Kate and Claire met when Claire had just returned to the UK after five years living in Nelson, New Zealand. “I was bored, after training for weeks in London, so I tried out my chat up lines on Tinder,” says Kate. “Miles away in Cambridge, Claire hadn’t updated her location and was still appearing as being in London, from the weekend before. We matched, clicked instantly but then realised we were nowhere near each other. After a short amount of agonising over this fact, we carried on chatting pretty much constantly and arranged to meet up after a month.”

“We went on a (very nervous) first date to the seaside and it reinforced that we’d been right to travel the distance. The spark we’d felt online was even more in person. The glamorous Worthing Pier was the site of my first and only air hockey victory, a fact that I frequently remind Claire of! We moved to Chelmsford, Essex after nine months together and have lived happily ever after since.”

A surprise double proposal

In late 2018, the couple planned an epic adventure from Boston to New Orleans. The trip involved travelling America’s East Coast by train in 2019, via New York, Washington and Atlanta.

“I planned to propose to Claire on her birthday in New Orleans,” says Kate. “I’d been looking at rings for a while but in February found ‘The One'. It was simple but unique. What I didn't know, was that Claire was also planning to propose in New York! She'd also found the perfect ring and squirrelled it away.”

“A couple of months later we were in our kitchen. Claire decided to measure her finger with a ring sizer she’d bought online,” says Kate. “She then turned to me and said, ‘Let’s measure yours’, before going straight for my ring finger. I told her to be less obvious and disappeared to get my phone charger. When I returned, I found Claire on one knee in the kitchen. Initially laughing and assuming she was joking, I told her to ‘f*** off’ and ran away. Claire, understandably concerned, was relieved to find I’d only vanished to get the ring I’d hidden away myself! Once we realised neither of us was joking, we both said, ‘Yes’. There were a lot of tears and it was absolutely perfect.”

Two dream dresses

“As two brides who wanted to visit separately, not accidentally choose the same dress and who had no idea what to try, we could have presented a challenge to the WED2B team!’ says Kate. “Our very vague explanations of what we didn’t want were all that our consultants (Nicola in particular) needed to find us a selection that flattered our figures and made us feel beautiful. Then our wedding was delayed a year by Covid and I had a change of heart about my dress. After that the team at WED2B managed to find me an even more perfect one!”

“Claire fell in love with the Adina (only the second dress she tried) after seeing her mum and sisters burst into tears on the first reveal,” says Kate. “From the very first fitting it just felt like the right dress. I initially chose Dawson but after our wedding was delayed, I had second thoughts. I panicked, and visited WED2B Chelmsford again, where the team went above and beyond to find something equally beautiful. When I tried the showstopping Valera there were gasps and tears from family and friends. Later, as I walked down the aisle, I was certain the change of dress was the right choice.”

A New Forest venue

The couple married at the Beaulieu Inn, in the New Forest. “We knew we wanted to get married in the forest, having both visited lots as children,” says Kate. “We saw a few venues but the first time we drove down the long road leading to the Beaulieu Inn, lined with ponies and donkeys, we knew we’d struck gold. When we realised the interior matched the exterior we booked on the spot.”

The big day

Kate and Claire stayed at the Beaulieu Inn the night before, with the majority of our wedding party. “We had an ‘aisle trial’ to make sure our massive bridal party knew what was happening when,” says Kate. “In the morning, we split into two rooms. Me with my bridal party and Claire with her own.”

“Claire’s dad walked her down the aisle, while I was escorted by my brother, as my dad passed away when I was younger,” says Kate. “We walked down the aisle to ‘Grow As We Go’ by Ben Platt and there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. We wrote our own vows and reading them to each other was so much more emotional than we could have imagined. Even the registrar cried!”

“The weather gods smiled on us too and, after a week of forecasts telling us it would rain all day, the sun came out. Our favourite part of the day was watching our families and friends mingle. My sister teaching Claire’s sister to dance, my brother dancing with Claire’s best friends. It was really special.”

Afternoon tea is served....

After the ceremony, guests enjoyed afternoon tea. “My brother and maid of honour gave speeches, along with Claire’s dad and best man,” says Kate. “We cut our cake and had our first dance to ‘Space’ by Biffy Clyro. It was so beautiful and we felt like we were the only people on earth.”

A dinsoaur wedding theme....

The couple’s theme was ‘A picnic in the forest… But the forest is Jurassic Park’! “For our dinosaur wedding theme we had centrepieces with gold dinosaurs and we had an ‘Adopt a Dino’ station, which went down very well,” says Kate.

“Each place setting had a hand-drawn name card, a tiny gold dinosaur and a small rainbow rock sweet. We also had temporary dino tattoos for the kids (and tipsy adults), and served afternoon tea and a BBQ in the evening."

“Our wedding cake was cupcakes in three different flavours; peach and raspberry, chocolate and lemon, blueberry and coconut. Our cutting cake was also a delicious lemon sponge. We ended up forgetting to slice the top tier and took it on honeymoon with us!”

Our favourite memories....

“The best moments from our dinosaur wedding were watching our families become one big family and our first dance,” says Kate. “We also loved it when our videographer sent up his drone while we walked down the road, surrounded by open heathland and ponies. We can’t wait to see the footage. Also, watching my 85-year-old nan push her zimmer frame onto the dance floor and dance to ‘Happy’ by Pharrell!”

Top tips....

“It really does go so quickly,” says Kate. “Take your time choosing your dress. Don’t pick the first one you like, try a few and listen to your heart. Things may not go to plan, but just try to roll with it. It will still be perfect!”

Kate and Claire's Dream Team

Photographer: Dan Biggins

Venue: Beaulieu Inn

Wedding dresses: WED2B

Florist: Corbins Florist

Dresser – Nicola Worrall Bridal Dressing Service

Video: Aurora Collective

DJ: Hampshire Event DJs

Makeup and hair: Bournemouth Bridal Hair and Makeup

If you would like your big day to be one of our real weddings like this dinosaur wedding please click here to share your story and photos with us and we’ll be in touch. Or click here for more details about WED2B’s bridal shops Chelmsford