Stef arranged a surprise weekend away for my birthday in February 2020 at Sea Containers Hotel on the South Bank in London. When we were having drinks, he asked if I wanted to go out onto the balcony – even though it was raining. Once we got outside, he got down on one knee – and the rest is a blur. We left the bar and headed for dinner at Benihana where our parents, my soon-to-be maid of honour and her husband were waiting to surprise me.
Stef designed the ring with the help of a Hatton Garden jeweller. It’s a tri-band with round brilliant cut diamonds. He couldn’t have made a better choice.
The Original Wedding Plan
When we first got engaged, we were pretty set on getting married at Kew Gardens and having a big guest list. As the pandemic restrictions went on, we came to the decision that rather than wait indefinitely, we would plan a wedding which would be more likely to go ahead. At first, it was tough knowing many of our family and friends wouldn’t be able to share our day with us, but everyone was very supportive.
We decided to go with the flow as much as possible, and in the end, we chose to get married at the Ham Yard Hotel in Soho. It was designed by Kit Kemp and is so eclectic and vibrant. We love the style of all the Firmdale Hotels, and that was part of the reason we chose it as our venue. We held the ceremony on the roof, which has gorgeous views.
We planned the wedding ourselves, with some help from the event director at the hotel – safe to say, we were in great hands.
We were focused on our marriage, rather than the wedding itself, so once we decided on a date, we vowed to go ahead whatever the final numbers. On 28th May 2021, we had 30 guests, all of whom came to our reception after the ceremony in the Windmill Room, and latterly, the Sherwood Room.
The Food & Drink
After the ceremony we drank champagne, Aperol Spritzes and beers on the roof. The canapés were delicious – jalapeño fried cauliflower, seared tuna, prawn and avocado tostadas and buttermilk chicken. For our wedding breakfast we had burrata to start, rump of lamb or stone bass for main, followed by pink lemonade tart for dessert. The espresso martinis went down a treat after the cheese course.
Stef’s Mum is such a talented baker. She doesn’t make cakes professionally, but she could if she wanted to! We chose a white chocolate cake with white chocolate ganache and strawberry jam. It was heaven. My dad was an officer in the navy when he got married, and a wedding present from him and my mum was the ceremonial sword which they used to cut their cake back then.
My dress was from Rime Arodaky and I bought it at The Mews Bridal in Notting Hill. Work was crazy in November, but after a very busy time, I suddenly had the realisation that if I didn’t go and try on a dress, I might not get one in time – especially if we went back into lockdown.
I took a day off work in December to go dress shopping with my mum. I’d seen the Gaga dress on The Mews website, and as soon as I tried it on I fell in love. The sleeve detail was really fun, and I loved the low back and appliqué on the train. I went back two days later for a Zoom session with Rime in Paris and Lauren from The Mews. I took my bridesmaid Verity with me for moral support and ended up buying the dress that day. My veil is also from The Mews Bridal – it was cathedral-length.
The Wedding Party
My bridesmaids wore lilac three-quarter length sleeved dress with gathered cuffs and hems. My maid of honour, Lucy, kindly had them made for us at her family business, so each one was tailored to fit them perfectly. Stef’s brother Mario, also his best man, wore the same suit as Stef, but with a different tie and pocket square combination.
Two of my original bridesmaids, Becky and Louise, were sadly unable to be at our wedding due to restrictions, so Stef and I held a dinner the night after to continue the big celebrations at the Ham Yard.
My off-white satin shoes with jewel buckles were from Manolo Blahnik and my earrings – small gold hoops with pretty diamonds – were borrowed from my mum; she used to wear them in her 20s. My bracelet was a wedding gift from Stef.
The Make-Up & Hair
Make-up artist Mariam Jensen did my make-up – she really listened to what I had in mind. We went for a glow-y look with lots of bronze hues and warm tones. It felt fresh and polished.
My hair was done by a family friend, which really put me at ease. I always wear my hair in a low loop, and my hair looks better off my face. I wanted to feel like myself, so I had a low simple bun but with a bit of volume at the crown.
We had Benjamin Wheeler as our photographer – we couldn’t recommend him more. Stef and I don’t consider ourselves particularly photogenic, but he made us feel so relaxed and just caught every moment beautifully.
The Flowers & Décor
The bouquets and buttonholes were a wedding gift from our family friends. They also did the florals for our ceremony and the tables at the reception. We went for white anemones, peonies and astilbe, dried pampas, bleached ruscus and yellow craspedia.
I found the ceremony very emotional; it was the most magical moment. Walking up the aisle with my dad and seeing Stef waiting for me is something I’ll never forget. During the ceremony, I genuinely felt like Stef and I were in another world.
That was followed by clinking glasses and chats on the rooftop, wonderful food, heart-warming speeches and then a bit of dancing with family and friends. It was the best day.
The Day Before & After The Wedding
We booked two lanes in the basement bowling alley at the Ham Yard the night before the wedding for a celebration with our bridesmaids, best man and parents. We enjoyed a relaxed bar food dinner while we played.
Advice For Other Couples
My mum gave me some great advice: take photographs in your mind of each point of the day so you can remember everything as much as possible. After that – just enjoy it.
Photography by Benjamin Wheeler