I’m so enjoying getting to introduce you to our extended team of Lovettes – these ladies were selected from a huge number of readers who applied to share their wedding planning journey on Love My Dress. Each of them have a unique story to share, are planning a completely different kind of wedding but all of them have an experience to date and vision for their day that really stood out to me. If you’ve not caught up with the achingly honest, funny, moving and straight-talkin’ introductions so far, you can do so here. This evening, please join me in welcoming Ria
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James and I met via online dating. I was coaxed into it by a good friend who convinced me it wasn’t as taboo as I thought. Despite how common it is nowadays some people still seem a bit hesitant to admit to meeting via the web and I really want to change that! At the time I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for and definitely wasn’t expecting to meet the one. I made my profile quite lighthearted, with a list of skills/experiences I wanted to explore. I then cheekily suggested that if people could help me with any of those things then they should get in touch. James’s response was bold and direct which I loved so few messages later we prepared to meet.
Our first date turned into a 10 hour extravaganza involving a long walk along the South Bank, cocktails and a tie tying lesson! One of the random things on my profile was that I wanted to learn to tie a tie. At the end of our date James magically produced a tie and not only taught me but used the tie to lean in for a kiss! The smoothness with which this was done made me wonder if he was a bit of a player but also intrigued me enough to go for date number 2! This happened the next day as I was about to go away for a few weeks, luckily we hit it off again!
Our relationship developed quite slowly as I lived and worked about 2 hours away for the first 9 months we were together. This gave us a chance to get to know each other at a relaxed pace. My scepticism about relationships meant I didn’t really admit to myself let alone anyone else that is was serious for quite a while. By the time I moved back to London my cynicism had faded away and was replaced by excitement at being closer to James.
We spent the days exploring islands and snorkeling which was bliss. One morning James said he was going for a walk around the island. Had I been paying attention I would have been suspicious as you could walk from one end of the island to the other in 5 mins but I was engrossed in a book and didn’t twig. Later that evening James asked if I wanted to go for a walk. Me being me I declined and said I wanted to read!
When I noticed him hovering around nervously I gave in. During the 2 minute walk to the end of the island James was nervously describing his feelings for me, not helped by me interjecting with random witterings because I didn’t realise what he was up to! It was only when he got down on one knee that I realised and then repeated the phrase ‘Oh my god!’ for a few minutes. (I made him go back to the same spot afterwards to do it again and kept schtum second time round!).
We now have 4 months until the big day and am starting to realise just how much there is left to do, but I’m overwhelmed with happiness about the thought of being married to my wonderful fiance. Please join me on this crazy journey to becoming a Mrs!
A little background on Ria and James
As this is Ria’s first post for Love My Dress, we thought it would be nice to share some of her original Lovettes application with you all – to help you get to know her a little better. We’ll be doing the same for all our new Lovettes when it comes to sharing their first posts.
Ria Clarke and James Rice will marry on 5th September 2015
Find Ria via Instagram @SouthLondonLass
How they met:
James and I met online! I always say this proudly without hesitation, because so many people seem embarrassed about online dating despite how common it is. I think it’s important to not perpetuate that feeling by making up stories about meeting through friends.
My online profile had a list of things that I wanted to learn/achieve with an invitation from willing volunteers to get in touch if they could help me out! One of the silly items on my list was learning to tie a tie as I never had a uniform at school and wanted to learn! Our first date was a low key wonder along the Thames from the London Eye up to London Bridge. We ended up chatting from 2pm to 11pm about all sorts, but the best bit was when James pulled out a tie at the end of the date and taught me how to do a windsor knot! He still has that attention to detail now and never fails to make me feel special.
After being together for almost 3 years we decided to go to Panama and Colombia as we were both keen to explore Central/South America. We’d been on holiday together before, but 2 months of being in each others faces is a great way to test your relationship! Despite minor niggles we got on amazingly and I really appreciated seeing the world with someone who is so passionate about travel.
One of the best parts of our trip was a 3 day excursion to a group of islands called the San Blas islands, which are owned and managed by an indigenous group in Panama. The tourism there is controlled by the local people and it’s a great example of ecotourism. It’s hard to describe the beauty of the islands, but if you imagine a stereotypical tropical island (Bounty advert style) you wouldn’t be far wrong. After a long day of sitting on a beach, James asked if I wanted to go for a walk around the tiny island we were staying on. I (cringing now!) told him I was far too lazy and wanted to finish my book! Luckily I noticed that he was still hanging around looking awkward so gave in and off we went… As we walked the 2 mins to the end of the island the sun was setting and the vista looked beautiful. James started rambling (a bit like I am now) about our relationship. Rather than letting him speak I kept chipping in with comments until I noticed that he was down on one knee! After saying “OMG are you sure?” a few hundred times I managed to say yes! We then went off to dinner with me grinning like a cheshire cat. I did make him go back and do it again after dinner whilst promising to keep schtum!
Because we were in the middle of nowhere there was no phone reception or internet access, which meant we had a really special time where nobody knew. In the age of instant access sharing it felt quite special to have our little secret, so much so that we decided to wait until we got home before telling people. James brother also got married the week after we got home, and we were quite keen not to steal anyones thunder!
I feel so lucky to have met James and have had such a beautiful proposal.
About their wedding:
When James and I talked about getting married he always said he wanted a church wedding, even though he wasn’t religious. I love churches because of their atmosphere, but felt guilty about the prospect of using a church and saying vows I wasn’t sure about. As an agnostic I’m always open to learning about different faiths, and I happened to stumble across Unitarianism. Although it has some historical basis in the church of England it has developed as a group of free thinkers who have beliefs in everything from a deity to nothing at all.
There is a beautiful Unitarian church not far from us in Richmond who have been so welcoming which is where we’re getting married! We both feel really pleased that we get to get married in a church which acknowledges the wide spectrum of spirituality and community feeling that accompanies religion. We are able to build a service that can have whatever aspects we want and I can’t wait to see our colourful friends and family share our special day in that space.
We are getting married in September 2015. Both of us (and both of our mothers) are born in September, and in the last few years early September has had nice weather. I felt like if we went for a true summer wedding we would be secretly hoping for that perfect summers day. In September we may still get that but it won’t matter if we don’t. We will probably have around 100 people for the wedding/breakfast with another 20-40 for the evening. We are inviting kids too (so I get to indulge my need for bubbles, colourful confetti and maybe a bouncy castle!).
The theme for our day is love and laughter! I don’t have a strict colour theme but I know that we want it to be relaxed and relatively informal. My Grandmother is walking me down the aisle because she is the person I’m closest too, and we’re planning to celebrate the mix between Jamaican and British culture in the best way possible, food!
I love being creative, despite not having as much time as I’d like. Our reception space at a local sports club is great but will take some imagination to make it really special. I hope to take the week off before the big day to go mad with tissue paper and ribbon! My dress was an impulse purchase from a charity shop because I could see its potential and felt awkward about spending a lot of money on an off the rack dress. I’ve found a local dressmaker who is helping me to make it into what I want, and although it isn’t the cheapest option I feel excited about the creative process and glad that I’m recycling something! I’m not going to be a slave to DIY because it will just stress me out but where I can and it’s feasible I’ll happily make things rather than buy.
What does marriage mean?
As someone raised by two strong women I’ve always struggled with the idea of a man being a permanent fixture in my life! I guess for me marriage is about creating an amazing team that inspires you to be the best person you can be. I love the support that James and I give to each other and feel very passionately about being there for him no matter what life brings. I don’t feel like either of us is half a person, nor are we waiting for life to begin. But I’m so excited about building a life and making plans with James. I also know what we will face challenges as a team, and this will make us even stronger.
Favourite Hollywood Icon?
Interesting question! I would have to say Josephine Baker. She became famous because of her exotic features and a fun banana dance, but she never let that stop her from having principles and expressing her beliefs regardless of the political and social climate of the time. As well as adopting children from a range of backgrounds (the original Angelia Jolie) she was an outspoken defender of the civil rights movement and worked for the French Military Intelligence during World War II.
James and I have always been so well supported by our family and friends, but unfortunately there are people who still have outdated opinions about mixed-race relationships. Whilst maintaining the sense of fun and laughter in our day, I also want to stand up for our right to be together and not shy away from celebrating our differences as well as our similarities. Hopefully this will be reflected in our day!
Favourite Love My Dress wedding:
This fusion between African and British in this particular wedding really stands out for me. It emulates the feeling I want at our wedding where both cultures are celebrated, and It’s so nice to see the vibrancy of the colours which aren’t too matchy matchy. The photography suits both mine and James tastes as we’re not a big fan of the muted style that some photographers offer. This wedding is a lovely example of how to take the best of both cultures and I hope we managed to do that on our day!