When it came to planning their big day, bride-to-be Zoe Combes and her fiancé Ashley Meredith went into creative overdrive to ensure there were plenty of memorable moments.
The graphic and website designer used all her artistic flair and eye for detail when it came to creating keepsakes and making sure the event space looked beautiful.
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“I really enjoyed pulling together all the elements. I had a clear idea in my mind of how the room would look. I got everyone’s name laser cut in wood and used them as a place card, while we had the ‘The Merediths’ made into a neon sign – and it now has pride of place in our Farlington home,” explained Zoe.
Ashley, who works as a catering manager, admitted he had questioned the lengths Zoe was going to as he helped her add wax seals to 60 boxes of chocolates and other finishing touches.
But when he saw the Elizabeth Room at the Queens Hotel for the first time, he knew all the hard work was worth it.
“It really did look amazing and the reaction from friends and family made it all worthwhile,” he said.
From the outset the couple wanted to make sure the day was full of laughter – and Ashley’s risqué speech had everyone in stitches.
“We weren’t planning on having speeches but my Dad Lee shared some heartfelt words and Ashley’s Dad Gary made a speech too.
“When Ashley started to speak I soon had my head in my hands but everyone took it in good spirit and we all had a good laugh,” said Zoe.
The pair met when they were just 17. Zoe bought a car from Ashley’s sister Sian and really caught the eye of young Ashley.
“I made a note of her details and three weeks later I plucked up the courage to speak to her,” recalled Ashley.
During the wedding service at St Mary’s Church in Hayling, Sian made sure to reference the romance that blossomed over the sale of her S-reg Ford and even though the car is sadly no more, the front grill was salvaged and included on the top table.
One of the many details that touched people’s hearts was the creation of a letter for each table written by Zoe and Ashley explaining why each guest had been invited and what they meant to the couple.
“Everybody seemed to love the letters. We chose a spokesperson for each table to read them out and we ended up having to send out extra copies because everyone wanted their own.
“So many people have told us it was just the perfect day. We were so lucky with the weather – it was 27 degrees and the garden was the perfect space for our guests to enjoy while we went to the Southsea Rose Garden for photos.
“We are so glad we chose the Queens and can’t wait to come back to celebrate our first anniversary,” said Zoe.