A year on from their fairytale wedding at The Grand we catch up with Chris & Tony Ashby-Steed (over a couple of cocktails of course!) to hear about married life and their top tips for planning a wedding...
How's married life? Any tips for surviving year 1?
C & T: Keep busy and plan ahead for things to look forward to - It's really important to remember that life doesn't end at 'I do'. After all the planning and wedding prep it's easy to feel a little of the post-wedding blues and so it's important to make sure there's always something to be looking ahead to.
What are your highlights/happiest memories of your wedding?
C: One of the most amazing parts was seeing everything coming together, after planning the wedding to within an inch of it's life! So many things exceeded our expectations - seeing the unbelievable flowers for the first time was actually really emotional for me, I ran up to the suite crying, friends thought something was wrong until I said 'It's the flowers, they're blooming beautiful', that set me off for the rest of the day!
T: Seeing that emotion from Chris was actually one of the most special parts of the day for me, that moment when he walked up the aisle and I just knew, this man really loves me.
C: I made sure that at certain points during the day I took time to take a deep breath just to relax and take everything in, it's the most amazing thing to look around and see all the people that you love the most in one room together to share the day with you. At one point my mum said 'This is the best day of my life' which was such a special thing to hear.
Did you have a clear idea of the style of wedding you wanted and why was The Grand a perfect fit?
T: We really wanted a 'wow' factor and to spoil our friends and family and The Grand just fitted that perfectly. It was important to us to have some of our wedding photos to include the highlights of the location - the beach, bandstand, West Pier - so being right across the road was great for us. We're also both huge ABBA fans so to stay in the suite where they stayed after their 1974 Eurovision win was really special for us.
C: We've always been really impressed with the personal service at The Grand, whenever we come back we're always recognised and greeted personally with a genuine warmth, it's lovely to see those familiar faces and makes it feel like a home from home. We love that the atmosphere is actually really relaxed and friendly, from the outside it could feel a bit intimidating but it's just not like that when you're in.
How did you choose your first dance song and was it a joint decision?
C: We chose 'I finally found someone' by Barbra Streisand & Bryan Adams and when it's the right one you just know. I would say start thinking about music early on as it is really important and sets the tone for your day.
T: We walked out to ABBA's 'I do I do I do' which our guests absolutely loved.
What's the secret to a good wedding from a guest's point of view?
C: Having different layers & elements to the day really help and we had a lot of feedback saying how much people had enjoyed the entertainment part of the evening (Miss Jason did a set 8.30-9.30pm). We even had a couple of gatecrashers from other events but we were happy to let them stay and have a dance!
T: We decided to have the first dance a little later on in the evening so that our evening guests could enjoy it too and along with Miss Jason we also had some live music from Jason Lee followed by the disco until 1am so there was something for everyone.
Looking back is there any part of the day you would do differently?
T: We only realised at 1am on the wedding night that we hadn't allocated anyone to take the flower arrangements, they were so amazing and so beautiful that it seemed such a shame for them to be wasted.
C: I wish we'd had another night at The Grand after the wedding, we had a joint breakfast with a lot of our friends the morning after the wedding but it would've been lovely to have stayed in the wedding bubble a bit longer and have a bit of time to relax before heading off on honeymoon.
What are your top tips for anyone currently planning a wedding and any recommendations to avoid pre-wedding stress?
T: I would say in all the prep remember to be kind and listen to each other. You won't always agree on everything but a disagreement doesn't have to turn into an argument. You will always go beyond your budget unless you are willing to compromise and there will be unexpected costs so just be prepared for that. Work out what your 'must haves' are and stick to them - a giant discoball and white dancefloor was a non-negotiable for us!
C: Give yourself enough time to plan and to shop around as sometimes it works out cheaper actually to buy things rather than to hire them and then you've got them on hand for other occasions or to lend to friends etc. Don't panic if things go wrong in the run-up to the wedding, there will always be a solution and a good venue and team of suppliers should be on hand to help with any issues.
I'd also say if you know anyone planning a wedding then always offer to help, even if they seem to have everything under control they will really appreciate that.
Don't stress about trying to get around all your guests, they just want to see the two of you happy and having a good time.
T: Be yourself and make sure your wedding reflects the two of you as a couple. And really importantly definitely definitely book a high quality videographer (we used the amazing Amber Rose Morgan - www.ambermorgan.co.uk), the video is something that you will come back to time and time again and really captures the day in a way that nothing else can. Building good relationships with your suppliers, particularly with your photographer and videographer, will make sure that they know you both and what style you are looking for, our video is a mix between a fairytale and a Hollywood movie and it never fails to make us smile, laugh and blub equally - take a look at the video here
A huge thank you to Chris & Tony for sharing their wedding with us as well as Nick Ford for the gorgeous images - www.nickfordphotography.co.uk