Real wedding at Chester Zoo

Today is our first wedding anniversary,

 

so to mark the occasion I thought I’d share a ‘real wedding’ guest blog I wrote for Brides Up North.

 

Alison & Tristan holding hands during wedding ceremony

 

As it transpired, this article was to spark a chain of events which ultimately led me to launch 4Manchester Women. After this piece I continued to write a weekly guest blog – I learned a lot and was inspired by Julia at Brides Up North, for which I will always be very grateful.

 

Alison & Tris laughing

 

 

Our wedding was an amazing day, not just because we had so many of our family and friends around us, but because I’d managed to get there full stop. Not only had I finally found someone who wanted to marry me, but I’d managed to survive cancer. It so easily could have been different.

 

Tris waiting at the alter

 

I’ve often heard people describe their other half as their rock and thought it sounded a bit tossy. But it is true. I’m so lucky. He was always there with me by my side. No fuss. No drama – just quietly getting on with getting me through my treatment. If you find public declarations of affection upsetting – look away now …..

 

Happy anniversary darling – thank you for a wonderful first year as Mrs P and for six years as my best bud. xxxx

 

Anyway, for those of you who were at our wedding, here is a bit of a reminder. For those of you who weren’t – you missed a really great day!

 

Group wedding shot at Chester Zoo

 

The week before the wedding, I gave a daily update on Facebook. Looking back they are quite funny and well worth sharing:

Sat 4th June
Hells bells – this time next week I’ll be on my way to Chester to get married. Bl**dy hell ……. Bl**dy hell ……. but in a good way!!

Sun 5th June
My main concern today is whether I will be able to wear a vest under my wedding dress! I’ve been Googling weather websites and finally found one for Chester which said it would be 30 degrees. I was very excited until I realised it was Chester Arizona!

Mon 6th June
Five days to go! Have discovered that magic knickers aren’t really magic at all. They just push the flab up into your arm pits. No bride wants B(r)ad Pitts on her wedding day.  Have emptied M&S of every kind of flesh coloured pants. Am not taking any chances!

Tues 7th June
Is very excited to confirm that the ceremony is being performed by a media celebrity. No, not Liza Minnelli – but while watching the ‘Andy & Hannah from Colwyn Bay’ edition of ‘Don’t Tell the Bride’ (for the second time) – essential viewing for all Brides to be – I spotted our lovely registrar Carol, doing the ‘I do’.

Weds 8th June
Three days to go! Was woken up in the night by the cat trying to eat a dead bird in my new wedding shoes. If I could replicate what happened next, I’d be giving Usain Bolt a run for his money in next years Olympics! Bad Charley!

Thurs 9th June
Two days to go – and it’s also five years today since Tris and I went on our first date. What a five years – I’ve travelled round the world, been made redundant twice, Tris moved in, I got cancer, got engaged, I got a new immune system (& new hair), kicked cancer’s butt (hopefully) and in two days I get to marry the man who has stuck with me throughout this crazy roller coaster. I’m a lucky girl.  Manicure & pedicure – check. Lime & ginger scrub and body glow – check. I’m starting to transform into a bride!!!

Fri 10th June
One day to go – and Charley is now wearing his special wedding collar. To all our guests travelling from far and wide today – have a good journey and travel safely. Am so excited, trying hard not to bubble over and peak too soon. Oh My God – I’m now entering the ‘Wedding Weekend’ planning spreadsheet!  The Sale and Altrincham Messenger have been on the phone – and we’re in! They want to do an article. I’m like Max Clifford!  Tris is in Chester, I’m in Sale with Dad and sister. I’ve ticked the last thing off my list. Night night Alison Staples. Tomorrow a whole new chapter begins!

Sat 11th June – Wedding Day!
Holy Matrimony Batman! I’ve had no sleep – but the sun is shining. Right – breath – gather – shall I go and get married? Absof*****lutely!!

 

This my ‘real wedding blog’ that I did for Brides Up North.

 

Wild Thing! A Real Wedding – Alison & Tristan

 

I met Tris in June 2006 after I fibbed about my age and went boy shopping on the internet. This was very sensibly three weeks after having booked a six month round the world trip.

 

Alison & Tris in Bratislava

 

We not only survived this separation, but also my cancer diagnosis for Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma three years later which culminated in me having a stem cell transplant in April 2010.

We got engaged just after I became ill on ‘The Lovers Island’ (pure fluke) off Anglesey with Tris buying me a fabulous engagement ring which was much admired over the next eight months by my chemo nurses!

 

Steven Stone engagement ring

 

After a positive scan result we took the plunge and decided to set the date (timed to put enough distance between my illness and the wedding and for my hair to grow back). There was only one place that felt right. With my degree and PhD in Zoology and Tris having lived in Africa for two years -  Oakfield Manor at Chester Zoo was perfect. And with all the help and support we’d  received from family and friends, I was determined to put on a really big party to say thank you and with nearly 50 children invited what better place than the zoo.

When you have a fabulous venue like a zoo, you don’t need to worry about other gimmicks or themes, though there were quite a few blue butterflies dotted around on invitations, orders of service and bridesmaids dresses.

I tried hard to save money where I could so that the budget could be used to invite more people and add little touches which would make a big difference. For example, as a nod to Tris’ London roots we booked a red London Routemaster wedding bus to transport guests from the centre of Chester out to the zoo, while I arrived in a peacock blue Rolls Royce Silver Shadow.

 

Red London Wedding busRed London Wedding busAlison & blue Rolls Royce Silver ShadowRed London Wedding Bus & Blue Rolls Royce Silver ShadowRed London Wedding Bus

 

I continued the butterfly theme by wearing a dress called Papillon by Jenny Packham and my newly regrown hair looked fabulous with my Flo & Percy headpiece. I loved my flowers too, huge blue / purple orchids were stunningly sculptured by The Design Element in Irlam.

 

As reference to Tris’ marathon running exploits, I walked down the aisle to ‘The Trap’, by Ron Goodwin (the theme tune to the London Marathon) and half an hour later we danced out to ‘The Lion Sleeps Tonight’ much to the delight of the guests.

 

Leaving the wedding ceremony at Chester Zoo

 

At the height of the day we had over 170 guests who enjoyed afternoon tea of scones, jam and pimms, while the children played on the lawns or upstairs with the two childminders that we’d hired – very popular with the parents!

 

Glasses of PimmsAlison & Tris leaving Oakfield Manor at Chester ZooBest man Paul with the drinksBridesmaids playingThe big group family shotLittle girls with Chester Zoo UmbrellaAlison with her girlsJapanese gardens at Chester Zoo

After speeches on the terrace, and once the zoo had closed to the public, our guests were divided into three groups, The Cheeky Monkeys, The Graceful Giraffes and The Kings of the Jungle, and taken on a private safari of the zoo with the keepers. In addition to seeing all of the above, guests also saw penguins, flamingos and jaguars to name but a few.

 

Speeches on the terrace at Chester ZooWedding message from Brentford FCAlison & Tristan on the terrace during speeches Chester ZooGuests on terrace for wedding at Chester ZooFather of the bride and best manBest boy getting his giftCheeky Monkey Safari GroupSafari Group at Chester ZooGiraffes at Chester ZooWedding guests on safari at Chester ZooBuffalo at Chester Zoo

Returning to the Manor House, a magnificent BBQ was served which guests tucked into along with a fabulous sacher torte wedding cake made by a friend and cup cakes from Lilybud Cupcakes, before dancing it all off with a massive school disco fuelled by a candy bar full of retro sweets.

 

Wedding BBQ at Chester ZooSacher torteWedding Disco at Chester ZooWedding disco at Chester Zoo

We left just before midnight to the sounds of ‘Moon River’, spending the night in Chester before heading off to Paris for a Mini-moon full of treats bought as wedding presents by guests from our Bliss-List wedding list (this is our ‘Love Lock’ which is on a bridge over the Seine).

 

Love locks over the Seine in Paris

 

The whole day, which was full of love and laughter was captured beautifully by one of Tris’ university friends, Jon Roach of FourT4 photography.

 

I hope you enjoyed our ‘real wedding’. It really was the best day. I can’t believe we’re already having our first anniversary.

 

Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)

 

Photographs: Alison Staples, Rob Wood and FourT4

This is not a sponsored blog post.

 

 

 

 

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