Small is beautiful

Tammy and Keith's wedding was an intimate affair, with immediate family and close friends, writes Indi Debah.

Proposals don't come with a more romantic backdrop than an island of white sand, still blue waters and an azure sky. Tammy and Keith Rhodes were on the holiday of a lifetime on the Maldives when Keith popped the question. 'To be honest, we'd been together for 11 years, and I had a feeling that the question might be asked,' says Tammy. 'After all, if he wasn't going to ask then… but he chose the most perfect moment.'

The most perfect moment turned out to be during a dinner for two on a candlelit raft at the edge of a wine-dark sea when Keith, irresistibly, dropped to one knee and asked Tammy to marry him.

'It was so romantic,' Tammy says, which is something of an understatement; it's hard to imagine how it could have been more so. 'Even though I'd half-expected it and even though we'd been together for so long, it was still a wonderful moment.'

Tammy already had a date in mind, before Keith proposed, she admitts with a mischievous laugh. 'At first, I thought I wanted a big wedding. But the more I thought about it, the more a small ceremony with family and friends felt right. I couldn't bear the thought of all the stress and the huge expense of a massive wedding. It honestly is one of the best decisions I could have made.'

Tammy went off in search of the right venue, and a visit to the Broad House in Wroxham decided matters very quickly. 'I didn't have to think twice. I met Cheryl, the wedding planner, and she was absolutely fantastic. I decided then and there that our wedding would be at the Broad House.

'They took care of everything, so that on the day itself I was so relaxed it all felt a bit dream-like. It made everything so much more special when I went downstairs for the ceremony and saw how it had all been laid out – candlelit for a November afternoon – I was just thrilled.'

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It's sometimes said that brides fall into two camps when it comes to their wedding dress: those who know exactly what they want, and those who scour the boutiques until they happen across the right look. Tammy, who is in the habit of doing things differently, is a combination of the two.

'I'd made up my mind on two counts: I always knew that I wanted a lacy, vintage-style dress, and I knew I didn't want anything too flouncy. And I found the right dress straight away – it was the first one I tried on.'

Tammy has high praise for the staff at Wedding World in East Winch, who tailored the dress to fit – even when Tammy dropped a few dress sizes after a diet. 'They practically remade the whole dress - and the jacket.'

There is truth in the old sayings, believes Tammy. 'You know the one that says you'll know the dress when you see it? It's true – I did. It was exactly what I'd been looking for: lacy, vintage, old-fashioned. Perfect.'

Keith and Tammy were given a taste-testing session before the big day, which the couple found extremely helpful in putting together the sit-down meal after the ceremony. 'The food was fantastic,' says Tammy. 'Everyone enjoyed it. And the cake was a hit too.

'It was tricky to find someone who'd make a cake for a small number of people – we were a party of 17, and most cater for much bigger gatherings. In the end, I found a local company called Frosted Dreams and they came up with the cupcake-style cake – it was a huge success.'

When Tammy and Keith sat down to draft their vows a few months before the ceremony, they knew it was important for the rest of their lives together, but were thrilled when one of the vows proved to be the ice-breaker moment during the wedding itself.

'I included one where I promised to cook for Keith once a month,' Tammy recalls. 'And when I made the vow, it was so unexpected and light-hearted in the middle of the ceremony, it really did break the ice.'

For Tammy, though, the real highlight was walking down the aisle to the sound of Everlong by the Foo Fighters, the moment for her when the whole day became real.

The message comes through loud and clear from Tammy: 'Don't stress! It's only one day, after all, and the bit you'll really remember is the ceremony itself. And if you can't afford a big wedding, don't break the bank.

'Get to know your photographer, and choose one who understands what you want and who you are – I don't like having my photograph taken, and I can't bear lots of standing around waiting while photographers fuss. It was a real achievement to get me to relax in front of the camera. Karen and Dave of Fuller Photography did a pre-wedding shoot with us, listened to our ideas and really made them work.'

Photographs by Fuller Photography, 07968 961009,