Date of wedding 25th July 2009
Ceremony – Westminster Cathedral.
Reception – The Conservatory, Chelsea.
No. of Guests - 220 during day and an extra 150 in the evening.
As the owners of Party Bus and Awesome events, Diane and Denis McCourt know more than most about putting on a fantastic bash …. They’ve been throwing top private and corporate parties and events for 20 years, but when it came to organizing their own Wedding, did all that experience really help?
The Wedding Documentary Company were lucky enough to be asked to make their wedding video, and to get a glimpse of how the day turned out, take a look at the very short highlights clip at the bottom of this post. We caught up with Diane 3 months after the day and picked her brains about the event, the planning, and the couple themselves.
So how did you guys meet?
We met properly on 10th Dec 1992 at The City Ale and Wine house, at Denis's Company Christmas do. We had met briefly once or twice before, and I sensed he liked me, so, when I got there and there were several young girls hanging around him all night long (which made him far more attractive), I thought “OK, if that’s the way you want it, I can be cool too”. At the end of the evening tho’, he asked me to dance (“I will always love you” – Whitney Houston) and after that he said I could call him if I wanted … I obviously said “no you can call me”, and he did… constantly for about 6 weeks. We eventually got together as a couple and 6 years later had our daughter Molly, we went from being a couple to being a family, and that changed a lot of things. Having a daughter made it trickier to introduce each other as boyfriend and girlfriend, and Denis wriggled for another couple of years before actually making a commitment!
How did he eventually propose?
Denis flew me to Venice, on the 10th anniversary of our meeting; it was fantastic, and a few days into it he booked Gondola trip, then, at The Bridge of Sighs, he pulled a teddy bear out of his backpack, dropped to one knee and gave me a card that said "the bear has a present for you" ... on the bear's wrist there was a little velvet pouch, I knew what was in it and I started shaking, there, in the pouch was a diamond ring ...he asked me to marry him in Italian and I burst into tears... everyone in the cafes by the side of the canal saw what was happening and started cheering, then a gondola with 20 Japanese tourists arrived and they all started crying and clapping and taking pictures ….
That was 2002 - why 7 years delay in naming the day?
I already knew that Denis wasn't really the marrying kind, and I think it took him some years to get over the shock of actually proposing .. Seeing as we'd only really got engaged so we could say “meet the fiancé” rather than the boyfriend, we were quite happy carrying on with our lives, until a personal tragedy made us both take stock and actually name the day. I was pregnant with our second child, and everything seemed to be fine, but at the last moment there were complications, we lost the baby, and Denis very nearly lost me. I think we both suddenly realised what we had...It was a very raw time... We became incredibly close, and after we'd come through it, I said to Denis “when are we going to do this”, he said “2012”, I said “no lets do it sooner”, and to my complete amazement he said “yes". We chose the actual date (check) because it was the start of the summer holidays and we could go with Molly on a long family honeymoon.
So as event organizers with years of experience, did you know exactly what to do and just get on with it?
Your mind set is different, you know already how far in advance you have to book certain things, so yes to a certain extend we did just get on with it! As I girl I already knew exactly what I wanted for the wedding and that was Sparkly and Twinkly, and so that became the basis of the day. I also wanted the day to be typically English hence the ladies all in hats, the London Bus, strawberries in the garden and a string trio that Molly had seen at a Wedding show being terribly British.
The ceremony was at Westminster Cathedral, how did that come about?
I'd spoken to the Priest at my local church and told him we were expecting over 200 guests, and he was concerned that the church wouldn't hold that many. At the same time, since losing the baby, I'd become involved in several events at Westminster Cathedral and asked if he thought it might be possible to hold the ceremony there, and it just so happened that our Priest had come to our parish from the Cathedral, so he put a call in, and phoned me back 2 weeks later to say we had permission. It was fantastic.
Tell me about the dress, where did you find it and what tips do you have for brides going through that search.
Wedding TV (Sky channel 266) is my best tip, it was brilliant. I'd waited for this for so long that I decided I was going to enjoy every moment, and that meant books, magazines, but mostly wedding TV ! I saw 100's of dresses on there and that gave me the gauge for what I wanted.. I knew I was too old for a big meringue dress, also because we were getting married in a Cathedral I couldn’t have anything too revealing, it had to be respectful with covered shoulders, but I wanted something that I could reveal later in the evening... with a good idea of what I wanted, I went to Pronovia in Bond Street, tried on quite a few, and when I tried one particular dress I burst into floods of tears and knew that had to be the one ...
What about the other elements of the Wedding?
Thankfully, because we have our own production company that regularly puts on big events, we had a lot of the equipment we needed, such as chairs, a dance floor that lights up, a bar etc and we saved a lot of money on that, also, because we rent the London buses a lot through Party Bus, they were given to us for the day as a wedding present... that said tho’, because of what we do, there was a little pressure to put on something special, so we did splash out quite a bit, we tried to plan the kind of wedding that we would love to go to, there were 220 people for the day, and an extra 150 for the evening do... plus kids...so not exactly a small do …
So having been through it all as a Bride, what tips do you have for couples planning a wedding?
There’s a few …
I think the important thing is to know what you want and once you've found something that you like, book it, and then forget about it. It's like anything, if you buy something in a shop, and then keep on looking, you're bound to find something you think you prefer.. you'll drive yourself mad.
For most couples the wedding day is mostly about the Bride, so, let the Bride have carte blanche for the big day…. and let the Groom make all of the decisions on the Honeymoon.
Don't feel pressured into making a decision at wedding shows etc take your time and watch Wedding TV!, it was my main source of ideas and inspiration!(that’s where Diane first saw WDC!).. I watched tons of a programme called “Perfect Days”, and got lots of ideas.. I’d fallen in love with a particular dress that I'd seen in a magazine, and when I saw it on Wedding TV, in a real life situation, it looked awful!
If you’re getting married in the summer, book your venue for the ceremony and the reception 18 months in advance, and then relax for 6 -8 months and start to put the details in place with 10 - 12 months to go.
Always ask for a discount!
If you have a Toastmaster then use them! They are there to help with the smooth running of the evening, not just banging a gavel and shouting, they’re always happy to help.
If you're not using a wedding planner, then appoint someone as a trouble shooter ... On the day you’re not going to want to hear about
any problems. Elect a good friend to deal with them for you. They won't tell you on the day, but they'll be sure to tell you the next day.
Make sure that your troubleshooter has a running order of the day with times and contact numbers (mobiles) for all of suppliers, so if there are any problems at all, at least people can be contacted.
Don't arrange any days / nights out for a week before the big day .. a weeks worth of early nights and early evening pampering is a very good idea!
On the morning of the wedding, nobody was allowed in my room unless invited ... I remained calm upstairs drinking champagne with the make up artist, while the usual madness happened downstairs.
A couple of weeks before the big day we arranged a get together for most of the guests who were coming, people who wouldn't have known each other on the day, old friends, work colleagues, family etc. That worked out really well because on the day, the ice had already been broken and people had a sense of reunion which was really really nice.
Have some fun with the dress before the big day ... for 2 weeks before the wedding I would often wear the dress in the evening on my own and just get used to it. You'll be amazed at how many times you'll rearrange things like jewellery etc, so on the day it wasn't the first time I'd worn this big heavy thing ... a lot of people hang the dress up and cover it in plastic and think it mustn't be touched, that’s madness because you’ll never wear it again after the big day. Also I wore the shoes a lot in the build up so that they were broken in well before the wedding day!
Take a small vanity case with make up, spare nails, eyelashes etc in and leave it with your driver so that you can freshen up between the church, and the reception.
Thanks Diane, that was great ……….