Take a bow

Paul and Francesco treated their guests to a real show-stopper wedding at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre – Paul tells their story. Photography by Amy-Rose Deffley 

We met in London almost ten years ago in front of the Dominion Theatre, arranged through a friends meet-up group online. We hit it off very quickly and both felt something special on the first night we met.

We promised ourselves to each other about four months after we initially met, under a fountain in Florence. We always knew that one day we would get married, and suddenly we both decided that 2015 was going to be the year, after nearly ten years of being together. It just felt like the right time for the both of us.

Since we both live in Birmingham now, and most of our guests were coming from abroad, we wanted something central and convenient – but with character and uniqueness and not a traditional venue. We went to a wedding fair at the Rep after searching for possible venues online, and straightaway we knew this would be the place. Being a theatre, it had a unique charm, and the staff were also very friendly and attentive, so we decided this would be the place.

We had a theme loosely based around black and white. We stuck to this mainly with the wedding menu and table cards, as well as the table plan. We also used vases half filled with black dye and floating candles, which made a very elegant and classy effect.

We both wore classic but modern Armani suits. We wanted a sophisticated and smart look, not something that is traditionally associated with a wedding. We also had the added advantage of investing in something that we can use again and again.

We had a civil ceremony, and included three witnesses each. We didn’t stick to a ‘formula’, as we wanted the day to be around our family and friends who have been there on our ten-year journey with us, and who made our day possible. We chose one reading each, to be read in Italian and English, catering for our various backgrounds.

We both entered together on the sides of the ceremony stage, and our brothers gave us away. Because the ceremony was in a theatre, we had a great lighting effect and the stage was slightly raised. I chose three male witnesses who sat on the stage with me on my side – they were two very dear friends, and my brother. Francesco also chose three witnesses, who were all ladies and also very dear friends.

We had a wedding reception at the same venue, in the Rep Studio Rooms. We really focused on the food and making sure this was special and of high quality. We were not disappointed as we had many compliments – and it’s not an easy task, pleasing the ‘Italian pallet’! We also had improvised speeches, along with a few prepared ones, which added authenticity and realness to the day. There was a lot of love and happiness surrounding us, which is what this day was really all about – as well as hats, many hats.

Our guests were pleasantly surprised with the venue and its uniqueness. The actual civil ceremony was quite personal to us and our friends and family, and we think our guests appreciated this, as it’s not something that most people are used to. There were lots of compliments about the food and the very emotional speeches, which left not a dry eye in the house.

It was quite overwhelming yet calming seeing the day come together. The actual experience still feels like a dream for both of us, and everything seemed to happen in a flash. It’s a truly amazing feeling seeing all your friends and family in one place at the same time, all there to celebrate our love and life together.

Our high points were walking into the theatre at the very start of the ceremony and seeing all the people who matter to us in the same room for the first time. At the end of the ceremony receiving all the hugs, kisses and well wishes from everyone was also very special to us.

We would tell couples planning their big day to pick their venue and date as early as possible – this is probably the most difficult part.

Also, very importantly, pick a good and reliable photographer that works for you. We chose Amy-Rose Deffley, because her approach is very natural and candid. She captured very special moments of our day, which we may otherwise have missed, and looking through them, we feel like we are reliving that moment again and again.