Our family, as you've probably grasped by now isn't your average family, we do things how we like, not how people think we should do them. We had our children, then we decided to tie the knot with our babies being part of our big day. Not traditional, but then, who is nowadays?
Since Josh's father was a small child, he always holidayed at a place called Brixham in Devon. It's a stunning place, with little coves, and a beautiful harbour. His dad loved it so much, he took Josh and his brothers there as children, and for Josh it was always a perfect place full of happy memories, so when we started a family of our own it was inevitable we would take them there too.
Brixham times are always happy times, and all Josh's dads side of the family feel the same about the place. Whenever we've been, there's been parents, grandparents, uncles, cousins, second cousins- all enjoying our holiday with us, which made it just that extra bit more special.
In 2012 we were enjoying our holiday there and Josh was acting really strange, disappearing and being really quiet. Then we had our "mummy and daddy" night out. Our chance to go for a meal and a drink and a walk by the sea on our own.
I remember getting ready and Josh's mum was fussing "are you not wearing something more dressy?" "What about your nails?" And me thinking what's the big deal? I'm not the girliest of girls, I only dress up properly if it's a really special occasion. Tonight I was just looking forward to enjoying some respite with my boyfriend, so up I threw my hair, left my nails chipped as they were, put a basic layer of make up on, threw on my outfit and I was ready in 15 minutes. No big deal.
We took Josh's grandma to bingo before we left, and he was furiously scribbling out the numbers. His grandma and I looked at each other baffled, and it was at that point I actually thought, wait a minute, is something going on here?
As we set off he had calmed down a lot for the walk down to the restaurant, but as we got there he started fidgeting and went to the toilet 3 times in a row. I asked him if he was ok, and he said yeah, then leaned forward and reached for his pocket and my heart sunk as he handed me a ring box and said he had something to ask me. The rest is a blur really and I can't remember what was said, but we exchanged a lot of hugs and kisses, and we cried. And the ring was stunning.
After a few drinks, we went back to the caravan expecting to surprise Josh's parents with the amazing news. Only to find half the family in there with cards and champagne-they had known all along! Tears were shed again by everyone, and after a glass of champagne with the family, me and josh went to bed as a newly engaged couple!
Our Wedding Day!
We were in Brixham in 2013, a year after we had got engaged down there, and just sort of came on to the subject of getting married down there. It was just a musing, but quickly snowballed into ideas and thoughts about our big day by the sea-so it was decided pretty quickly. We would get married in our special place, and we would do it almost to the day we got engaged, down in Devon, with just our closest family around us. And the wedding planning started.
We (I) planned it quite quickly and efficiently, with juggling the children and wedding planning, the Internet became my best friend, and week by week our wedding stuff started to accumulate and our special day began to come together.
It came around really quick, and before we knew it, it was the night before the wedding and the whole family werein the hotel having drinks, celebrating the fact that I would be "Mrs F" in the morning!
The only thing that was worrying me was the weather. We were having an outside ceremony by the sea, and rain was the last thing we needed. And it rained ALL NIGHT. I couldn't sleep from the sound of the rain, it was the back end of hurricane Bertha, and was like a tropical storm. We did have a Plan B, should the weather not have been kind, but that wasn't ideal, so I spent most of the night praying for a miracle. The excitement of what was to come in the morning was keeping me awake too, and the fact that I couldn't get comfy without josh there to cuddle, that night I didn't sleep much at all.
That morning I woke up full of beans and excitement at 6am, after 3 hours sleep, and was cursing myself for booking the registrar for 3pm. My bridesmaids quickly made it down to my room and my lovely husband-to-be sent me breakfast to my room, with a bottle of champagne and a heart warming letter. My bridesmaids brought me their gifts, the most thoughtful "something old, new, borrowed and blue". My "something old" was screen shots of messages I had sent to my maid of honour when me and Josh had just started seeing each other, my something new was a leopard print garter, my something borrowed was a special bracelet of my maid of honours, that only on wrapping it for the big day, had she learnt the jewellers that the bracelet was bought from, was "Fraser hart" (meant to be?!), and my something blue was a beautiful blue charm for my pandora bracelet. They had also bought a beautiful card, and two hand stamped cake forks. We cried, laughed, and poured ourselves some champagne, and the ball was rolling-IM GETTING MARRIED TODAY!
The day went quickly, with hairdressers, make up artists, parents, bridesmaids, just popping in and out all morning. I had stayed relatively calm, but as soon as 2.30pm struck and I was all ready to go, panic set in.
It went pretty smoothly, with the plan being that my closest people would walk down the aisle in front of me; Zak, Thomas and my brother as page boys, my bridesmaids, Georgia and Emily, and my girls Grace and Esmée, and our niece Anya as flower girls, the only blip was that the two youngest (Anya and Tommy) were too hot and tired to join in, so with a quick shuffle around of who was walking with who, we set off down the aisle.
The first verse of "all of you" by John Legend rung clear and loud and I don't think there was a dry eye there.
Grace had written, and read a beautiful poem during the ceremony, which was very special for us, it was very personal for us so I don't want to share the exact words, but it was about us uniting as a family and how the wedding not only meant the world to us, but to the children too.
I could barely say my vows through tears, and Josh was the same, it really was every bit as emotional as people made out.
That moment we were pronounced husband and wife was everything I imagined. The whole world slowed down and for a moment it really was just the two of us uniting.
The sun shone down for us, and it wasn't until after the ceremony that the guests spoke of a strange thing happening as the registrar pronounced us husband and wife-a dark rain cloud had formed just above the gazebo we were stood underneath, and as the registrar said the words that married us, the cloud parted and the sun shone straight through with a beam straight onto the gazebo. I'm not sure I believe in a higher being, or ghosts, but it did make me wonder, was it my beloved nana making sure the sun shone on my big day. She passed a few years ago, but the hurricane that had magically stopped just for my big day, strangely shared her name. So whether it was my nana Bertha or just a massive coincidence, I'll let anyone else decide. But for us, something really special happened that day.
The reception room was beautiful, with a cd playing of all the songs that meant something to us, and the room looking just as I wanted, I realised all my hard work had paid off. It was bustling with excitement, with drinks flowing, perfectly emotional and funny speeches and lots of dancing with just our closest family and a few very close friends, I realised all my hard work had paid off. The whole day was everything we had wanted it to be, though in hindsight I may have changed a few things, but on the day, nothing else mattered.
One of the best things about our day was the effort our friends and family made to be there with us, the travelling, and hotel stays, just showed just how much being at our wedding meant to others too, one couple in particular was Emma and Phill, one of mine and Josh's best friends. A few months before the wedding, Emma was told her brain cancer was terminal, and she was very ill at the time of the wedding, but her determination to be there was strong, it was the first thing she put on her "bucket list" and I am so so glad she was there. Emma passed away just less than 3 months after our wedding and for her to share the memory of that day with us is something we both will always hold so close to our hearts.
There was tears of laughter, tears of joy, smiles, and truly happy times that day and although cliche, it really was one of the best days of our lives-that ran into the next day, as after the wedding we went clubbing in Torquay until 3am!
Every day is another day married, and it still doesn't feel real that I have a husband, we really are the full family unit now and to us that means the world.
Photographer: Craig garside photography
Cake: daisy cakes, Torquay
Cake topper: etsy.com
Dress: White rose bridal
Flowers: Wild floral designs
Wedding venue: the livermead cliff hotel, Torquay