The Royal Navy, where Sam is an aircraft handler and firefighter and Natasha is an aircraft controller, is in no small part to thank for this pair's story. In 2015, the couple met aboard the HMS Ocean. Sam put in a month's worth of hard work to get Natasha to go on a date with him, and once she'd agreed they fell head over heels for each other in no time. Natasha says, "We were often apart for months on end but it was always worth it when we were back together."
Sam was deployed on HMS Ocean at Christmas 2016 with a stop in Dubai for two weeks. Natasha flew out to meet him so that they could spend the festive season together and the groom-to-be popped the question on Christmas eve. Natasha accepted of course and they celebrated in their apartment, by ordering room service and cuddling up to watch Christmas movies. Natasha was at sea on RFA Argus for the majority of 2017 and planned most of the wedding from there. She remembers, "Whenever we had time off together, we'd book to go and visit venues and start gathering ideas. Your Cheshire & Merseyside Wedding was a lifesaver for me! I'd get it sent to my mum's and whenever I could get home I'd collect them all and take them back to sea with me. I'd read it in breaks between controlling the aircraft and would jot down little notes and to-do lists!"
Here, Natasha shares her account of the big day…
We fell in love with Crabwall Manor's castle-like appearance and the location was close to my home. It had a lovely warm feeling when wevisited and knew it would be perfect for a Christmas wedding.
I wore a Christina Wu dress called Rosita. It had a beautifully embellished lace bodice with a high neck and a duchess satin princess-style skirt. I paired this with a cathedral veil and a tiara. I wanted to feel like a princess for the day, which made a change from wearing a military uniform!
I opted for a natural make-up look with a smoky eye by my make-upartist, Lizzie. My hairdresser, Eileen, has been doing my hair since I was 18, so I couldn't imagine anyone else creating my wedding look.
Sam wore his number one uniform for the ceremony before changing into a navy tweed three-piece suit, brown brogues, white shirt and gold tie. He wanted to wear his traditional uniform for the vows because it is, after all, how we met, but it's not the most comfortable of outfits! The groomsmen all wore navy tweed three-piece suits with navy ties.
The bridesmaids were dressed in embellished navy gowns teamed with navy cashmere wraps. They all wore simple up dos with ahair vine each.
We'd both felt extremely nervous in the morning, but once the ceremony was over we were so much more relaxed. We were overjoyed to get a moment together before all of our guests wanted to pass on their well wishes.
We spent a lot of time making the table plan from white, navy and gold card. Our advice? Pay someone to make it for you!
Our centrepieces were trees that lit up. My bridesmaids and I decorated them with baubles and hanging crystals the evening before the wedding.
We kept our flowers simple and elegant using white roses,gypsophila and greenery
We both have a sweet tooth so we filled jars with penny sweets and attached guests' names calligraphed on luggage tags. The top table's name cards were decorated with bows and pearl hearts.
Our chief bridesmaid's mum made the cake. Weknew she intended to make us a couple of tiers asa gift, but when we saw the finished article, wewere stunned! It was four-tiers, frosted, decoratedwith roses and had a cake topper.
We opted for table numbers instead of names as we didn't want toover complicate things by adding in ship names when we alreadyhad a Christmas and sparkle theme. The British Heart Foundation isclose to our hearts, so we gifted the charity's pin badges as favours
We were lucky enough to have won our photographer's services in a competition and he made our day extra amazing. He surprised us by telling us that his second shooter had also captured the majority of the day on film so we would have a video to look forward to as well. He really went above and beyond.
We loved Dance Floor Couture and our DJ, Ian, so much that we booked them again for Sam's 30th. We also had a saxophonist accompanying him. We wanted to create a house music vibe as we both love our music and are ravers at heart!
Our first dance was to Florence and the Machine's Never Let Me Go. I came across the song a couple of weeks before the wedding and the lyrics were perfect. It was meant to be
Go at your own pace with the planning. We spent two years buying bits and bobs to make our day special. We'd book the various elements with suppliers each payday to spread the costs. We made sure we still had holidays and date nights so that we didn't resent having to save up.