James and I got engaged at the end of November in 2020. We’d gone down to Cornwall for a short break (it’s very special to us) and he proposed on the beach. We’d been together for four years, so by that point, marriage was on both of our minds. It was still a lovely surprise!
I wasn’t involved in the original design of the ring! James had gone to an independent jeweller in Hatton Garden and chosen something himself – I love that he did this but after we got engaged I went to Jessie Thomas in Pimlico and made a couple of tweaks. We changed the band from rose gold to yellow gold and thinned it down a little. Jessie also made our wedding bands and some pearl earrings for me to wear on the day.
Getting engaged in late 2020 was quite strange. Despite our excitement, we couldn’t really get on with the planning process as we went into quite a strict lockdown in January. It felt like we waited for ages and, in May we decided we didn’t want to wait forever. The most important thing was the getting married part, so we started looking at private rooms better suited to smaller weddings and settled on the idea of potentially having a bigger party later.
During our search we came across Skye Gyngell’s Spring in Somerset House. It has a private dining room which seats up to 15 people, but when we went to have a look and realised you could hire the whole restaurant we decided to go for it and in June they confirmed a date in September, which left us just two months to plan the wedding. In hindsight, that was probably a good thing as it forced us to make decisions quickly. And thankfully there was an in house event planner at Spring, so they and the florist handled a lot of the big decisions.
We decided to get legally married in St Bride’s church just off Fleet Street. It’s very beautiful, has the wow factor and, the most incredible choir. We wanted to get married somewhere relatively close to Spring so our guests didn’t have to cross London for the reception. The church also has a lovely outside area, where we had champagne and canapés catered by Zara’s Kitchen.
The Flowers & Décor
My sister-in-law recommended Ronny Colbie who is local to us in Balham. He was totally brilliant and I fully trusted him to run with it once we’d settled on an autumnal theme with lots of dried grasses, leaves and burnt colours. Overall, we went quite minimal with the flowers at Spring: simple bud vases on the tables and a few dotted around the room.
My dress was by Emilia Wickstead, although it actually came from NET-A-PORTER. I always knew I wanted a London wedding and lots of the dresses I tried on just didn’t feel right for the occasion. Despite buying it online I took it to her atelier where they altered it to fit me perfectly. I borrowed a Sassi Holford veil from a friend and wore a £15 headband from Accessorize which everyone thought was real pearls! My shoes were Manolo Blahnik – The Restory are in the process of dying them black for me. They’re the official restoration partner of Manolo Blahnik so I’m hoping to get some more value out of them!
The Make-Up & Hair
I used Secret Spa for my make-up and hair. Because we were so last minute, many of the recommendations I’d been given didn’t have any availability. But Secret Spa gave me a trial and I had the same woman on the wedding day itself, which gave me a lot more confidence. Everything was quite natural. I wanted to look like myself – hair down in loose waves with minimal make-up.
The Groom’s Look
James wore a morning suit from his school tailor Tom Brown. It wasn’t overly fancy, but he did wear it with a Hermès tie and Favourbrook waistcoat. I didn’t have bridesmaids per se – my sister and best friend were there to get ready with me the morning of the wedding but didn’t wear specific outfits – but James had about eight ushers who all wore morning suits.
The Food & Drink
The food was such a highlight – it was another reason we went with Spring, and everyone said how good it was. To start we had crab with ’nduja on wholegrain polenta with marjoram; for our main course we had a fillet of beef with borlotti beans, slow-cooked courgettes and salsa verde with crispy potatoes with black garlic vinaigrette, sour cream and soft herbs; for pudding we had pear, chocolate and hazelnut tart with crème fraîche and espresso followed by cheese with crackers, honeycomb, muscat grapes, figs, crab apple and rosehip. Our wedding cake wasn’t traditional at all – we had a lemon kefir cake with lemon buttercream.
To drink, we started with some English sparkling wine, and served a white (Viognier 2020 Château De Campuget, Languedoc-Roussillon) and red (Le Lesc Rouge 2019 Plaimont, Gascogny) with the meal. Afterwards, we were on cocktails (we also had Lockdown Liquor Picante minis printed with individual names for our table names!) and everyone was pretty jolly by the end.
Spring turned the atrium (where we had some welcome drinks and speeches) into a dancefloor after we’d finished eating and we hired the best band, Truly Medly Deeply. They played a load of mashups, 60s classics and current-day stuff. There were three of them and they were a bit of a crossover between a band and a DJ. Once they started playing, I didn’t leave the dancefloor.
Again, I’d messaged so many potential photographers but was struggling to find anyone who was available on our date. My sister – who got married a couple of months before – had a wonderful photographer, and while they weren’t available, they recommended both a photographer and a videographer. The images from Unbridled are stunning, but our video is what really takes me back to the day. I’m so glad we chose to have it filmed. There were lots of people who couldn’t make it, so it was lovely to be able to send them the video so they could see what it was like.
The Day Before & After
My family and I stayed at The Ned the night before the wedding, then James and I stayed there the night of the wedding. We took a tuk-tuk there from Spring which was fun. I work in the City, so I wasn’t sure about The Ned at first, but it’s such a lovely venue and it meant I didn’t have to sit in my wedding dress for an hour to get to the church. Our families both live in London, so we had brunch at a pub in Wandsworth the day after, and went off on our Santorini honeymoon the day after. It was our first time abroad since the start of the pandemic, so it was felt awesome!
Advice For Other Couples
My advice for other couples would be get some sort of planner or at least some help on the big day. I decided to use an on-the-day co-ordinator from Jump The Broom. It meant I could be a guest at my wedding and not have to micro-manage the day – and it’s a fraction of the cost compared to using a full-blown planner.
All images courtesy of Harriet Rowland-Clark and The Unbridled.