Lauren and Sam – St. Peters Church, Petersfield and Southdowns Manor – Sunday 2nd October 2016

So, I’ve been working with Joanna for a few months now, sharing the love stories of the couples she photographs. And while I’ve enjoyed writing all of these, this blog is particularly special, as this is the story of my beautiful big sister Lauren and her lovely (now HUSBAND!) Sam.

Like many love stories, theirs began in a pub, the Portsmouth Registry. It was a cold night in November, Lauren and Sam had both just started university and were enjoying one of the Registry’s famous student nights.  Sam immediately caught Lauren’s eye when she entered the bar. However, Lauren was too scared to go up and say hello. Luckily, Lauren’s friend was feeling a lot more confident and marched straight up to Sam before giving him Lauren’s number. Thrilled that he’d grabbed Lauren’s attention, Sam wasted no time in texting her and organising their first official date at the Wine Vaults on Albert Road.

The couple then enjoyed a fun three years together at Portsmouth University, before graduating in 2008. Sam then returned to his home town of Essex while Lauren remained in Portsmouth. Undeterred by the distance, Sam and Lauren continued their romance, with Sam making the three hour journey every weekend to come and visit.

In 2014, after a lot of hard work and saving, the pair were delighted to buy their first house together in Southsea. A year later, as they approached their tenth anniversary, Sam whisked Lauren away to Florence for a romantic holiday. However, secret to Lauren, Sam had something big planned to make this trip extra special. And on the third day of their trip, Sam proposed to Lauren in front of the historic cathedra Duomo.  Lauren immediately said yes and the excited couple quickly rang their family to share the happy news – including me who literally couldn’t wait to pick them up from the airport and get planning the wedding!

On their return, Lauren, Sam (and I!) got the wedding plans underway. Choosing the venue was the first job on the list and after being a bridesmaid at my friend’s wedding there last year, I suggested Southdowns Manor. Lauren and I then made a visit there on a grey November afternoon. Despite the dismal weather, it still looked absolutely stunning and Lauren knew it was the venue for her.

Less than a year of busy wedding planning later, the wedding arrived. A beautiful sunny Sunday in October, the day began at 6.30am with Lauren getting her hair and makeup done at our parents’ home in Lovedean. There was lots of nervous excitement felt by me, my mum, the bridesmaids but surprisingly not Lauren, who instead appeared freakishly calm.

Our mum ensured Lauren was fed and set for the wedding, making a breakfast of scrambled eggs and Champagne, before Joanna arrived to start photographing the day.  Joanna and her assistant then captured a range of beautiful shots, while her wedding pro mum provided some much needed help tying up the dresses and advice on what jewellery to wear.  Before long it was time to go to the church in Petersfield. Arriving in the square, the crowds of people visiting the Petersfield Market looked on curiously as Lauren got out of the Jaguar, kindly borrowed from our parents’ neighbour.

Lauren then entered St Peter’s Church to the traditional wedding march with our dad, followed by me and the other bridesmaids, our older sister Gina and Lauren’s best friend Natalie. Saying the vowels, Lauren remained beautifully calm, while Sam tried to hide his nerves. After the service Joanna caught some more lovely shots of the couple and their friends and family in the grounds of the church before everybody made their way to Southdowns Manor. The sun continued to shine as the wedding party enjoyed drinks and canapés in the grounds of the manor, before everybody got stuck into a tasty wedding breakfast.

After the meal our dad gave a moving speech, recounting stories of Lauren’s childhood traits and how she met Sam. Sam then gave his speech, leaving everyone in tears (especially his mum!) before both his brothers did theirs, leaving everyone in stitches! Lauren and Sam then cut their delicious wedding cake and had their first dance to Aerosmith, “I don’t wanna miss a thing.”

The wedding party continued way into the night with traditional ‘East End dancing’ led by Sam’s family and a particularly funny dance off. The last song of the night was Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, which saw everyone join together on the dance floor, bringing an absolutely perfect day to an absolutely perfect end.

Images taken by Joanna Cleeve Photography 

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