Matt and I had been together for five years when we went into the first lockdown in March 2020. I had always been sure that I would know when he bought a ring, so after spending 24/7 with each other in our one-bed flat in London during the pandemic, and spotting no strange behaviour, I was convinced that a proposal wasn’t happening any time soon. When the world started to open up again a few months later, Matt told me that he was going into the office for an all-day meeting. What he actually did (I later found out) was catch a train up to Birmingham to meet a friend who was a jeweller in the Jewellery Quarter to design my engagement ring! MADI – HOW CUTE IS THIS!
In September 2020, we were lucky enough to take a last minute trip to Turkey (which was one of the only countries on the travel ‘green list’ at the time). Completely convinced that there was no ring, I was caught totally off guard when we went out onto our balcony for a quick drink as soon as we arrived, and Matt got down on one knee! I was still in my sweaty travel gear and was desperate for a shower, but Matt said that he deliberately picked that moment because he wanted me to know that he loved me for me, sweaty travel gear and all! (Plus, I think he wanted to get it out of the way so he could enjoy the holiday!) We started planning celebrations with family and friends for when we returned to the UK, but the rules changed again and we ended up having to quarantine for two weeks when we got back, so we just ended up drinking lots of champagne on our sofa while watching Netflix!
Our wedding was at Blackwell Grange in the Cotswolds. Matt and I have lived in London for many years, but I grew up in Birmingham and went to school in Alcester, so the Cotswolds seemed like a great place to get married. We only had one day of venue viewings before the second national lockdown began in November 2020, so we decided to discuss our priorities. We played a game where we would ask a question and then say our answers at the same time after three. When we asked ourselves what our number one priority for the day was, we both said ‘1, 2, 3… food’! For two people who are completely obsessed with food, Blackwell Grange was a no brainer. And on top of that, the venue’s vibe was exactly what we were looking for – overlooking beautiful countryside, classic with a modern twist, and the loveliest team of people who made planning a wedding during a pandemic actually quite enjoyable!
It rained all morning on our wedding day, but as soon as the ceremony in the Thatch Barn finished, the weather miraculously cleared up for our confetti walk. We had drinks and canapés on the Cider Lawn as guests played garden games and the wonderful Vyne String Quartet played our favourite songs, before heading into the Orchard Barn for a delicious four-course meal and speeches. Then I switched the Jimmy Choos for the Adidas trainers and we danced the night away! It felt so incredibly special to have all of our friends and family in one place after such a difficult few years, and we had the most amazing day.
Tell us about the dress shopping process?
To be completely honest, I thought I was going to hate it. Due to Covid restrictions, I could only bring my mom along to the appointment with me. As much as I love her, we are complete opposites when it comes to style – she loves bling whereas I prefer clean and simple! However, Madi did an excellent job of making the experience special and enjoyable for both of us. As soon as I arrived, I felt comfortable and at ease with Madi and she was so patient with me throughout the appointment.
I initially thought I wanted an off-the-shoulder or figure-hugging dress but after trying a few of those on, I knew I would just end up spending the entire wedding day feeling self-conscious about my shoulders or my tummy. Madi could tell that I loved the clean lines of Jesus Peiro, so she picked out a dress that I would never have picked out myself. I tried it on and I fell in love! After watching so much ‘Say Yes to the Dress’, I was expecting to have some kind of emotional epiphany where I broke down in tears and screamed ‘this is the one’, but I just couldn’t stop smiling when I saw myself in the mirror.
What made you pick your dress?
Madi! She has such an amazing eye. I loved so many things about my dress. I loved how elegant the high neckline was, and at the same time how cheeky the leg split at the front was! I had known for a while that I wanted to treat myself to some custom Jimmy Choos, but I knew that I couldn’t justify spending the money unless the shoes would be completely on show, so the leg split couldn’t have been any more perfect! But the aspect of my dress that I loved the most had to be the back – the low back with the cross over straps made me feel so amazing. The great thing about Jesus Peiro is how customisable it is – I chose the style but ordered it in a dotty taffeta fabric with a belt made from the same material, which I felt added a bit of interest to an otherwise quite simple dress. When I went back to Madi to try on my dress for the first time, I chose a Jesus Peiro veil to complete the look. Then the amazing Abi at Make It Sew made sure that everything fit perfectly.
We wanted the vibe of the day to be timeless, light and airy. We went with a muted sage green, blush pink and ivory colour scheme and Karen Morgan, our fabulous florist, captured our vision perfectly. Alongside that, we had some gorgeous draping filled with fairy lights from Major Entertainment in the Orchard Barn, which we felt added a touch of elegance. In order to add a more modern twist to the day (and to match my shoes!), we also decided to add a hint of gold to the decorations – this was reflected in our gorgeous Written By Emily stationery and our cutlery, which was rented from The Luxe Collection.
My hair and make-up was expertly done by the incredible Frankie Rose. I wanted to show off the back of my dress and to have my veil quite high, so I went for a classic bun. I went quite natural with the make-up but Frankie created a custom lip colour which I loved. Frankie and her fabulous team also did hair and make-up for my six bridesmaids and my lovely mom, who had a big hat to contend with! In terms of other accessories, my shoes picked up the gold accent colour and were matched by my earrings. My only other accessories were a few small slides in my bun – a last minute purchase from Accessorize!
What advice would you give to brides now?
Remember that things will go wrong on the day and no one will notice but you! I’m a huge perfectionist but I knew how important it was to ‘not sweat the small stuff’ on the day. While I felt calm on the day itself, the small things that went wrong started to bother me in the weeks after our wedding day. I ended up convincing myself that it wasn’t the perfect wedding that I’d worked so hard to plan. I mentioned these thoughts to my friends, and they promised me that they hadn’t even noticed any of the things that didn’t go according to plan. So, remember that you and your partner are the only two people who have been planning this day meticulously for months, and small things that go wrong will not even register with your guests. As long as they’re well fed and watered, they’ll be happy! And ultimately, the only thing that matters is that you are marrying your best friend. Anything else is just a huge bonus.
My other piece of advice would be to do a speech! I didn’t like the idea of sitting down quietly while a load of men spoke about me, so I decided to do a bride speech. I spent months writing a rhyming poem about each member of the wedding party, but all of the hard work paid off because doing my speech was genuinely one of my favourite parts of the entire day – it just felt amazing to be able to thank the special people in my life and, more importantly, to crack a few jokes about my husband! If you’re not a fan of public speaking but you still want to make your voice heard, consider writing a bride message or poem and sticking it on a sign or on the back of your guests’ menus – my best friend did this at her wedding and I thought it was such a brilliant idea.
- Venue – Blackwell Grange
- Photographer – Alex Bradbury
- Videographer – Lucy Drake
- Florist – Karen Morgan
- Hair and make-up – Frankie Rose
- Bridesmaids dresses – Victoria Lou Bridal
- Groomsmen outfits – Moss Bros
- Cutlery – The Luxe Collection
- Cake – Kim’s Cake Gallery
- Draping – Major Entertainment
- Music – Vyne String Quartet and Dancefloor DJs