Real Weddings – Melanie & Chris

After a magical, movie-worthy engagement, Melanie and Chris chose to celebrate their wedding at Hampshire wedding venue Careys Manor Hotel & SenSpa. We caught up with the couple to see how their special day went...

How did you meet?

We met at summer school whilst at Bournemouth University in July 2006. Chris actually ignored me for two hours when I sat next to him. It wasn’t until the lecturer told us to turn and introduce ourselves to each other, that he turned said “Hi” and then grinned and said “Oh! Hello!”

Despite doing two completely different courses, we remained good friends, and eventually one of us was brave enough to tell the other our feelings were more than just friends.

How did Chris propose? 

We had been together for 10 years before Chris proposed and I had almost given up on the idea of it happening. Chris announced that I needed to cancel an agency shift I’d booked because he was taking me away on a surprise holiday. The destination was also a secret and two days before we departed Chris revealed that we were going to New York! On our final night, Chris had organised for us to go ice skating at the Wollman ice rink in Central Park which was extra special as I had been a figure skater for 15 years.

After we skated around a few times the other people started to clear the ice and I kept saying to Chris that we should leave too but he said we still had a few moments, so we kept skating and chatting and then he asked me to follow him. We skated to the middle of the rink and it was there that Chris got down on one knee and popped the question. Unbeknownst to me, everyone cleared the ice as they knew Chris was going to propose and I had completely forgotten that they were there until they all cheered! It was so magical! My Dad had taken me to skate at the Wollman ice rink when I was a little girl and I had always dreamed of getting engaged there but never told anyone!

Finding Hampshire wedding venue Careys Manor Hotel

After a rather unsuccessful day looking at New Forest venues, my dad suggested we visit Careys Manor Hotel for a drink and to see if there was availability. We loved the venue, it was beautiful but relaxed and the reception team was so welcoming and helpful. We heard from the events team that our preferred date was available and we put it on hold straight away! Chris and I then came back for our show round just a few days later. We loved the flexibility of Careys Manor, attention to detail was great and we were able to make the day personal to us. We returned for a wedding showcase and were more in love! What we really liked about Careys Manor was that there were areas for us all to be together, without being in separate places. And that those who couldn’t dance were still able to watch. The outside areas were pretty and private too, and the rooms just flowed!

The Flowers

We used Little Lillies who we met at the wedding showcase. We loved Owen’s unique style and he just seemed to be in sync with us so we also used him for my bouquets and button holes. Our flowers were stunning! We wanted bright colours as we had no specific colour theme. And Owen absolutely delivered!

The Food

Quite simply, we chose our food because it tasted great! We tried some of the canapés at the wedding showcase and really liked the variety of options.

We had our food tasting for our wedding breakfast, and the portion sizes were perfect. We left so full and so happy – the food was so tasty! I have to admit, Chris got half a spoonful of the ‘Lemon Meringue Tart and Raspberry Sorbet’ as I didn’t want to share! The menu had so many options which we found most venues didn’t! The variety made such a difference to us.

We loved that for our evening buffet, there were multiple choices from a cold buffet to a barbecue, and even an American diner theme. Our favourite menu, which we chose, was the butter chicken, vegetable curry, rice, poppadoms, and trifle. Our guests loved it and we have been told it made a refreshing change!!

The Photographer 

We met our photographer Simon John at the Careys Manor wedding showcase. We chose Simon because his images are stunning! He was friendly, and so excited about our engagement story and wedding which was very special! Simon went above and beyond for us on the run-up to the wedding, the day itself and afterwards. I don’t enjoy having my photograph taken but Simon managed to make me feel relaxed and I even found it fun!

The Cake

Our wedding cake was made by Richard Leach of The Cake Man. We chose him because we loved his designs and he offered a large variety of flavours and icing options, plus, he was so friendly and knowledgeable. As we got engaged on the ice, it was something we wanted to include in our cake. Richard made sure that the tiny skaters on the cake that I had bought fitted in and blended with the theme as well as our bride and groom topper, which a friend had painted for us. The cake was delicious! We chose lemon drizzle top tier, Victoria sponge for the middle, and then fruitcake on the bottom tier.

The Dress

My dress was an ‘Essence of Australia’ gown, bought from Anya Bridal Couture. It was actually one of the first dresses I tried on! I loved the lace detailing and the sparkle, it fitted beautifully! My veil just finished the look perfectly. My shoes were from Harriet Wilde.

The bridesmaid’s dresses came from Wed2b. The whole process was made so easy as they have six different styles of dresses available in every colour. I asked my bridesmaids to try on each style and pick which one they felt most comfortable in (funnily enough they all chose the same one, despite not all being together when they tried them) and we then chose the colour that we liked the most.

The Suits

Chris’s dad is very proud of his Scottish heritage, which is why Chris decided to wear a kilt – and he looked so handsome in it too! Chris’s Kilt was made by Macgregor & Macduff who also provided the rest of the outfit, which was either bought or rented, except for the sporran which was from St Kilda Kilts.

Chris’ cravat and the Groomsmen’s outfits all came from was from Windsor Formal Hire, whom Chris has gone to for a very long time. Their attention to detail as well as the fittings were great.

The Makeup Artist

Lisa Virgo, my makeup artist, was an absolute lifesaver on the run-up to the wedding and the day itself, our makeup was flawless. She kept us all calm, helped us all into our dresses, and made sure we were on schedule. She was fantastic! Before the day she gave skin care advice and makeup prep – I really could not have managed without her.

The Entertainment 

As we went with the Complete Celebration Package the resident DJ was included in our package; his name was Aelred “A” Kuppan. He was fantastic! He went above and beyond for us, he listened to our music tastes, and got to know us, even helping us cut the music for our entrance and exit songs for the church. He was so fun, friendly, and approachable, we loved him, as did our guests. We had a lot of dancing to do!! He even let our crazy friend have a go on his decks.



To start planning your day at New Forest wedding venue, Careys Manor Hotel, contact us to book a personal show around with one of our Wedding Coordinators or visit us at our next Wedding Open Day.


Photography credit: Simon John Photography