Katy + Chris // Rowton Castle, Halfway House, Shrewsbury, Shropshire

Tell us about all the lovely details you've got planned for the big day + what you're envisioning (colors, theme, atmosphere, etc.)

The atmosphere is elegant and relaxed with an emphasis on personal and intimate touches. The 11.30am ceremony is small and intimate with just parents and the bride's brother (4 guests) to complete the legal part. Everyone has a role (witness, singing/playing the entrance song/giving a reading) to give the ceremony a personal, invested aspect.

The bride and groom will enter together.
After the 11.30am ceremony the bride will return to her rooms in the Orchard Suite and get changed into her second dress for the 1.30pm ceremony. The bridal party will be ready for 12.30pm for photos, etc. The bride's mother and brother wish to be present for 'the reveal' of the dress before the 1.30pm ceremony.

The 1.30pm ceremony is celebrant-led to give us more freedom and to make it truly personal whilst also introducing fun, playful elements. The celebrant is writing a Love Story for us based on information we have each given her and there are unity rituals as described in the section above.

The key colour theme is yellow. Bridesmaid dresses and groom's accessories will be lemon yellow. The flowers will also include deeper, brighter shades of yellow. The groom's suit and groomsmen's suits are royal blue puppytooth check and the MOB and MOG are both wearing blue, navy for the MOB and turquoise/royal blue for the MOG. Bride to wear ivory.

The 1.30pm ceremony will hopefully take place outside followed by the drinks reception and canapes with garden games.
Guests will be called to dinner at 4pm. Our table plan is a surprise - we have had cartoon drawings created of all our guests with the phrase 'find your face to find your place'. Our tables are named after all the wedding readings we shortlisted but couldn't include in the ceremonies.

In the evening there will be a fire pit with marshmallows, food served hopefully outside, sparklers and a first dance which we are currently learning. There are two wedding cakes, a traditional two tier cake and a bouquet of flower cupcakes.
We are practising a choreographed wedding dance at the moment - hopefully we will be doing that on the night!

A bit about you two! How did you two first meet?

We met in 2005 at work but it took us 12 years to get together! In that time we have been team leader-staff member, colleagues, friends, client-self employed consultant, lovers, partners, fiancés and soon-to-be-spouses. And somewhere along that timeline we became best friends too. They say mighty oaks can grow from little acorns and that is very true of us and our story.

We are very comfortable in each other's company and happiest in our own little bubble together. We are a bit like a helium balloon and a balloon weight: without the balloon weight the helium balloon would fly away untethered, the balloon weight gives a stabilising point that the balloon is always connected to and made safe by, no matter how it gets buffeted about; without the balloon, the weight would be an inert, unassuming object, but with the balloon it gets to be wrapped up in pretty foil and go to the party. They can exist independently just as they are, but they are so much more together - greater than the sum of their parts, if you will. We'll let you work out which of us is the helium balloon and which is the balloon weight!

The proposal? ...Tell us everything!

So, this part is a little back-to-front, or stop-start, or just a plain test of my patience (Chris always says that I’m impatient. This is not an unfair description). In January 2020 we decided we were going to have a civil partnership, quite pragmatically, sitting on the sofa at home. This definitely wasn’t the proposal of my dreams – in fact, I’m not even sure it counts as a proposal – but six months later after the initial lockdown we chose a ring together. Although, again, it was a pragmatic experience and did not possess any of the pomp and romance that I would have hoped for.

Happily Chris really pulled it out of the bag when he did get down on one knee! Or, more accurately, I should say when he got up from two knees. He had taken me on another surprise trip for my birthday and we were staying at the most gorgeous hotel in Edinburgh, called Prestonfield House. It was exquisitely decorated for Christmas and oozed romance, luxury and magic in every room, nook and cranny. It even has its own cat, Raven, which for two cat lovers was an added bonus of sheer joy. It turned out that Raven had a favourite spot at night, under the window seat in the Whisky Room, a gorgeous atmospheric room full of purple tartan and candlelight, which we’d found very pleasant to have a drink in at night.

The night before we’d left home I had noticed the ring box had gone from its usual place and I’d thought, ‘Oh, could it happen?’ Chris left it so late in the trip that I actually began to think that I’d moved the ring box and had forgotten where I’d put it! I had visions of me arriving home and dashing upstairs to the turn all the drawers inside out.
On the night of my birthday we’d gone out for dinner to a special restaurant in Leith that we’d been to for my 40th trip. Chris kept commenting how busy the restaurant was and that he was sure it hadn’t been that busy the last time we went. Apart from saying that it had been January the last time we’d been and now it was pre-Christmas and that probably explained why, I didn’t give this too much thought.

By the time we returned to Prestonfield House, I’d had a few drinks and forgotten that I’d been thinking that Chris might propose. Nestled in the candlelit Whisky Room, I spotted Raven the cat in his favourite spot near my feet. Chris got down to have a closer look and give him a fuss. Now, most people probably have a photo of the moment after the proposal but I have one of the moment right before the proposal. ‘Oh just stay there, that makes a lovely photo’ I said, not noticing that Chris had his left hand buried surprisingly deep in his pocket or that his eyes had a distinctive look of ‘I can’t believe you’re doing this right now’ in them…but once I’d finally finished he got up onto one knee and popped the question. Just him, me and Raven in a romantic, intimate moment with the room all to ourselves. Just perfect :o)

You guys? ...What do you do?..How do you spend your days?..What's important in life?

We've both travelled extensively and like to have adventures, although we've found over the last 2-3 years that nothing is more important or more enjoyable than being in each other's company and learning to love and appreciate our individual idiosyncracies. Katy will only drink out of mugs a certain shape. Chris has to go out in seven layers of clothing no matter what the weather. Katy is the biggest wimp when it comes to TV and movies - the slightest hint of suspense or threat of gore/violence and the mute button has to go on until the danger has passed. Chris is powered by tea and sugar, literally wilting at regular points in the day if he doesn't get his little fix of tea and biscuits/cake. Katy gets a disproportionate amount of joy from creating the weekly meal plan and Chris' train hobby gives him a superpower when it comes to organising holiday transport logistics and all sorts of other useful things you wouldn't expect to come from a vast knowledge of model trains.

We love nothing more than a trip out for a meal and sharing food together or going to one of our locals for a drink, or to chat with the bar staff and people we know. Every night we play the word game Squardle together on one of our phones (because it's normally too hard to do by ourselves!). We frequently laugh at ourselves as we slide into middle age and view our habits and preferences changing as we creep further and further into our 40s.

We adore cats and spend our lives playing the game of cat chess as we try to navigate getting one of ours out the house without triggering a mischievous manoeuvre by the other.

We have quite a few shared loves. None of them particularly cool or even exciting but they make us happy and we have found a level of comfort with each other that is thrilling in its familiarity.

Chris was diagnosed with cancer in Feb 2021 and that has taken us down a very unexpected path in life and we have had to navigate very difficult times and emotions. It is a path we are still treading and part of the reason for having a celebrant-led ceremony was to have someone work with us to create a ceremony personal to us that can reflect the journey we have had and are likely to have. Simply spending time together and being there for each is the most important thing in life to use both.

When we initially started talking about getting married in 2018-19 we were looking at a guest list of about 120, mostly because the bride comes from two very large families. All plans had to be put on hold, firstly due to Covid and then because of cancer. When our thoughts turned to getting married again at the end of last year we approached the guestlist by saying 'who has been there for us during the past couple of years whilst we've been dealing with cancer?' and then the guestlist wrote itself. It came to about 40 people and we are happy and very comfortable with the people who are going to be there on the day because they have walked with us during these last two difficult years. There is am enphasis on intimacy in that respect for the day, a sense of connectedness and people understanding the wider feelings around the day. All weddings are emotional but ours comes with an additional set of emotions due to our cancer experiences.

The Venue/s? ... Why this place above anywhere else?

As we met at work and are both town planners, we are both wonks when it comes to cities and architecture or gardens and buildings. This is part of the reason why we chose Rowton Castle, as our venue had to satisfy our love for aesthetics and beautiful settings. For Katy's lockdown birthday we actually spent the day driving around newly built housing estates in our local area comparing the different styles of various developers! We honestly had a great time. We could happily spend a day wandering through a new town, city or village, picking up on little details or unusual building quirks and pointing them out to each other.

We also loved the scale of Rowton, not too big for a small-ish wedding and a variety of spaces to enjoy throughout the day and set a different scene for each key part of the day (gardens, woodland walk, drawing room/lounge, wedding breakfast room, Jaci Vianna Room for civil ceremony). It is the only venue we have seen (and we probably viewed about 50) where the outdoor ceremony space and indoor ceremony space are equally beautiful. Normally one is much, much better than the other.

Rowton offered a very straightforward and inclusive Late Availability package, which meant that planning a wedding here would be easy and beautiful. That has become the bride's mantra for this wedding: easy and beautiful, or relaxed and elegant if you prefer. The team have been superb to work with, very friendly and calm with no detail overlooked or forgotten about.

What experience do you want to give to your guests?

I want them to feel uplifted and energised and like they have been to something really special. Not just any other amorphous wedding but something with notable parts that they will remember when they walk away and want to tell other peole about. I want it to be elegant and beautiful, but also have a touch of the quirky and playful. I hope guests will come away feeling like they had a really good time, were able to engage with other guests and have good conversations. A paty of about 15 of us are staying at the castle the night before to have a meal and start building those relationships early.

Why did you pick Story Cabin Wedding Films?

Because it's a great idea! A good wedding video will capture the emotion and atmosphere of the day and I want to be able to feel that and relive it. We have picked Story Cabin because, having seen you other work and having poken with you, we have confidence that you will film and edit in a way that creates magic out of your material, we want something beautifully put together that captures the words, sets it all to music and touches all those emotions. Also, with our cancer journey there is an added dimension of wanting to record the day and have those memories tangibly accessible.