Luci was the girl next door when she first met her future husband and neighbour, Neil, at university. A decade-and-a-half later, he stunned her by popping the question while they were holidaying in the subtropical climes of the Isles of Scilly.
"I was completely gobsmacked!" she reveals. "I assumed we'd never seal the deal as we had been together so long, but the proposal was magical and the ring perfect. He had gone to the trouble of getting a bespoke diamond ring made for me in the shape of a tiny bird!"
Both Luci and Neil knew that a traditional wedding wasn't for them, and started researching elopement venues. "We came across Ever After at Lower Grenofen near Tavistock. It looked perfect and they did an all-inclusive elopement package including flowers, a meal cooked by a private chef, a photographer and the use of a honeymoon cottage. Best of all, it is dog-friendly, so we knew that our two spaniels could be a part of our big day!" explains Luci.
Starting their W-day in laid-back style with an al fresco continental breakfast followed by a soak in the luxury roll-top bath, the couple then went their separate ways to get ready for their ceremony.
Transforming their beloved spaniels into flower girls with corsages on their collars and ribbons around their leads, Luci was led through the grounds and down the aisle by springer spaniel Penny towards Neil, who was waiting patiently with their cocker spaniel, Pickle. "It was at this point we both became a bit of a blubbering mess!" confesses Luci.
Photographs in the glorious grounds allowed Luci and Neil to take in their surrounds and newly-wed status before they tucked into a selection of canapes followed by starters of seared scallops, pea puree and chorizo butter, then lamb shank, asparagus and broad bean risotto for their main course.
A ginger cheesecake with rhubarb and honey completed the private feast, while a "stunning" naked wedding cake was devoured on the day - and later on during the honeymoon! "After the meal, the room was transformed into a snuggly space, with a roaring fire, soft blankets and cushions and lots of glowing candles. We supped champagne, listened to our favourite songs and had a dance or two while the pups dozed in front of the fire!" reminisces Luci.
"The day after, we posted out elopement announcement cards to all of our friends and family to let them know what we did. Once everyone started to receive the cards, we were greeted with the warmest of congratulations... plus a fair few people telling us that they wish they'd got married in a similar way!"
Photography Clare Kinchin clarekinchinphotography.co.uk
Venue Ever After lowergrenofen.co.uk
Dress French Connection frenchconnection.com
Groom's outfit Saint Crispin Bespoke Menswear saintcrispin.co.uk
Catering Boo To A Goose bootoagoose.net
Flowers Amanda Randell amandarandell.com
Rings Alex Osborne Jewellery alexosbornejewellery.co.uk
Elopement cards Gail Hodson-Walker havealooksee.co.uk
Copyright Wed magazine 2017