Olivia Herman and James Duffy finally tied the knot after a five year engagement, having to delay their wedding due to the pandemic
Tell us about the proposal
James put our daughter, who was two months old at the time, in a vest that read ‘mummy will you marry daddy?’ He proposed in our family home and arranged for us to go to London for the weekend immediately after to celebrate. It was very special to include our newborn daughter.
How was your wedding affected by Covid-19?
We were due to get married on the August 7, 2020 and had to postpone. It was such a stressful time after two years of planning and so much uncertainty was to follow in the year after we made the decision to change our date. The venue was nothing short of fabulous throughout the whole process but it was still a very anxious time for us.
Our wedding day eventually fell three days before the restrictions lifted fully and fortunately, we changed our indoor ceremony to an outdoor ceremony to avoid wearing masks for our photos. We only had to cancel our roulette tables for our evening entertainment. Other than that, our day went ahead as planned. We did have to test each guest prior to them attending which was also quite stressful as we didn’t know until the day who would still be able to come.
What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme?
We didn’t have a particular theme but I did want a timeless wedding that was classy. I'm not someone who is into lots of colour so we chose black and white with hints of silver/grey. We also used eucalyptus in the floral displays.
What venue did you choose and why did you choose it?
We instantly fell in love with The Old Vicarage Boutique Hotel. It was the first venue we went to look at and we didn’t want to go and see any others. We loved everything about the venue and it fitted into our theme and colour scheme perfectly. All the staff at The Old Vicarage make you feel so welcome and looked after and they took so much stress out of our experience. We couldn’t have chosen a better venue for our special day.
We loved that I was able to stay at the venue the night before we got married with my bridal party and our parents. This made the morning of the wedding run so smoothly and stress free. The food was amazing and the venue is just stunning. They take care of the finer details.
How did you know you’d found ‘the’ dress?
I went to a local bridal boutique La Belle Boutique with my mum, mother-in-law, sister-in-law and daughter. As soon as I put on my dress, I knew it was the one from their reactions. I originally didn’t want a fitted dress but the dress I chose made me feel beautiful. It was a Stella York dress and I also had a long veil. I ended up trying on about 10 dresses.
Who were the bridesmaids and what did they wear?
My bridesmaids were people who are very special to me and they are all like my family. I had my best friend of 26 years Becky, my best friend since secondary school Kirsty (both Becky and Kirsty are my daughter's godmothers) and my sister-in-law Chelsea, who is basically my sister.
I also had Becky’s daughter Faith as a bridesmaid and her son Jakob as a pageboy. Jakob’s suit was from Next and the four bridesmaids wore dresses from Lá Closet Dé Chánel which were silver and off the shoulder. The flower girls, my daughter Arla and goddaughter Bella, wore ivory dresses from Marks & Spencer.
What did the mother of the bride wear?
My mum got her dress from Dressini and she looked fabulous. She wore an off the shoulder fitted dress in light grey, which had pearl accents and a matching hat.
Where did you find your suits?
The groomsmen and fathers wore dinner suits from Brigdens and James wore a suit from Moss Bros with shoes from Reiss.
Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day
We had our floral displays from a local florist called Hilltop Florist. We chose all white flowers with eucalyptus in silver candelabras on each table with my bouquet to match, and we had all the bridesmaids with bunches of gypsophila. My flower girls had balls of gypsophila with a silver ribbon. Jakob had a sign to walk down the aisle with saying ‘don’t worry ladies, I’m still single’ to bring some humour to the day. We had clay heart table settings imprinted with each person's name as our favours too which were made by Bella Casa. We also had personalised biscuits from Polly Anne Confections.
We used lots of small, local businesses for our day which was really what we wanted. We got married in an outdoor ceremony under the bandstand at our venue in their stunning, private garden. We also had our bulldog Toby come to the venue for the drinks reception as we wanted to include him in the day.
How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?
I felt so calm and just ready to have the same last name as our little girl and for James to finally become my husband. We also had a harpist who played as I walked down the aisle and as we were signing the register which felt very calming.
How did you make the ceremony personal to you?
We personalised our vows to each other and we had songs that were personal to us and our family. Our daughter, Arla, also walked me down the aisle as my dad has MS and wasn’t able to walk me. He did give me away though as we wanted to keep that tradition.
What was your most memorable moment?
For me, it was hearing James’ speech and hearing him call me his wife for the first time. We also had a moment in the garden, just the two of us, before we walked into the wedding breakfast and that was a really special moment to finally realise ‘we did it, we are husband and wife’.
My dad seeing me in my dress for the first time was also very emotional and meant a lot to both of us. He is the most inspiring man who has battled MS for 30 years and it was a goal of his to see me, his only child, get married.
What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?
Definitely Covid and also staying in budget.
What song did you choose for your first dance, and why?
We chose to You & I by John Legend. The lyrics are just very special for us, and we also included our daughter towards the end of our first dance which was also a really special moment.
Did you have any evening entertainment?
We had a magician, Close-up Chris, who was amazing. He entertained our guests after the ceremony while we had canapés and our drinks reception, he really made for some amazing reaction photos, too. We also set out garden games for the children to play which I made a lot of myself. We had a DJ as well in the evening.
Tell us about your wedding cake
It was three layers of deliciousness. We had sticky toffee, raspberry and white chocolate and lemon drizzle. It was made by Kupcake Kisses and it was the most stunning cake, all white with a waterfall of white flowers.
Was there anything you wish you’d known before?
Just how fast the day goes, it’s something that everyone tells you but you don’t realise it until it’s your own wedding day. You really do have to take in every detail.
Where did you go on honeymoon?
Our honeymoon to Stella Island in Crete was cancelled due to Covid so we went to London instead, which is our favourite place and somewhere we really enjoy being. We have our honeymoon to the Caribbean booked for this winter where we will travel to places such as Barbados and St Lucia.
Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages?
Remember it is your day and no one else's. If something happens to go differently to how you planned it, your guests won’t even notice as they don’t know what you’ve planned.
Steal their style:
Photographer: Makowski Photography
Venue and catering: The Old Vicarage Boutique Hotel
Dress: La Belle Boutique
Rings: Kate Dawson Jewellery
Bridesmaids' dresses: Lá Closet Dé Chánel
Hair: Alainn Hair
Make-up: The Glossy Studio
Florist: Hilltop Florist
Cake: Kupcake Kisses
Personalised biscuits: Polly Anne Confections
Videographer: Bright & Beautiful Films
Favours: Bella Casa
Magician: Close-up Chris