From Blockbuster Video to a pretty Buxted mansion

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Fairy tales start in the most unlikely of places as SO Magazine’s Lauren Chalmers-Stevens discovered when a chance meeting led to a happily-ever-after…

How did you and your husband meet?
I’d love to tell you a gushing romantic tale, but the truth of it is that Scott and I met ten years ago in a Blockbuster store. It was a Saturday night and my best friend Leanna and I were waiting in the queue to return a DVD. She introduced me to Scott who was a good friend of her boyfriend. We were chatting away until we finally reached the till where I was informed that I’d incurred a rather large late-return fee. Unfortunately, I had left my purse at home and Scott generously paid! After our Blockbuster encounter, Leanna set up a double date and the rest is history.

Tell us about the proposal…
It was Christmas day 2013 and there was one large present left under the tree. Scott seemed a little uptight and insisted that all my family, including our husky dog, were in the lounge whilst I opened it. Inside there was a DVD with ‘Play Me’ written on the front. It turned out to be a video timeline of our memories together, telling our story from the start, but I still had no idea what would follow at this point. Towards the end of the DVD the music stopped and I read on the screen ‘WILL YOU MARRY ME?’ I turned around to Scott, who was on one knee with a beautiful diamond ring and I said yes! The proposal was a complete surprise and was particularly special to me as my mother, who was terminally ill, was there to witness this moment along with all my family. It was a lovely surprise and a very happy day for us all.

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Where did you get married and how did you choose the venue?
We tied the knot in St Margaret’s church, a picturesque 13th-century church in the heart of Buxted village. We were married by Rector Evan France who was welcoming and understanding regarding our specific wishes for the ceremony.

After the service, we walked the short distance (about two minutess) to Buxted Park Hotel for our wedding reception. Scott and I had been captivated by this grand Palladian mansion, set in the finest parkland with surrounding views of the Ashdown Forest, when we first saw it. The staff were exceptionally friendly, hospitable and couldn’t do enough for us. Marc Desseaux, the eccentric French toastmaster, went above and beyond to make the day a delightful and pleasurable experience for everyone. Our wedding was enhanced by this wonderful character and I would thoroughly recommend Buxted Park to anyone looking for a wedding venue.

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What were some of the highlights?
I woke up at 5am on the morning of the wedding with my bridesmaids. I was extremely excited, equally nervous and I drew the curtains to brilliant sunshine and clear blue sky. Getting ready for the big day with my seven best friends was so much fun. It was wonderful seeing my dad, brother, bridesmaids, flower girl and pageboys in their outfits and revealing my dress before descending the staircase to the awaiting wedding car.
Fortunately, my dad kept me calm from the minute I left the hotel. It was such an exciting feeling walking up to the church door. A key highlight for me was the moment I walked in and first saw Scott at the end of the aisle. I instantly felt relaxed and my nerves passed as I was surrounded by all our family and friends – a very special feeling. After the ceremony, the whole day flew by. The most emotional part for me were the speeches – they were entertaining, full of laughter and tears. We partied the night away, with lots of dancing and singing! We didn’t want the day to end and I spent my first day as a wife voiceless!

How did you start your married life together? Did you go on a honeymoon?
We spent the first few days as husband and wife relaxing and opening cards and presents. A couple of days after the wedding we had a BBQ – carrying on the wedding celebrations with our family and friends. It gave us a chance to catch up with everyone before we set off on our honeymoon to Mauritius and Dubai. We spent two weeks on our honeymoon, which was a mixture of relaxation and adventure. In Mauritius, we walked with lions and swam with wild dolphins. Our honeymoon ended with a skydive. Jumping out of a plane over the Palm in Dubai was the most incredible experience!

Who were your key suppliers?
My dress was a Ritva Westenius gown from Teokath in Canterbury and Amy in the boutique was extremely helpful throughout the experience. The seamstress too worked wonders transforming my dress from a size 12 to a size 6.

We used Dex and Donal at Pollen for our flowers and decorations at the venue. The bouquets and table flower arrangements were really fabulous. The ballroom was very elegant and beautifully laid out and it was so exciting when Donal arrived with all the bouquets early in the morning.

For photography, we used the very talented Chris and Laura from Chris Giles photography. Chris was brilliant on the day he has an amazing artistic vision and they also both helped our guests and us tremendously throughout the day.

We were married in St Margarets Church Buxted, East Sussex by Rector Evan France. Jan arranged the lovely church flowers.

Our superb venue was Buxted Park Hotel, East Sussex. Our Wedding Coordinator Holly and the team were all very helpful. As already mentioned, special thanks to Marc Desseaux for helping making our day so special.
Suits and ties were from Lapel Mens Hire, Mark was vey helpful and knowledgeable and went the extra mile to find a peach cravat that matched the bridesmaid dresses.

Our fabulous cake was beautifully made by Catherine at Creative Cakes.

Entertainment planning, photobooth, lighting, dancefloor and sound set by the talented Raff at Apollo Funk Entertainments.

DJ, and friend of ours, Ben Turner, kept us all on our feet.

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1. Cherish the day together. Take some time to sit down or walk together to reflect on the day. We felt overwhelmed at times and were both so busy mingling with our guests. It’s important to take some time out together to take it all in.

2. Choose the dress wisely. When shopping for your wedding dress, don’t take too many people to your bridal appointment as too many opinions may spoil the experience. Remember you have to feel completely comfortable and happy with the dress. Initially, I secretly went dress shopping on my own as I had no idea what type of dress I wanted or what would suit me but wanted to form my own opinion. Once I had an idea of the type of dress I liked, I brought my Mother, mother-in-law and Nan along to help me make the final big decision!

3. Hire a videographer to film the day. People will tell you how quickly the day passes and it really did! We so enjoyed watching the video as it captured the most important parts and gave a new perspective by recording, for example, little moments that we didn’t necessarily notice during the day.

4. Make it your own. Listen to the opinions of others but remember it’s your day and don’t feel pressured into making decisions. Ultimately, it’s all about the two of you.

5. Enjoy the experience from the proposal to the day itself. If you find yourself getting stressed, take some time out together – not talking about the ‘W’ word helps. Try to make the most out of being a bride, after all you only get to do it once and you will miss it when its over! Relaxing with a glass or two of Prosecco with the bridesmaids on the evening before the wedding was also a fun and relaxing time.

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