Antony and Amy James
Real life wedding at The Manor House
Read about Antony and Amy's special day...
Tell us a little about how you met and the proposal...
Antony proposed to me on 10th December 2016 whilst we were outdoor ice-skating with friends in the build-up to Christmas - it was something we’d done every year since we met. The night itself was lovely, we were having a fab time and it really could have been the setting for a perfect proposal had another guy not beaten Antony to it and gotten down on one knee on the ice to propose to his girlfriend.
At the time, I obviously wasn’t aware of Antony’s plans although in hindsight, he had been acting very strangely – he barely spoke to me out of nerves and wouldn’t skate anywhere near me in case I somehow felt the ring box in his pocket. He got even more strange after the other couple’s engagement, retiring indoors to the bar area where he insisted on getting every round of drinks in so he could sneak off for a shot of Sambuca in an attempt to build his confidence back up.
A few hours later, Antony executed Plan B - he asked the band that were playing in the bar area that night to play ‘our song’, James Morrison - Won’t Let You Go, as he got down one on knee and proposed. Of course, I said YES!
We took our time choosing a venue and date – a few of our friends were already getting married in the coming years, so we looked to 2019. We visited a few venues more local to us around the Cardiff area, and although most were gorgeous, none stood out as somewhere special to us. It was my mum who suggested The Manor House to us after having gone for a walk around the grounds one day; we made an appointment to meet Gemma, and from the arrival through the quaint and beautiful village of Castle Combe, to approaching the venue over the little bridge, under the archway of tree branches, we were blown away!
One look around and we were sold – I completely fell in love with The Manor House and could envisage everything playing out there as I had always imagined it. Luckily, the weekend of the May Bank Holiday 2019 was available, so that was it – we started planning our perfect wedding day with Gemma.
Why did you choose The Manor House?
It goes without saying that The Manor House is a gorgeous venue, set in the most beautiful grounds in such a lovely, quaint little village – so many of our guests commented on the arrival to the grounds and how magical it felt before the day had even started!
Gemma was honestly fantastic from the offset, always on-hand to help and ready to talk through any ideas or requests, despite having a lot of other brides and weddings to juggle. Nothing was too much to ask and I had no concerns that our day would be perfect.
How did you find your outfit, accessories and/or shoes?
I got completely carried away with the excitement of wedding dress shopping, it’s slightly embarrassing! I actually bought two other dresses before finally finding ‘the one’ which just felt as though it was made for me. It’s true what they say though – I didn’t end up going for what I thought I’d like.
I was treated to a gorgeous pair of Jimmy Choo’s as a gift, as were my earrings a gift I’d had for Christmas with my wedding day in mind.
What do you remember most about the day itself?
I remember having my hair and make-up done by the lovely Jenna McDonnell, and watching my guests arrive from the bridal suite – I was so excited! Antony arrived in a gorgeous Aston Martin, courtesy of HR Owen, with his groomsmen following in an equally beautiful Bentley. I was so desperate to join my bridesmaids in the window waving to him but stayed back, not wanting to upset any of the traditional superstitions.
We had planned an outdoor ceremony, but unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be. It rained for a while early morning so we made the decision to bring the ceremony indoors to the Bybrook. It didn’t really bother me as everyone stayed so calm and positive, even reminding me that rain on your wedding day is deemed to be good luck.
I recall the moments building up to the big walk down the aisle – seeing my father ready to take his position, our guests sat at their seats and hearing the flute and harp duo we had booked; they added such a beautiful, elegant sound to the day – they were fantastic.
The food was simply exquisite. So many of our guests made a point of telling us that our wedding breakfast was the best they’d experienced – everything about it; the food, the wine and the service.
I remember seeing both my flowers and cake for the first time and being absolutely stunned by both. I’d highly recommend both The Fairy Cakery and Catherine Grey Flowers as providers – they were amazing.
Any moments of your wedding and the big day itself that made it personal?
Antony and I had decided we wanted to surprise everyone with our first dance, especially because dancing in front of a room of people is typical way out of Antony’s comfort zone. We wanted to do a bachata dance to one of our favourite songs – Usher and Romeo Santos, Promise, and so had a couple of dance lessons in preparation. I still remember the thrill of secretly getting changed into a lighter dress and sneaking through the corridors of the hotel, back to the evening reception where everyone was completely taken away. We absolutely loved it, and we didn’t make any mistakes, so that was a huge bonus!
During our wedding breakfast, we were surprised with singing waiters who were so good! They had everyone up singing and dancing – my dad actually ended up on one of the tables he enjoyed it so much. We’d never seen them at any previous weddings either so it was lovely to see everyone taken by surprise and just really enjoying themselves.