Wedding of the Week: Catherine and Sarah Francis-Driscoll
06 Mar 2017
Hosting an intimate wedding? Take inspiration from our Wedding of the Week which featured London landmarks, bubble confetti and Christmas pudding
Tell us about the proposal.
We decided not to propose, as we would have been jealous of whoever proposed because we both wanted to do it. So we had an amazing conversation in a hot tub on holiday in Big Sur, California, and decided to do it very quickly later that year. We changed our minds and did not buy engagement rings, instead Catherine found our wedding rings when she was flying back and forth from a job in Scotland, spending a lot of time window shopping at the airport. She spotted Sarah’s first in Cartier – their classic Trinity ring (rose gold, yellow gold and a band of diamonds), and then realised they had an identical one in white gold and black ceramic. They were perfect, so we ordered them in Selfridges when she returned home.
What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme?
This was a cosy, elegant, winter wedding in central London. We wanted to celebrate the city we met in and roam the streets with our amazing photographer, capturing some iconic shots on Westminster Bridge and in Soho.
When did you know when you’d found ‘the’ dress?
So weird, as we never believed that 'when you know, you know’, but we did. We are so busy that we ordered 10 different dresses each online, so that we could try them all on at home. When I saw Sarah in hers, I knew it was the one. And vice versa – it was so special to choose them together. Initially we wanted grey, but they were hard to find, so we had to ensure we had shades of cream that did not clash and got matching faux fur boleros to keep us cosy on the day.
Tell us about your floral arrangements.
Sarah’s best friend, Georgie, recommended an amazing florist. We sent a mood board of what we wanted and the arrangement was absolutely spot on. What turned out to be a lovely surprise was that three of Sarah’s friends bought them for us as wedding treat; we had no idea until they were delivered which made them even more special.
Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day.
This was a tiny wedding; just us and five guests. Rather unconventional – there was no cake, or dance or party. It felt very intimate and Sarah’s dad’s speech summed up what we intended for the day – it was about our declaration of love for one another. We will have a larger wedding in Mexico in 2019 with all our friends and family, as they are so wonderful we could not do one without them. We started the day at Sarah’s parents (and now my parents-in-law) having hair and make-up done, then we travelled to the Shard with the parents. The other three guests met us there, and they had champagne and canapés while we got into our dresses. The suite was incredible and we were very lucky with the weather – it was a clear, crisp day and we could see the whole of London – from the Tower Bridge, the London Eye and St Paul’s cathedral – the views were truly breath-taking.
After enjoying a glass of bubbly and some canapés in the suite with our guests, we all made our way to the Mayfair Library for the ceremony. As we walked through the hotel lobby, the sun was setting across London and we stopped for a couple of photos as the sky turned pink…. Our guests went in one taxi and we travelled with the photographers in another. I contemplated getting a white taxi for the day, but thought it added to the day to take an actual black cab to complete our true London experience. This was a pure black cab, and the driver was adorable – he was really excited to be part of our big day, and we had such a fun ride to the venue. He allowed us to stop on Westminster Bridge to have some photos taken in front of the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and the London Eye. It was dusk, and the photos were beautiful. We then jumped back in the cab and made our way to Mayfair Library for the ceremony. We had our photo with the cabbie and he let Sarah jump in the front to make it look like she was driving, it was so much fun.
Documents were signed and our guests were waiting, as we walked down the aisle together. We walked down the aisle to a piano version of 'Halo' by Beyonce. The service went by quickly, everyone was emotional and even the registrar cried at James’ speech. During the certificate signing we had Eva Cassidy 'Blue Skies' playing, it was perfect. The photographer knew of a lovely spot to have some photos taken, so we made our way to the Connaught Hotel, which has a beautiful water feature out front.
Our guests went on for further drinks and headed to Gauthier, where we had booked a private dining room for dinner. En route to our wedding dinner, we walked the streets of Soho, as we wanted more documentary style photos of the day – Kate captured these so well, and they are our favourites. We were so excited and emotional, we decided to have a toast together and went to a bar for a couple of tequila shots. Kate captured some beautiful shots through the windows. When walking the streets, we had such a lovely reception from strangers, people came up to us to congratulate us and we felt so lucky; times have changed and people were so accepting and wonderful. It topped off a magical day. Kate left us at Gauthier, where we listened to Jazz and had a candle-lit dinner with our guests. Perfect.
How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?
As the wedding venue was a beautiful and small room in the Mayfair Library, we decided to walk in together hand in hand. We were both so overwhelmed with emotion – and our guests decided to surprise us and blow bubbles for us as we walked down the aisle.
What was your most memorable moment?
For me (Catherine), it was being so excited that I could not sleep. After the wedding, I woke Sarah up at 4.30am and raised the blinds of our hotel room – we were 36 floors up at the Shard and the night time view over London was spectacular. I felt really emotional and happy, and just stared at the view (and my wedding ring) for about an hour.
What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?
No challenges. Only securing a date that would be special to us, and worked for others. Also, we kept it a secret from people so as not to overshadow any weddings going on that year.
What was the most important investment for you?
The photographer and the Shard – we live centrally and did not want to return home after our wedding, so wanted to treat ourselves to a suite. The champagne breakfast in our room sealed the deal. The photographer is incredible; she did our friends’ wedding and we loved her photos so much.
Tell us about your wedding cake.
No cake, just Christmas pudding. The food at Gauthier Soho was from their Christmas menu.
If you could go back and change anything, what would it be?
Where did you go on honeymoon?
We love our holidays and after being abroad quite a few times we decided to have a honeymoon in the UK. We stayed in a cottage called Little Bear with Unique Home Stays. It was so gorgeous – with open fires, it was so cosy and we had a wood burning hot tub to relax in under the stars. Lots of country walks, books and wine. It straddled the New Year, so we welcomed in 2017 as a newly married couple.
Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages?
Go on gut instinct, do exactly what you want and make sure it’s a day that you can enjoy together and not just go through the motions, as it can be overwhelming. It’s about love and becoming your own unit, so make it all about you and not the guests/family.
Get the look:
Venue: Mayfair Library, www.westminster.gov.uk/mayfair-library-2
Accommodation: Shangri-La Hotel, The Southwark Suite, www.shangri-la.com/london/shangrila/rooms-suites/suites/southwark-suite/
Photography: Kate Hopewell-Smith, www.katehopewellsmith.com
Restaurant: Gauthier, www.gauthiersoho.co.uk/home.php
Dresses: Monsoon, uk.monsoon.co.uk and Phase Eight, www.phase-eight.com
Fur stoles: Amazon, www.amazon.co.uk
Shoes: Debenhams, www.debenhams.com
Hair and Make-up: Storme, www.stormemakeup.com via the BridalStylists.co.uk
Rings:Trinity rings by Cartier, www.cartier.co.uk
Champagne: Chapel Down