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We were staying at Dormy House in the Cotswolds – where we went on our first trip as a couple six years ago – and decided to go for a walk. I’m 37 and Alex is 40, so marriage had been a conversation since the end of our first year together. Before I knew it he was down on one knee in the middle of a field. It was a real surprise, and lovely to be able to spend the rest of the weekend celebrating, just the two of us, before we told our family and friends.
We’d gone ring shopping in the Burlington Arcade on our last anniversary. We went for lunch at The Ritz first and then started browsing the antique jewellery. I fell in love with one ring that day – a 1920s aquamarine on a platinum band, surrounded by diamonds. Sadly, Alex didn’t get his act together because when he went back to buy the ring a few months later, it had already sold. Luckily, the jewellers were able to track down all the specifications so he went to Hatton Garden and had an exact replica made.
The first lockdown in March 2020 threw the wedding planning process into a bit of chaos. We’d already picked our venue – White City House – and I’d also bought a dress about two weeks before. Our original wedding date was 23rd November 2020, with about 120 people on the guest list, but by August we knew we had to cancel that event. We decided to turn our original date into a legal ceremony at Chelsea Town Hall and host a small dinner for 30 people afterwards. But then, we went into a second lockdown, so we had to move that event as well.
In the end, our legal ceremony took place on 12th June 2021 – just his parents and my father and best friend came. We went for dinner afterwards at 34 Mayfair and stayed at Claridge’s for the weekend. We then had a bigger celebration at White City House for extended friends and family in October 2021.
I went to lots of bridal shops in London pre-lockdown, but I didn’t feel I was a very traditional bride. Our venue was quite cool, and I knew a big traditional dress just wouldn’t look right. Everything I tried on was beautiful, but nothing was ‘different’ enough. That’s when I decided to go and look at some of the couture brands instead. I booked a private appointment with MATCHESFASHION (which is actually free to do) and they arranged to have every dress I was interested in – from Saint Laurent to Emilia Wickstead – delivered to their Carlos Place HQ, complete with accessories, so I could try everything on. That’s where I ended up finding my Emilia Wickstead dress with the oversized bow on the back.
When we had to reorganise our legal ceremony, I knew I’d need something a little more appropriate for a town hall. I’d previously gone to Galvan in Notting Hill and ordered a silk gown, before getting it altered locally. I’ll definitely wear that dress again. I also bought a third dress from Jenny Packham for my evening/party look.
The shoes I wore to Chelsea Town Hall and for the daytime portion of the White City House event were from Roger Vivier. My party shoes were from Gianvito Rossi and I also wore a sparkly headband from Jenny Packham in the evening. The veil route had never felt right to me. My evening bag came from Simone Rocha. All my jewellery was lent to me by my best friend’s mum who I’m really close to – except for a diamond tennis bracelet, which Alex gave me on the morning of our wedding.
The Groom’s Outfit
Alex wore a navy suit from Suit Supply and an Hermès tie I’d bought him a couple of years ago. His pocket square was made out of my mum’s wedding dress (she died about eight years prior) and I had his initials embroidered onto it. His shoes came from Crockett & Jones. His three best men also wore navy suits, and my best friend (an unofficial maid of honour) wore a dress by Needle & Thread.
White City House took care of all the food, drink and tableware – but we had to source everything else ourselves. Before the canapés and drinks, we re-enacted our legal ceremony for all the people who couldn’t be at Chelsea Town Hall in June. We hired a separate room at White City House and filled it with lots of candles and a faux flower arch from Blossomania. We also had newspaper-style programmes. In the main reception room, we had a balloon ceiling from Bonbon and Jo Malone Wood Sage & Sea Salt and Orange Bitters candles.
My florist let me down a week before the wedding, which wasn’t great. I’d gone with a company which had quoted me a more reasonable price than most of the other top London florists, but a week before the big day, something in my gut told me it just wasn’t right. When I called to double check, they ended up telling me the quote was in fact incorrect and it was going to cost an extra £10,000.
They agreed to give me my deposit back, but it left me with seven days to source all my flowers and candles. There were lots of journeys to Ikea and I relied on various small, online wedding suppliers to provide a range of silver and crystal vases for the tables. I then worked with my local florist to source lots of white heirloom roses. We had pink heirloom roses on the top table. At one point, our house was full of about 2,000 roses! In the end though, I probably ended up saving £5,000. My bouquet and buttonholes came from Wild at Heart.
There was lots of champagne for our guests on arrival, and we also had a cocktail hour with espresso martinis, cosmopolitans, G&Ts and old fashioneds. We also had an open bar for the rest of the night – which ate into a lot of the budget. Our dinner menu included burrata to start, a beef shin ragù with garlic bread for the main, then a range of sharing desserts, such as eton mess and chocolate brownies. Our cake came from Crumbs and Doilies.
Our photographers were The Curries. I’d read about them before lockdown on one of those ‘top wedding photographer’ lists and it really struck me how editorial their images were. Their aesthetic was a lot cooler than other wedding photographers. I’d recommend them to anyone looking for something similar.
I walked down the aisle at our legal ceremony re-enactment to music played by the City String Ensemble. Our DJ, Neil Prince, was brilliant. We also had a sketch artist – Aaron Jacob Jones – instead of any kind of photo booth. I also made a speech, which was a bit of a break with tradition. I knew my husband’s speech would be funny, so I went down the emotional route, but it was really important to me to thank everyone for coming. I’d recommend other brides do the same if they’re comfortable speaking in public.
The Day Before & After
The day before the White City House celebration, I went to Nobu for lunch with my best friend. Then, we stayed over at White City House the night before, along with my father and sister. Our party went on past 3am, so the next day we stayed on at the venue and spent most of it recovering!
Advice For Other Couples
It goes by so quickly, so it’s not worth worrying too much about the tiny details – most people won’t notice them. And try to cut back on things that might be really wasteful. We thought long and hard about what we could hire instead of buy, and what we might be able to use again. We also gave a lot of things away after the wedding as gifts. I’m also glad we spent more money on drinks than décor – it made for a much better party. Post-pandemic, we really wanted everyone to be able to let loose.