Over the next few weeks, I intend to share the ins and outs of our wedding journey with you all. I find it really helpful reading other peoples 'real wedding' stories so thought others may find mine useful too. I think I’d like to start by sharing our engagement story with you. This, after all, was when our wedding journey began.
In 2019, George (my other half) planned a surprise trip for our 5 year anniversary. I remember speaking to my girlfriends and questioning if this would be when he’d propose - but as the anniversary grew closer, I started to doubt that he would.
On the 21st of June, we packed up the car and George secretly put the postcode into the sat nav and we set off. During the car journey, I kept trying to guess where we were heading. Driving along the M4, I kept seeing signs to Bristol and Bath so I instantly thought it was one of those destinations - but I was wrong. As we got closer I soon realised we were heading towards the Cotswolds, a place we’d never been before. My excitement grew and I quickly wanted to know everything about the place.
I found the secrecy quite hard to deal with because I am one of those people who likes to plan out their trip by researching into the area. Luckily, George is exactly the same and he’d created his own little notebook with details of all the places he planned to take me (just one of the reasons I love him).
As I saw the destination flag on the sat nav pop up, I got very excited. We stopped outside a gated driveway and I remember sitting in the car waiting for the fancy electric gates to open. Once they did, we drove up a long winding drive before seeing this beautiful house and surrounding gardens. We were greeted by a very energetic and friendly cockapoo and I immediately knew this was going to be an amazing staycation.
The place George had booked to stay was situated on 4.3 acres of grounds. There was the main house which is where the owner lived and separate to that a small and cosy cottage that George had booked for us, through Airbnb. The cottage had everything we needed, a beautiful quaint kitchen with a huge aga oven, a comfy lounge with cushions that you sunk into and a lovely bedroom and ensuite with a large bathtub.
On arrival, we enjoyed a drink and sat outside the main house with the owner Allan and Allan’s gardener. He was a very interesting man with vivid stories to tell. He recommended lots of good places to visit and was very easy to talk to. Ruby, the cutest cockapoo was always around and loved the attention. She joined us on our exploration of the grounds and her excitable presence made you feel at home (what is it about happy animals that instantly makes you feel safe?).
The garden that surrounded the house was truly beautiful. It was filled with an abundance of flowers and featured an immaculate lawn with a badminton net and sun loungers. At the back of the house, there was a rustic barn, I can only imagine the parties Allan put on in his younger years. There was also a greenhouse filled with lots of plant pots and greenery and little Ruby kept darting inside sniffing as she went. The grounds featured lots of different pathways and arched walkways - it was such a pleasure being allowed to explore.
That afternoon, we decided to go into Cirencester to pick up some ingredients for dinner. George wanted to cook one of my favourite meals so we picked up some steak for a steak and chips feast. Cirencester is often referred to as the Capital of the Cotswolds and was the second largest town in Britain during Roman times. It is famously known as a market town and features lots of quaint shops and stalls. We managed to get our ingredients from a selection of independent places. I love walking around the fruit and veg shops because they smell so fresh and there aren’t plastic bags covering everything.
That evening we enjoyed our home-cooked meal and had a chilled night. Before it got dark, we went outside and played badminton, very badly on the grass by the cottage. I remember laughing a lot at how rubbish we were before we called it quits and retired to the comfy sofa to sit in front of the TV.
The following day was our 5th year anniversary and George had planned a trip to Bourton-on-the-water. A beautiful village with the gently flowing River Windrush running through the centre, with little bridges that cross over it. It was a very busy place filled with lots of tourists enjoying the sunshine. There were kids and dogs paddling in the river, lots of people enjoying ice creams whilst strolling along. I later found out that it was here that George intended to propose to me but due to all the tourists he gave it a second thought.
He’d booked us into a tearoom for lunch because he knows how much I enjoy a cream tea. Unfortunately, the scone and clotted cream didn’t live up to the ones in Devon but I did enjoy watching George eat a rarebit that was filled to the brim with cheese. After lunch we wandered around the little village, taking routes that looked less busy - looking back, perhaps George was trying to find an ideal proposal spot? I remember queueing for ice cream and we both got our favourite, mint chocolate chip, and sat to enjoy it on a rock near the riverbed.
On the way home, George put another postcode into the sat nav and took me to a place called Bibury. A charming village, known for its iconic row of cottages on a street called Arlington Row. The cottages are owned by the National Trust and are lived in by National Trust tenants. You aren’t able to go into any of the houses but I really enjoyed photographing their little doors and windows. The reason George brought me here is because he knows how much I love a cute doorway. I really enjoyed walking along the river and seeing the cute little houses.
When we finally arrived back at the place we were staying, George suggested we sit on the sun loungers to enjoy a cold drink. He brought out our portable speakers and had our favourite songs playing and it was here, on the immaculate lawn and amongst the beautiful flowers, that he asked me to marry him. Although he didn’t give much of a speech, the whole trip he had planned said everything he didn’t and it was a very magical experience that I will never forget.
To celebrate, that evening George had made a reservation at a restaurant a short drive away. The restaurant was up some very steep, narrow hills and I remember worrying that our car wouldn’t make it. Thankfully it did and we ate a delicious meal, laughed a lot and spoke about wedding plans.
The next day, George planned a trip to Westonbirt Arboretum, a beautiful tree garden that features 15,000 different types of plants and trees - all collected from around the globe. We both enjoy walking so this was a perfect Sunday activity. After we had worked up an appetite, George got out his trusty notepad and tapped in another postcode. This time, it was for a pub that he’d found, that does brilliant Sunday roasts. This rounded up our memorable trip to the Cotswolds.
George had made sure to include all my favourite things and this demonstrated how much he cared and how well he knows me - the perfect engagement.