When Covid hits and your dream wedding looks like it might be a write off, do as today’s lovely couple, Louise and Chris did and postpone the big bash till later, while still squeezing in a more intimate affair to seal the deal on the original wedding date in 2020.
We love the romance and downright whirlwind aspect of a last minute change of plans and a hastily booked ceremony because, although they could wait for the party, our couple just couldn’t wait to be Mr and Mrs. Love stops for no global pandemic!
Bearing in mind that the ‘real’ wedding at the wonderful Cookridge Hall is still to come, Louise and Chris have opened up to us about the details of their much smaller, pared-back day. We hear about the limited guest list, friends and family sending well wishes or popping along just to see the couple outside the Town Hall, and about having to temporarily ‘furlough’ bridesmaids… but how it all came together perfectly in the end. We do love a happy ending!
Louise says: We got engaged on the 31st July 2019 in Thailand. We were staying in Ko Tao and arranged a (very choppy) boat trip to take us to Koh Nang Yuan Island. We planned to walk up the hill to overlook the island Ko Tao. Unknown to me, Chris planned to propose at the viewpoint but it was too crowded (and we were both dripping with sweat from the hike) so I’m really happy it didn’t happen there!
We spent the afternoon snorkelling, looking at the fish and coral in the Japanese Gardens – it was an amazing experience for both of us. Chris proposed on one knee in the water (among the sharp rocks!) and then we went to celebrate with a Singa at the only café on the island, and were served by the most underwhelmed bar lady we have ever met. Which actually made it more special.
We originally booked the 15th August 2020 for our wedding. We planned a small ceremony at Leeds Town Hall for the week before which we called the fake wedding, and planned to have an outside ceremony at Cookridge Hall with all our family and friends.
Then Covid hit! We tried to hold out for the date as much as we could, but a month before we decided to postpone Cookridge Hall until 2021. After a lot of pleading with the registrars at the council Chris managed to book our wedding (for only nine guests) at Leeds Town Hall on Wednesday 5th August.
We liked the architecture of the town hall and decided to have photographs at Kirkstall Abbey as we both like the outdoors and wanted greenery in our photographs.
The reception was at Lost & Found Leeds Club. In all honesty, I contacted lots of nice looking bars and pubs in the hope they could accommodate 15 people with social distancing in place, and this was the only venue that got back to us. They were really helpful and after a look around we fell in love with the vintage décor, as that was going to be one of our themes for the main event.
Later on in the evening we had a small socially distanced party in our garden with close family and friends. We were keen for it to be relaxed and enjoyable. There were beer kegs, a gin bar and five different types of curry. We wanted an extension of our chilled out day.
The theme was ‘just getting married’! That doesn’t sound romantic but with all the ups and downs of planning it that was our main focus. We had a lot of plans of pink, grey, floral and vintage for the big wedding, but these needed to be scaled back for the time being. Luckily my sister (who was Maid of Honour) picked a pink dress to wear and Ruby picked a grey one.
I created kusudama flowers from old maps (I’m a geography teacher) that I wanted to incorporate in my bouquet. After discussing this with my florist Sharron, we focused on the flowers for the wedding party to be linked with the maps. We went for wild flowers, and thistles as Chris was wearing a vintage style suit and it went well with the pattern, even though we do not have Scottish heritage. I wanted the flowers to look a little bit messy and natural as we are not a prim and proper couple.
My mum, sister and I went to the Confetti & Lace sample sale in a nearby church hall (that only happens every couple of years) in the search of a bridesmaid dress for Kate as we found a lot of them elsewhere too revealing.
I was really reluctant to be trying on clothes in the middle of a hall. But my mum found a Ladybird dress and convinced me to try it on, by chance it was one of the three dresses I had screenshot on my phone earlier in the year that I liked. It fit perfectly, if a bit too long. I never planned which dress I wanted and it just seemed to tick the boxes; a boat neckline, lace back with buttons all the way down and light enough to enable me to dance.
As this was the second dress I ever tried on I was a bit reluctant to go for it. Until two lovely strangers came over to talk about how lovely it was on me, and advised how the dress could be pinned. It also helped that my sister noticed two other brides hovering for the dress, so I knew it had to be a good one.
Chris really liked the vintage style and wanted a light woollen suit. He went for Marc Darcy Leon three piece suit which we bought from their online store.
The groomsmen work navy suits so they blended in with Chris. His Dad wore a Skopes suit we got from The Mill Batley, his best man, Duncan, already had a suit and his brother, who waited outside the ceremony hall, had a suit from Next.
I didn’t officially have bridesmaids as we were only allowed a few people in the room and they weren’t allowed to move. Ruby wore a silver grey sparkle-topped dress from Little Mistress. Kate wore a blush embellished dress from Boohoo.
My hair was done by Mollie at Salon L Sixty Five.
Chris surprised me with two vintage cars from Cartwright’s Cars in Huddersfield. There was one car to take my dad and me, and the second was for mum, Kate and my grandma. These cars took us to Kirkstall Abbey and then took us home after the reception.
Heather Butterworth was our photographer. I would recommend her and she has been amazing throughout. We really liked her relaxed style of photography. Heather was really helpful with ideas and really flexible with changing plans and adapting them as we knew more about what was happening. She will be our photographer for our big wedding next year. The photographs she took really encompass the laughter, enjoyment and relaxed atmosphere of the day.
A mixture of kusudama maps, germini, blue thistles and other flowers I can’t remember, They were provided by Down To Earth in Batley. We weren’t allowed to decorate the venue.
We saved the favours for next year, instead we made little sweet bags for this wedding.
My mum always promised she would make my wedding cake. We had a Victoria sponge cake with raspberry jam, Italian buttercream with freeze dried raspberries. It has a white chocolate ganache topping and was speckled with pink and silver paint.
We had to eat from the set menu the venue gave us. Then, later in the evening, we had a traditional buffet, five different curries, chapattis and chip shop chips.
We would absolutely recommend our venue to another couple. We couldn’t fault any aspect of the day and every member of staff couldn’t do enough to help us and ensure that every aspect of our day went to plan. Our wedding coordinator, Ashleigh, was so approachable and professional from our first meeting with her and throughout the planning stage and the day itself. She put us totally at ease and made us feel confident that even if something didn’t go to plan that we could trust her to handle it.
Having all our friends and family together in one place was so special. We were only allowed to have 9 people at our wedding. Some of Chris’ family and my oldest friends came to the Town Hall to wish us well. We were really lucky because they could see the wedding from the opened door at the back of the room, so it was like they were there.
My favourite part was the ceremony. Chris kept messing up his vows which made everyone laugh. Then our families joined in heckling (in a good way) and became a part of the ceremony. I don’t think we would have had the same experience if we had a normal wedding without the restrictions.
Chris’s favourite parts were waiting for me outside on the steps, having photographs at Kirkstall Abbey and the speeches.
We plan to go to Asia next year for our honeymoon, although we did have a break away after this wedding. We went to Bristol for the day to look at Banksy’s street art, spent a couple of days at the beach at Tenby, then walking in Abergavenny. We had all the weather, sunshine, rain, thunder, but it was really nice to be away together after all the planning.
My advice would be to try to relax and enjoy it. Don’t rush around, take it all in.