Couple share big day with Royal couple

Karen Gelderd and Mark Hodgkinson wedding at Ashfield House in Standish.'Mark and Karen with bridesmaid Lennie and usher Dominic Hodgkinson.
Karen Gelderd and Mark Hodgkinson wedding at Ashfield House in Standish.'Mark and Karen with bridesmaid Lennie and usher Dominic Hodgkinson.
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IT is one of the biggest day of their lives.

More than 100 guests will join them in celebrating their marriage to each other today.

A strapless gown will adorn the bride while the groom will wear a lilac waistcoat and cravat as they make their vows.

At the 18th century wedding venue, which has been beautifully decorated with tulips and butterflies, the wedding guests will enjoy a fish and chip supper with dancing until late.

April 29 marks the wedding day of Mark Hodgkinson and Karen Gelderd ... oh, and Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Read on to discover how the Standish couple’s wedding compares to the other minor event in London!

VENUE

While the royals have chosen Westminster Abbey to make their marriage vows, Karen and Mark have chosen Ashfield House in Standish.

The location may be a smaller venue but their wedding still promises to be a lovely. lavish affair.

Built in 1755, Ashfield House is an elegant English Country House standing in its own landscaped grounds, overlooking the Douglas Valley.

Westminster Abbey, a gothic monastery church is situated in the heart of London close to the Houses of Parliament.

The building of the present Abbey was started by King Henry III in 1245 and has the highest gothic vault in England at 102ft with the oldest parts of the building dating back to 1050.

Karen said: “We chose Ashfield House as we live in Standish but also my extended family comes from Blackburn and Garstang so wanted somewhere easy for them to get to.

“We did think of a few more places around the Standish area but when I went for a tour round Ashfield I was just so happy.

“Our wedding and breakfast is only quite intimate so I wanted somewhere that didn’t look too big and the restaurant is a perfect size to accommodate the number of guests.

“I’m quite old fashioned, I like old fashioned things and it looks really regal with it’s chandeliers and antique style furniture.

“The staircase is also fabulous, even if it rains, we can have photos there.”

•Number of royal weddings: Westminster Abbey: 15 Ashfield House: 0

WEDDING DETAILS

While Prince William and Kate Middleton are sure to be looking forward to the biggest day of their lives, the details of the day prove it will be a busy and probably exhausting one.

With the congregation arriving between 8am and 10am, the Royal family and foreign dignitaries will follow at 10am and the service will begin at 11am.

During the lunchtime reception at Buckingham Palace hosted by the Queen where guests will be served with canapés, the couple will make their balcony appearance at 1.25pm.

The event will draw to a close with a private dinner given by The Prince of Wales for close friends and family.

While the day will not be quite so formal or as long, loved-up couple Karen and Mark have planned a day fit for them and their guests.

Marrying at 2.15pm in front of 32 guests, the reception will begin at 3.30pm where everyone will eat what they have chosen off a menu.

Decorated in lilac and purple, Karen had arranged the theme around tulips she had wanted for her bouquet.

She said: “I love tulips and the colour is also not too girly for the lads.

“The men will have lilac waistcoats and cravats, and tulip button holes.

“In the evening, we’re having a light supper of fish and chips and sausage barms.

“The entertainment is quite traditional with a wedding DJ, but we are having a casino to drag the lads away from the bar!

“We just want everyone dancing and to have fun.”

WEDDING PARTY

Karen and Mark’s daughter Jennifer and their niece, Lennie Hodgkinson have two special roles during the wedding - they are the all important bridesmaids.

At aged two and nine respectively, the couple’s choice of bridesmaids is quite different to the royals.

Karen said: “My daughter and niece would never forgive me if I didn’t ask them.

“Lennie’s been looking forward to it since we got engaged three and a half years ago.

“I didn’t want to ask anyone else as I didn’t want anyone thinking they were second choice.”

Playing the part of Maid of Honour at the Westminster Abbey wedding is Kate’s sister Philippa Middleton.

Lady Louise Windsor, seven - daughter of The Earl and Countess of Wessex, Edward and Sophie and first cousin of Prince William, will be a bridesmaid along with the Hon. Margarita Armstrong-Jones, eight, who is the daughter of Viscount and Viscountess Linley (née The Hon. Serena Stanhope) and the second cousin of Prince William.

Three-year-old Miss Grace van Cutsem, daughter of Mr and Mrs Hugh van Cutsem and goddaughter of Prince William is also part of the bridal party along with Eliza Lopes, also three who is the daughter of Mr and Mrs Harry Lopes, granddaughter of The Duchess of Cornwall.

Prince William’s godson, Master Tom Pettifer, 8 and son of his and Harry’s private secretary Master William Lowther-Pinkerton, 10 will be pageboys.

BEST MAN

One similarity between the two couples is that both grooms have chosen their brother as their best man.

It was always going to be Prince Harry who would support his older brother on his big day, and for the first time they have broken protocol and chosen a ‘best man’ rather than a ‘supporter’.

Being the youngest of three boys, Mark had two brothers to choose from but Paul got the job.

Mark said: “Paul is married and my other brother, Sean was his best man so it seemed right for me to ask Paul to be my best man rather than have Sean do it all again.”

Paul added: “I’m suprised Mark chose me as his best man, I thought he would of asked one of his friends or my other brother but then again, I am also honoured because not everyone gets to be a best man.”

While Mark did not risk leaving the stag party preparations Paul, Prince Harry is said to have organised a low-key event for around 20 close friends at a Norfolk estate.

Probably the most important job for the best man, is to write an entertaining speech.

Paul said: “I’m extremley nervous about the speech, but not as near as nervous as prince Harry must be he has a much bigger audience than me to perform to when he reads his speech.

“I’m sure the nerves will disappear after a few pints of lager.”

THE DRESS

Although every part of a wedding is an important one, the world is really bracing itself for Kate’s dress.There has been much speculation over what she will wear, who will design it and how much it will cost. The talk of the dress the whole world is waiting to see has filled gossip columns and fashion magazines.

Karen chose her Ella dress last September, one month after having baby Samuel.

She said: “I loved the dress instantly, it’s simple and stylish, nothing like a gypsy wedding one!

“I had put on weight after the baby and bought the dress to slim into, I’ve lost three stone since September. It is perfect for me, and it is boned inside to hold in my baby belly.”