The Hollyoaks star speaks to us exclusively about his beautiful Peak District wedding to Carl Hyland...
From getting engaged to the wedding day, how long did it take you and Carl to plan your wedding?
12 months in total.
Were you both equally involved in the wedding planning, or did one of you do the majority?
I had the vision from day one. I don't know where it came from but I knew whenever I went to a wedding, the focal point for me would be the bride and her dress and with ours being a gay wedding, we wouldn’t have this, so I knew we wanted a lot of bridesmaids! We decided to put all of them in wedding dresses and everything built from there.
Carl and I planned and discussed everything and he had input all the way on every detail. I will admit, I was a bit of a groomzilla - his only sole decision was the first dance, which he surprised me with!
How did you find the wedding planning experience?
Exciting at first when we first began looking for venues and going out to view them all. As the day got closer, I found it very stressful - I was worrying constantly about things not working out, or forgetting something crucial. With nearly 250 guests invited to the ceremony and reception, it was like a military operation, making sure everyone who was involved were doing the things in the way we wanted, communicating between the venue, the guests, the bridesmaids, all the suppliers and performers...
It is one of the most stressful things I have ever done - besides moving house, and I do that almost once a year! The ridiculous thing is I really don't deal well with stress. Luckily my manager Janet Freebury-Watson was the official wedding planner for the event, so I looked to her to co-ordinate everything, which lessened the load on Carl and I.
Were there any areas of the wedding planning you particularly enjoyed, and any you didn't?
The venue hunting was the best thing. I went to view each venue we found, and I tried to see if I could transfer my vision onto each of them. When we found the Devonshire Dome in Buxton, I knew immediately this was the place to make it happen. We made a bit of history as well, because we were the first couple to actually get married in he Dome itself - other ceremonies have always been carried out in smaller side rooms.
I can’t think of anything I didn’t really enjoy. Though I did have nightmares some nights of things going horrendously wrong!
Other than exchanging your vows, what was your favourite moment of the day?
Before the wedding, lots of people told me make sure I took a moment to stop and just look about the room and savour it. I did this and I’d recommend anyone getting married does the same. It all goes by so fast and becomes a bit of a blur.
We'd love to hear about your wedding reception: what was it like? What details did you choose for it?
There was a strict dress code of black and white, and the wedding was based on a travel theme: we named all the tables after destinations around the world that Carl and I have visited together and with family and friends, with each table having a framed photo of us in that destination.
With that in mind, I didn’t want a traditional seating plan, so we had a ticket desk manned by ‘cabin crew’, where guests could collect their tickets stamped with, Passenger Name, Destination and Table Number.
The cake was an original design and featured little models of each of the 12 brides, along with our pug Ricky, then Carl and I on the top. Once cut into, the sponge was rainbow-coloured!
Did you have a first dance? What was the song?
Yes we did, this was Carl’s choice, and it was to Andy Williams' Can't Take My Eyes Off You.
You had 12 bridesmaids - what inspired you to pick so many? How did you choose them?
I could have actually easily had more than 12! But we decided to choose from a mixture of work and close friends from the here and now: in other words, people I am working with and we're hanging out with and going on holidays with.
We loved their dresses! Did each bridesmaid choose her own?
No, I selected them all from Mon Cheri Europe in Cambridge. I chose each one with each individual girl in mind; luckily I got the majority of them right, though owing to sizes and styles we did some swapping between the girls. It could have been risky but was still easier than getting 12 girls in one place at the same time - I think choosing their own would have been a nightmare!
Are you guys heading off on honeymoon soon? Where are you going?
Yes, we are going to Egypt. It's a place we have never been before, and we travel a lot. We had part of our stag do at the beginning of April in Vegas, and we wanted to try to pick somewhere this time where jet-lag wouldn’t be involved...
Your character also got married in Hollyoaks last year! Between this and planning your own, have you picked up any planning gems of wisdom?
The main thing I would say is to get good help: having a wedding planner was crucial and we worked to action plans, and time schedules. Also, the help you can get from the venue itself is important. We were very lucky that the Events team headed by Christine Sweetmore at The Dome was amazing. This made a huge difference.
We had a huge stage and catwalk built with pillars and drapes then sound and lighting all put into the dome, this was a big operation to organise. Thanks for this goes to Chris Thornton from Rollercoaster Productions!
Outside of your own wedding (and Ste's!), what's your favourite wedding memory?
This has to be the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton - although we weren’t at the wedding it felt like we all had an invite! I particularly chose Lily of the valley for my buttonhole and featured them in the venue’s flowers, as Kate Middleton had these for her bouquet.
Finally - what are your tips for a couple looking to plan their dream wedding day?
One of the main talking points of our wedding was definitely the brides and their dresses, so make sure you have a wow-factor dress. I think the brides and their dresses are the one memory people will take from my wedding and they feature in all the pictures.
The other things: choose an amazing venue, as this will be your backdrop for everything, and if you can, get a wedding planner either privately or by enlisting a friend or family member to help lessen the stress and co-ordinate everything. This makes the whole experience so much better and more enjoyable on both the run up and on the day.
Group imagery: Kerry Spicer
Flowers: image courtesy of Kieron Richardson/Twitter; arrangement by Green Pavilion.