An intimate wedding in the New Forest post lockdown
28 Jul 2020
Sarah Jones and Frederick Lane were able to tie the knot in an intimate ceremony and will celebrate with a wider, travel themed wedding in 2021
On June 23, 12 days before our July 4 wedding, the government gave the green light for ceremonies in England to take place, under strict Covid-19 regulations. So, after months of planning and preparation, and the weeks of uncertainty, we were cleared for take-off. The next aisle I would walk down would make me Mrs Lane. As my husband is a pilot and I’m an air hostess we are used to a quick turnaround, but organising a Covid wedding at such short notice was a challenge we were both daunted by.
With the enormous help of friends and family, we were able to hold our reception in my parents’ garden; serendipitously almost 23 years exactly after their wedding reception in the same place. The ceremony took place at Beaulieu Abbey, a stunning, atmospheric venue I had my heart set on since I was a little girl.
There were several compromises we had to make on our dream wedding in order to meet the government’s guidelines including no hymns in the church, only 20 guests, three to a pew and sanitising the rings. Although this was a strange element to our special day, these are strange times and keeping our friends and family safe was just as important as our vows.
It was heart-breaking having to cut our guest list. We had originally invited 65 guests to the day. Quite a few of our guests were due to travel from all over the world including the best man who lives in Australia. Our grandparents were and are still shielding, so they weren’t able to be with us either.
Everything about our wedding changed due to Covid-19, other than the dress and the ceremony venue. Thankfully we’ve been able to rebook the same reception venue and all the same suppliers again for a new date in June 2021, so a massive thank you to all of them for being so patient and helpful with us.
Walking down the aisle to the classic bridal march was an amazing, surreal moment and seeing Freddy waiting for me, with tears in his eyes, made all the stress and uncertainty in the run up to the day, worth it. My sister Holly and Freddy’s sister Luci both did a reading for us, but due to the Covid restrictions, we were not allowed to have any hymns.
Classical with an aviation twist. Our colours were white and blush pink. Our invitations were passports with boarding passes (from Etsy), and instead of a guest book we chose to have a globe for our guests to sign (from Ginger Ray) as these are appropriate to our aviation theme.
I have grown up in the New Forest and have often driven by Beaulieu Abbey to see the bride and groom having their photo taken in front of the Beaulieu river and had always dreamed of this venue. Freddy is from Kent but had moved down to Southampton for work. He also fell in love with the venue and as most of our friends are from this area it made sense to hold our wedding here. July 4, 2020 was the only weekend of leave I had available (we have to book our leave almost a year in advance), so when we went to view the Abbey I didn’t hold much hope to get a date but as fate would have it, July 4 was the only Saturday they had available so we booked it there and then.
Exactly a week after we got engaged, I booked an appointment at Anna Bridal Boutique in Ringwood with just my mum and dad. I had a rough idea in mind but wasn’t really sure where to start, but Anna and her girls were there to help. Literally the second dress I tried on, mum cried, then I cried and we knew that was the one. I think dad was just pleased he didn’t have to do anymore shopping. In the lead up to the wedding day we were still in full lockdown so Anna held a zoom call with me to discuss our options about getting the dress ready in time which was really reassuring. The alterations normally take 8-10 weeks but her amazing seamstress got my dress ready in just two weeks and I collected it just three days before the wedding.
A friend of mine does floristry on the side so she made my bouquet, bridesmaids’ bouquets, our mums’ corsages, and all of the buttonholes. We chose pink peonies and white roses to match the colour scheme, and also anemone with a navy centre to match Freddy’s suit.
My mum made us the most gorgeous wedding cake which was just so special as it was made with love!
Is there anything you would change?
The weather! Unfortunately, it rained on the day but other than the frizzy hair we didn’t even notice it because we were so overwhelmed with love and gratefulness.
This was kept to a select few because of the restrictions. We are lucky enough to have been able to have an intimate ceremony this year, and then we get to celebrate all over again next year with a big reception with everyone who couldn’t be with us. I can’t wait to wear my dress again!
Any advice for future couples?
Honestly my top tip would be ‘to appreciate the moment’ both on the day itself and during the planning stages. Not just because of Covid-19, but also due to family health, it puts life into a whole new perspective. Your wedding day is about you as a couple and your love for each other, not the party and the money, so take the time not to stress but to be grateful for what and who you have supporting that love.
Steal Their Style
Photography: Dan Akerman Photography
Venue: Beaulieu Abbey
Dress: Justin Alexander from Anna’s Bridal Boutique
Shoes: Avalia Cindy ivory satin from Lace and Favour
Make-up: Lisa Philmore
Hair: Josie Mainwairing (friend)
Nails: Hollie Sillence
Suit: Cavani from Cavendish Menswear
Flowers: Rebecca Bowdidge
Transport: Bentley S3, Portfolio Heritage