We’ve got the most wonderful story for you today, brides – ideal for warming even the frostiest of winter days, Eileen and Derek’s wedding day is here to make you smile.
“We found each other after 50 years,” explains Eileen, who worked with a seamstress to design her gorgeous antique lace wedding dress. “We were at school together and were each others’ first loves when we were 14 and 15-years old. Life got in the way and we drifted apart – then, we both got married and had children. Unfortunately, we both lost our partners to cancer; first Derek and then me. I threw myself into fundraising for Marie Curie and that’s how Derek found me again. Cutting a very long story short, we got together – both our families were over the moon with happiness…”
(We’re not crying, you are.)
For this couple, a vintage-themed celebration was the order of the day, with retro-esque details creating an atmosphere that was both fun and love-filled. Afternoon tea, music from their teenage years and carefully chosen decor set the scene perfectly, with the delighted newlyweds and their guests dancing to a fabulous live band in the evening.
Love the bride’s wedding gown? Eileen’s actually designed it herself, with a local seamstress helping to breathe it into reality. Her two Matrons of Honour also wore three-quarter-length gowns and were elegant in navy, whilst Eileen’s flower girl wore a beautiful frock made from the same material as the bride’s.
In short, it was a wonderful day for a wonderful couple – read on to find out more.
With images by Polka Dot Studios.
Eileen says: We got engaged in London on March 30th 2018 – it was a surprise weekend away to celebrate my birthday. We were going to see a Tina Turner show in the West End – and obviously I had no idea Derek was planning to propose!
The proposal didn’t go to plan – the restaurant Derek had originally planned to pop the question in sat us at a table in the middle of the floor. It had a glass ceiling-slash-roof – and it was still daylight outside, so wasn’t the most romantic atmosphere!
We didn’t actually like the restaurant very much so we left and found a wine bar. However, it was full of office workers with nowhere to sit so we left and went onto the show in Shaftesbury Avenue. At the interval, I was chatting to fellow spectators – so there was no chance for Derek to propose then.
We then went back to our hotel room and I thought I’d open all my birthday cards. Derek thought it was a bit of an anti-climax but as far as he was concerned, it was a case of now or never! When he finally proposed, I thought he was joking so didn’t give him an answer initially… but then said ‘yes’!
We got married on Friday 13th in September 2019. Why this date? It was the earliest we could pick without our pensions being negatively affected – though our guests were unaware of this!
Our venue was Victoria Hall, Saltaire. It’s a beautiful setting and was large enough to accommodate all our guests comfortably; plus, it was very convenient to be under the same roof for both the day and the night parts of the celebration.
The communication with the team there was excellent and they offered amazing attention to detail. The venue offered fantastic value for money and has different sizes of room to accommodate weddings both large and small.
We decided on a 1950s theme – it was very upbeat, not too traditional and included lots of music from our youth. The colour scheme was pink, navy and cream.
I designed myself a three-quarter-length ballerina-style wedding dress in cream and pink antique lace, which was created by a local dressmaker called Delia in Queensbury, where we live.
Derek wore a navy three-piece suit with a pink tie, from Racing Green.
I had two Matrons of Honour, who wore navy ballerina gowns. My flower girl wore a three-quarter ballerina design, which matched my wedding dress; it was made from material from my dress and was created by the same dressmaker.
Make Up By Dawn Maguire did my make-up and my hair was styled by Jennifer Page Bridal Hair.
We got a 1950s-style VW camper van from the hotel in Shipley. This was a wedding gift
In 1950s VW Camper van from the hotel in Shipley – we were driven in it by our friend Craig and was a wedding gift to us from him and his wife!
Our photographer was Amanda from Polka Dot Studios. We’d highly recommend her – we wanted our photographs to be informal and she captured that perfectly!
I held a hand-tied wedding bouquet, which featured Antique roses in cream and pink, along with lily of the valley. It was created by Dawn Maguire.
Our daytime room was decorated by Friends of Marie Curie who set the tables up for our afternoon tea reception. Each table had a centrepiece which comprised an antique cake stand decorated with the same flowers as were in my bouquet.
For the evening reception, we had birdcages with candles, roses and pearls all sat on mirrors on the main tables. The room was also decorated with overhead fairy lights and paper hearts. We also had a wishing well for our wedding cards, which was decorated with the same flowers.
I loved our personalised wedding invitations – these were made and printed by my niece, Amanda Bolton, who runs Precious Time Cards.
We wanted to give a heartfelt message to guests on their arrival. They each received a heart-shaped chocolate, with a note that read: “We would like to thank each and every one of you for the love, support and understanding you have given to us as individuals, and now as a couple, over the last few years during our sad times and now happier days. Each of you has been specially chosen on this day making it more meaningful and adding to the lovely memories we will take away and remember as we grow old together. Love always, Derek and Eileen Manley”.
Our wedding cake had three tiers: chocolate, vanilla and fruit. It had pink and navy ribbon around the base and we had an Irish harp as a topper. It was made by my sister-in-law, Margaret Park.
The ceremony was at 4pm, so we opted for a light wedding reception at 5pm – and in keeping with the theme, decided to serve our guests afternoon tea! Our evening reception began at 7pm and with approximately 160 friends and family in attendance, hot food was needed. We thought a hog roast would be ideal – and it was!
We hired The Monotones to perform. We wanted a live band that would encourage people to fill the dancefloor. They didn’t fail to fulfil our wishes! They also organised the music in between the live performance based on selections made by the guests; in our invitations, we had asked them each to choose three songs and send them back along with their RSVPs. This was then sent to the band, ensuring they had a taste of the music people would like and it worked extremely well.
We had heard this band playing at Cartmel Racecourse previously and had listened to them for over an hour. We thought they were very entertaining and liked that they could play a huge range of music.
I loved all of it from beginning to end but my most precious moment was – and always will be – becoming Mrs Manley.
Another special moment was a poem that was read out by one of our grandchildren, Archie aged eight. It went:
Nana and Grandad get married today,
We’d like to help them on their way.
So here’s some special advice from me,
To help them with our family.
Keep our house filled with laughter
Let’s have fun forever after.
Keep the drawer filled up with sweets,
And give us kids lots of treats.
Make sure you spend time together,
To keep your happiness forever.
Make sure you spend lots on us,
And then us grandkids won’t make a fuss.
But the most important thing for you,
Is to show your love in all you do.
A caring word, a kiss, a touch,
And those family cuddles that mean so much.
Our ceremony blessing was performed by Derek’s son Andrew – Lt Salvation Army. Another great moment was when we danced back down the aisle to I’m A Believer by The Monkees – a record chosen from our past that got all the guests dancing as well!
We went to America for Manleys’ Marvellous Tours (ha!). We jetted to San Francisco, Las Vegas, New Orleans and Miami, then drove down to Key Largo then Key West… We made beautiful memories and had three weeks of fun, love, laughter and special moments. We’ll never ever forget it.
There were no hiccups – apart from Thomas Cook going bust four days before we were due to set off… We had arranged our flight to America through them but luckily managed to get another one at the very last minute.
Love is timeless – we waited 50 years, after all. Life is short so grab it with both hands and don’t sweat the small stuff.