This year might have been the most stressful year for wedding planning of all time. From couples having their weddings cancelled due to coronavirus, to last minute rethinks of the whole day to allow for a lockdown wedding, nothing has been straightforward.
We caught up with bride-to-be Sophie, who has been planning her wedding to Jordan for two years. They are due to get married on the 29th August, and only knew for certain that their day would go ahead following the Government’s update on weddings, which happened just two weeks before their big day. We asked Sophie to tell us about her planning experience…
Tell us about the two of you…
We are Sophie & Jordan. We have been together nearly eight years, and we live in Carshalton with our dog Paddy. We got engaged in June 2018.
What were your wedding plans before the Coronavirus pandemic?
We booked Farbridge, in Chichester, in October 2018. We always wanted to get married on the Saturday of the August Bank Holiday and that was the only date they had left for summer 2020 when we visited – it felt like fate!
We were due to have 100ish friends and family attend and make a full weekend of it. We had people travelling from America and all over England. Drinks on the Friday, the big day on the Saturday then more drinks on the Sunday in our garden.
When did you start to realise things might not go to plan?
Our friends’ wedding in April got cancelled the week before it was due to happen. At that point I started to worry, and everybody said ‘don’t be silly, it will be fine by the time yours comes around!’
I always thought the wedding would go ahead as I had to remain positive. Our venue was in constant contact and 12 weeks before our day they let us hold another date for later this year or next year with the option to revert back if we wanted.
Did you think your whole wedding would have to be called off at some point?
I have been a Twitter stalker and kept searching ‘August wedding/UK wedding’ to see what others were saying. This didn’t make for nice viewing so I had to stop myself!
How did you feel when the advice changed on the eve of 1st August?
When the government first announced that weddings were allowed from 1st August I cried tears of joy. We always wanted to have some sort of wedding on our original date and were holding out until the very last date possible to serve notice as this is venue specific.
I was working when the next press conference happened and my phone blew up with people messaging me.
I thought if my wedding had been scheduled for 1st August, the day before, when the news was announced, we would have been in our venue setting up and not known what to do.
I was gutted and felt so sad for all the couples/venues/suppliers who would have ordered food, alcohol, flowers etc.
How have your venue and suppliers been throughout this?
Our wedding venue have been amazing. They held a new date for us, and have been in constant contact as have the majority of other suppliers.
The only company who have been difficult are the agents for the band we booked. When receptions became banned again, I approached them and asked for a refund on my deposit as they wouldn’t be allowed to perform. The company have constantly hit back against this and said they could perform safely even though at the time we wouldn’t have had a reception for them to play at.
We are still fighting with them now as realistically with a guest list of 24 I don’t want to lose 3 of them for a band.
Now weddings are allowed again, what’s your plan?
Our plan is that we are going to have our wedding and reception at Farbridge with 24 guests.
We know the day won’t be what we originally expected but it has made us realise what is important and that is us getting married so the main ceremony is now the main focus.
How have you managed with the limit on numbers?
We are extremely lucky we both have small families. But the guest list has only allowed for bridal parties, Jordan’s two best men and my six bridesmaids.
We have had to cut a lot of our very close friends which has made us and them sad.
How has it impacted your wedding prep?
Both of our original hen and stag dos were cancelled. Jordan had a weekend in Liverpool and then a trip to Barcelona. Mine was to Ibiza. Everyone has lost money on this as places such as Ocean Beach are refusing to give the deposit back even though all our flights were cancelled and the hotel we were meant to stay in wasn’t open.
My make up and hair trials I have had to rearrange four times! Luckily Kate Mitchell has been amazing. I have now had my hair trial and am going for a make up trial the week of the wedding, now that they are allowed.
We had our menu tasting as part of a tasting event that Farbridge put on in October luckily.
Planning wise my ridiculous organisation skills have been a blessing and a curse. The blessing being that everything was organised, but the curse is that we have now lost a significant amount of money on things we can no longer use. Deposits for a partition drape, the band, confetti, bridesmaids outfits and accessories (I am no longer having them as seemed pointless 6 out of 26 people being dressed the same).
Luckily I have the week before off so can organise anything I have forgotten then.
How are you feeling right now?
People keep asking me if I am excited but I am not really. It doesn’t feel like we are two weeks away. I struggle to get excited as I am mildly terrified that plans could change again. I’m also working full time, so I am not getting much sleep at night.
What do you want to say as someone directly impacted by the changing advice?
It’s awful, I feel so bad for me and have had many pity parties for one in my house. But I also feel so bad for all of the suppliers, the government have handled this whole situation around weddings terribly.
I struggle to see how they can allow pubs and bars to be open with a percentage of their capacity and not wedding venues. Our venue has put so many rules in place about serving food and drink that I don’t see how it can be such a dangerous place.
Also as a bride planning through this there is nothing worse somebody can say to you than: “It could be worse, you could be working on the front line” and, “Are you sure you just don’t want to wait and have the day you actually wanted?” etc.
I get there are others that are in a significantly worse position but doesn’t mean we can’t still feel sad that we are not getting the day we have been planning for two years, and we shouldn’t be made to feel guilty because we feel that way.
Anything you want to add to others going through the same thing?
At the beginning of planning our wedding somebody said to me: “a wedding is you two and two witnesses, what you do around that is your choice but don’t forget that.” I have said that so much during this time as you have to remember why you are getting married.
The reason you are is because you love each other and that is all that actually matters.
If you are in a similar situation and you need help with your plans, we’ve put together a piece on how to downscale your wedding which will help you navigate this tricky time.