wedding venue

Tilgate Park could become a wedding venue as the council discusses the possibility of getting a licence to hold ceremonies while it has been suggested that the Walled Garden could be hired out for receptions.

A new outdoor theatre and events area known as The Arena, which used to be a shire horse sand school, was launched at the start of this month.

While theatre productions have already been held, there are plans to use the space for other outdoor events and the Labour-run council's cabinet member in charge of leisure in Crawley has revealed he is looking at the possibility of getting a licence to conduct wedding ceremonies there.

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Chris Mullins said: "We created The Arena within the park because we see it as an area for events. The excellent job the contractors are doing to run the café [next to the arena] is proving to be very successful.

"We have got to run some activities up there [in The Arena and around the Walled Garden]. It might be that somebody wants to get married up there, eventually, if we got a licence, but there are lots of possibilities."

Francis Guidera, a Conservative councillor for Tilgate, says he likes the idea of having weddings in the park but is keen to ensure large parts of the park don't become constantly closed off to residents.

He said: "I've spoken to Nick Hagon (the manager of Tilgate Park) about this and they have been considering it as a possible wedding venue, and they wanted to hire out the Walled Garden for private functions in the evenings.

"That's a possibility apparently. The bottom line is, that's fine as long as it didn't become permanently closed off because it was being constantly hired out. I understand why people might want to have a wedding reception up there, but I don't know about losing [the Walled Garden] for a whole Saturday."

There is a barn in Tilgate Park which is already hired out for private functions, so it is possible this, alternatively, could be used for wedding receptions, but the idea is in the very early stages.

Cllr Guidera admits he is no better informed than a lot of residents about Cllr Mullins' plans for Tilgate Park because, he says, he does not discuss his plans with the Conservative opposition.

He said: "I've had this argument with Chris Mullins for the last year and a half. I'm constantly left out of the loop so I just don't know what's going on until things are made public.

"It's very difficult for me to find out what's happening. Tilgate Park is in my ward and he's showing no respect whatsoever for the 1,362 people who voted for me."

The Crawley News made several attempts to contact Cllr Mullins after speaking to Cllr Guidera, to get a response to the concerns, but did not receive a reply.

Crawley Borough Council owns and runs the park and Tilgate Nature Centre with some services being outsourced, including the Walled Garden Café and activities on the lake.

Since new activities like Go Ape, the Dynamic Adventures activities on the lake and additions to Tilgate Nature Centre have been introduced, the park has become profitable.

At the end of the last financial year (on March 31), Tilgate Park made a profit of £88,000 and this financial year it is projected to make £100,000.

A council spokeswoman said this money would be reinvested in the park to improve it further but there are concerns among Tilgate residents that the boost in visitor numbers is having an impact on traffic in the neighbourhood.

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They have also seen more cars parking in residential roads, instead of using the official car parks, and this is causing damage to grass verges, according to residents.

Sylvia Hand, secretary of the Tilgate Forum, said: "People are concerned that the park is being used to make money and that the maintenance side of things has fallen down the list of priorities. Parking is also becoming a real issue in Tilgate as a result of more people using the park."

Peter Lamb, the leader of Crawley Borough Council, said the authority is working to address issues around traffic and parking, but said it was made more difficult by the fact that highways problems come under the remit of West Sussex County Council.

He said: "A lot of money is going into making sure the infrastructure is there so it doesn't impact residents."

A new access road from the A23 was opened in July of last year, but residents say that many people are still going to the park via the Titmus Drive entrance.

While there is now a sign directing people to use the A23 entrance, Cllr Mullins told Tilgate Forum earlier this month that the Titmus Drive entrance could not be closed off, and it was simply hoped that more people would start using the other access road.

At that same meeting, on September 15, it was revealed that the council is looking into introducing a bus service which goes directly into the park. However, Metrobus is understood to only be keen if it would be profitable, or at least pay for itself.

The council previously said it could introduce Segways into Tilgate Park, but this idea has now been scrapped. Cllr Lamb said this was because it wasn't viable, as part of the land that they would have been ridden on is not owned by the council.

Cllr Guidera said this idea was simply "too dangerous" and he is pleased it has been shelved.

He said: "Segways are dangerous. The man who invented them died because he ended up riding one off a cliff. And you only have to look up 'Segways' on YouTube and you will find loads of videos of 'Segway fails' (accidents involving Segways)."

Another option for a new activity which has been discussed is having a train which travels around the park, dropping people off at various points such as the nature centre and round the back of the lakes.

Building work on the nature centre's new Madagascar Zone has also now begun. The zone will feature animals such as ring-tailed lemurs and reptiles and is expected to be ready by Easter next year.

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Wedding style

In the first story of our new Reporter Challenge series, Rexine Hawes models for the Ladies High Tea event held at the weekend for Pohlen Hospital.

It's a dream for many women to wear a wedding gown and feel like a princess for a day.

Rexine Hawes and Jaimee Tye were among the models for the Ladies High Tea.

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I've already had my turn, I married Craig Hawes in 2007. Although I'll admit I'm not much for primping and preening, so the whole 'princess' thing was lost on me.

Even so, I was honoured to be involved in the Ladies High Tea, and model wedding dresses dating back to the 1930s, and then write about my experience for my Reporter Challenged assignment.

I could quite happily have stayed in one dress in particular, worn by Margaret Wiffin's mother in 1933, not only because it was so tight fitting that it was a bit of a challenge to get on and off, bend or sit, but it was just so beautiful.

I also had the privilege of wearing Margaret Wiffen's wedding dress from 1960 and Joanne Morgan's dress, from1980.

While the dresses were stunning, it was more of an honour to bring a wee bit of history into the present. The smiling faces of many of the ladies as the models paraded was priceless and made being part of it so worthwhile.

Prior to being involved in the event, I didn't realise that Wilbert Marks Department store sold many of the dresses being modelled, the store my husband's grandma, Betty Hawes, worked in.

It also gave me a little insight into the create talents of both Shirley Frew and Dulcie Barton.

The Dalton's Daisies, well known for their fundraising abilities, could put the most experienced event planner to shame. They made and poured every cup of tea, baked every morsel of bite sized food, dressed and undressed the models, sometimes in a big hurry, and had us all where we needed to be at exactly the right time.

I must say a huge thank you to Sandra Hunter, who made it possible for me to be involved in the event, while she covered it for the paper, see her photos on page 8.

The biggest challenge for me - my calves are still sore from my 11 inch heels, now I remember why they have sat unused on my shoe rack for so long, which is probably where they will stay for another few years.

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Wedding News

Shelby Dale Rooks and Stephen Carrol Cookson Jr. were united in marriage on Aug. 20 at Mossy Pond Lodge in Patterson. The Rev. Hinton Johnson officiating the double-ring ceremony.

The bride is the daughter of Leon and Krissy Rooks of Hortense and Nancy Shuman of Waynesville. She is the granddaughter of Jerome and Sarah Rooks of Brunswick, Barbara Shuman of Hortense, and the late Bo Shuman, formerly of Brunswick.

091816_wed cookson

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The groom is the son of Stephen and Becky Cookson Sr. of Brunswick and Stephanie and Brandon Richey of Orlando, Fla. He is the grandson of Jack and Mary Ellen Moran and Sandra and Glenn Spaulding, all of Brunswick.

Given in marriage by her father, the bride wore an Allure Romance ivory and Champagne gown in a mermaid silhouette adorned with delicate lace. Her mid-length veil was lined with delicate lace. She wore a vintage hairpiece with glowing pearls and crystals and carried a bouquet of light pink garden roses, white hydrangeas and baby’s breath, wrapped in lace.

Lauren Stokes Rowell, cousin of the bride of Hortense, was the matron of honor, and Taylor Flowers of Brunswick was the maid of honor. The attendants were Erika Worth of Brunswick, Allison Melton of Hortense and Morgan Peiffer of Port St. Joe, Fla. The matron and maid of honor wore formal-length Vera Wang satin gowns in mist blue, and the attendants wore short Vera Wang gowns in the same color. They carried bouquets of white hydrangeas and baby’s breath.

The groom’s brother, Stuart Cookson of Brunswick, was the best man. Groomsmen were Daniel Mitchell, Preston Bryan, Ryan Pickron and Robbie Moore, all of Brunswick.

Following the ceremony, a reception was held in the Mossy Pond Lodge dining hall.

After a honeymoon to Miami, Key West and Mexico, the couple resides in Brunswick.

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Traditional Jewish Wedding

Pulling off a kosher Jewish wedding in the heart of South Korea may seem like a logistical nightmare. But Rabbi Osher Litzman, who directs the ChabadJewish Community of Korea in Seoul with his wife, Mussy Litzman, jokes that “there are no logistical challenges here.”

And indeed, as he performed the nuptials of Rachel and Jeff Czerniak, who both teach English in the capital city, it would have been hard to guess that it was the first Jewish wedding the rabbi conducted since he arrived to the East Asian nation in 2008. The Jewish population there consists of several hundred people.

Seoul was the site of the nuptials of Rachel and Jeff Czerniak, who both teach English in the capital city. Rabbi Osher and Mussy Litzman of the Chabad Jewish Community of Korea offered to host the wedding in its entirety.

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Litzman says it’s the first traditional Jewish wedding in Korea he is aware of.

“It’s very hard for us to leave Korea, even for a few days,” explained Rachel Czerniak in a pre-wedding interview. “Korean children work very hard to succeed academically, and school is open almost year-round. We planned our wedding to coincide with a three-day public holiday, so we could each take a full week off work.”

The couple had originally considered having the ceremony at Chabad and a reception at a different establishment, but the rabbi assured them that he would be happy to host the entire celebration, ensuring a fully kosher affair.

Since there is no commercial kosher catering facility, most of the food preparation was overseen by Mussy Litzman, who often makes meals for as many as 100 guests onShabbat and the High Holidays. The traditional giant challah was the biggest she could possibly fit in her oven, and the meats were shipped from the United States. Other ingredients were brought by kind travelers who regularly ferry kosher staples for the Litzmans and the small core of kosher-observing locals.

Other supplies (including items for the lavish wet bar) were purchased at Costco, with the rabbi carefully inspecting all labels for proper kosher certification.

In Times of Joy’

And indeed, guests (including family from Ireland, local Jews and native Koreans) mingled over tables piled high with delicacies that included fresh-baked challah with hummus, Israeli-style burekas, roast chicken, meatballs, roasted green pumpkins (a Korean specialty), homemade tahini ice-cream (a Litzman specialty) and truffles.

In advance of their wedding, the couple, who grew up in Dublin and have known each other since high school, have been studying about Judaism and Jewish family life with the rabbi and his wife.

“We had a lot of learning to do,” said Czerniak, who was not raised observant of Jewish tradition, “but being part of the Chabad community has brought us closer to so many wonderful people and helped us appreciate Jewish traditions in a whole new way.”

One of those traditions is mikvah, immersing in “living waters” before a woman weds and then during marriage. Since Seoul does not yet have amikvah facility (one is in the planning stages), Mussy Litzman accompanied Czerniak to a deserted beach one night before the wedding to immerse in the Yellow Sea. “It was warm, humid and raining out,” reported Czerniak, “and the waters were mild. A really perfect beginning.”

Another first was the giant chuppah (canopy) that had been erected in the lush garden of the Chabad House, constructed of cloth on bamboo poles.

Czerniak, an accomplished artist, decorated the ketubah, or marriage document, inspired by a Jerusalem theme she had seen online, with Korean-style houses interspersed throughout the design.

As for music? It was supplied by a member of the local Jewish community who is adept with a number of musical instruments.

“That’s the way it is here,” said the rabbi. “We may be far from other Jewish communities, but we are very close to each other, and we come even closer to support each other in times of joy.”

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Tips for Planning Your Wedding

While making the wedding day spectacular may seem like the main goal for engaged couples, savvy twosomes are also considering how they will build their home and life together after the honeymoon.

Luckily, these days, there are plenty of ways to plan your big day and happily ever after at the same time, say wedding trend experts.

Tips for Planning Your Wedding and Beyond

“Couples who personalize their weddings are also quietly setting a tone for their future,” says Nelson Tejada, senior vice president and chief merchandising officer at Things Remembered, a leading retailer with 50 years of experience providing personalized wedding gifts and accessories.

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Tejada suggests creating a customized wedding logo to adorn everything from invitations to keepsake items at the reception like champagne flutes and cake servers (items that can be used during future celebrations.)

If you work with a retailer like Things Remembered, you can celebrate your marriage every day by using the logo on needed items for your home, like cutting boards and picture frames.

The company also provides the files to the couple, so you can use the logo on items they don’t sell. For example -- the cake!

Including your monogram on wedding items like drinkware, the guest book, photo albums and unity candles is another personalized way to celebrate the big day and beyond. Many couples use the same stylized initials on home items like wall art, blankets and aprons, as well as accessories like keychains, wallets and jewelry.

Your monogram can also make a fun and memorable addition on items in your gift bag for the wedding party and guests. To thank your wedding party properly, be sure to seek out items they will actually use, such as t-shirts and high-quality water bottles like Corkcicle, Contigo or TruHydrate.

Attending a wedding? Guests too can help the couple create a life together with personalized wedding gifts that help make the house a home. There are many useful, beautiful home gifts that can be given a personalized touch.

For more ideas for bride and groom and everyone in attendance, visitThingsRemembered.com/Weddings.

When wedding bells are ringing, take care to make that day and every day following one-of-a-kind with unique flourishes that speak to you.

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lavish wedding

And if that was not enough, the couple, Rodwin and Kimona Ramlingam, treated all those residents and other invited guests to a lavish reception ceremony at the Royal Showgrounds thereafter.

Making a statement to spread hope in the community, the Ramlingams splashed out Hollywood style with Kimona arriving in a horse-drawn carriage to the ceremony that was held in Appavoo Circle, with the couple embarking on a sunset helicopter tour of the city before they welcomed guests at their reception.


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Motivated to make an extraordinary difference in their neighbourhood, Rodwin, 25, an IT company director, said he decided to have the wedding on the road where he lived because he was proud of his humble beginnings. He said he wanted to use their wedding as an example to uplift the community.

“We could have had our wedding at any exotic venue but I chose the road I live on because I am not ashamed of where I come from; and that I love and respect the people in our community. It was also to give hope to and motivate the youngsters in our community, that we can rise against the odds and succeed in life,” said Rodwin.

The couple who were introduced to each other by family members said although clichéd, it was indeed love at first sight for them.

“I just knew that Kimona was the lady who I wanted to spend my forever with when I saw her for the first time. This relationship has been anything but ordinary – I was quite shy and did not have the courage to approach Kimona, but she took me by surprise when she asked me out…that was the best day of my life,” said Rodwin, who was on honeymoon with his bride in Durban.

On Valentine’s Day last year, Rodwin popped the question while the couple was at a picnic on the Midlands Meander.

“She agreed, without any doubt,” said a beaming Rodwin.

Having matriculated from the Woodlands Secondary school, Rodwin worked at uMsunduzi technologies before branching out with his own company in 2010. Kimona, 22, from Nehru Place, completed matric at Raisethorpe Secondary School in 2012 and is currently working as a cellphone consultant at the mall.

The blushing bride said she had thus far enjoyed “every beautiful moment” of her marriage.

She said she was humbled by Rodwin’s wish to involve the community and more so when they released white doves at their ceremony as a symbol of peace and prosperity for their marriage and the community.

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