frey) we were skype-ing. In fact, I met Mark’s entire family online before I had met him in person,” remembers Gina.
“Our first date was in a bar in Carnaby Street. I didn’t have the highest hopes – clearly – as I invited him along to my mate’s wedding planning chat – there were 4 girls and a guy sat there drinking. Luckily, he kicked around and we drank cocktails, then took our respective tubes home. We fell in-love within 3 weeks (we say), but in reality it was more like 3 days!”
After spending their first holiday in Thailand, the couple decided to follow their passion for travelling by visiting many places, including South America, Cambodia, Vietnam, America and India.
 Gina & Mark travelling
The proposal
Carefully planning a surprise proposal, Mark hired an independent cinema in Crouch End. Gina’s friend took her to see a film, but after the adverts, the screen crackled and Mark appeared on the big screen. He had made a beautiful film, which started with him looking down the lens to say why he loved her. He then went on to talk about visiting their first pub date, meeting her mum and brother to ask for her hand in marriage and then finally… checking if their cat and dog agreed.
Suddenly the words ‘Turn around’ came up on the screen, and she turned to find him on one knee in the cinema aisle! After she cried and said “YES” the film continued with more than 80 of their friends saying ‘Congratulations’ – Benedict Cumberbatch even made an appearance!You can watch the full video here.

“Our wedding theme is a relaxed, boho theme, with a lot of personal, bonkers touches like a game we created called ‘Find Bill Murray’. We still have high hopes he’ll RSVP,” jokes Gina.

You’re invited

Over a bottle of wine one night, Mark suggested they should dress as ‘old farts’ for their wedding invitations. So they did! The couple spent three hours getting prosthetic make-up done and hired The Hornsey Town Hall, which they filled with suitable, granny and gramps props. The result is one of the funniest invites we’ve seen in a while – see for yourselves!


Stay tuned for the next instalment of this couple’s exciting planning journey. We’ll keep you up to date with Gina and Mark’s weird and wonderful choices for their 3-day wedding extravaganza!

Wedding Wednesday: 3 Reasons to read our winter issue

Whether recently engaged or you’ve already ticked most things off your planning checklist, our winter issue can help. We feature some of the West Country’s best venues and industry suppliers and bring you fresh ideas for achieving your dream wedding day whatever the season and budget.5d3_9848

We like to keep up to date with the latest trends in bridal fashion, creative ways to style the venues and all the fun and funky approaches to décor. That’s why we work closely with so many talented industry suppliers and venues, and keep an eye out for all the latest news. We’ll help you find the perfect venue, dress – and suits for grooms – and decide on the smaller details so your wedding day is just as you imagine it.

The Venue

If you’re looking to create your own happily ever after  in a fairytale location, check out our editorial piece on page 43. For this issue we set camp at Clearwell Castle, which features a Ballroom licensed for weddings. However, if you’re looking for a quirky and unique location for your ‘I dos’ , you may wish to consider our roundup of local museums (page 72).

5d3_9315 5d3_9306

The dress

Our brides will find inspiration for the perfect dress within our Gown Gallery (page 27) – a handpick of the best dresses of the season from famous designers including Maggie Sottero, Jesus Peiro and Enzoani. For the grooms, we’ve put together the most stylish cufflinks on page 38.



The details

For sorting out all the finer details, we cover everything from beauty to bridesmaids. Also our five Real weddings couples share their amazing wedding stories with us – each filled with beautiful details and tons of inspiration. Finally, don’s miss out our top tips on planning a winter celebration on page 58!



Pick up your free copy from local wedding fairs ( you can find all the dates here) or simply browse through our online issue before approaching each planning stage. And don’t forget to follow our blog and social media platforms for inspiration and tips! Whether it’s print or digital format, we’d be honoured to help you make all your wedding dreams come true!

Photos by Emily Rose Photography

Open day wedding event at St Audries Park

Dreaming of getting married in a beautiful manor house set within the picturesque Somerset countryside? If the answer is ‘yes’, then you need to visit St Audries Park this Sunday 15th January for its open day event.

St Audries Park

With an enviable spot, occupying a fairy-tale manor house within a tranquil deer park overlooking the Bristol Channel, St Audries Park could be all yours for exclusive use. Just imagine hosting your ceremony in the superb Victorian Orangery and then holding a grand reception in the banqueting hall of up to 250 guests.

St Audries Park - Orangery Interior (West)St Audries Park - Banqueting Hall

The venue also has 38 luxury bedrooms so your guests can get a good rest once the wedding celebrations are over. In addition, there are two houses which can accommodate both the bride and bridesmaids and the groom’s party on the night before the wedding – no excuse for being late for the ceremony!

To find out more about the venue and arrange an appointment call 01984 633 633.


St Audries Park

W: http://www.audries-park.co.uk/

T: 01984 633 633


Wedding Wednesday: Planning a winter wedding

Happy New Year to you all and congratulations to our newly-engaged couples! Winter is not only a popular season for engagements but also for saying ‘I do’ without breaking the budget. We interviewed Jo Peters, Castle Manager at Pennsylvania Castle in Dorset, on planning a dream winter wedding – think romantic lighting, festive sparkle and stunning sunsets.


Having hosted a fair amount of winter weddings at Pennsylvania Castle, what would you advise couples when choosing to get married over the cold season?

Don’t be put off by the thought of the winter weather. There is something very magical about the extra sparkle that’s around when the nights draw in early and there’s a nip in the air. The feel of a winter wedding has to be totally different from the typical summer affair, but both are equally beautiful in their own way.orangery-ad-photo

How can the Penn accommodate for winter weddings? Are there any unique features that make it stand out from other venues?

We are known for making the most of a whole weekend for our wedding celebrations, and winter weddings are an ideal time to make the most of the Castle in this way. With our Orangery transformed into the indoor heated pool during the winter months, our wedding parties become more intimate which means that every guest feels even more special. Additional accommodation around the Castle Estate means that everyone can make the most of their time together and enjoy all that the Castle and the island have to offer.

Do you have any décor or styling tips for couples who dream of a white wedding?
Although steeped in history, the Castle is now known for its luxurious and more contemporary interior. We like to keep things simple but effective and feel that works best for any wedding theme – even if the wedding is taking place around the festive season as the Castle is always decorated around that time of year with winter weddings in mind.


How can couples create a warm and intimate feel for the ceremony?
We love an abundance of soft lighting during the winter. In fact, one of the first thing people notice as they walk round The Penn are the beautiful chandeliers we have in every room – even the kitchen! Nothing looks more stunning than an early evening ceremony, with the lights softened slightly and the room filled with candles (you can never have too many candles going as far as we are concerned!). That’s why we created our Twilight Wedding options.

What excites you the most about 2017 for The Penn? Do you have any upcoming wedding events?

There is always lots to be excited about, every wedding is so different and we can’t wait to see this year’s celebrations come to fruition. And with our recently launched ‘Wed Me On A Wednesday’ wedding experience and our annual ‘Marry Me In May’ offering, there may even be a few couples that don’t even know yet that they are destined for a beautiful Penn wedding in 2017.


Pennsylvania Castle

W: www.thepenn.co.uk

T: 01305 820659

For more wedding planning inspiration, check out our winter issue and visit our Gallery page for everything fashion.

Wedding Wednesday: New year, new look

As we step into 2017 Aztec Hotel & Spa will undergo a £1 million investment, which will see the venue transformed into an even more desirable wedding spot. For the great reveal, the team is hosting a Big Weekend for couples on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th January.


Having a makeover

Showcasing its unique touches, the newly-refurbished hotel will welcome guests with a glass of bubbly, while the wedding suite will have a brighter, contemporary look. During the event, brides- and grooms-to-be will enjoy tours of the venue and get to meet the team to discuss personal requirements. the-bar-2 “The refurbishment of our main function suite is long overdue and we can’t wait to show off the new look, part of the hotel’s £1 investment, at our wedding weekend in January,” explains Lauren Manning, wedding coordinator.

“We look forward to meeting newly engaged couples on Saturday 28th or Sunday 29th January – complimentary admission on both days – to discuss wedding day requirements. Complimentary drinks and nibbles will be available to all couples and show-arounds of our newly refurbished bar, restaurant and bedrooms will also be on offer,” she adds.


More details about the event are available on the website or you can contact Lauren Manning on 01454201090.

Aztec Hotel & Spa

W: www.thwaites.co.uk/hotels-and-inns/hotels/aztec-hotel-bristol/weddings-and-celebrations/weddings/

T: 01454 201090

5 Books to read before you walk down the aisle

Planning your nuptials is a big project, which can feel both exhilarating and exhausting. If you want your wedding planning journey to be filled with joy rather than jitters, being informed and organised is key. Take a look at our selection below to get from clueless to clued up on every aspect of your big day.

  • The Step-by-Step Guide to Planning your Wedding, by Lynda Wright, £ 8.99: This book is an easy-to-use guide taking you through all the details of your wedding preparations. If you love using ‘to do’ lists and being hyper organised this book is for you!


  • Wedding Bible, by Sarah Haywood, £26: Filled with detailed advice and budget-friendly shopping tips, this book offers tips and insights from some of the biggest names in the wedding industry.


  • Vintage Weddings, by Marnie Fogg, £24: A journey though some of the most beautiful wedding dresses from the past century, the book will teach you about choosing the right silhouette, style, fabrics and accessories for your body shape.


  • My Handmade Wedding: A Crafter’s Guide to Making Your Big Day Perfect, by Marrianne Mercer, £11: Whether you want to make every aspect of your day yourself or simply choose a few projects, this book is filled with easy-to-follow instructions and helpful tips – all you have to do is take your pick from the 20 projects available!


  • A Modern Girl’s Guide to Getting Hitched: How to Plan, Survive and Enjoy Your Wedding, by Sarah Ivens, £9.99: Both entertaining and informative, the book offers a fun and lighthearted perspective on wedding planning – exactly what you need when things start to get stressful.


For even more wedding planning tips and inspiration, check our our winter issue here.

Tuesday Tips: Planning ideas for autumn weddings

Where did September go? It feels like autumn has well and truly settled with its chilly nights and warm sunny days. Here, at West Weddings, we love the rich colour palettes and the unique photographic opportunities of autumn weddings – see the beautiful photoshoot at Grittleton House in our latest issue here.


With shades of mauve and blue, and details inspired by nature, it’s now easy to plan an autumn wedding. Take a look at the following gorgeous handmade products from DaWanda for instant planning inspiration:

  • Accessories: Mauve and deep blue accessories add a fashionable touch to your bridal look.


  • Rustic decorations: Wooden features in a rustic style remain one of the most popular trends in wedding decorations and favours.


  • Minimalist bride: Choosing a classic clean cut bridal gown works well for a minimalist look. Just add a splash of colour through bold lips or quirky accessories  to let your personality shine through.


W: http://en.dawanda.com/

Weddings with rustic charm at Aldwick Court Farm

Are you searching for the dream wedding venue that ticks all the boxes for a relaxed wedding celebration? If the answer is yes, then Aldwick Court Farm & Vineyard, is the perfect choice for your big day. And what better time to see it than on Sunday 9th October, when the team hosts a wedding fair? On the day, you’ll get to meet everyone and discover the venue’s unique features: rustic, relaxed and romance-filled.


Rustic celebration

Aldwick Court Farm & Vineyard is a charming 17th century farm comprising of two stone barns – both licensed for wedding ceremonies. The Old Barn has a long history, whereas the New Barn features impressive plate glass windows overlooking the unspoiled countryside. After the ceremony, you can enjoy a walk through the vineyard while your guests sample the award-winning wine in the brick-walled Cellar Bar.


Relaxed options

With wooden beams, clean lines and neutral decor, Aldwick Court Farm & Vineyard provides a blank canvas for you to put your own stamp on. When it comes to choosing the menu for the wedding breakfast, Aldwick’s in-house caterers can offer a selection of bespoke high-quality menus.


Rural romance

A romance-filled wedding requires an idyllic setting – and Aldwick provides exactly that! Located within a 300-acre Somerset working farm, the venue is set against the Mendip Hills backdrop with so many opportunities for photos. The two barns overlook sweeping gardens and glorious verdant fields while the River Yeo runs at the farm’s southern boundary.

Find out how to book this romantic setting for your wedding, by visiting Aldwick’s wedding fair on Sunday 9th October between 11am and 3pm.


Wedding fairy-tales come true at Clearwell Castle

If you’re looking for a grand venue, where you’ll be treated like king and queen for the day, then look no further than Clearwell Castle. The open day event taking place on Sunday 25th September invites brides and grooms to discover the secrets of this castle rich in historic features.


Winner of the 2016 British Wedding Awards, Clearwell Castle, in Gloucestershire, is one of the region’s most romantic wedding destinations. Following extensive renovations, the venue boasts unique features including the Grand Entrance Hall, a vibrant Cellar Bar and Ballroom.

This fairy-tale castle with tranquil woodland grounds also offers a two-day wedding experience for couples.


Why not take a tour to discuss the details of your wedding with the team? Book an appointment for Sunday 25th September between 12 and 4pm by contacting Emma Foster at 01594 832320 or info@clearwell-castle.co.uk.

W: www.clearwell-castle.co.uk

Are you turning into a bridezilla?

Whether still deciding on the venue or quite far along with the planning, the pressure to have the perfect wedding can turn even the calmest of brides into a badly-behaved bridezilla in the run up to the big day.

Photo by Stewart McPherson

Once the excitement of the engagement wears off, you’re left with a long list of things to organise, including the wedding venue, outfits for you and your groom and entertainment. There’s so much to consider and plenty of options to choose from, but who takes responsibility for each?

Many couples happily share the list between the bride and groom, and even tag in family and friends to help along the way. For others, it’s the bride who overlooks the planning while the fiancé is happy to go along with her decisions.  Bridezillas, however, are brides who take charge of the wedding planning and are so determined to make their wedding day perfect that they don’t consider the consequences.

Bridal behaviour


As we all know, the term ‘bridezilla’ comes from the famous Godzilla – a terrible monster from Japanese horror movies  – and defines ‘a bride whose behaviour in planning the details of her wedding is regarded as intolerable’. But how far can a bride go in order to qualify as a dress-wearing monster?

A recent survey carried out by http://pokies.net.au interviewed 500 brides-to-be from across the UK and found that 1 in 3 engaged women is a bridezilla. In order to gather the data, brides were asked questions such as: ‘Would you trust your partner to organise the entire wedding?’ or ‘You’ve been cake tasting and you and your groom have opposite opinions. How do you decide on a cake?’

Why not take a look at the flowchart below to discover whether you’re getting close to becoming a bridezilla? If the answer turns out to be yes, it might be time you reconsider your priorities – wedding planning should be fun after all!

View Interactive Version (via Pokies.net.au).