Once upon a time childhood sweethearts Maria Duckworth and Julian Hedges set off in search of the fairy-tale wedding venue they’d dreamed of. Even though they were determined not to give up hope, they feared they were building castles in the air. Until they discovered the Baronial Hall.
“We wanted to get married in a castle but couldn’t afford it,” Maria explained. “Then my sister’s sister-in-law, Suzie, who was a wedding planner, told us about the Baronial Hall and that it was like a castle inside. We went to look and fell in love with it. We knew straight away we wanted to get married there and picked a date, Saturday 21st April 2007.”
The magnificent hall within the Spanish Suite provided the perfect backdrop for the happy ending to Maria and Julian’s love story. They first met in the mid-70s when Maria was 11 and Julian was 14 and they lived at opposite ends of the same Blackpool street. Despite being smitten with each other as youngsters they drifted apart. Then fate brought them back together nearly three decades later.
“We bumped into each other in a pub in town. He pinched my backside and I went to slap his face, then realised it was him!” Maria recalled, laughing.
Both had been married before so didn’t want to rush into things, but five years later Julian popped the question, and 12 years on the happy couple still love to reminisce about their dream wedding setting. “It has such a lovely atmosphere,” said Maria. “It was just “us”.”
Julian agreed: “The whole ambience was amazing. Both the Baronial Hall and Spanish Hall were absolutely magical settings for our wedding.”
Maria and Julian are both “Sandgrown’uns”, however Maria is half Irish and the couple had a guest list of 250. This ruled out the expense of getting married abroad, so the Spanish Suite was ideal from a practical point of view as well as an aesthetic one.
“The Baronial Hall was as close as we could get to a castle interior for a ceremony in Blackpool,” said Julian, “and the Spanish Hall was the perfect space for our post wedding party. It had everything we needed. Suzie was so helpful, and the staff were brilliant.
The security was top notch too, Maria remembered. “When my husband arrived there to get ready security wouldn’t let him in up the stairs to the suite. They said there was a private function on…a wedding. He said: “You’ve got to let me in - I’m the groom!” It’s little funny things like that you remember.”
The newly married Mr & Mrs Hedges’ first dance was " Sea of Love" by the Honeydrippers, with the lyrics:
“Do you remember when we met
That's the day I knew you were my pet
I wanna tell you how much I love you
Come with me, my love
To the sea, the sea of love
I want to tell you just how much I love you”
It could have been written just for them…a wedding by the sea for childhood sweethearts, in a romantic castle setting they’ll never forget. “We purposely go in for the Open Day,” said Maria. Just to see where we got married. Not a lot of people can do that.”
Julian concluded: “It was, we both agree, the perfect wedding venue for us and it still gets talked about to this day.”