Sue and Okkie’s garden wedding – teamwork at its best!

bridesmaids Creating Ceremony celebrant Sussex
Bridesmaids waiting for their moment

One of the things I’ve loved since becoming a celebrant is the way that the wedding industry works. Whilst the media might have you think that we’re all money hungry vultures, waiting to fleece unsuspecting couples of all their wonga (whilst laughing maniacally of course), the reality is far different.

Nearly everyone I’ve met in the industry has been passionate about what they do and about creating their couples’ perfect weddings. This often sees them working all their waking hours (which include many whilst other, saner people are sleeping, I hasten to add) to make magic happen.

Not only that, but passionate providers link with other passionate providers, and the teamwork and support is phenomenal.

So why am I telling you this?

garden marquee flowers wedding
The beautiful ceremony area

Because Sue and Okkie’s wedding the other weekend was a perfect example of what I’ve just been describing. Let me explain:

Sue and Okkie are a gorgeous couple who live in Tangmere, Chichester. Sadly, Okkie was diagnosed with cancer of the colon in 2015, when he started his long fight with the disease.

After winning several battles, he asked Sue, his partner of six years, to marry him. Shortly afterwards, doctors broke the devastating news that he only had 12 months to live.

Gorgeous flowers by Katherine Bly

Friends and family set about raising money and getting in help to give Sue and Okkie the best wedding they possibly could. Their story was shared on Spirit FM, a local radio station, as well as in lots of local papers, and it caught the eye of many wedding suppliers, who rushed in to help the couple.

I hadn’t been aware of the appeal until some of my wedding colleagues, Amanda Samain of Hire Your Day, Kate Bly of Katherine Bly Flowers, Becky Cook of The Garden Chef and Kelly Kearly of Not Your Average I Do got involved and suggested I might be able to help. By this time, the wedding had had to be moved forward, as Okkie’s prognosis was not looking good.

The amended date gave us approximately 2 weeks to create a dream wedding at home for the couple. Suppliers worked long hours and pulled together: Amanda and Kelly created gorgeous ceremony and party areas which were decorated with Kate’s beautiful flowers; Quartzette, a string quartet, provided music, we were all snapped by the wonderful photographer Archie of PBA Photography and the ceremony started.

Wedding conducted by Claire Bradford of Creating Ceremony
Sue and her sons

Sue wore a beautiful dress from Lea at Confetti Bridal Gowns and looked radiant. She was escorted down the aisle by her sons Tom and Danny and, after thanks on the couple’s behalf to all the people who had worked so hard to pull the day together, they had a lovely reading they had chosen, from The Bridge Across Forever, by Richard Bach.

The ring exchange

Understandably, Sue and Okkie hadn’t wanted references to sickness or death in the ceremony, and yet it was important to address the reality of their situation in a way that was not maudlin or upsetting. So we celebrated their love, their happy stories and their strength in getting through the tough battles together and, in their vows, they affirmed that love and promised to continue it through as many moments together as they are blessed with.

Melktart by
Melktart by

After signing their vows, Sue and Okkie walked back down the aisle together, as friends and family cheered and threw confetti.


Then it was just a short walk through to the back garden to celebrate, fuelled by food that Becky The Garden Chef had made with a nod to Okkie’s South African background: melktart, koeksisters and babotie and yellow rice. It looked amazing and, knowing Becky’s cooking, I’m sure it tasted even better.

It was a real privilege to be part of Okkie and Sue’s big day, and it made me so proud of the wonderful industry of passionate people that I belong to.

To top it all off, the team received this wonderful testimonial too:

“You worked so hard and I’m so grateful. Anyone who is planning their wedding, this team of amazing people should be top of your list. Their vision and dedication is beyond measure. They are truly brilliant with hearts of gold and we love you all.”


Photos by Archie of PBA photography.



Smiles in the aisle!
(some of) the dream team!




cheers to Mr and Mrs Nel!