Melissa & Howards Secret Gretna Green Wedding

17th March 2010

The few days leading up to the wedding were a little strange. I went to my parents house on the Sunday as it was mothers day and it was really hard not to let it slip but I managed it!!

The Monday was quite uneventful and we both had an earlyish night for the journey to Gretna on the Tuesday morning.

Tuesday morning we woke up and started to pack the car.  Howard said to me 'you bring everything down from the bedroom & I'll pack the car' (he's so much better at that sort of stuff than me!!)

All the boxes of decorations, table presents, place cards and the three-tier cake were all stacked up in the living room & Howard said 'is that it?' I said yep, and realised my dress wasn't there!!  (It was still in the wardrobe!!)  panic over, dress packed safely in the car and we were off!!

Lovely scenery en route.

The journey was ok, fairly uneventful so I won't waffle on about it!!  About a 3 and a half hour drive.  Lovely scenery en route.  Snow covered mountains!  It was lovely.

We pulled into Gretna as we had to collect our marriage papers from the registry office and as we drove through I saw all the 'venues' that I had looked at on the internet - The old Blacksmiths shop being the main one, it was strange seeing it 'in the flesh!'  papers collected and the instructions of what we were to do with them firmly in our minds we were off to our venue!!

The Mill where we were getting married was only about another 5 minutes away so we soon got there, and it looked lovely! 

We checked into our room, lovely big bridal suite, complimentary champagne on ice, chocolates, whirlpool bath, man we were in Heaven!!We waited for Laura, Dave & Isabelle to arrive and we went for dinner (last one as single people!!)

As we all had a big day we decided on a early night so we left at about 9pm so we could all get a good nights kip & be nice & refreshed.  We arranged to meet for breakfast at 08.30.

Strange bed, strange sheets and really hot...

I had a terrible nights sleep, strange bed, strange sheets and really hot so was awake from about 3am to what felt like about 5 am!!  I got up at 8am, looked out the window and it was dry!!!!!  Hurrah! 

With a smile on my face I had a shower and washed my hair before brekkie.  Howard got up & had shower and we went to meet Laura & Dave who were already in the breakfast room. 

Isabelle had woken them both up at 04.30am, and they had all been awake since then.  Howard never sleeps for more than 3 hours at a time, he had been awake since 01.15, we all looked like matchsticks were needed!!!  Not a good look for our wedding day!

I had planned to have my hair washed, dried & straightened, with makeup and undies on by the time the hairdresser & nail lady arrived at 11am so from 11am to 12.45 I could just sit & let nails dry. 

We all headed back to our rooms and Howard would go into Laura & Dave's room at 11 (plans going well so far!!)

Bright pink fleecy sheep pyjamas

From 9am to about 10.30 I took this time to prepare my hair, and carefully apply my make up, it was quite calming actually! 

I bought some special bright pink fleecy sheep pyjamas for this moment and I looked a million dollars (in my head!) Howard took this time to have a little snooze on the bed!

Amy & Daryl from Moments Videography texted me, so I knew they were on their way.  Howard woke to ask what time people were going to start arriving and then there was a little knock at the door, it was Amy & Daryl!!

Introductions over, Howard & Daryl made their way over to Laura & Dave's room & Laura was going to get ready with me.  Then there was another knock & the hair & nail people arrived!!

I settled down with them and there was ANOTHER knock and the cleaning lady turned up!!!  She quickly scooted round, made the bed, refreshed the champagne & chocolates and quickly disappeared!!  (They were soon opened and consumed by me, Laura & Amy!!)

By this time I was done and ordered not to move by the nail lady for at least 1 hour as to not smudge my nails (it was about an hour & a half to ceremony)

Desperate not to smudge the nails! 

The last hour or so seems to pass by in a blur, Dave dropped Isabelle off so Laura could put her tiara on and she looked like a little princess. 

Laura in all the mayhem managed to get herself ready and iron my dress and do everything that I couldn't as I was desperate not to smudge the nails! 

Amy was also scooting round helping out here & there and taking lots of pictures of me in my pink pyjamas!

Daryl kept popping back to film bits & bobs and said Howard was as cool as a cucumber and was asking about me, how I was getting on, Daryl said to Howard that I was doing good and was very calm (which I was!) and Howard replied with 'of course she is, she is marrying me!!'

The Dress Still Fitted!

It was now time to get the dress on!!!  It still fitted!!!  (I'd been having nightmares about that!!)

Last minute make up touches and perfume spraying and there was a knock at the door and it was Maggie the wedding coordinator to walk me, Laura & Isabelle over to the chapel.  

I was still doing ok and not nervous at all until I saw Daryl & Amy filming & taking pictures!!  It suddenly hit me and I started to cry!!!! 

We stopped outside the door and Laura was doing breathing exercises with me to calm me down!! 

The reverend came out to ask a couple of questions and then it was time to walk in!

This is it!

The double doors opened, I heard my walk in music and I thought 'this is it! I gripped Isabelle's hand and we were off down the aisle!!  I could see Howard at the end but he wasn't looking at me!!! 

Halfway down he turned and looked at me, complete shock in his eyes, as I reached him, all he said was 'wow'.

Afterwards he told me that the reverend said she would tell him when to look, and there was me thinking he doesn't want to turn round!!  She had waited till I was nearly at the front to say to him to turn round!

The reverend then started the ceremony; we held hands throughout & looked at each other the whole way through. 

Howard said all his vows flawlessly, I could feel myself stating to well up again 'just' on the last line and heard my voice wobble, but I managed to get the words out somehow! 

Dave bless him was in charge of the rings and at the 'ring moment' they were presented between us, in their little box, just pulled out far enough for them to be removed easily but not too far that they would fall out. 

Dave said afterwards he was having nightmares about that bit and checked they were still there a million times!

Woo hoo we were married!!

It was then time to kiss the bride!!  Woo hoo we were married!!  More photos of the signing of the register, and Laura & Dave had their moment as witnesses. 

They were under strict instructions from the reverend NOT to write outside of any of the boxes and in his nervousness Dave actually spelt the name of his road wrong on the second sheet they had to fill in!! 

Luckily it was only the check details form and not the actual register!! 

We then walked back down the aisle as man and wife to 'Signed, Sealed, Delivered, by Stevie Wonder! 

I asked Howard if he was wearing his 'Put Put' cufflinks & his  'Property of Mrs Spence' boxers and he said yes he was! He said he was shocked at all the planning I had done and how lovely everything looked!  He had a little tear in his eye as well, but he said it was the wind making his eyes water!

The Confetti Moment

We were then outside for photos, and a confetti moment! 

The Mill grounds are fabulous for photos; there is the Gretna Green sign, a Mill Wheel, Kissing Gate, Anvil, little bandstand so we were spoilt for choice!

We made our way into the restaurant for our meal.  The Mill staff had laid out our table and decorated it with all the little bits & bobs I had been collecting and assembled our cake brilliantly!

I decided to make a little speech before dinner, so Daryl set up the video camera, I thanked Isabelle for looking gorgeous and Laura & Dave for travelling all that way and for being our witnesses and gave them their presents. 

Laura & Dave loved the personalised whiskey! 

Howard then stood up and said he wanted to say a few words; all I can remember is him saying he wouldn't have got through the last 2 years without me!

Little warm crusty rolls

We started dinner, as there was only a few of us we got to each pick what we wanted to eat so I had even less stress about selecting a set menu!! (these small weddings are the way forward I tell you!!)

We had little warm crusty rolls, me & Laura hacked into ours as true Harvey girls!, Howard cut his as you can see from the attached photo, what a perfectionist!!! (I don't think I'll cope with being a Spence if that's what I have to live up to!!)

After dinner we all decided to have a bit of a breather, (and a bit of kip!) so Amy & Daryl went to check into their hotel and we all went back to our rooms and arrange to meet back up again at 18.30 for some night time pictures, cake cutting and our 1st dance!!

Night Time Photos

We met back in the bar after the 'interval' and were whisked off in the cold (it was actually warmer than it was earlier in the afternoon!) for the night time pictures by the mill wheel & anvil all lit up (can't wait to see them!!) 

The dinner table from earlier had been cleared away & 'So Close' by Dina Carroll' came on and it was time for our 1st dance!! 

The words really seem to fit.

'I know about all your faults, Somehow they never deter me. There are times I look at you and I realise that you need me too, but after all is said and done there's nothing sweeter'

Peppa Pig slippers

We did the cut the cake pictures and settled down in the bar for some quiet drinks and to chat about the day with Laura, Dave, Amy & Daryl.  Isabelle was asleep in her pushchair as this point; the poor little mite was shattered!! 

She was still wearing her posh dress but her Peppa Pig slippers had replaced the shoes!

We are not big drinkers; everyone was pooped so we decided to call it a night at about 10pm. (besides which we wanted a go in the whirlpool bath!!)

We got back in our room, ran the bath, turned on the whirlpool and the rest I will leave to your imagination!!

After 12 and a half years of being together I can't believe that we are husband & wife.  Our day was perfect, we had everything that a 'normal' wedding would have but none of the stresses that goes with it! 

Howard said he couldn't believe all the planning that had gone into it and how I had done it all myself!! (I didn't have the heart to tell him that the Chaos girls had a massive helping hand!)

Laura & Dave were the best guests, witnesses, parents of the flowergirl, matron of honour, best man and wedding planners that I could have wished for. 

Amy & Daryl from Moments were wonderful too and I can't thank them enough for everything.

I couldn't have wished for a better day.

One Day in Gretna Green

(Written for Melissa & Howard Spence)

By Jasmine Johnson

Twelve long years they've been together
Love-birds the whole way through
Battling all life's stormy weather
And enjoying the good ones too!

Mel Harvey and her handsome Prince
The groom? His first name is Howard
They slipped away and became 'one' Spence
Believe me, they're no coward!

One whole year they sealed their lips
Hardly anyone they told a thing!
Cos on their lips they kept those zips
Shhhh! A fine pair of wedding rings!

Shall we do it? Howard had said
Yes, said Mel, but I want no fuss
We'll slip away and get us Wed
Before our plans are sussed

So, on the 17th day of March, 2'10
They rushed to Gretna Green!
Miss Harvey, well. she dressed so fiiiine
You should have seen her then

Down to the Mill in Gretna Green
Vows taken in heavenly bliss
And under the wheel they can be seen
In a locked embrace they kissed

And there she was, Mel my mate
And her brand new husband, Howard
Smiling under the Kissing Gate
Like confetti, their love were showered

Worth more than gold or any money
A blessing from above
In Gretna Green's Holy Matrimony
They sealed the deal of Love

And so it is, this man and wife
Howard and his lovely Queen
Took that solid step in life
One day, in Gretna Green!