A pandemic love story

“Shawn made his first trip to the UK and, the week after he left, life as we knew it changed,” says Lauren. “The pandemic hit and we didn’t know what was next. We couldn’t make any plans and it really did test our resilience. However, when travelling to certain countries opened up, we met up in St Lucia, Turkey, the Bahamas and literally anywhere that would take us. Then Shawn popped the question in Edinburgh on July 14th 2021 and my wedding plans kick-started.”

An Edinburgh proposal

“Shawn proposed on one of our trips to see each other,” says Lauren. “I know Americans love history, so I thought Edinburgh would be the perfect place to take him. Little did I know he also had something up his sleeve. We went for dinner at a beautiful restaurant and Shawn was acting a bit strange. I just thought this was normal! We then walked up the hill to Edinburgh Castle in the dark. Shawn found the perfect spot and at that moment he asked me if I would marry him. After a few shocked seconds, I happily said yes and immediately started FaceTiming everyone.”

All systems go…

“Also, four weeks after the proposal I was moving to Germany for work!” says Lauren. “So, within a month, I’d made all the big decisions. I selected Dalton Old Pump House as the venue and fell in love with the vision. Deciding on seven bridesmaids was tough. And I went back to the first dress I tried, so within four weeks I trusted my gut and got it done (meanwhile Shawn had no idea what had been booked, he just said go ahead with whatever you want). So, then we were two weeks away from pulling all our families from all over the world to be together in the North East of England… pending the biggest party ever. I’d kept most things a secret from everyone, so it was a day full of surprises!”

Just four weeks to find the dress (and everything else)

“My experience at WED2B Newcastle was amazing,” she says. “As I was moving to Germany in four weeks, I had to pick a dress, a venue and everything else. I had a clear vision in mind and the lovely WED2B ladies worked hard to help me find my dream dress. They were wonderful and found the Cambridge dress. I wanted classic plain satin and buttons but still with that princess feel. It ticked all of the boxes for me and matched our venue perfectly! A few of my girls and my mum were with me for that special seal of approval and four weeks later I dashed off to Germany. I didn’t see my dress for 10 months, until it was time for alterations. I loved it even more when it fitted me perfectly. It was exactly what I was looking for.”

The perfect venue

“I found the venue by chance,” says Lauren. “A quick Google search brought up Dalton Old Pump House. It was a new venue, it hadn’t done any weddings and was under massive reconstruction at the time. From the moment I walked in I knew it was the venue for us. Shawn didn’t see it until the wedding day, which was a risk, but he was happy to take my lead. I trusted the vision of the team at Dalton Old Pump House. The plans for high ceilings and chandeliers were spectacular, and everything I was looking for in a venue. It gave a sense of Gatsby glamour mixed with modern decoration and on our wedding day I was blown away by the work that had taken place. When we first visited in August 2021 it was under huge construction but my god it was spectacular!”

Getting ready

“The night before the wedding, my bridesmaids and I spent the night together in a farmhouse near the wedding venue,” says Lauren. “When we arrived on Friday morning we were ready to go. I had everything timed to precision, like a military operation! Three of my bridesmaids flew in from America, including my sister and my maid of honour, and our two makeup artists and two hair stylists worked their magic on us all. It was just the best morning ever. The weather was dry and sunny and we listened to 90s’ classics and danced all morning!”

The big moment

“My dad walked me down the aisle to Brian McKnight Jr’s ‘Marry Your Daughter’ and we had two special readings; one from Shawn’s sister called ‘Patience’ and one from my brother-in-law Jeff called ‘Why marriage is like a pizza’. Aside from each other, pizza is our greatest love! During the ceremony we had personalised vows and, although I wasn’t there to enjoy it all, I also hired a violin player who played all the Disney classics for the guests’ arrival. I worked at Disney in Florida for a while, which is where the Disney connection comes in. Everyone commented on how magical that was!”

Cocktails and canapés

Straight after the ceremony it was time for cocktails and canapés. “I hired a magician to entertain guests and he was absolutely wonderful,” says Lauren. “He also added some special surprises along the way. Our first dance was split into two songs; PJ Morton’s ‘How Deep is Your Love’ and Fabulous and Tamia’s ‘I’m So Into You’ accompanied by a sax player. It was a mix of reimagined romance and early 2000s’ RnB.”

A monochrome wedding

“The theme was black, white and gold,” says Lauren. “It had a classic, glamorous and timeless beauty. Everything was personalised from fans and sweets to treat boxes, water bottles, napkins and cigars. Our cake was red velvet, carrot and caramel and honeycomb. We also had takeaway pizzas and burgers. For the music there was a sax player, bongo drums and a DJ. It was an epic party!”

So many memorable moments…

“The secret singing waiters were incredible,” says Lauren. “Also, a whole guest conga line started during the meal. I loved the Disney violin songs and the pure happiness of being with the girls in the morning. I made a speech too and was told, if I ever need a career change, that stand-up comedy is waiting! It was moving to realise that this is probably the only time in our lives when we will have all our favourite people together, due to our families being in Newcastle, UK and Orlando, USA.”

My top tips…

“Do whatever you want,” says Lauren. “Don’t worry about other people’s opinions. Trust your vision. Build up what you like and save it on Pinterest. Etsy is your best friend!”

Lauren and Shawn’s Dream Team

Photography: Hope Visual Productions

Venue: Dalton Old Pump House

Wedding dresses Newcastle: WED2B

Florist: Wild and Wonderful

Wedding planner: Emma Jordan Wedding Planner 

Hair: Get Up and Pin Up Hair By Rebecca and Sam Gibson Hair

Makeup: Elaine MUA

Entertainment: Lux Collective at Entertainment Nation and AG Events

Magician: Luke Howells Magician

Violinist: Mariliis Howells Violin

Signage: Tyne and Thistle

If you would like your big day to be one of our real weddings like this monochrome 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 Newcastle