Sledmere Church & Sledmere House and the Bell Hotel, Driffield
When I see your smile… The whole world stops and stares for a while. As Bruno Mars’ lyrics sprang longingly forth from Richard’s guitar one Monday afternoon, for just one moment the world did stop, it’s breath held tight, its serenity absolute. Then suddenly burst forth a shockwave of cataclysmic proportions as Richard’s soulful tune crescendoed with the simplest yet most overwhelming of questions, a question to which there could only ever be one answer: Yes.
And with that, a new song began as our happy couple searched far and wide for the perfect chords to sing their loving melody. It’s style should be classical, it’s instrumentation elegant. As our composers worked their magic all of the elements began to fall into place and If their engagement period was the verse, today was the final chorus.
For a concert of such epic magnitude the setting had to be perfect and the elegant Eighteenth Century Sledmere House and adjacent Sledmere village church truly fit the bill. With its sweeping staircase, opulent decor, 2000 acre estate and beautiful walled rose garden the country house’s elegant grandeur is balanced by it’s impeccable style, warmth and charm. In the shadow of the house stands St. Mary’s church where the wedding itself would take place; a handsome building matching every bit in charm and character. All Toni and Richard really wanted was for their friends and family to enjoy the day and to witness them sharing their vows…but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t do it in style!
We had previously explored the venue a little on Toni and Richard’s memorable engagement shoot and knew there was only one room where we would find our bride-to-be. As we climbed the stairs and opened the door to the grand bedroom Toni looked perfectly at home in the lavish surroundings, her ivory A-line Justin Alexander dress hanging delicately from the stately four-post bed. Supplied by Scarborough’s The Wedding Room the gorgeous dress was chosen because it had made her feel like a beautiful Princess (and almost brought her mum to tears!) and she looked every bit the princess as she had her hair curled and tailored by the masterly Helen Guy.
With the news that the groom and his groomsmen were ready at the church Toni rushed down to meet her bridesmaids, their diamantes sparkling against their fuscia pink ensembles as they strolled across the gravelled courtyard. As together they crossed the gardens and prepared to enter the church, The father of the bride took his daughter aside, telling her how proud he was to walk her down the aisle as he lowered the silken veil over her face, her eyes twinkling in the sunlight as gentle tears crossed her brow.
As the organ rang out with the glorious fanfare of Wagner’s Bridal Chorus RIchard turned to face the most glorious site he had ever encountered. As his astonishingly beautiful bride walked towards him, just knowing that she wanted to spend the rest of her life with him was more than he could ever have hoped for yet everything he ever wanted.
As they shared their vows the emotion was almost too much for Toni, but as Richard took her hand gently in his he whispered softly to her:
“Squeeze my hand as hard as you need to, I’m here for you darling”
And she wanted nothing more than to be his. Their love could not be stronger nor their happiness more consuming as they promised to spend the rest of their lives hand-in-hand, singing their perfect harmony each and every day. As their loved ones bore witness they sealed their kinship forever in a spellbinding kiss before putting pen to paper on a promise never to be parted.
As husband and wife turned to depart they practically bounced down the aisle in pure happiness pausing only to share another kiss on the church’s shaded threshold. With friends and family desperate to offer their loving congratulations the grounds of Sledmere’s stately home lit up with a warmth unbeknownst to the Autumn October climes and a dazzling golden light that seemed to spread wherever Toni walked.
Seated at the table that had bourn hospitality to countless dignitaries over the decades the wedding party laughed and feasted and filled their glasses to the brim in a toast to the bride and groom. The celebrations were only beginning however as a gleaming white Rolls Royce Silver Cloud drove into view through the huge arched windows of the dining room. This was the car that Richard had always wanted to travel in, and he and his bride looked like the lord and lady of the manor as they were whisked away, champagne in hand, to the next stage of their extraordinary wedding.
As their chauffeur opened the door to Driffield’s Bell Hotel and Bride and Groom stepped inside, the lavish elegance of the day changed to raucous reveling as the party really got started. But, as Pearl Jam’s “Ocean’s” rang out from the speakers and Richard and Toni stepped up for their first dance, the emotion was palpable once more as the song that Toni once played on constant repeat whilst the couple were parted by the oceans became the song that would signify their promise never to be parted again.
And as they laughed and drank and talked and danced it became clear once more that beyond the fairytale and beneath the grandeur and the glamour, here before us were two ordinary, fun-loving people quite simply very much in love. This may be their day, their chance to be a prince and princess, their moment to shine; but this amazing day was but a single climactic note in their intoxicating loving lament. This day will never be forgotten but it’s legacy has only just begun. As the final song played and the last guests departed Toni and Richard were left with something truly amazing: a perfect, loving marriage. And in each other’s eyes this day would always live on, Toni and Richard, together forever.
Because they’re amazing, just the way they are.