A wedding in Cheltenham where less was more
25 Nov 2020
Rhianne Montgomery and Oliver Lucas only had 13 guests at their wedding at Manor by the Lake, but with less guests they were able to make the day even more magical
Photography: Lauren Amelia Photography
Tell us about the proposal
Ollie and I were on holiday in Gdansk, Poland when he proposed. Ironically the trip was my Valentine’s day present to him. It was late at night and we were on a Ferris wheel in Gdansk, freezing to death, when half way round, Ollie got down on one knee and pulled out a box of M&Ms with ‘will you marry me’ and our faces on them. He did also have a beautiful ring, but I was far more impressed with the M&Ms at the time. It was so romantic, we went and had some mulled wine and just watched the city for a bit, before we then went and had dinner.
The original plans
Ollie and I had planned to get married on September 12, 2020, but sadly, due to Covid-19 and a falling out with the venue, we had to change our venue and move the date of our wedding and we lost a lot of money. When we got married, we were restricted to 15 guests (including ourselves), for both the ceremony and the reception afterwards. We also had to group people in bubbles and socially distance bubbles, to try and keep everyone safe. There was 2m distance either side of me where I walked down the aisle. Our guests also had to wear masks (some had exemptions). We didn’t have an evening do as such, as we weren’t allowed to play music loudly, or have a dancefloor, so we opted for a more casual affair.
We stuck with our original theme and having less people there made it even more impactful. We filled the venue with flowers, blossom trees, wisteria trees and rose trees. It was absolutely magical. We put more of a focus on personalising things even more for every guest – I made truffles as favours for each guest to go with our original favours. I’m glad we only had 13 guests as it was a lot more work than I thought. We also had little bags of pick and mix that we made up in the evening, which meant we could still have the fun element of sweets, but without people sharing tongs etc.
Tell us about the venue and why you chose it?
Weddings weren’t announced as being allowed to legally go ahead until the end of June, which was 10 weeks before our wedding. At the time, we didn’t know how things would look and we weren’t comfortable with going ahead until the Covid situation and impact was a bit clearer. Oliver has a weakened immune system and we both have vulnerable family members – keeping people safe was the most important thing to us. We knew we wanted a completely exclusive venue and in the midst of a pandemic, that felt even more important. We wanted beautiful grounds, accommodation on site, dog friendly and buildings with character – Manor by the Lake ticked all those boxes and the team were so lovely from the moment we met them.
Tell us about the dress
My dress was by Ronald Joyce, from All About Eve in Newport. I tried on about six dresses, I started the day wanting an A-line or ballgown dress, but they all drowned me as I’m quite petite. It was the lady looking after me at all About Eve who found my dress, I’d have never picked it up. My dress was new in and only in store in a size 20 – I’m still amazed the girls managed to clip it in place to look like a dress. The moment I tried it on I felt elegant, classy, and sophisticated, which was exactly what I wanted. I was looking for something timeless, that in 20 years’ time I’d still love and my children wouldn’t ask me what I was thinking! I didn’t want anything high-fashion that would date.
Who were the bridesmaids and what did they wear?
Initially I had four bridesmaids, but due to restrictions, I made the tough decision to just have one, Loren. Loren and I used to work together and throughout the million changes we’d made to our day, she was there every step of the way, checking if I was ok. The moment the government announced a change, Loren was straight on the phone to me to reassure me, she was my rock throughout all of this. I’d already purchased dresses for all four bridesmaids, from Debut. Had it just been Loren from the outset, I probably would have picked something different, but I was trying to pick a dress to flatter four very different shaped girls. Loren looked incredible on the day.
Where did the groom get his suit from?
Fox in the House in Devizes. We’d been to a few local wedding events, as we wanted to try and use smaller, independent suppliers where we could. The owner was amazing, he’d open up specially for us to go in and the men to get measured.
We all wore our planned outfits, we were adamant from the outset that our day wasn’t any less important because there were fewer guests.
Tell us about your floral arrangements
Ollie bought me a bunch from a local florist for my birthday last year and the moment I saw them, I told him that was the florist I wanted to use. She was lovely! She’d call during lockdown just to check in with us and see how we were both doing. We had small arrangements on the end of the aisles, tied to the backs of the chair, a long arrangement on the registrar table and both my bridesmaid and I had hand-tied bouquets in shades of soft pink, nudes and whites.
We had three huge statement table centrepieces, which were sat on top of 80cm gold hollow pillars and were the same shades of pink, nude and white as my bouquet and they smelt divine. The men all had ivory rose buttonholes.
Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day
I made the chocolate truffle favours for each guest, they had caramel and plain chocolate truffles, in a small bag, tied with a Macmillan Cancer tag with a small gold pin on it. Ollie and I have both lost close family members to cancer and we thought it was a great way of supporting a cause close to our hearts and having something meaningful as favours. My fridge was filled with these truffles for days before and my kitchen still hasn’t recovered from the cocoa powder mess I made. We made our own little bags of sweets, which were sealed with personalised labels with our names on. We had these in the evening, along with sparklers and mini bubble wands – we wanted a fun evening, without being cheesy.
We bought two of the blossom trees we used, as well as all the rose trees and Ollie made pots and boxes for them all. He did such an amazing job, our venue decorator bought them off us before we’d even had the ceremony. We also bought a large gold mirror and had a vinyl decal printed in white, to go on the mirror for our welcome sign, which was sat on an easel as guests entered the venue. We tried to make sure everything we chose was personal to us, even down to the napkins with the canapes, which had our names on. We had little gift boxes for the evening for people to take come cake away with them and these also had our names on. What I found was that I knew I could do a better job with a lot of items, so I did.
How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?
On another planet. It was all so quick and I remember thinking how beautiful the room looked. I hadn’t seen it before the ceremony, it was all such a wonderful surprise. It all passed by in a blur.
How did you make the ceremony personal to you?
Legally we weren’t allowed readings or songs, so we made sure our promises to each other reflected how we both felt. We had a string quartet which played during my entrance, the signing of the register and the exit, these were all songs we’d chosen.
What was your most memorable moment?
The speeches. I usually dread wedding speeches, but both my dad and Ollie did a great job – they both gave each other rival rugby merchandise, which was comical. The best man, Dan, did a brilliant speech and because there were fewer people in the room, it felt more personal and everyone was interacting, rather than just sat listening.
What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?
The continual changes to regulations and an evolving pandemic. Even the day before we were waiting for one of the groomsmen to give us the results from a Covid test. It wasn’t nice having to tell the majority of our guests that we couldn’t fit in them, that was really hard.
What was the most important investment for you?
The atmosphere. I wanted everyone to have an amazing day, so I made sure everyone would be comfortable and could relax.
Did you have any evening entertainment?
Ollie and his groomsmen! We had a really relaxed evening, background music playing, leather armchairs, cosy fairy lights and the men had pool and table football to keep them entertained.
Tell us about your wedding cake
We had a three-tier cake, the bottom was a dummy layer as we’d reduced our numbers from 75, to 30 to 15. The middle tier was apple and cinnamon and the top was sticky toffee pudding flavour. Ollie is a coeliac, so the whole cake was gluten free to make sure he was safe. We had white ruffles on the bottom, the middle tier was a very pale pink lustre, with a beautiful regal-style pattern and our initials in gold and the top tier was a pale pink shimmer, topped with sugar flowers to match my bouquet.
If you could go back and change anything, what would it be?
I’d give myself a bit more time to take everything in before I walked down the aisle. Everything was perfect, I couldn’t have asked for a more amazing day.
Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages?
Only you know your vision, don’t worry about what other people think about your ideas. I had some strange looks when I told family there’d be several huge blossom trees indoors, but actually, everyone loved it.
Steal Their Style
Photography: Lauren Amelia Photography
Venue: Manor by the Lake
Dress: Ronald Joyce from All About Eve
Bride’s hair & make-up: Charlotte Tillyer
Bridesmaid’s hair & make-up: Julian Castaneda
Bridesmaids’ dresses: Debut, Debenhams
Groom’s outfit: Fox in the House
Rings: Holly Robinson Jewellery
Stationery: Lucy Finch
Cake: Jelly Cake
Flowers: Theodora’s Flowers
Venue dresser: Something Borrowed Event Hire Ltd by Vidette Jones