Bill Heath and Dan Wickham's Norfolk wedding
PUBLISHED: 13:05 20 February 2017 | UPDATED: 13:15 20 February 2017
Bill Heath and Dan Wickham's wedding was a day to remember for friends and family who travelled from all over the world to join the party
As a hotel manager, Bill Heath has witnessed many weddings over the years – so when it came to organising his own to long term partner Dan Wickham, he knew exactly what he wanted for their dream day.
“Initially Dan only wanted a small wedding for about 20 guests,” he laughs. “But I persuaded him to go with something a little bigger. We wanted it to be fun, to be a party everyone remembered and our dress code was black tie for the men and cocktail dresses for the women. Dan loved it so much that when we got home after the wedding, he said he wanted to do it all again.”
Bill and Dan, who works as a financial controller for Holiday Inn, Ipswich Road, have been together for 10 years.
“When gay marriage was made legal we knew straight away we wanted to make that commitment. But there was no big proposal, we were having dinner at friends, started talking about it and by the time the evening ended, we had set a date.”
The couple held their service at Norwich’s Octagon Unitarian Chapel on September 3.
“We fell in love with it as soon as we walked in,” says Bill, who is general manager at Holiday Inn, Norwich North. “It is an absolutely beautiful building and it could hold our 200 guests. It is stunning inside and out and the acoustics – even up on the balcony – are amazing.”
The couple wore matching Paul Smith black dinner suits with white bow ties and white shirts with a white rose.
“It was a lovely ceremony. Our guests were singing the rafters off to all the hymns. The people at the chapel were lovely and we asked our guests to be generous with the collection. We were thrilled, they raised more than £400 for the chapel.”
Guests were taken to and from the church in a traditional red Routemaster bus – while the happy couple took the opportunity to hit the road in a very special wedding present.
“We gave ourselves a Porsche 911 convertible as a present, so we drove back from the chapel in it, which was a really fun and special moment.”
The couple, who live at Keswick, held their reception in the Lancaster Ballroom at the Holiday Inn, transforming it into an elegant indoor marquee with beautiful drapes.
“We wanted it to be classic and simple, it looked absolutely beautiful. We had simple white table clothes with hessian runners and striking blue hydrangeas set in terracotta pots. We carried on the theme with an amazing ‘naked cake’ made by our friends Julie Bond and Robert Baron. Rather than icing it was covered in fresh fruit and flowers.
The Joe Ringer Band performed three sets and there was also a disco, ensuring there was plenty of dancing all night.
“The Joe Ringer Band were amazing and will rock your celebration, I can highly recommend them. Everyone said it was the best wedding they had ever been to, simply because it was so much fun. Everyone danced from the very first song to when it finished at 1am, when there were still over 100 people on the dance floor,” he laughs.
And the magic moments of the wedding weren’t just confined to Bill and Dan saying ‘I do’, there was also a surprise family reunion.
“My sister flew in from New Zealand as a surprise for my dad who hadn’t seen her in 16 years. It was his 80th birthday two days after the wedding, so we wanted to make it a time to remember for him. My other sister also came from America, and along with my other sister who lives in Lancashire, it was the first time we had all been together in one room with mum and dad for about 25 years. It was a magical moment and made the whole wedding experience even better. It really was the most incredible occasion.”
SERVICE: The Octagon Unitarian Chapel, www.ukunitarians.org.uk/norwich, 01603 666636.
VENUE AND FOOD: The Lancaster Ballroom, Holiday Inn Norwich North, www.hinorwich.com, 01603 410544.
TRANSPORT: Coach Services, Thetford, www.coachservicesltd.com, 01842 821509
PHOTOGRAPHER: Gordon Holmes, www.fstop22.info
ENTERTAINMENT: Joe Ringer Band, www.thejrb.co.uk, 07872 350169