TRAVEL TO COOK ISLANDS

The Cook Islands have a wide range of romantic places to stay, from luxury villas to resorts, hotels and holiday homes, to suit every budget. Most properties are small to medium sized and are often located by the beach in lush tropical gardens. Kiwis feel at home as they use NZ currency and speak English. Comprising 15 islands scattered over a vast area, Rarotonga and Aitutaki are the most popular islands and the easiest to visit. With its picturesque mountain peaks, white beaches and colourful reef, Rarotonga looks a lot like a Tahitian island. The best way to explore Rarotonga is to drive, cycle or bus around the island, as the coastal road circles past sacred marae, historic Ngatangiia village, whitewashed churches, seafood restaurants and idyllic swimming and snorkeling spots. The beautiful atoll of Aitutaki is quieter, more secluded and wrapped in a spectacular coral lagoon, where you can dive, kayak or cruise along in a glass-bottom boat. Part of the romantic adventure is finding a motu (uninhabited islet) where you and your sweetheart can swim and picnic in private.

TRAVEL TO FIJI

Fiji has long been a favourite honeymoon destination for New Zealanders. It’s easy to reach and explore, offers the Pacific’s largest choice of off-shore resorts, and comes with the Fijians’ famously warm and iconic ‘Bula’ friendliness. Of Fiji’s 333 islands, the Mamanuca and Yasawa islands are a good place to start your honeymoon search. These atolls and hilly islands feature postcard-perfect beaches of fine white sand, turquoise lagoons and a coral reef that attracts snorkelers and divers from around the world. The resorts, usually one per island, range from backpackers to luxurious Fijian-style thatched bures with private plunge pools, lounging pavilions and gourmet chefs. If you want more adventure or to explore Fiji beyond the small-island resorts, stay on the mainland of Viti Levu or head north to Taveuni. Both offer lush interiors and mountain vistas full of great hiking trails, waterfalls, and rare birds and orchids. Viti Levu also enjoys the best selection of golf, tennis, restaurants, kava-drinking ceremonies and Indo-Fijian culture.

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FIJI MAP

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TRAVEL TO SAMOA

Samoa doesn’t have a lot of man-made luxuries, but nearly everything beautiful about the Pacific is in abundance on the main islands of Upolu and Savai’i: from unspoiled rainforests, waterfalls and bush-clad cliffs to sandy beaches, waterholes and traditional Polynesian villages filled with flowers and gentle, Old Pacific ambience. Samoa offers a good choice of accommodation, including well-appointed resorts and open-air, thatched-roof budget huts called fales that are strung along many beaches. For a glimpse of Samoa’s colonial past, amble around the former homestead of Robert Louis Stevenson, the famous Scottish author of Treasure Island. ‘The first experience can never be repeated,’ he wrote about the wonders of the Pacific. ‘The first love, the first sunrise, the first South Sea island, are memories apart.’

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SAMOA MAP

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TRAVEL TO NIUE

This Pacific Island paradise is one of the smallest countries and also one of the world’s largest raised coral atolls, where you can easily and safely get away from it all. Like the Cook Islands, the island uses NZ currency and speaks English. With a rocky coastline of steep limestone cliffs around part of the island, Niue features unusually clear, deep waters and a coral reef where divers and snorkelers can marvel at colourful fish, turtles, sea snakes, dolphins and even swim in the winter with humpback whales, which come within 100 metres of the shore. Plus, the islands have the best and clearest view of the stars, having been named the world’s first ‘dark night sky’. Niue’s one international luxury resort, villas, motels and cottages accommodate a limited number of visitors, so you will feel more like a local as you drive or cycle along the coast and follow short walks to rocky coves, swimming caves and pools, scenic chasms and fantastic coral pinnacles – or dine on fresh tuna, coconut crab and taro at a casual waterside restaurant.

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NIUE MAP

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TRAVEL TO VANUATU

Vanuatu’s reefs, beaches and adventure activities rival those of other South Pacific islands, but this Melanesian archipelago of about 80 islands moves at a more languid pace, with more Old Pacific ambience and far fewer tourists than French Polynesia and Fiji. Port Vila, on the main island of Efate, has the most resorts, tours and adventure operators, and waterfront French restaurants. If you crave something unique, however, you should head to Pentecost Island, to see the land-diving ritual that originally inspired bungy jumping; to Espiritu Santo, to dive on the wreck of a World War II ship; or to Tanna, to peer inside a fiery volcano.

VANUATU MAP

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TRAVEL TO TAHITI

Tahiti and her islands, otherwise known as French Polynesia, comprises of five archipelagos with 118 islands and covers over two million square miles of the Pacific Ocean. The most frequently visited are Tahiti, Bora Bora, Moorea, Huahine, Raiatea, Taha’a, and Rangiroa. Moorea is known as the island of love and Bora Bora as the romantic island. Bora Bora features lavish resorts with overwater bungalows and over-the-top comforts, but the island’s five-star natural beauty remains the greatest attraction. Dramatically set in a turquoise and cobalt lagoon encircled by a coral reef, the island slopes from sand-fringed islets and emerald hills to sheer cliffs and soaring, basalt peaks. These popular islands offer a good choice of hotels and resorts, and such activities as hiking, diving, snorkeling with sharks and sting rays, pearl farm tours, Tahitian dance performances and dining on exquisite, gourmet French cuisine.

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TRAVEL TO NEW CALEDONIA

A charming mix of French and Melanesian influence, New Caledonia is a wonderland for couples that love a little culture, fine wine and food, picturesque landscapes and marine wonders. The largest island in New Caledonia, Grand Terre, is surrounded by a lagoon that is a registered World Heritage Site, and offers a wonderful mix of water sports from kayaking and sailing, to diving, whale-watching and snorkeling in the most spectacular underwater coral world packed with wildlife. On land, hiking, cycling, and exploring beautiful caves such as the popular Grotte de la Reine are popular activities. The capital city Noumea is less than three hours from Auckland, and is the most cosmopolitan city in the Pacific. Shop the markets or luxury French boutiques, visit museums, galleries and theatres, and dine at the beautiful seaside restaurants. Alternatively, stock up on French cheese and wine for a great price from one of the local supermarkets and enjoy a picnic at the beach! For a slower-paced and romantic experience, pop over to the Isle of Pines, 70km off Grand Terre, where lush rainforest, breathtaking lagoons, turquoise beaches, and archaeological remains await you.

the top 15 best tropical islands in the world

NEW CALEDONIA MAP

the top 15 best tropical islands in the world

TRAVEL TO SOLOMON ISLANDS

The Solomons is a stunning archipelago of nearly 1000 islands covering more than 800,000 square kilometres of ocean. The country is best known for its world-class diving and as one of the battle grounds of the Second World War, and these days the Solomons is attracting adventurous honeymooners wanting a Pacific paradise that’s both idyllic and off the beaten track. There are a number of accommodation options available, from exclusive luxury resorts to eco lodges and boutique hotels.

The unspoilt coral reefs of the Western Province are a snorkeler’s haven, and easily accessed by hiring a speedboat and boatman from Gizo, the province’s main commercial hub. A favoured low-tide experience for adventurous visitors to the region includes snorkeling over a submerged World War II American fighter plane called ‘Betsy’. Hiking, village and heritage tours, surfing and diving are also extremely popular in the Western Province.

SOLOMON ISLANDS MAP

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TRAVEL TO TONGA

Traditional culture, including the last Polynesian monarchy, remains strong in the Kingdom of Tonga, and it doesn’t have the same kind of conveniences and tourism infrastructure as other Pacific destinations. But if you travel from the mainland to the Vava’u or Ha’apai islands, you will find the kind of pristine waters and empty beaches that beachgoers, yachties and adventurers all dream of. In the clear, fjord-like harbour around the hilly islands of Vava’u, you can also see or swim every winter with Tonga’s biggest attraction, migrating humpback whales. Vava’u caters more for tourists, with a greater selection of accommodation and activities than relatively unspoiled Ha’apai.

TONGA MAP

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TRAVEL TO NEW ZEALAND

Your honeymoon is the perfect time to fall in love with New Zealand again, as our two main islands offer so much beauty, variety and romance for couples. From dramatic alpine landscapes and tranquil lakes, to pristine beaches and stunning vineyards, New Zealand lets you experience it all if you want to, and you won’t have to travel far. The bright lights of Auckland and Wellington offer plenty of exciting experiences for couples wanting a city escape, where you can treat yourself to luxury accommodation, culinary delights and access to relaxing day trips, such as the wine regions of Waiheke Island and Martinborough, or magnificent west coast beaches. If adventure is more your style, head to Abel Tasman National Park, Queenstown or Rotorua to get your dose of adrenalin-pumping activities like bungy jumping, river rafting, mountain biking, skiing and more.

The Bay of Islands and Coromandel are the perfect places to visit for those secluded beaches and water-based activities, while sunny Hawke’s Bay, Waiheke Island and Central Otago are hotspots for food, wine and romance. Everywhere you go you’ll find beautiful accommodation options to suit your taste and style, from a castle in Dunedin, to luxurious hotels and boutique lodges, or you could even hire a campervan and hit the road, just the two of you.

Honeymooning in New Zealand gives you the opportunity to be a tourist in your own country and tick off those must-dos, such as walking the Tongariro Crossing, visiting Te Papa Museum, admiring the magical Waitomo Caves, whale watching in Kaikoura, sky diving in Queenstown or catching the sunrise over Roy’s Peak. You have the perfect excuse to splash out on things you wouldn’t normally, whether it be a scenic helicopter or hot air balloon ride, a sailing trip, horse trek or pampering day at the spa. Whatever you do, you’re sure to create unique and lasting memories to treasure forever.

NEW ZEALAND MAP

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Introducing Euridge Manor, a classic English venue so enchanting it will take your breath away.

 

DREAMING OF A VINTAGE-INSPIRED TRAVEL set in the rolling English countryside? This exquisite property, the former hunting lodge of Sir Walter Raleigh, is the perfect location. Sitting pretty in the heart of the Cotswolds, on the edge of Castle Combe, this magical venue could be straight out of Alice In Wonderland. Take, for example, the grounds of the Secret Garden Orangery: artfully pruned topiary, fountains, a Gothic maze and row upon row of scented roses. 

 

Think Champagne and canapés on the lawn, followed by romance after dark, with candles flickering on banquet tables as music plays. With capacity for up to 250 guests, there are several areas within the grounds licensed for weddings, including the property’s cloisters, the Secret Garden Orangery and the boat house – a stunning space beside the lake with views out to the hills beyond. 

 

Perhaps most spectacular of all is the ballroom, which has a beautiful ancient grotto attached to it. And if you’re dreaming of a traditional church ceremony, there’s a village church in nearby Colerne. With 500 acres of private woodland, a picturesque boating lake and a sweeping valley backed by a historic castle, Euridge Manor is one of the most glamorous venues we’ve seen in a long time. Book now for 2020 dates. You’re welcome.

 

15 Best Places to Visit in UK Photo Gallery

Coworth Park BERKSHIRE

 

The 10-acre wildflower meadow is Coworth Park crowning glory – and makes a pretty big-day photo backdrop. The ethereal vibe continues in the Oval Room, a blank canvas with fresh white walls that looks splendid when adorned with flickering church candles. After tucking into modern British food with a twist, cast open the glass doors to the private patio, festooned with fairy lights. Top marks for romance. dorchestercollection.com

 

The Hurlingham Club PUTNEY, LONDON

 

Tucked away within 42 acres on the banks of the River Thames, this private members’ sports and social club feels like it’s in the middle of the countryside rather than SW6. Make a slick, James Bond-style entrance by boat before heading to the glass-domed Palm Court in the Georgian clubhouse (for smaller gatherings, the Terrace Room has commanding river views). The Sunken Garden is a green oasis for cocktails. hurlinghamclub.org.uk

 

Kew Gardens RICHMOND, LONDON 

 

If there was an award for the leafiest loveliness in the capital, the restored Temperate House would claim first prize, hands down. The largest Victorian glasshouse in the world, it makes for a sensational evening setting as guests dine and dance among some of Kew Gardens’ 10,000 species of plants. Other options are the Nash Conservatory and the Orangery, which also tick the botanical box and offer an abundance of natural light. kew.org/venue-hire

 

Port Lympne Reserve KENT 

 

Fancy adding some animal magic to your big day? Then Port Lympne, Kent’s largest wildlife reserve, is for you – after all, not many people can say they got married and took their guests on a VIP safari to feed a giraffe! There’s also a Moroccan Courtyard decorated with antiques for afternoon tea and treehouses for a buffet with views of the rhinos. aspinallfoundation.org

 

Thirlestane Castle BERWICKSHIRE, SCOTLAND 

 

This ancient castle with a sandstone facade and majestic turrets is as pretty as a picture. The sumptuous State Drawing Room overlooks the Rose Garden; the cobbled Courtyard is superb for an al fresco celebration (book a marquee so you don’t have to worry about the weather). Then spend your first night as newlyweds in The Maitland Apartment – the setting is sublime. thirlestanecastle.co.uk 

 

Borthwick Castle MIDLOTHIAN, SCOTLAND 

 

This restored 15th-century keep, 30 minutes from Edinburgh, was once a refuge for Mary Queen of Scots, no less. A wedding here is about full-on Scottish flavour: saying your vows in the Garrison, a medieval banquet (or more casual barbecue), bagpipers and ceilidhs and, at the end of the night, drams of whisky in front of a roaring fire. Kilts for the groom’s party: optional. borthwickcastle.com 

 

Kensington Palace LONDON 

 

Home to our favourite young royals, Kensington Palace is literally fit for a king. The beautiful Orangery where Queen Anne once hosted lavish balls has a south-facing terrace; the Sunken Garden is special in spring for drinks when the tulips are in bloom; and the red King’s Gallery gets our vote for dinner. The shop has some inspired ideas for bridesmaid and usher thank-you gifts, too. hrp.org.uk 

 

Achnagairn Castle SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS

 

 Part of the Achnagairn Estate in Inverness, this castle has an ornate vaulted ballroom that seats up to 200 for dinner (fun fact: it’s one of the largest venues in the Highlands). Not keen on formalities? Tie the knot under the grand stone arch in the grounds before exploring the maze – just be back in time to raise a glass for the toasts! perfect-manors.com 

 

Osborne House ISLE OF WIGHT 

 

Once the family home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, this palatial property by the sea is exquisite. Have your ceremony on the private sandshingle beach, Champagne on the Belvedere Terrace and dinner in the grand Durbar Room, among a glittering collection of treasures given to the Queen as musicians play from the gallery above. No wonder this special house has the royal seal of approval. english-heritage.org.uk 

 

Blenheim Palace OXFORDSHIRE

 

You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to stellar spaces at this Baroque beauty. From the Orangery overlooking the Duke’s Italian garden (it was once used as the Marlborough family’s private theatre) to the Long Library with 10,000 books, each room is as enchanting as the next. The best place for a party? The L-shaped Water Terraces, which have space for bands and dancing. To really make an entrance, why not arrive by helicopter? blenheimpalace.com 

 

Ashford Castle CO. MAYO, IRELAND 

 

No request too large, no detail too small’ – that’s the attitude of the planning team at this 800-year-old castle, just outside the village of Cong. Guests will be wowed by views of Lough Corrib before gathering in traditional Oak Hall, all red walls and gold-framed paintings. And did we mention the wine cellars for tastings and the Reagan Presidential Suite, with its antique four-poster? ashfordcastle.com 

 

Clearwell Castle GLOUCESTERSHIRE 

 

 This castle in the Forest of Dean has seriously cool credentials, as it was once a recording studio for Led Zeppelin and Queen. It also has a showstopping 75-foot aisle (the perfect excuse for a long dress train) in the Ballroom, a Drawing Room with a baby grand piano, and a cellar bar with a dance floor. On warm days, kick things off with cocktails on the terrace and afternoon games of croquet. countryhouseweddings.co.uk 

I’LL ADMIT IT, 10 NIGHTS COOPED UP IN A CABIN THE SIZE OF A SMALL CAR, gliding through the Mediterranean with my mother-in-law, wasn’t exactly how I imagined my summer panning out – but, while it might seem surprising to you, it was actually a complete blast.

The thing is, I am rather unconventional. I absolutely adore my mother-in-law, Melanie, and count her as a second mother. I don’t have tales of mother-in-law woes full of bust-ups, cold shoulders and fights. We famously just, well, get along.

I met Melanie’s son, Matthew, when we were both sweet-cheeked first-year students at university. Fast-forward 11 years and we are now married and own a little flat together in Wimbledon.

I know my friends witness the intimacy of my bond with Melanie with absolute surprise – this, after all, is a relationship renowned for being ridiculously tricky, potentially venomous and spiteful. One study revealed that a staggering 60% of married women describe their relationship with their husband’s mother as bad.

When people say, ‘Oh, you’re so lucky’, I feel the urge to snap back, ‘Well, we worked really bloody hard at it.’ And it’s true, we did. Having met at 19, Matthew and I dated for an entire decade before tying the knot – and in that time, Melanie and I made a serious effort to get to know each other. I knew that she’d always be the other woman: the one who loves Matthew just as much as I do, who gave him life and who, in a primal sense, will always be his first loyalty. For Matthew and I to work, his mother and I needed to understand each other. So, we went about becoming friends.

my 10 day trip with my husbands mum

It was by no means a breeze to begin with. I remember soon after Matthew and I became a couple, Melanie suggested she and I go shopping together. I was hounded by niggling nerves – what the hell would I talk to her about in the car? Without her son there to steer the conversation into common ground, would the day just crumble into awkward silences? It turned out that, much like me, she was a bit of a naughty shopper, buying things she never needed but always wanted, and had an innate knack for digging out treasures in antique stores. Useful, I thought.

Other dates with my then-boyfriend’s mother followed. Lunches, afternoon teas, spa days – these were times when we were simply alone, without Matthew or his stepfather, and when we’d properly open up to each other; talking about everything —

When I was asked to go on a last-minute 10-day cruise and report back as part of my job working for a monthly glossy magazine, my own mother had work commitments, as did my husband, who was working abroad. My friends couldn’t just take half of their annual leave at the drop of a sun hat, either. So, why not ask my recently retired mother-in-law to join me?

She was hesitant at first: ‘Are you sure you want me to go with you? I don’t want to deprive someone else of the opportunity.’ While she was worried that I’d have rather gone with someone else, I was fearful that our bond would somehow be unravelled over the course of the trip. We’d never been in such close proximity for that length of time – what if we had a disagreement? Also, what if she saw me NAKED? We’d be stuck, longing to go home and everything we’d worked so hard for would be broken.

Before either of us had much time to dwell on things, the trip was underway. Our cabin was smaller than we’d expected, with two narrow beds within touching distance of each other and a bathroom you had to fold yourself to get into.

Miraculously, though, we managed.

We worked out a little sequence of getting ready, to maintain our modesty, and planned day trips (this meant compromising on things that pleased us both: half a day looking around a cathedral for her, followed by a beach visit for me). Then, after a day exploring, we’d toddle back to the boat and do our own thing to give each other space.

COULD YOU SHARE A SPACE THIS SIZE WITH YOUR MOTHER-IN-LAW?!

Everyone onboard the ship assumed that we were mother and daughter – and sometimes we just played along with it. There was one waiter whose flirting with me caused a little embarrassment, given the circumstances. But Melanie took it all in jest, giving me the all-clear when he’d left the room and coming up with an escape route for us to leave dinner one evening without him seeing.

In fact, dining together every night gave us greater opportunities to talk. I confided that my husband’s constant the country to start a family, wondering whether she thought it was a good idea.

I seek her advice purely because she doesn’t preach. Melanie is one of those women who are warm, great listeners, honest, thoughtful and never dish out life advice unless you ask for it. There’s no emotional manipulation, ever. The success of our relationship is partly due to the fact that neither of us has ever tried to compete with the other. Rather, we’ve embraced every chance we’ve had. Now that Matthew and I are married, Melanie understands that he has divided loyalties.

My husband, too, is immensely grateful. He’s watched it all evolve, and I know it makes him happy that his mother and I actively enjoy being in each other’s company. If anything, it’s proved to be an important part of our emotional well-being and we’ve become tighter as a result.

There were certain moments during our trip when Melanie and I were both moved to tears (sometimes it was just the sight of a twinkling harbour, shrouded in the glow of a sunset, that caused it); completely at ease, the two of us, brought together because of a mutual love for one person.

She has Matthew’s past and I have his future. Why should that mean we can’t get along today?

Brennan Sikes Shaffner, 34, married Thomas William Hoppe, 35, at Cornwell Manor, Oxfordshire, on 21st July 2017. She says:
We’re both from America and moved to London a couple of years ago for our jobs. We fell in love with the Cotswolds and it was a no-brainer that we would get married there.

As guests were travelling from the US, Germany and Austria, it was important for us to make it special, so we put together a full itinerary: on the Thursday we met at a local pub and on Friday we organised a tea at Daylesford, with a pool party. Tom then hosted a field dinner on the Friday night and the wedding itself was on the Saturday. Instead of having our honeymoon after the big day, we took advantage of the fact we had friends over from the US and travelled to one of our favourite beach villages,

Cap Ferret in France. Tom is the cook in our house, so he took charge of sorting all the menus. We had everything from a BBQ banquet to a three-course menu with a choice of pigeon, sea trout or venison. We were proud that we pulled off the glamping. We spent a long time organising the best showers and toilets, and making sure we had electricity – and our guests loved it! My top tip Hire a wedding planner who knows the venue/area and has relationships with local suppliers.
5 the best wedding venues in london perfect wedding guide wedding ideas
A chic chateau garden party

Millen Wolde-Selassie, 33, married Philippe Dewevre, 34, at Eglise Saint-Ouen and Chateau de Canon, France, on 5th-6th August 2017. She says:
By the time Philippe and I got married, we had attended so many weddings that we had a clear idea of what we wanted. It had to reflect our cultural backgrounds, our years spent living and working in London and our love of hosting family and friends. We had guests flying in from over 20 countries, so we really couldn’t have asked for a better turnout!

We visited 20 venues in France and Germany before deciding on Chateau de Canon in the charming Normandy countryside. ‘The family who own it were so excited about hosting our wedding – everything felt just right. It was vital for us that people had fun and enjoyed themselves, so we had lawn games, big garden furniture and a kids’ area with colouring books and babysitters. Our stylist created an incredible interactive table plan – it was a real ice-breaker for guests.

We had a weekend full of events: on the Sunday there was an Eritrean-Ethiopian celebration called Melse as a nod to my family. I wore traditional clothing and found an Ethiopian restaurant in Paris to provide a buffet including samosa, salads and the national staple, injera bread. This was followed by a traditional coffee ceremony served by my aunts.

My top tip Start planning early and make sure you get support – it all took a lot longer than I expected!

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So pretty in Provence!

Caroline Hogan, 29, married Daniel Baneth, also 29, at Clos Saint Esteve, France, on 24th June 2018. She says:
Provence is very special to us – it was the first place we went on holiday together and my grandma lives about 10 miles down the road from the venue. As she is no longer able to travel abroad, we thought we’d bring the party to her. I bought the first gown I tried on. It was Mira Zwillinger’s ‘Calla’ dress – blush, with embroidered detailing that matched the lavender fields… plus it was lightweight and comfy. I didn’t initially want to buy the first dress I tried on, as I thought it was too good to be true, but I visited other boutiques and nothing compared, so I went back and bought it!

Our goal for the day was to create an intimate, elegant and relaxed setting, filled with fairy lights, candles and flowers, where we could celebrate and make memories. My favourite thing about the overall design of the wedding was the cascading set of lights that hung above the three banquet tables we had sitting in between rows of olive trees. It was important that we used local produce – we had fresh meat and fish with fruits and vegetables. Our favourite dish? Beef fillet with zucchini and greens. Instead of a traditional wedding cake, we had a croquembouche with flavours such as vanilla, chocolate and salted caramel. My top tip Create an environment where no one has to think about anything and everyone can relax and have fun!

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Tailor-made country cool

Chris Mouskoundi, 43, married Matthew Cameron, 31, at Aynhoe Park, Oxfordshire, on 4th August 2018. He says:
We wanted our wedding day to be a representation of ourselves, and we broke it up into three clear areas: the ceremony – this was elegant and very special to us; the wedding breakfast – simple, relaxed and enjoyable (we didn’t want it to be overly traditional); and then the evening – we just wanted to have an amazing party for everyone… and that’s what we did! Both our suits were bespoke Thom Sweeney; we picked the same fabric and then had them designed and made individually.

We each opted for a three-piece suit and didn’t share the details of our respective choices until the day. As a surprise for our guests, we arrived for the ceremony in a navy blue helicopter! It was an experience we won’t ever forget. We wanted our cake to be a real masterpiece. It was six tiers with delicate sugar hydrangeas and clematis and our initials handcrafted in copper. Our event organisers arranged an army of 20 models to greet guests, serve Champagne and make sure that everyone was OK during the dinner. My top tip If something starts to worry you, change it. We originally planned a first dance, but it became a tension point – so in the end we decided not to have one.

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Emma Lovett, 27, married Dominic Harding, 29, at Grande Provence, Franschhoek, South Africa, on 6th February 2016. She says:
Franschhoek is quite possibly the most beautiful place we’ve visited. The backdrop of the mountains and the fact that it’s also a winery sold it to us! As we had lots of guests travelling from all over the world, we put on three days of celebrations: a meet-up lunch, the wedding, then brunch on the Sunday. It was a great way for our guests to meet and spend time together. For the wedding, I wanted to create a floral wooded wonderland. We covered the tables in moss, used wooden log plates as table settings and had flowers and candles everywhere.

One of the hardest tasks to organise was transport: I wanted to pick up all 100 guests, from 25 hotels, in coaches. I made CDs of typical wedding songs to get everyone in the mood: think Elton John’s Chapel Of Love blaring out. Instead of favours, we left hangover kits in guests’ rooms with eye drops, sunglasses, painkillers and lip balms. On the Sunday, we held a hungover brunch. We had a braai of steak and fries, ate wedding cake and danced. Then Dominic and I were taken back to Cape Town by helicopter – one of the best moments from the wedding was seeing our guests waving to us as we flew away! My top tip Research and figure out your themes before meeting with suppliers – and find ones that fit your vision, rather than them dictating to you.

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