A picturesque dream wedding day for Staffordshire groom David Johnson and his bride Lesley Lilley.
Thirteen acres, surrounding a 200-year old Grange that boasts an array of formal gardens, ornamental pools and picturesque surroundings that you expect to see on postcards.
That is the setting of a dream wedding for most people.
For David and Lesley Johnson, not only was it the backdrop for their wedding, it is their home.
What can easily be in the running for wedding of the year, Groom, David Johnson spoke about his wedding with so much joy and excitement you get the sense he wished it had never ended.
It all started when bride Lesley, proposed seven years ago.
David, 39 who met Lesley, 43 in 2004 spoke about the lead up to his big day: “I re-proposed to Lesley June 2011. We always intending on getting married throughout the past seven years it just took us a while to get our acts together.
“The day was so fantastic. So much time and effort went into the preparation that it went like clockwork. Also the weather held out which was a surprise.
“We got married on Saturday, June 2. We had a big marquee provided by Top Marques that held 140 guests.
“The guests all stayed for the wedding itself at St John’s the Baptist, where the service was held by Reverend Jane Tiller, to the reception in the evening at our house.
“We had a few different things to make our wedding more personal to us. We didn’t go down the traditional route at the ceremony. We had a band play in the church, a jazz quartet. I think the guests were a little bit shocked at first but they loved it in the end.
“Lesley had two dresses. One was made for her by Christine Payne, who also made the bridesmaids dresses’ but she wore her dress from Aisle of Bride for the service. I hired a suit from Formal Affairs in Hanley.
“Lesley looked beautiful with her make-up done by Marie Freakley and hair by John Pickering from Fat Boy Trim in Uttoxeter.
“She describes her dress as fabulous and my suit was light grey with a silver and light pink cravat and waistcoat.
“Lesley’s grandson — Bobby- James Lilley — walked her down the isle, that was pretty special and my best man was my elder brother.
“Our colour theme worked around ivory, light pink and fresh greens. The flowers were stunning. They were hydrangeas and roses with some thistles in there to mark the Scottish within our family.
“All the tables we had were named after birds. We thought that was really special for us and it was really different. There was also a French style, ornamental bird cage for all the guests to put their cards into when they came in.
“So we could remember the day as best as possible we had two photographers, David and Beverly Foster from Leek. We also had a videographer who followed us around from when we woke in the morning, right into the late evening. The videographer was from A and G Productions and we also had disposable cameras on the tables for our guests to take pictures.
“We enjoyed a big, formal dinner and the guests choose what they wanted to eat from a menu provided to us by Jenkinsons who were absolutely great. Because it had been a long day and we thought guests would be hundgry in the evening, we provided a hog roast as well! “Our wedding was very personal from start to finish and also very relaxed. From a layman’s point of view the guests could have easily been intimidated by the house and a lot of them thought we had hired the place because we had only just moved in.
David owns a very successful company known worldwide called EOS Risk Management Ltd. They train former British army and Marine members to protect ships against attacks of piracy.
“We are quite fun people and so we based the wedding around our personalities — I think people enjoyed it from the beginning to the end.
“I didn’t really feel nervous about marrying Lesley, though I do remember seeing her come out of the horse-drawn carriage and I felt maybe a little nervous.
“The carriage was hired from the Black Horse company and the groomsmen were absolutely fantastic.
“The evening reception was also brilliant. We had two first dances because we couldn’t agree, so we danced to Take That’s Rule the World and Celine Dion’s Because you Loved Me. We then had three acts throughout the night — it was like a night at the Jollies!
“We had wedding singer Chris Baker who sung a lot of swing music and then to warm people up to dance, we had a duo called Heavenly Bodies who sang many tracks including Abba. Finally we had a rock band, the Nurons — it really was an excellent night. Other entertainment included a bouncy castle from Woodwards that went down really well alongside the cupcakes we had, as well as the cake. It kind of showed off our fun side and catered to the different guests.
“The cake was a beautiful three tier cake made by Amerton. They did it so it would match the bouquets, which was fantastic. It also had a little bee at the bottom which is something personal between Lesley and I.
“We deliberately chose Jubilee weekend because we knew people would be off and available to come to the wedding.”
This beautiful couple then jetted off first, to Sardinia and then to Milan for a fabulous honeymoon to celebrate their marriage together.
What made their day extra special was a combination of both fathers.
They visited David’s late father Barry who sadly died in 2004 and placed wedding flowers on the grave at the churchyard at St Mary’s in Swynnerton. Lesley had not seen her father in 22 years and David had never met him — but he came to the wedding. David said: “He didn’t stop smiling all day, along with everyone else.”
Photography by David and Beverley Foster Photography