How long have you been together, and how did you meet?
We will have been together ten years this December. We met at work and first got together at the office Christmas party – classy! Matt S had taken a year off work due to illness and then came back to find there was a new Matt at work who was now friends with all his friends. Who was this guy? Who does he think he is? Luckily we shared a love of pubs so we soon became friends, and the rest is history!
Tell us about the proposal.
Both of us had previously lived in Japan and also both regularly travelled to Japan for work at the company we first met. But we had never actually been to Japan together despite it being a place that meant so much to both of us. Matt S was going to Japan for a conference during the Rugby World Cup so Matt W decided to tag along and we both made a full trip of it, taking in a few rugby games as we went along.
Matt W loves hiking. Matt S moans about it but enjoys it in the end. We were on the island of Yakushima, which is famous for its ancient forests, hiking routes, and stunning viewpoints. Matt W had been carrying an engagement ring around the whole trip and knew this would potentially be a perfect spot to propose, but we were only there a couple of days. Matt W had suggested a hike up Mt Tachu which has some of the best views out across the island. However, it was raining. Matt S wasn’t so keen but eventually gave in and agreed to do the hike. Off we set on the very damp hike through beautiful ancient forests, home to some of Japan’s biggest and oldest trees, with the rain making it somewhat atmospheric. But Matt S still wasn’t too keen, especially as the path got steeper and signposts and the path itself disappeared, so we had to find our own way. However, as we neared the peak, we started to see breaks in the cloud, and as we reached the top, the sky was completely cleared with brilliant sunshine, bright blue skies, and spectacular views across the forest-covered island and surrounding turquoise sea. It’s one of the best views we had ever seen. Because of the weather on the way up there was only one other hiker around. We stayed on top for about half an hour and took a million photos, but we needed to get back down and find somewhere to watch the England game that evening, so Matt S suggested we head back down. But Matt W was waiting for this other hiker to disappear so he could execute his plan. Eventually, the other hiker left, and Matt W suggested Matt S go to the edge of the rock again for a photo. Matt S couldn’t understand why as we had already taken so many photos from there, so needed some persuading. As Matt S walked out to the viewpoint, he turned around, and Matt W was down on one knee with a ring. It was completely unexpected and an amazing moment. However, Matt W had slightly messed up with the ring size – it was a Z+1. It was huge!
What led you to the venue?
As we both met whilst working in Bristol and we love the city, having it in Bristol was an obvious choice (not to mention cheaper than London!). Many of our friends live there; Matt W’s family is from Bristol, and Matt S’s family is from Cardiff – it just made sense.
We didn’t want a traditional wedding and to use traditional venues. For us it was all about having the day we wanted, going against tradition and showing off Bristol as we had people travelling from all over the UK and also from the US, Sweden, Spain and Portugal.
We chose to get married at the Bristol Registry office as we knew the kind of venues we wanted to have for the reception and party wouldn’t be able to do a legal ceremony. We thought this would be a very functional part of the day and not really be a highlight, but it was (more on that later).
Finding a reception venue in central Bristol that was big enough for all our guests and within walking distance of the registry office that wasn’t a hotel (which we didn’t want) was challenging. We had been to a few events previously at The Station, which was previously a Fire Station and is now the central Bristol hub for the Creative Youth Network charity that helps young people in Bristol reach their full potential. It was exactly what we wanted, and they gave us the flexibility to do whatever we wanted. It also meant a lot to us that we were supporting a good cause by having our wedding there.
We knew from early on that we wanted to hire some boats to take us around Bristol harbor (we stole this idea from Matt W’s dad, who also got married in Bristol) to do something different, show off Bristol, and avoid the lull that usually happens between the food/speeches and the dancing. We could easily walk from The Station to the harbor, which was ideal.
We’ve already explained how we found our evening venue.
What was the inspiration behind the vibe of your wedding?
FUN FUN FUN!! That was the main objective. We like to have a good time. We also wanted the day to be all about us and the things that we love. As we were a gay couple, we knew we didn’t have to stick to tradition and could do things differently. We didn’t want anything too fancy, formal, or stuffy, as that’s just not us. We just wanted it to be a massive party with the people we love. It was the first LGBTQ+ wedding we had been to ourselves and the same for the majority of our guests, so we wanted to make a point of celebrating we were a gay couple and were able to do this when that’s not possible for so many queer people around the world.
Quite early on, one of our friends, Shak, joked that it was the Mattrimony. We loved it and ran with it! So we branded everything. The Mattrimony on our invites. The Mattrimony on our website. The Mattrimony on our picture slide show during the reception. Even the celebrant/registrar at the registry office got on board and included ‘The Mattrimony’ in the ceremony.
We wanted our guests to be themselves and feel comfortable, so on our native/website, we had ‘The category is…. wear what makes you feel fabulous. If you feel fabulous in a sequined jumpsuit, then slay in a sequined jumpsuit. If you feel fabulous in jeans and a T-shirt, then Cinderella shall go to the ball in jeans and a T-shirt.
There was also no bride to upstage, so we said guests were more than welcome to wear white or even wear wedding dresses, and people did! One friend even had her sister make her a regency-style wedding dress for the occasion.
We wanted the day to be colourful so we went for a pastel theme. Our suits, our invites and the decorations at the reception were pastel colours.
Talk to us about your experience finding the perfect outfits.
We knew we wanted pastel-coloured suits but couldn’t seem to find what we wanted anywhere, so we needed to get them tailormade. We totally got carried away, and it was more than we were willing to spend, but it was totally worth it.
We went to get measured around two months before the big day and didn’t realise this was actually cutting it pretty fine for them to be ready in time but it worked out in the end. Radouane at Edit Suits was excellent – he knew exactly what he was doing, and we had full trust in him. He also wasn’t afraid to tell us if he thought we were making the wrong choices, which we needed as we had no idea what we were doing.
Matt W went for a pastel blue, and Matt S went for a pastel purple. It was a bit of a gamble choosing such bold colours for our suits without being able to fully visualise them as we only had a small swatch of fabric to go on. But Radouane said he wouldn’t let us buy anything if he didn’t think it would look good, so we fully trusted him.
We didn’t want to be too formal, so we decided not to have ties and to wear trainers. We each wore socks that matched the colour of each other’s suits. Surprisingly, this is what got the most comments from our guests on the day itself – everyone loved it!
Talk to us about the big day! We want all the details.
Our day was exactly what we wanted. It was one big party full of joy and all the emotions.
The weather is always unpredictable in the UK, which was a concern as we needed to get guests between venues on foot, and there were outdoor elements of the day. But luckily the sun was shining, and it wasn’t too hot. We started the day together, desperately writing our vows and speeches. Once that was done, we headed to the reception venue to meet the caterers and bar staff, had a cheeky half-pint of beer together to start the day, and then headed to the registry office.
We had always imagined that the ceremony would be the very functional legal part of the day. We didn’t expect it to be a highlight, but it was extraordinary. We asked our best people to walk down the aisle before we walked down together. We asked them to bring the energy to set the day’s tone. Two of Matt S’s best people, Skye and Letty, always knew how to bring the party, so they walked down the aisle clapping and whooping. That encouraged all the guests to get involved, and it really set the tone for the ceremony and day.
Despite only meeting the registrar, Kevin, 15 minutes before the ceremony, he could sense what we wanted out of the ceremony and was brilliant. He was professional but warm and funny at the same time. He also fully got on board with the whole Mattrimony thing.
The vows we had written were funny, heartfelt, and emotional. We really are soul mates and have been there for each other through good times and really difficult times, and this came across. There were lots of tears and laughter from us and our guests.
Matt W’s mum read an adapted extract from ‘A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters’ by Julian Barnes, one of their favourite books. The extract beautifully described what love should be in a genuine way. We highly recommend reading it!
It was truly a joyous ceremony full of positive energy from everyone. Before we walked out of the registry office to walk down the steps on Corn Street and be showered in confetti (biodegradable, of course!), we made sure we put sunglasses on to look cool for the photos. We’re so vain. It was really lovely that people passing by were also clapping and cheering for us.
We then walked to the reception venue, just a few minutes away. We wanted to do something special for this part. We had originally wanted a brass band to lead us through the streets, but our budget wouldn’t allow it. Instead, we got our siblings and their partners to light smoke flares in the colours of the pride flag. It made for an awesome photo, but the story behind the photo is pretty funny. Matt S’s brother’s flare didn’t light, the dye went all over his sister Rhiân’s face, and another flare managed to burn a hole in Tom’s (Matt W’s brother) suit. But it still looked epic.
Our reception venue was very laid back, and the engine room that used to house the fire engines provided ample and light space. As we sat down for dinner, we left a quiz (about us, of course), and the winners on each table were provided with a pirate’s hat and were responsible for getting their table to the next surprise element of the day (the boats). We were really worried that we would lose guests along the way!
Our caterers were Square Food Foundation, which is a Bristol charity that helps to reduce hunger, improve health, and bring people together through food and cooking. This is mainly through free and subsidised cooking classes within the local community. Private events such as weddings help fund the charity. Having ethical suppliers was very important to us.
After lunch were the speeches. Everyone listening cried at some point. We had a father of the groom, a sister of the groom, six best people, and ourselves in total. We had to give people strict time limits!
They were all sincere, real and raw. We both met when Matt S was just finishing chemotherapy and was also just coming to terms with his sexuality. Cancer has also affected close family members over the years so for us all to be in one room celebrating this happy occasion was very special. Luckily, our best people were on hand to provide some light relief in their speeches.
Then we had to herd everyone to the harbour for a boat trip in the glorious sunshine. Bristol was looking good! Two guests literally missed the boat as they didn’t realise what the surprise was and went to check-in to their hotel but they luckily found us later. We had provided the boat company with pride flags to fly as we cruised around the harbour. There was music, there was sunshine, there were drinks and just all round good vibes. It was an entertaining way to warm up for the evening.
We were then dropped off at the different points of the harbour to walk to our evening venue. Here, we let the guests go ahead so that we could have some photos by ourselves, and they turned out great.
At the evening venue, one of our friends DJ’d for a couple of hours before handing the decks over to Pom Pom, and there were just full-on camp party vibes until 2 am. After which, the hardcore moved onto OMG, Bristol’s biggest gay bar, and partied on until closing. We then finished the night together with cheesy chips in a kebab shop at 5 am – very us and the perfect way to end the best day!
What does marriage mean to you?
We’ve both been on a journey with what marriage looked like to us, which probably meant something different to each of us in the past. For Spiller Matt, growing up in a Catholic family, I always believed in marriage and saw it as something I wanted, but as a gay man who wasn’t out until later in life, it took a long time until I believed I would ever get married. For Wilkinson Matt, I never really believed in love and was very cynical about it and, so never expected or planned to get married. I also struggled with its patriarchal history and continuing elements of it. However, after we’d been together for a time, we both changed our view on marriage. Spiller Matt came to see it was something that could happen for him, and Wilkinson Matt came to learn love was real, so we both became increasingly excited by the idea of marriage. If you asked us now, I think we’d both say marriage represents the opportunity for us to share our love for each other with all our family and friends. Also, as we’re gay and there’s no rule book on gay marriage, it also gave us the ability to make the day exactly what we wanted it to be, avoid the patriarchal elements, and really celebrate gay love and how far our community has come.
Advice for other couples planning a wedding?
The best advice we received was that the energy you bring to the day will influence your guests’ energy. If you’re feeling stressed and uptight, then your guests will also be stressed. If you’re having the best time, then your guests will have the best time. This was so true! We wanted a big, happy party, so that’s the energy we brought, and our guests gave it back to us in spades.
Lastly, is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
As we’ve always been pretty terrible at giving wedding gifts in the past, we didn’t want to ask for gifts. So, instead, we asked anyone who wanted to give us a gift to donate to the Kaleidoscope Trust, an incredible charity we’ve supported for years that advocates for LGBTQ+ rights around the world. We feel so lucky to live in a country where, due to the passion, advocacy, and struggles of those who came before us, we’re able to get married, so we wanted to play a small part in supporting this basic right being brought in elsewhere. The generosity of our awesome guests genuinely blew us away.
Photography & Cinematographer Rebel Love Club
Boats for a trip around Bristol Harbour Bristol Packet Boat Trips
Catering Square Food Foundation
Celebrant Kevan Rowlands
Ceremony Venue The Grand Council Chamber, The Old Council House, Bristol Register
Entertainment Pom Pom our Drag DJ
Evening Venue The Cock & Tail
Reception Venue The Station
Suit Designer Edit Suits
Wedding Rings Harsh Realm Jewellery