The wedding of
Sophie & Thom
Real Life Wedding at Pennyhill Park
How did you both meet?
We were both dipping a toe in the water on a dating website back in Jan 2013, however neither of us really got into it or had any dates…but we did have one message exchange on there.
Come June 2013, I get a Facebook message from Thom, who I knew as, ‘Jack of Clubs’ saying, ‘I was writing on a friend’s wall, your pic came up and I recognised you and realised we had an exchange online. (Bear in mind, Thom also did not know my name). Seems we have a friend in common, small world!’. At the time, Thom was only writing on this person’s wall, because he thought he had seen them earlier in the day and his shouts in the street to get their attention were ignored. Anyway, long story short, I sat next to this mutual friend at work, so I was able to grill them on Thom before deciding if I want to reply
Which I can say now, it was all positive and he got a reply and eventually a date! Our relationship took off from there and we never looked back.
Sometimes, we sit and think how close we were to nearly missing each other but the world works in strange ways and something made sure our paths crossed again.
How did the proposal occur?
After 7 years of being together, it was pretty difficult for Thom to try surprise me with a proposal. Every date, every holiday, friends and family were going…”will he propose”….So he had to be unique and unique it was. If Thom’s dating site username hasn’t given it away already, we are both amateur poker players. We love nothing more than hosting a games night with friends or playing heads up at home. It was our love for this game that led to Thom’s mastermind proposal and on a summer Friday evening, during the pandemic, Thom suggested a game of cards. I kindly obliged and it is fair to say, my opening hand will be the best hand of poker I will ever be dealt.
What did you love most about Pennyhill Park?
We both live very fast paced lives due to our jobs and annually we make a trip or two to Pennyhill Park for much needed recuperation. It has always offered us everything we want out of a UK break, good food & wine, excellent facilities, wonderful grounds, beautiful bedrooms and amazing staff. As soon as we got engaged and decided we were going down the line of a UK wedding, we didn’t even contemplate or look at any other venues. We knew Pennyhill Park would be the one for us!
Did you have a theme or particular style for your day?
Pre-pandemic, we always dreamt of a wedding in Italy but the reality of that became very distant when Covid hit. We knew if we were to have a UK wedding, Pennyhill Park would be our first choice, for all the reasons listed above.
You can’t guarantee the weather in the UK but we hoped and prayed we would be able to get wed under the pavilion and we were so lucky we were able to! For us, it was all about bringing an Italian theme to Pennyhill Park and if we could get hitched outside, it would be perfection for us. We enlisted the skills of Linda at Seventhheaven to help our Italian theme come to life with crisp white roses and hydrangeas, eucalyptus, and olive foliage. T
he flower arrangements they pieced together for us were beautiful and exactly what we wanted. It was as if Linda could see into our vision for the day. By miracle, we had little olives on the olive foliage, which is just unheard of and quite fitting for us, as Thom often compares the size of my ‘small head’ to the size of an olive. Seventhheaven did a spectacular job and made the library smell amazing. Post wedding, we were able to take the flowers home and with some TLC, they lasted for almost 2 weeks.
Tell us all about the dress...
Due to Covid, I didn’t have much time to source a dress as the shops were closed 6-9 months ahead of the wedding. I had an idea in my mind I wanted an off the shoulder fishtail and after visiting a few shops, I finally found ‘the one’ at the Wedding Shop in Colchester. A dreamy, lace, off the shoulder fishtail. I felt a million dollars in it on the day and thanks to Harriet and Wilde for my satin heels, I was able to dance the night away!
What do you remember most about the day itself?
Walking down the aisle has to be the most petrifying yet amazing experience yet. For starters, have you seen how many steps there are to navigate?! As soon as I got to the top of the stairs and saw Thom standing there, I was able to pull myself together and focus on just getting to him. It was a surreal and emotional experience that I will never forget.
Next up has to be the speeches!! Nerves were flying high amongst Father of the Bride, Groom and Best men, but they all got through it with eloquence and humour. We can’t wait to relive them when the video is available.
Were there any special moments or surprises?
On the morning of the wedding, I got up earlier and utilised Pennyhill Park's gorgeous grounds by going for a walk with my bridesmaids. It was a lovely, chilled start to my day!
Having a surprise toastmaster. I got the shock of my life when I walked up to the main hotel and saw Michael there, ready to usher the guests. I was confused as I knew I hadn’t organized one but much to my pleasant surprise, Thom had facilitated this for us last minute. It was an amazing final touch that finished the day off perfectly.
What tips or advice would you give to future couples?
Budget…you will go over budget!! To try avoiding this, make sure you speak to all your friends who have already gotten wed and ask them about all the different things that go into a wedding, so you are fully prepared and there are no hidden items you forgot to budget for.
Dress shopping! Pick a shop nearby because you will need numerous fittings.
If you do not have a wedding planner, make sure you pick the venue well!! We did not have one, but I knew having been to Pennyhill Park numerous times before, they would deliver an amazing service. They went above and beyond to help with set up the night prior as well as keeping on top of things during the day. I cannot speak more highly of the service we received from Jodey in the lead up to the event and Amanda, Michael (the toastmaster), Pedro and the whole Latymer crew the night before and on the day!
Be prepared for how exhausted you will be post wedding!! Nobody prepares you for the level of exhaustion you will face, so book in some chill time. In hindsight, we wished we stayed at Pennyhill Park post wedding for some downtime but we look forward now to returning for our anniversary!