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The French connection

Nicole and Gareth chose pink, sage and lacy details to fulfill their French-style wedding dreams

Nicole and Gareth – the proposal

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A chance meeting at New Year led to wedding bells for Nicole Walker and Gareth Claydon, both 23. “I noticed Gareth as soon as he entered the pub, but was too shy to do anything about it,” says Nicole. One stiff drink later, she nudged into him (practically knocking him over) and the gentlemanly Gareth offered to buy her a drink. “After that we were inseparable: what felt like minutes were hours, days, weeks, and we’re still like two peas in a pod.”

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Three years later, Gareth proposed on a beach in the Maldives, with the ring in a glass of bubbly. “I’d nearly drained my glass when he was suddenly down on one knee telling me to look in my glass before I choked,” says Nicole. “There was the ring!”

Photography:Segerius Bruce Photography

Nicole and Gareth – The je ne sais quoi

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The couple decided to have a traditional family wedding with a twist – a Marie Antoinette theme, inspired by the Sofia Coppola film. “My parents live in France and it holds special memories for us,” says Nicole. “I loved the costumes and colours of the film, so I brought a bit of France into our day.”

Nicole and Gareth – flying high

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The couple said ‘I do’ at St Mary’s Church in Bedfont, in front of over 100 of their family and friends. After the ceremony, the couple arrived at the Hilton Hotel in Cobham in true rock-star style – a helicopter from EBG Helicopters. “My mum has always wanted to go in one so it was a fab surprise for her to fly with us,” says Nicole.
“My cousins thought it was the Hiltons arriving.”

Nicole and Gareth – the costumes

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Nicole chose a blush-pink Ian Stuart dress with lace detailing and intricate flowers on the train, and asked the dress shop (Always & Forever) to change the corseted back for buttons to fit the vintage look. Gareth looked dapper in his M&S grey suit.

Nicole and Gareth – Baroque and roll

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A self-confessed shoe addict, Nicole knew she had to have some pretty special heels on her wedding day. “I narrowed it down to two pairs,” she says. “A rock and roll pair of studded Louboutins for the day and a gorgeous pair of Jimmy Choos for dancing.”

Nicole and Gareth – a touch of frou frou

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Her hair was a modern take on Marie Antoinette’s signature high coif, with a flower clip from Lola Rose, and she added
a necklace from Jon Richard, her nan’s earrings and her mum’s engagement ring.

Nicole and Gareth – ladies in waiting

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The bridesmaids all looked chic in grey satin strapless dresses from BHS.

Nicole and Gareth – a beautiful bouquet

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“Both Gareth and I have lost grandparents so we wanted to include their memory in our day,” says Nicole. “Roses remind me of my nan, so we included Sweet Avalanche roses, peonies and freesias in my bouquet, to which the florist (Seventh Heaven Events) attached a locket with a picture of my grandparents. As a gift for Gareth I gave him a pair of locket cuff links with a picture of his grandad inside.”

Nicole and Gareth – blooming lovely

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The baroque pink and sage theme continued throughout the décor, from the silver candelabra and mirrored centrepieces of antique hydrangea, peonies and roses, to the invitations, made by Nicole to look like French macaroon boxes.

Nicole and gareth – playing dress up

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Nicole asked the florist to fill her own wire dress mannequin with peonies and roses, then attached name tags to it for the table plan.

Nicole and gareth – please be seated

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The place cards and orders of service, made by Nicole and her mum, were in the shape of fans with lace-edge detailing.

Nicole and gareth – let them eat cake

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The pretty cake, with fruit and vanilla layers, was from Waitrose.

Nicole and Gareth – Mr & Mrs

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Nicole made personalised activity books for the kids, while Gareth covered the Mr & Mrs letters with Laura Ashley fabric to match the flower mannequin.

Nicole and Gareth – party on

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The couple kicked off the party with their first dance to Ben E. King’s Stand By Me. “It’s a favourite song for both of us. It was playing when we met and just before Gareth proposed – spooky,” says Nicole. Guests danced to everything from Motown to modern, in between having fun with the photo booth. “It went down a storm. People were queuing for it all night.” The party ended with a spontaneous recreation of Dirty Dancing’s famous last scene. “Although it was cheesy, it makes us smile every time we think about everyone dancing together.”

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Photography:Segerius Bruce Photography