During an exclusive chat with HELLO! about her parenting project Creating Happy Memories, Gemma, 37, opened up about her dream nuptials – and the surprising wedding advice her close friends Janette Manrara and Aljaz Skorjanec gave her...
WATCH: Gemma Atkinson plays with daughter Mia - Creating Happy Memories
Gemma and Gorka – who share three-year-old daughter Mia – got engaged on Valentine's Day in 2021, but have yet to set a date for their big day. "I'm the most chilled bride I think because as long as it's just close family and friends there really we wouldn't want anything big. We know we don't want a massive glitzy occasion, just something nice, with the people there who we want there and chilled really," she said.
Gemma and Gorka approach their fifth year together
With Gemma and Gorka's family members spread across Manchester, Spain and Portugal, everyone is keen to know when and where their wedding will take place.
Wedding planning with Janette Manrara and Aljaz Skorjanec
HELLO! Maybe you can have two weddings, a Spanish one and a UK one?!
This is actually something Gemma and Gorka have already discussed! "You know, Janette and Aljaz had three weddings, we went for lunch with them and she said, 'We had one in Miami, one in Slovenia and one in England.' And I said, 'How was it?' And she went, 'Don't do it!"
So far, Gemma and Gorka have settled on an intimate guest list and Janette and Aljaz have naturally made the cut. Since Janette advised that multiple weddings were just "too much hassle", that settled it for Gemma - and there will definitely only be one!
The couple got engaged in 2021
HELLO! Would you go to Spain for a runaway destination wedding - it helps keep guest numbers down?
Gemma laughed in agreement: "Yeah, keeping guest numbers down is good!"
Mindful of Gorka's family living abroad and having only just been able to see them again after two and a half years due to the lockdown, Gemma is keen for the dancer's whole family to be in attendance if they do wed in Spain.
Ultimately the plan is "whatever's easiest" because Gemma is just so happy with where they are as a family right now.
Gorka and Mia visiting family in Spain
The bride-to-be's level-headed approach is certainly refreshing. She explained: "I don't want us to be stressed and all anxious leading up to it, it's just at the end of the day it's another day. It's a LOVELY DAY but it's not the main focus if that makes sense?"
Taking advice from the mums at Mia's toddler group, Gemma threw Mia's third birthday party in the back garden of their Manchester home with just 30 family and friends and it went so well that they plan to continue avoiding big parties for as long as possible!
Another benefit Gemma thoroughly enjoyed about the at-home party was the ability to "turf them out when we want."
Mia's third birthday party in the back garden
Viewing wedding venues with Gorka
Funnily enough, Mia's party gave Gemma's family the perfect opportunity to gather and tease the couple about their overly relaxed wedding planning approach. "It was actually at Mia's party I had my relatives there and they were all saying: "Are you getting married then? What's the score?" Gemma said.
"So the day after that we booked to go visit a few."
HELLO! spoke to Gemma just before the family flew to Spain and she joked: "Gorka is more excited to have some lunch after it to be honest."
Gorka will return to Strictly in August
Coping with the long-distance relationship
HELLO! With Strictly starting again soon, does it get easier or harder to be away from Gorka a lot?
Gemma said: "It's kind of easier to be honest because I think since we got together that's all we've known. We've always made sure we don't go more than two weeks apart. So wherever he is on tour we'll either go stay with him or he'll come home for a few nights."
Sweetly, Gemma added: "It's actually quite nice because I'd miss him all the time. And I think we're almost five years in and to still miss him when he's away after that amount of time is good. Normally after a year, I'm like, 'Oh just go away!'" Gorka can breathe a sigh of relief then!
"It's a really good sign.... and it's great as well that Mia gets to see him dancing and see him on the road."
We can't wait to hear more about the big day!
Gemma and Mia's summer project
Gemma and Mia get creative
Meanwhile, Gemma and Mia are keen for readers to see the 'Creating Happy Memories' pages on the Family Action website where parents and caregivers will find expert guidance and practical ideas to help the families play together this summer without breaking the bank.
Gemma noticed that, "a lot of parents, especially throughout the first lockdown had so much guilt that they couldn't be as hands-on with their children", which made her passionate about collaborating with support charity Family Action and Fisher-Price; read more about this brilliant project here.
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