It’s been over two months now since we exchanged vows and said “I do”, so I thought I’d document the story of our intimate wedding day! Partly for my own self-indulgence and partly because the bulk of my messages revolved around what our intimate wedding would actually ‘look’ like. I totally get it – we’ve got ideas about how a wedding ‘should’ be and those that we’ve seen or been to probably all follow a similar structure. So how to make it just as magical with only a small number of guests (in our case, four!)?
Why have an intimate wedding? There are loads of reasons to bypass the big white wedding and you can read my main reasons here. The pandemic has led to a massive rise in intimate weddings taking place over the last year and whilst some may feel their hand was forced, I hope those who went ahead with a small, special day did so because fundamentally they just really wanted to marry each other. Our priorities were certainly changed by the chaos of the world and I’m grateful – for the fresh perspective that is – because it’s unlikely to be the wedding day we would’ve had otherwise.
Cutting a guest list down to 4
When the restrictions on weddings changed we were faced with a real predicament. We were allowed 15 guests, ourselves included in that number. We decided that ultimately we were not going to pick and choose between our closest family and friends when our original guest list of 23 (plus us) was already incredibly intimate. Essentially we had just ‘parents’ – my mum and grandad and my husbands mum and dad made up our intimate wedding party.
I can honestly say that, whilst we missed the presence of some close family – particularly our siblings – and friends, I wouldn’t change a second of our intimate wedding for the world. If a magical fairy waved a wand and offered us a redo with an unlimited guest list, we wouldn’t take it. Initially we thought we might plan a blessing ceremony and reception for all our guests post-pandemic but just nine weeks on we really don’t feel the need. Though I’m fully up for post-pandemic parties, just saying.
We got married on a drizzly Tuesday morning at the end of October. We spent the night before apart and on the morning of our intimate wedding day I woke up feeling incredibly calm! My mum and I journeyed into central London to where we would be getting ready at Whiteman Soho hair salon – I’m not sure many brides take the train carrying their dress in a bag on their wedding day but I loved how relaxed it was! We grabbed coffees and pastries from Pret and then met Keeley, the MUA and Lisa, my hairdresser, at the salon.
We both had our hair and make up done and then got dressed and hailed a black cab to take us to the venue! The ceremony was at 11am at Old Marylebone Town Hall, a ten minute drive away. We started getting ready just after 9 and aside from feeling a little jittery when we seemed to meet every red light in Mayfair, it was a very smooth, chilled morning.
I went for modern hair and make up that still encompassed a bit of traditional bridal style. I decided to have my hair up as it felt like more of an occasion and it stayed in place stead-fast despite the rain. I loved my make up, it really made me feel like the best version of myself, rather than a whole new person. My dress was an ASOS number that cost me £100 in total but I felt a million dollars. I did splash out on Jimmy Choos…
The Old Marylebone Town Hall was fantastic. Take everything you think you know about registry office weddings and throw it out the window. We had done a little research beforehand on possible registry offices (read: judged them by their carpets…) and loved that Marylebone looks so grand from both the inside and out. It’s been newly renovated and has hosted many famous wedding days too!
We met with the registrar separately beforehand so that we wouldn’t see each other until we met at the ‘alter’. I walked down the aisle to Kodaline’s ‘The One’ with my grandad which was an immense privilege that will always be one of my greatest memories.
We wrote our own vows which was one of my real highlights of the day. I’m so glad we did this! It felt really special to be exchanging personal words with one another and hearing them for the first time was an emotional experience that had me trying very hard not to cry my lovely make up off.
We signed the registers to ‘Come Away with Me’ by Norah Jones with both of our mums as witnesses.
Our registrar, Ellen, was brilliant. Despite all the necessary safety precautions taken, the pandemic just didn’t have a place in the room. After, our guests commented on how they made us feel as though we were the only people in the world getting married that day. One of my biggest fears was that a room designed for a hundred would dwarf an intimate wedding of only four guests but thankfully that wasn’t an issue at all. In fact, I think not having loads of eyes on us took a lot of pressure off and meant we were able to truly just focus on one another.
We made an exit to ‘This Will Be’ by Natalie Cole because sometimes, you are allowed to pretend that real life is a Disney movie.
Our wonderful photographer, Victoria, was a huge asset to our day. She captured it so beautifully and intimately and knew when to offer us direction and when to fade into the background. After the ceremony and a confetti throw on the steps we took some family photos. Then they settled themselves with a celebratory G&T whilst we spent a dreamy an hour wandering the pretty mews of Mayfair with Victoria. It was lovely not needing to worry about what our guests were doing, not feeling any FOMO nor a need to rush back to them so we were able to take our time.
The rain really didn’t bother us one bit. The unpredictability of the weather was another thing that put us off of our initial big summer festival style wedding. Whereas we knew it was likely to be grey and damp at the end of October so didn’t have any expectations otherwise.
We had a 1pm lunch as our intimate wedding reception. We booked The Orrery in Mayfair and had a really lovely round table to seat the six of us in a semi-private area that meant we had intimacy as well as the buzz of the restaurant. The food, service and ambience were all truly brilliant and six rather harsh critics had very clean plates. We enjoyed luxuriating over a slow lunch starting with an amuse-bouche and ending with coffees and pralines. An ex-MP at the next table discreetly sent over a very nice bottle of champagne which was an incredibly kind gesture and a fun wedding day story to tell!
There really wasn’t any need to put on any sort of entertainment; the food and dinner party conversation was very much an event in itself. At around 4.30pm we said goodbye to our guests and then took a cab to a hotel for the night.
The wedding night
Don’t worry, I’m not about to go into too much detail…
We had booked a suite at The Standard, my favourite London hotel, for the night. It had been my mum’s advice not to go back to our own flat and I’m so glad we listened. We booked a late checkout for 2pm the following day and it really kept that magical wedding bubble alive much longer. The sun was setting over the city skyline as we checked in and we felt literally and figuratively on top of the world from our terrace.
The first thing I did was to take my shoes and dress off, which felt like a real relief! Then we climbed into the big roll-top jacuzzi tub on the balcony, listened to our wedding playlist and drank a glass of champagne. It was one of those blissful moments you want to bottle up and keep forever.
We had a gorgeous cake delivered to the room by Brownie Box London. It was lemon flavoured with lots of fluffy buttercream and utterly delicious. We ate slices in bed watching The Great British Bake Off – probably an unusual thing to do on our wedding night but it just felt so lovely and normal, and so us.
The next day we walked to Dishoom for our favourite breakfast of bacon naan rolls and hot chai and the staff made a real fuss of us when the realised we were newlywed! After we wandered around Coal Drop Yard and bought our first outfit for the baby together. It was a milestone I was nervous about and it felt totally right to surpass it together after such a wonderful day.
We enjoyed a four night mini-moon in Shropshire a few days later and were incredibly grateful to sneak this quality time together in just before the second lockdown was announced in England. One of the things I noticed most was that neither of us had any sort of post-wedding slump that often hits brides and grooms after so many months – often years – of planning and stressing and scheming. An intimate wedding isn’t for everyone but for us it was the best decision we could have possibly made and the brightest of days in the darkest of years.
Photography: Victoria Somerset-How Photography (@victoriasomersethowphotography)
Flowers: Emma Hewlett Flowers (@emmfloral)
MUA: Keeley Wilson (@keeleywilsonmakeup)
Hair: Whiteman Soho (@whiteman.soho)
Spray tan: Secret Spa (get £25 off here)
Shoes: Jimmy Choo
Grooms outfit: Suit Supply (suit), Ted Baker (shirt), Dune (shoes), Reiss (tie & pocket square)
Wedding bands: Angelic Diamonds