• Elena

An International Wedding in the heart of Norwich

Updated: Oct 2, 2018

Written by Irina Valentino

When we first met in a gym and just started dating Reza said, “You are THE ONE for the rest of my life”. That gave me certainty and grounding I have never truly experienced before. Before the wedding we have lived together for a few years. We both felt that we knew each other for much longer that one life time.

Reza is a truly remarkable man. With affluent upbringing, two degrees and two master degrees he is the modesty personalized. This man simply does not have ego. He never judges people. He values every human being, every animal and every insect on the planet. On holidays in warm countries cats follow him everywhere we go.

Reza does not do anything to impress anyone. The same with the wedding, he simply said, “As your mum is visiting us soon, let’s get married so she enjoys it with us.” It was the seventh mum’s visit from Russia in 15 years since my daughter Dasha and I have moved to England. Visas applications haven’t become easier and with the Home office losing mum’s biometrics due to a technical error it was a total nightmare. It can be another long story with getting visa in Novosibirsk just the night before the flight in the morning… from Tomsk (distance 170 miles). Huge thank you for making my mum’s arrival on time to Dasha and a local MP.

I love the comfort and the style of our house and I made the decision to get ready at home. Friends, my mum and my daughter made it even more meaningful. My hair was done by amazing Leanne Lilly Moralee and I was in love with it even after the wind blowing through my hair during an afternoon walk across the city.

Reza had lunch and got dressed at his mum’s house around the corner from us. There he had support of his amazing extended Iranian family arrived from other parts of the country. Reza looked dashing in his navy blue slim fit suit, brown shoes, bright yellow socks and yellow tie. I could see the whole universe in his big brown eyes, there is so much love there. He is and forever will be my teacher of unconditional love.

I have a huge privilege in life to have a remarkable friend Elena Wetherall. Elena is not just a beautiful woman with an exceptional soul, she is also a talented designer at Fancy Bowtique Bridal Couture. Her bespoke piece was made with the abundance of the Freshwater Pearls and Golden Leaves meticulously entwined with gold plated wire. It was very comfortable to wear and just glorious.

In Russia we don’t have a tradition to be engaged and wear an engagement ring so I wanted my wedding ring to be very special. We went to London to buy Happy Heart Dancing Diamonds Chopard ring. I believe it perfectly communicates my personality. I love it. Reza’s ring was made especially for him from Russian gold.

I love Norwich, I adore Norwich city centre and I wanted my wedding to reflect that. We organised the whole wedding in just THREE WEEKS and we were absolutely blessed to be able to get married at the Norwich Castle and have the celebrations at the Norwich Cathedral, two the most iconic places of my beloved city.

It was easy to plan our healthy food choices with the Cathedral catering managers. Their attitude “it’s your day” and “yes we can” was priceless. We had a mini bus booked (courtesy of our dearest friends) for guests who wanted a ride between the two destinations. Reza and I, and our friends enjoyed the glamorous walk through the fine and sunny city centre.

I wanted all my friends to feel special so I asked them to wear their favourite white dresses. They were even more glamorous than ever. Girls white power was unleashed.

Since we are in England I could not avoid mentioning the weather. Needless to say in the morning it was raining cats and dogs. However, by the time the gorgeous car arrived to collect me the bright warm sun came out and the temperature raised up to +25°C, quite extraordinary for mid August in Britain. Consequently, the walk, the reception drinks in the magnificent Cathedral Cloisters and the photoshoot there were possible and rather extraordinary.

Our photographer was the one and only Suzanne Fossey. A few years before our wedding Susan took professional photos at the Yes Group where I was presenting and they were inspirational. On the wedding day Susan had not stopped taking action shots, but never in our faces. All photographs are incredibly creative and artistic and we received them surprisingly quickly.

I wanted my flowers to be wild and sophisticated. I was delighted by the recommendations of Gita Zitkiene from Valley Of Flowers. She invited me to her home to get to know me better. She said, “Your flowers need to be light and playful as you are.” Using blue bottles I collected from all over the world and her own glass vintage vases Gita decorated our venue at the Norwich Cathedral and it was breathtakingly magnificent. I was in love with my white, blue and yellow playful bouquet and was thrilled to pass it at the end of the night to the next bride to be.

THE CAKE I wanted to make the cake myself and on the morning of the wedding day my mum and I did it to the amusement to our friends and family. They thought it was too risky to leave it to the last minute. My friend decorated it. It was tasty and very beautiful. WINE AND FAVORS Did I already mention that I love living in Norwich and I love Norfolk? We had plenty of the most delicious white and red Norfolk award winning wine from Winbirri Vineyard in Surlingham. Norfolk honey “Meant to Bee” as favours to our guests also came from Surlingham thanks to our friends who live there and took a great care of it all.

FIRST DANCE We went for “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheerman. We had an incredible dance teacher Gemma Blythe coming to our home practicing with us Ceroc moves. We enjoyed the dance and received many wows. Later on in the evening Gemma gave a dance lesson to our guests creating lots of laughter. We danced the dance again on our honeymoon in Bali when we were invited to a beautiful local wedding by a couple we haven’t met before, a lesson of asian hospitality for us.

GRATITUDE Big thank you to my daughter, all friends and family who prioritised to celebrate love with us on that magical day of 17th August 2017 at a very short notice. Without you being there and your immeasurable ongoing support it would not be possible. Our hearts and our home are always open for you.


Photographer Suzanne Fossey

Headpiece Fancy Bowtique Bridal

Hair Leanne Moralee

Flowers Gita Zitkiene

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Luxury Bridal Headpieces , Norwich, UK