By CAROLINE LANGHAM
Small Socially Distanced Micro Wedding - How Boris couldn't scupper our plans!
Hat’s off to this fantastic couple! We have been faced with some fairly tough challenges these past few months, but Boris’s Bombshell dropped last Friday afternoon took the biscuit! This is the story of how we still pulled off a stunning small, socially distanced micro wedding.
Friday 31 July 12:30pm
I cried! Yes cried!
I have done lot’s of that since our world fell apart as the Covid pandemic took a grip of the Nation, and normality got lost in the fallout. But I had always managed to hold it together for my couples… Until Friday. I blubbed while trying to speak to Jess, as she and Danny were making their way up north battling the M6 traffic on Friday lunchtime.
Sheer panic, dread, disbelief took hold of me as we pinched ourselves, shook our heads and then cradled them in utter shock. No… Surely this can’t be happening!
Well, yes it was, and it did, and I think I am still in shock.
This blog is written in rather a different style to my norm, as I think it is vital to get across the raw emotion that we are all feeling right then. The creative and collaborative ways that we all pulled together, and the joy and happiness that ensued once we had time to think, plan, and take stock and carry on!
Jess and Daniel are a fantastic couple. So obviously in love (The pics say it all), and very down to earth, fair and friendly. Not one single moment of Bridezilla from this perfect pair as we navigated the muddy waters these last five months. Just calm, thoughtful reflection and imaginative suggestions to help plan and perfect the best wedding that nearly never happened!
Apologies in advance as these are not the official photos but snaps from my phone as and when I got time to capture a moment. So not a full catalogue and I will be writing another blog about this wedding to showcase those official photos. It was the first time I had met David and Jane Stanford, and I really enjoyed working with them. So I’m very excited to see their professional pictures which I will share with you too.
We didn't let Boris's Bombshell get in the way of love!
Jess and Danny arrived, and we swiftly set about discussing options over a large gin and tonic in the barn! Something we don’t do routinely – But Hey Ho… we all needed a drink!
When the news broke, Steve was striping the lawn, and by the time he had completed his masterpiece, and I had picked myself up off the floor we had already come up with a few ideas!
Luckily Jess and Danny had always planned a micro wedding with just 18 very close family and friends, and we knew that cutting it down any more was not going to happen. The whole wedding had travelled up from Mersyside to the Lake District and was already checking in at their own accommodation over the river from here.
The lifting of restrictions, to allow small weddings celebrations to take place for up to 30 people, planned for the 1st August, had meant that Jess and Dan’s wedding was perfect and no changes would be required. Apart from the social distancing measures and Covid-Secure safety measures that we had already put in place. They had four bubbles in their wedding party, and this was easily accommodated around a super large wedding table in the barn. Their outdoor ceremony was looking likely as the weather was on our side too.
The lack of lifting, however, meant that with four household bubbles, we were no longer allowed to have a reception of any kind. Even though it was always only to be a family meal with quiet backing music!
We could not serve food and drinks. With a whole weekend wedding planned and accommodation here for the bridal party, we had to think on our feet.
What could we do?
Firstly I contacted Karen, my caterer. Luckily she immediately suggested serving the food at her cafe in Grasmere. We then quickly spoke to another of our favourite suppliers, Mountain Goat (the executive tour bus company – Not a real Goat!). They looked into the possibility of supplying an executive bus to safely take our guests to Grasmere after the ceremony and photos for the wedding breakfast.
We then realised that this would not work as there were still too many bubbles.
I had also contacted Tim Farron, our marvellous MP, in desperation, and they had tried to help by asking Public Health England if there was any way we could still go ahead with extra measures. Maybe even going as far as getting all the guests tested that evening. But it was not to be.
We were losing hope…
I was desperately trying to come up with ideas…
What about offering all the food as a takeaway – Could we legally serve it into takeaway boxes and send them down to the lakeside. Afterall it was packed that evening with the general public. It looked like Benidorm down there there were so many people (little social distancing there!) No, that was still encouraging a small gathering – a wedding reception, albeit not on our premises.
Steve came in from the lawn, declaring he had the answer… “We split the wedding in half for the meal” he said. “Not ideal” I replied “Who would agree to that???”
But faced with no other option and food already prepared and paid for, at least this way we could feed everyone safely and legally.
Of course, this decision was down to Jess and Danny, and thankfully they could see the predicament, the lack of alternatives and agreed it was the best of a terrible situation. The only other choice would be to have just a wedding ceremony and no food at all with their guests being forced to go to the pub and buy their own food among strangers and risk little social distancing too. This way, they could at least enjoy the three-course menu and wedding cake we had planned in a safe Covid-Secure environment, albeit not with their Bride and Groom.
I called Karen, and we set about planning the split. The meticulous preparation and planning we had done all week were suddenly out the window, and we were starting over again.
The team was split into two with one team departing to Grasmere to set up the two bubbles in the cafe. For this they took the tablecloths, napkins, place names, Grasmere Gingerbread favours, cutlery, candles and flowers with them. We did the same here with our square polo for two bubbles of guests in the wedding barn. Half of the bar stock was packed up too, as they had already pre-paid their drinks, and we wanted to make sure they had everything they needed. Even sent the wedding cake for them to enjoy!
What a Wedding Day
We woke to sunshine, at least something was going in our favour. The resident bridal party enjoyed their hearty Cumberland Breakfast and set about prepping for the day ahead.
We had lots still to do with splitting the stock and briefing the staff, packing cars to ship half the equipment to Grasmere.
The Wedding Ceremony
The wedding ceremony went ahead as planned. It was always intended to be outside, and it was a stunning scene. Everyone socially-distanced in named seats with stunning views of the Lake District mountains outside the wedding barn.
Jess came down the stairs and wow – Didn’t she look a million dollars. Both her and her beautiful sister in a fantastic wrap-over dress in a unique olive green shade and their stunning mum Pam – A picture in pink. What a picture!
The bridal walk was emotional, and glancing across at Danny he was beaming from ear to ear.
Because of the new restrictions, the wedding ceremony could no longer have readings, The witnesses and couple used their own pens. Once the registrars had departed, we could re-enact the signing of the register. But apart from those subtle changes, few would notice the difference!
The Confetti shot
We then organised a socially distanced confetti throwing. Just natural dried flower petals from hand sanitised hands as guests stood well apart and tossed their homemade confetti into the air as Jess and Danny swept beneath, hand in hand.
David and Jane, the official photographers, were terrific and so helpful. They carefully organised everyone in their respective bubbles, and as you can see, we did a special shot just for Boris! Grimacing!
Half of the guests were then collected by the Mountian Goat and bid their fond farewells to the rest of their family. A few tears as children were grappled from Grandma and a few tears from grandma too, not an ideal scenario.
The bridal couple then spent time by the lakeshore with their photographers before enjoying their meal in the barn.
Well in true form our red squirrels made their appearance. You have to be quick to spot them but Danny Senior certainly did. Right in the middle of the cermeony it skipped across the bottom fence and along the dry stone wall. We have a pair here at Cote How and often capture lovely images of them, the doormouse, the magpies and Jenny Wren along with lots of Robins. It was the robins that fascinated Jess’s Mum (she loves them, and felt it was a good omen). Danny Senior had never seen a red suqirrel before and was bowled over by it’s apprearance during the cermeony.
What a treat! I am so pleased they had a taste of life here at Cote How. It is what makes this place so special, and we are honoured to share it for our lovely wedidngs!
First Dance as Husband and Wife
They had their first dance too, in a quiet, gentle fashion just the two of them on the dancefloor to the gorgeous sound of Better Man by Paolo Nutini
The Twilight Hour
Jess and Danny are keen outdoorsy walkers and wanted to go up to Rydal Caves to get a shot looking down over Rydal water. After their meal and as day was fading into night, off they went with David and Jane to find some lovely light and views.
Here is a sneak peek from David’s Instagram feed!
Never underestimate the importance of great music for setting the tone!
I have to say that Northern folk have a great taste in music! Being a Lancashire Lass myself, I loved their playlists. Classics interspersed with Northern Soul and Motown, evoking some fabulous memories of my life growing up – not too far from Jess and Danny!
And on that note, I have to add that Jess and Danny, their family and friends, were epic! I loved chatting to them all about life in and around my home town. Many of their guests knew it well, and Auntie Joan and Danny Senior were a legend!
Young Girl – Gary Puckett and the Union Gap
Build me up Buttercup – The Foundations
You Can’t Hurry Love – The Supremes
Out on the floor – Dobie Gray
Wedding Ceremony Music:
Entrance: Stand By Me – Florence and the Machine.
A lovely rendition, I must say – Look it up!
Signing: Someone Like You – Paolo Nutini
Last Request – Paolo Nutini
Exit Song: This Will Be – Natalie Cole
It was a privilege to see their love for each other and to be able to help in some small way to make their day as magical as it could be.
It will undoubtedly be a wedding NEVER to forget!
Photography by: Caroline on her trusty Samsung Phone! Official Photos form Stanbury Photography to follow though!
Flowers By: Lily Lou’s organised c/o Cote How
Catering By: Karen Healy c/o Cote How
Guest Transport By: Mountain Goat
Favours By: Grasmere Gingerbread
Hair by: Katie Simpson Hair
Entertainment By: Jess and Danny’s Spotify playlists
Venue Styling By: Caroline@CoteHow
I hope you enjoyed this blog and would love to hear from you in the comments below.
If you are interested in our Post Covid Micro Weddings you may also enjoy this blog too – Small and Sensational – The Covid-Secure Micro-Wedding