We became Mr and Mrs Taylor on 25th August. We were married in my family church St John the Baptist RC Church in Annitsford where all my previous religious ceremonies had taken place such as my baptism, first Holy communion and confirmation so all in all a very special church for us. Our reception venue was out of this world and I walked in and cried when I visited as I knew it was the one just like the dress! It was St Mary's Heritage Centre in Gateshead which is a beautiful 12th century church which you see as your drive over our renowned Tyne Bridge. For many years, this building was the only church in Gateshead and has often been described as Gateshead's mother church. It's a blank canvas; exactly what we wanted as we hired the building and everything else we organised ourselves.
Darren and I met at the three Mile pub in Gosforth Newcastle and he proposed on the 20th August 2016 over a Chinese. I know for a fact he bought the rings that day and they were burning a hole in his pocket.
Stephen Russell was our photographer and very generously was gifted to us for the day by his lovely wife Victoria who was my mind of honour – it’s not what you know, but who hey!
As for the dress I always knew I wanted the longest train which would complement the aisle at St John's. I wanted detail and sparkle, yet it had to be elegant. I wanted buttons up the back and not ribbon and it was a must for me to have my bust covered to make me as a fuller lady feel classy, and sleeves were always on the agenda - I didn't want a strapless style dress.
I visited one shop and tried on only 2 dresses. I has an out of this world experience from start to finish and actually wish I could work for them! The shop is called Brides dream in Walkergate, Newcastle. This shop is where 20 years previous my Mam had picked her own wedding gown from when she married my Dad. I was adamant I wanted to go to this shop only and have the same experience she did. It is also close to my heart as I had been there before with my Mam and my Gran trying bridesmaid dresses on. I remember my Mam saying, "All those things you want in a dress Gemma, you will have to keep your options open and try some other shops".
I walked in and although the shop had evolved it was the same warm welcome as it was when we went all those years ago with my Gran, who is sadly no longer with us. At the shop it was a lady called Dawn who was my fairy Godmother. She took one look at me and welcomed me personally. I have to say as a plus size girl I was concerned and anxious about trying dresses on and wondered if a small family boutique would have dresses to cater for all.
I did not give anything away to Dawn and she initially brought out about 4 dresses and hung 2 in my dressing room. Both of which were in plastic covers and I could not get a feel for either. The first one I put on was fishtail, never something I would have chosen myself, but she was the professional. I barely let her fasten me in and instantly knew it was not for me. With a gentle persuasion she asked me to show Mam and her twin who we brought along with her, I opened and closed the curtain quickly!
The next dress to try on was Robyn, style 68060. It still gives me goose pimples to this day! It offered me everything and more that I wanted in a dress and it came with the most fabulous extendable train which I could have on for the day and clip off at night for a dance. The feeling of putting that dress on and it offered everything I wanted was amazing - I could feel myself welling up. As Dawn opened the curtains, I could see my mam and aunty loved it just as much as me and as it was only the second dress, I was worried to even say YES TO DRESS, but I did! It made me feel unreal, super glam yet super sophisticated with every little detail I wanted on it and more.
I accessorised it with a simple diamanté crystal shoulder length veil which was attached at the back of my hair and a stunning hair band style vine.
As for the wedding, I absolutely loved every minute of wedding planning and would do everything the same a second time over. Our theme was silver, grey and navy with bursts of vibrant colour from the flowers. I'm well known for my lashes and bright lipstick and therefore the colour was important for this but also to make the platinum bridesmaid dresses and the navy suits really stand out.
My top tip for brides would be to plan, set reasonable budget and give yourself a buffer but never go over it. I made lots of lovely bits myself such as my favours, name tags, breakfast menus church programmes and even my wedding invitations.
The best bit had to be my Grandad’s (who is no longer with us) choir singing for us, Backworth Male Voice Choir who my Grandad was part of for 40 plus years. They sang some songs very close to my heart; A Tyneside medley of well know Geordie songs and most importantly sang me and my new hubby out to You'll never walk alone.
The funniest would have to be the Owl! I can’t even explain this one, but the family and friends will get it!
I would also like to add just how incredibly special my time with Dawn at Brides Dream was. She knew our story and she knew how close I was to my Gran and Grandad and how hard it was for them not to see me marry my Mr right. Dawn was so kind and she made me feel so great and welcome and never awkward for all the list of things I was looking for. She is a lovely down to earth woman who treats every bride as if it's the only bride she has to ever deal with, she had a wealth of knowledge and made the experience truly memorable for me and my family.