A year ago today this lovely couple were married in Cheltenham knowing that their marriage would be a wonderful albeit brief one.
With love and memories on this very special day. In Shelly’s own words, here is the Wedding Story of Shelly and Mark…
Mark and I met in November 2008. A mutual friend introduced us over Facebook ( I had recently started to use this to catch up with people I hadn’t spoken to in years). We had recently both become single and my friend Jane thought we would be a good match for each other. After a drink down a local pub and a game of pool we clicked straight away. We both wanted the same things, to settle down, and build a family.
In September 2009 our son arrived and we loved being parents. The conversation about marriage had come up a few times, however our priority was to care for our little one, so it wasn’t until our son aged 4 started questioning if mummy and daddy were married that we thought about this some more.
I became pregnant with our second child in 2014 and our son said he would like us to be a ‘proper’ family , so Mark and I chose a ring and decided that it was a promise to be married one day.
Our beautiful wedding flowers were gifted to us by the lovely Clare of Lilyfee Floral Designs.
Anna from sugar bowl bakes also introduced me to Sam who owns infinity dresses in Gloucester. I had no intention to wear a wedding dress, as I knew the budget wouldn’t stretch, however Sam contacted me to say she had a dress for £100 that I may be interested in. I arrived the following day (as time being of the essence), and tried on the most stunning gown, with my daughter playing parachute with the train, that was certainly far over £100. As I stood gazing in the mirror in the bridal fitting room, I felt like a real bride and was overcome with the generosity of strangers. Tears were in full flow when Sam announced that she didn’t want anything for the gown and it was a gift.
The wedding took just 2 weeks to plan, yes that’s 2 weeks not two years! Time was against us and we didn’t know how long we would have together. We opted to get married at Cheltenham registry office. Due to Marks condition we were supported by his oncology consultant to apply for a wavier, meaning we did not need to give the normal notifications for a marriage. We had very little money and everything was being done on a tiny budget. There was no big theme, our priority was to ensure that Mark was well enough for the day and that we could have a day of celebration as a family in this extremely dark time.
When the day arrived we didn’t feel nervous or anxious, everything felt right. The people we loved were there to celebrate with us and support us and that was one of the most important things to us.
We didn’t choose Nikki as our photographer, Nikki choose us !! Anna of Sugar Bowl Bakes reached out to the wider community in the wedding industry. Without hesitation Nikki came forward offering her services. Anna contacted me saying that her friend was an amazing award winning photographer and she had heard about our situation through social media and wanted to offer her services free of charge. I was overwhelmed by this response and knew immediately what an amazing lady this must be.
Nikki is also more than just a award winning photographer. Nikki supported us throughout the entire day, making sure that guests were where they should be, and that Mark and I were comfortable and had everything we needed, and offering the emotional support on the day which was a roller coaster of emotions. Nikki also went one step further and made contact with Pittville pump rooms. As one of Cheltenham’s iconic buildings, she knew this would make a beautiful back drop for her images, however there was one little issue, the Pump Room was closed, however once Nikki had explained the building was opened for us on the day.
My favourite image has to be inside the pump room on the balcony. Surrounded by the beauty of the historical building, with the sun shining through the windows, I placed my head against Mark and my hand on his chest, I could feel his heart beating and I treasured the moment of feeling him alive in my arms.
Everything on the day went as planned, and thanks to Nikki went smoothly. If I had only known that only 7 weeks after the wedding I would be arranging my Husband’s funeral. Nikki has continued to support us a family through this time, even arranging memorial photographs when we said goodbye to my husband.
Mark and I attended Nikki’s studio and we could see the evidence on the wall why she was award winning. Nikki put us immediately at ease and we chatted about the day and what we would like to happen. There were tears from us both as Nikki told me that her family too had been touched by cancer and Nikki and I both knew that these photographs would not only be capturing our wedding, but would also immortalise Mark forever on a very special day, so that our children would have these amazing images forever.
The real proposal came from me in July 2018, and it wasn’t a romantic moment ….many people plan this day, with family and friends, or big romantic gestures in a stunning locations….My proposal was outside the toilet in Cheltenham Oncology department whilst waiting for Mark to have his first radiotherapy consultation. You see on 13th July 2018 our world was turned upside down, and our family future taken from us. After several weeks of a painful arm and a throaty voice, Mark had been diagnosed with cancer and within a week we had learnt that it was terminal. We had put the wedding off for years, because our family had come first. Suddenly all the glitz and glamour of a wedding did not matter. We knew that love was the most important thing, our family wanted to be whole.
As soon as we decided to get married I had made contact with one of the other mums that my son went to school with. Anna Newman I had known for 4 years already owned sugar bowl bakes. I had used Anna before for birthday cakes (which were amazing btw), and I reached out to her in the hope she would be able to offer us a small wedding cake at cost price. To my astonishment Anna did more than that! Not only did we end up with a stunning tier wedding cake at zero cost, she also reached out to the wider community in the wedding industry.
Shelly’s & Mark’s Wedding Day Dream Team:
Photography: Nikki Kirk Photography
Wedding Cake: Sugar Bowl Bakes
Wedding Dress: Infinity Bridal
Flowers: Lilyfee Floral Designs
Wedding Ceremony: Cheltenham Registry Office
With thanks to The Pittville Pump Room