A North Devon Wedding – by Anneka Phillips (Gast)

Anneka & Matthew share their wedding day with us.

When my partner ever so romantically proposed to me in the Sand dunes on Woolacombe Beach, finding a location for the wedding couldn’t have been easier. I have been coming to Woolacombe since I was knee high to a grasshopper and it really is my favourite place to be. I call it my happy place, where I feel all my problems disappear and I just want to smile.

My partner naturally fell in love with the place as much as I had, so he felt very much the same way. There are so many wonderful wedding venues in and around the area, but Tunnels Beaches in Ilfracombe really stood out to us. I had visited the beach as a child and never would have thought I would be getting married there one day.

It’s such a magical place, with so much character and charm and it suited us and our laid back personalities perfectly. We wanted a low-key ceremony but with the added wow factor and that is exactly what we got. Most of our guests had never heard of the venue before and as my Husband’s family mostly live nearLondon, they had never even been to this beautiful part of the country before.

I love the fact that from the outside of the venue, you would not expect what you find on the other side of the tunnels – the “wow” factor I wanted. The night before the wedding, I stayed in the lovely Woolacombe Bay Hotel. I had always wanted to stay there and thought, what a perfect opportunity and what could be a better reason? So why not push the boat out for once? I’m so glad I chose to stay there. The staff were fantastic, the suite we stayed in was gorgeous, the breakfast was perfect and the views were sublime. One of my favourite memories from my wedding day, was the moment we stepped outside of the hotel, to the view of the vintage VW campervan coming down the high street, past all of the shops I know so well coming to pick us all up. A perfect memory. Once we had been collected, I felt like royalty. The locals and visitors all waved and cheered as we drove around Woolacombe.

Being in the place I love so much, in a gorgeous VW, with the family I have shared so many memories with there was just phenomenal. I will never forget how I felt that day and how special that was. We stopped by Woolacombe beach and had some pictures taken by the sea. It would have been rude not to really wouldn’t it?! We were so lucky with the weather. For mid-October it was unseasonably warm and although it appeared to be dark and gloomy to begin with, the sun eventually came out and it was as if it was a summers day. After we arrived at the venue, I was surprisingly calm. Perhaps it was the calming nature of the venue? Or just the fact I was so happy to be marrying the man I love in such a beautiful place. We all walked through the stunning tunnels and when we got to the end, I was greeted by the sounds of the waves crashing which automatically got me emotional! When ‘The Sea’ by Morcheeba started playing, off we went.

Saying our vows in such a beautifully dramatic location, with waves crashing around us was truly atmospheric and being able to share that with our friends and family was an honour! Once the ceremony was over and we were officially married, after a bit of bubbly and some canapés, we had our pictures taken on the beach. To keep in with the laid back theme of the day, we had a few pictures taken so it didn’t take up a lot of time, then just made sure everybody had drinks and enjoyed themselves. The atmosphere was just amazing. The music, the waves, the location and seeing everyone so relaxed and happy and enjoying themselves was unforgettable. We eventually settled down to a fabulous gourmet barbeque and the food was just fabulous – the best barbeque I’ve ever had! Most of our guests had 2nds and even 3rds! After speeches, toasts and ice creams, the evening party started. We had the best dancefloor – the outdoor terrace that we had earlier got married on. What a place to make some shapes! We had a first dance there, whilst our guests all watched from the outside of the venue.

Under the moonlight, with the sounds of the sea and the cliffs were beautifully lit up making it such a perfect and magical experience. The fire was roaring outside, the waves were crashing, there was laughter, dancing, happiness and the general atmosphere was amazing. The comments we had in our guest book just say it all. Most commented that it had been the best wedding they had been to and this was probably due to the venue itself and the laidback fun day it was thank you to the amazing staff there. I was devastated when it ended and I had to leave! After flagging down a taxi in my wedding dress, we went to Woolacombe Bay Holiday Village, where we had our farmhouse waiting for us. Everything was so amazingly magical. I think about it every day! Although most people may not want to stay at a holiday park for a honeymoon, we loved it. We usually stay in a caravan, so staying in a farmhouse was a treat for us, plus we had a hot tub which was just lovely for those Autumn October evenings. We loved it so much, we’ve even booked it again for our anniversary and we can’t wait to come back! Would I recommend North Devon as a place to get married? Absolutely!!! We obviously cannot predict the weather, but we would not change a single detail from the day. Perfection.

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