Been There Done That - Serena & Sean
Meet Serena and Sean Hillier - both from the UK, they travelled all the way to Sri Lanka to have their destination wedding in our beautiful island. Serena’s parents were both born in Sri Lanka but moved to England in their teens so she was born and raised in London, UK. She’s currently an Account Manager for an event marketing agency in London. Sean is from Ealing, London and is an ex pro-footballer now turned General Manger at his family business.
Here’s what they had to say about their destination wedding experience.
How did you two meet?
Serena : My best friends and Sean's friends had known each other for years but we'd never actually met, one evening in April 2011 we were both out with our friends in Mayfair. As soon as we met we spent the next 2 hours talking to each other!
Sean : We met in Mayfair London through friends. I had known Serena's friends a few years before meeting her, as soon as she was out with them I introduced myself.... And the rest is history.
Why did you want to do a destination wedding?
Serena : As soon as Sean proposed, we knew we would have to do the wedding abroad as we both loved the idea of a beach wedding. As Sean's mother is from Grenada and my parents from Sri Lanka, we wanted to choose between one of the two.
Sean : We didn't really want the usual English church wedding and the idea or having it on the beach was much more inviting - which would never have happened in the UK!
What’s the story behind picking Sri Lanka?
Serena : We chose Sri Lanka because I personally felt more comfortable knowing that I had lots of family there that I could call upon to help if needed. Also I had a strong connection with Mount Lavinia Hotel having spent most of our family holidays there and my mum growing up in Mount Lavinia and dad growing up not too far in Sirimal Uyana, Ratmalana.
Sean : Serena's family are from Sri Lanka and I had gone with them for Christmas and New Year's in 2012. It was the first time I had travelled to Asia and I loved it. It reminded me of the island of Grenada where my mum is from. We spent most of our time in Mount Lavinia and the hotel itself left a lasting impression on me.
Was it hard deciding who gets to come and who doesn’t?
Serena : No, it was great we could invite everyone we wanted to from the UK, even in Sri Lanka we had all my parents' friends and family there.
Sean : It was not difficult at all. We invited everyone we wanted there although not all of them were able to attend due to the travelling and date.
What happened after you came to Sri Lanka? Did you get married straight away or did you have a longer stay?
Serena : Two of our best friends were getting married on the Friday before our wedding so we only arrived in the country 6 days before our wedding day. We did stay on for another 8 days whilst all our family and friends were with us and then headed off to Thailand and Vietnam for a 5 week maxi moon!
Sean : We legally had to be in Sri Lanka five days before the wedding day to be officially married. We both arrived 6 days before and our guests all arrived on different days within that week. Serena and I stayed in Sri Lanka just over a week after the wedding with some of our guests staying for a longer period. The idea was for everyone to enjoy a holiday and to make it a two week celebration with family and friends.
How was the wedding?
Serena : The wedding day (forgive the cheese) was magical! Everything was absolutely perfect! Having a wedding planner was by far the best decision we made. We both were completely stress-free in the run up and on the day, our only worry in the lead up was the weather as we chose to have our wedding mid-June during monsoon season. Charm and the Magical Moments team were very meticulous in everything they did so everything was perfectly planned and executed.
Sean : It was perfect! The best and most memorable day of my life.
What was the most memorable part of your destination wedding?
Serena : I have two most memorable parts of the day. The first one was at Mount Lavinia beach, walking down the aisle to my future husband and the second was at the reception party having all our most favourite family and friends around us and having a great time and dancing to baila!
Sean : For me it was waiting at the altar on the beach, seeing all my family and friends turn around as the music began to play, watching the groomsmen and bridesmaids walking towards me, then seeing my future wife walking with her dad looking flawless.
Any advice for someone planning on a destination wedding?
Serena : Yes! Get a wedding planner and one you can trust to go above and beyond to deliver your dream wedding. Magical Moments did exactly that for us!
Sean : Having a wedding planner who is living in the destination that you have chosen is a must. I know Serena was in touch with a UK based planner before finding Magical Moments but they couldn't do half the things we wanted! Serena and I would not have been able to have the perfect wedding if we did not have our wedding planner Charm De Silva at Magical Moments.
Interviewed by Panchali Illankoon