A London wedding post-lockdown
04 Nov 2020
Suzanne and Dimitry didn’t have the international wedding they were planning, but felt lucky to have the London wedding they did have under Covid-19 restrictions
How long was your engagement?
Just over a year - it wasn’t supposed to take so long as initially we had our London wedding planned for May 2020 but because of the Covid-19 outbreak we had to postpone. We planned two weddings; a religious one in Cape Town (which should have taken place in November 2020), where Dimitry grew up as all his friends and family are still there and another in London (the legal ceremony), as we have a lot of friends and family here and in Europe who wouldn’t have been able to come to the Cape Town wedding. We thought that postponing the London wedding to late August would be a safe bet, but as we’ve seen that did not turn out to be the case.
How many guests did you have?
We had to downscale due to government restrictions on the number of wedding guests, so our group ended up being just 30 people from the original 70 or so we’d hoped would attend. We do count ourselves very lucky that we ultimately managed to go ahead with the wedding in August 2020 because only a couple of weeks later the maximum number of guests was reduced to only 15.
What venue did you choose and why did you choose it?
We chose Marylebone Town Hall in London for our legal ceremony as it is such an iconic venue (Paul McCartney got married there). Afterwards we organised a reception at the nearby Mandrake Hotel in Fitzrovia. We picked the Mandrake Hotel terrace bar location as it is such a unique, artistic and creative venue in central London. It has a mystery around it which makes it feel like an exotic location that not many people know about. That’s one of the reasons it attracted us – and ensured the day was extra special. Everybody was quite surprised by the beautiful greenery, which made the setting feel a bit like being on holiday.
Tell us about the dress
My dress designer was Kate Halfpenny. I tried only three dresses and only visited two boutiques in total since it turned out I knew exactly what I wanted. I was looking for a modern halter-neck gown, so I spent a lot time researching those specific types of dresses online before I made the appointments to visit the bridal boutiques. I had my mom with me when I tried on the one at Halfpenny London. I’m so happy I got to share this moment together with her. She came over to London all the way from Holland especially for this.For our upcoming wedding in Cape Town I will add a skirt to give it a new twist.
Tell us about your floral arrangements
We organised a stunning wedding bouquet arrangement from Rebel Rebel flowers. We wanted the flowers to be creative and bold and in wild colours. It ended up being the perfect bouquet for me. They also created a matching flower hairpiece which was a bit of a last minute decision - so glad I ordered it. I wasn’t allowed to throw the wedding bouquet because of the new health and safety rules thanks to Covid-19. So I spontaneously organised a wedding bouquet bingo with all the guests which turned out to be a lot of fun.
Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day
We had a Fuji Instax camera for all our guests to take photos and stick the prints immediately in the wedding album. People loved the cute little snaps. It was also nice for them to take memories home. Unfortunately all our favours are stuck back in Cape Town as that is where we were originally getting married. It’s uncertain when we will be able to return to South Africa again but we will make sure that all wedding favours will find a good home at our second wedding ceremony post-lockdown.
How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?
I was so nervous, but very happy as I was on my father’s arm. My parents live abroad so for a while it wasn’t certain whether they would be able to attend. A lot of our dear international friends and family couldn’t ultimately make it because of the travel bans so we dialed in everyone from abroad via Skype on a laptop. When I walked into the room I could also see everyone who dialed in on the laptop and that was extremely nice.
What was your most memorable moment?
It was a very special day because everyone had not seen each other for such a long time due to lockdown. I think it was everyone’s first day out in a social setting in around six months. Overall, it was epic and felt quite surreal. Our besties organised an impromptu speech which made us feel extra special and surprised us by wearing personalised facemasks with ‘D + S’ and the event date printed on them.
What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?
Planning a wedding during a pandemic... We had been worrying a lot about the safety of our older guests in particular, and had to change the wedding date a couple of times and were constantly trying to adapt to the changing situation and lockdown restrictions. Our guests who were travelling in from overseas were also under a lot of stress with their travelling arrangements and some did not know until the week before if they would even be able to travel into the UK. My best friend Alex from Norway would be bringing my ‘something blue’ (he made a bracelet for me to wear) but heard just two days before his departure that he would no longer be allowed to fly in. My brother who lives in Los Angeles also wasn’t able to enter the UK.
What song did you choose for your first dance, and why?
We didn’t have this as we only arranged a small drinks reception but we are looking forward to having our first dance at our upcoming larger wedding in South Africa.
Tell us about your wedding cake
After our engagement the first thing we did was go on a mission to find the most beautiful cake in the world. And I believe we succeeded. The lovely Marianna from Whisk & Drizzle invited us over for a cake tasting and not only does she bake extremely artistic creations, but they also taste magical.
Where did you go on honeymoon?
We sadly had to cancel proper honeymoon plans because of Covid-19 but instead managed to break out to visit Dimitry’s best friends in Cyprus for two weeks. It was very sunny, relaxed and quiet there - just what we needed after such a hectic time. We enjoyed some lovely adventures and dinners by the sea. For some moments it almost felt as if Covid-19 wasn’t around.
Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages?
I can only give advice on wedding planning during a pandemic - which is completely different to ‘normal’. You simply have to be very adaptable - things change almost every week, so make back-up plans and ensure you have a number of options in place. As an example, my hairdresser had to cancel one week before the event. My hen-do was cancelled as was Dimitry’s bachelors’ trip with friends to Dublin. For the hen-do I improvised by having some fun nights ‘out’ on Zoom with the gang instead. We kept saying that no matter what happens, we will get married. And we did it.
Steal Their Style
Photography: Erike Rimkute Photography
Venue: Mandrake Hotel
Bride’s dress: Halfpenny London
Make-up: AA Beauty
Stationery: Print for Love
Wedding cake: Whisk & Drizzle
Flowers: Rebel Rebel