For local married couple Rhiannon and Ashley Whybra, a DIY approach and the company of friends and family was all they needed to make their perfect wedding come true. Rhiannon tells the story of how she and Ashley met, and looks back on some of her favourite memories and highlights from the big day
How did you and your husband meet?
We started chatting through MySpace, an online music site that was quite popular in 2006. Initially we discussed our musical tastes, then moved on to family, people we both know etc. A few weeks later, Ash asked me to meet him in Tonbridge Park for a walk along the river. We met alongside the river, but our first date was spent sitting in a local pub chatting and getting to know each other.
Tell us about the proposal
It was on Mother’s Day weekend in 2014. We were lying on the sofa having a cuddle while our son Toby was playing, and I joked to Ashley that, seeing as it was Mother’s Day, could we possibly have a bit of romance in the house? He took this as his cue, pulled a ring out of his jacket pocket and basically said he couldn’t get more romantic than proposing. The original plan was to propose the next day once Toby was in bed; I would have come down to candles and dinner, but he said that would have given it away, so he took his chance the day before.
Where did you get married and how did you choose the venue?
Both our parents married at the register Office in Tunbridge Wells, and we both agreed we didn’t want anything too lavish. The register Office was perfect; the room was beautiful and it met all our needs – simple, elegant and personal. Neither of us wanted anything too fussy, and this venue was exactly what we wanted.
What about the reception?
We chose The Plough at Leigh due to its barn, as well as its great reputation. We had a rustic theme, which suited The Plough perfectly; oak beams, surrounded by countryside, daffodils in the garden and the ‘olde-worlde’ pub feel – very us and the ideal size. There was enough room for everyone to sit comfortably, and with the bar being in the barn itself, it meant that guests weren’t separated too much. We liked the thought of everyone being together.
The garden was perfect for photos and had a play area for the kids, along with wishing The owners, Hazel and Mick, were very flexible and open to what we wanted. We could decorate the barn to our liking, and they really took their time to listen to our requests carefully and ensure every little detail was covered.
Any key highlights from your big day?
Having our nearest and dearest with us was a big highlight for us. Spending that time with our loved ones and seeing them excited for us was amazing. Having seen us together for eight years, they were itching to see us get hitched! Toby was the ring bearer, and to have him involved was great and hopefully something he will never forget.
We hired a mint green and cream camper van called Marty from VW Brides, which matched our colour theme perfectly. This transported bride, father of the bride and bridesmaids to the register Office, then both of us, along with our son Toby and Ashley’s daughter Megan, to The Plough, a perfect 30 minutes to be together before the reception.
Walking into the barn once everyone was seated was fantastic. We had decorated the day before with daffodils in jars, bunting and games on each table, such as after dinner trivia, noughts and crosses and jacks. To see it all come together and everyone relaxed and enjoying it was brilliant. We appointed a games master on each table to ensure everyone had fun. At one point, Ashley went over to speak to one table, and they were so engrossed in their TV Trivia game they told him to go away!
My bridesmaids had a great time and were smiling all day, which we loved. My sister Jo, two best friends Alison and Sabrina, and Megan were all dressed in mint green with gypsophelia bouquets. They were brilliant, helping with the kids’ games, passing round the guest book and making sure I was looking and feeling my best.
We had afternoon tea instead of a sit-down meal, which was very relaxed and a bit different to weddings we have been to before.
The evening was fun and everyone was up dancing; it helped that the dance floor was in front of the bar! We had a DJ who was happy to play a mix of songs/genres, which meant everyone had a little boogie. Our wedding table was full of goodies: Guess the number of sweets in the jar, silly photos of us, and a time capsule for people to write messages of love and luck to open on our five-year anniversary, along with a wheelbarrow full of sunflower seeds as the favours.
How did you start your married life together on your honeymoon?
We went to Rhodes for one week and stayed in an all-inclusive, five-star spa hotel, which was in an idyllic location. We chuckled reading through the guest book; some lovely messages with a few jokes for good measure. We lived together already, so married life started with saving for our next big event – buying a house, which we plan to do this year.
Talk us briefly through some of your key suppliers and how they helped make the day special
Elizabeth King in Hildenborough supplied my dress; she was superb, very personal and professional and certainly knew her stuff. Each appointment was an individual one, and she added a few extra bits to my dress without any issue.
As we wanted to make everything ourselves (where we could), we spent £80 on flowers from a florist in Tonbridge, and my nan and I made up the jars for the tables, full of daffs the day before. My nan also made the bouquets and my aunt made our wedding cake, so both very personal, tying in perfectly with the theme. We had a naked cake covered in fruit and flowers, beautifully made by Diane.
Ashley’s suit was from Moss Bros in Bluewater; a stunning blue, which was exactly what he wanted. We didn’t want to go down the top hat and tails route, so we told everyone in the bridal party they could wear what they wanted, apart from the bridesmaids, who all wore dresses from BHS. This meant everyone was comfortable and unique; a big thing for us.
Finally, describe your partner in five words
Generous, selfless, thoughtful, family orientated, laid back.
TOP TIPS FOR TYING THE KNOT
RHIANNON OFFERS SOME HANDY ADVICE ON HOW TO BRING THE BIG DAY OF YOUR DREAMS TO LIFE
1 Delegate where you can. Many a long night can happen if you keep everything to yourself, especially if you are planning a DIY wedding like we did
2 Document the planning stages, and keep back one invite, one favour, appointment cards and RSVPs, etc, to look through in years to come
3 Be clear with the bridal party about what you want them to help you with, and check with them that they are happy to do this and can allocate the time required. Ensure the people that really want to help do get involved – it means a lot to them and takes things off your to-do list
4 Involve the groom! Bizarrely, they like to be a part of certain things. Ashley was a whizz at making the wedding favours!
5 Vision boards are great; I had two flipchart sheets up on my bedroom door, and anytime I saw a photo or picture I would cut these out and pin them up. This suits people who don’t have the likes of Pinterest, etc, and like to see how everything comes together
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