A woodland, rustic wedding in Kent under Covid-19 restrictions

15 Dec 2020

Diane Mall and James Weekes braved the Covid-19 storm and got married just before maximum numbers changed to 15 guests. Here they show how you can still have a lovely wedding despite the current restrictions 

Photography: Joellen Pictures 


What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding? 
Covid-19! Luckily we were very organised having got the bridesmaids’ dresses, the dress and the suits before lockdown, which would have been really difficult otherwise as trying to get the ties was hard given that shops weren’t stocked for weddings, when they re-opened, because of all the cancellations. We also had to contend with the ever-changing rules but early on decided to do a split wedding, giving us time to get our heads round it and make alterations. However, the week leading up to the wedding was very stressful as we knew with the rising numbers something was going to change and when the Wednesday announcement happened to say that weddings would go to 15 on the Monday it almost made me relax as I knew any more changes were unlikely.  


How did you decide how to cut the numbers down? 
We were originally going to have 100 day guests and 60 more in the evening. In terms of cutting it to 30 (or 25 when you take into account ourselves, the photographer and the two officiants), we picked our bridesmaids, groomsmen, parents and grandparents but found it hard to pick whose partners and what close friends we could bring. James has a rather large family so couldn’t extend the invitation to uncles or aunties but it made it easier to make a cut-off point, because if we had been allowed to have a few more or less than 30 it would have made it even harder. 


What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme? 
The colour scheme was dusty rose pink and red, with the groomsmen all in navy blue. There was also a woodland, outdoors, rustic theme. We did plan on an Italian themed dinner based on the proposal but that changed with the numbers and so went with a more relaxed Mexican theme instead. 

What venue did you choose and why did you choose it? 
We chose the Oak Grove in Upchurch, Kent as we love the outdoors and it was such a beautiful venue. We wanted a relaxed atmosphere and the owners were very easy going.  


Tell us about the dress 
I tried on around 20 dresses and found the one at WED2B in Ashford. I knew as soon as I put it on and had my fingers crossed as I opened the curtain that the girls were going to say the same. The curtain opened and they agreed and because of the champagne colouring I knew it would go well with the bridesmaids dresses.  


Who were the bridesmaids and what did they wear? 
I had two maids of honour - Rebecca Hillier and Nola Cooper and a bridesmaid Hollie Bassett and they wore a dusty pink dress with flowers in their hair. 


Tell us about your floral arrangements 
Just Peachy made our flowers. Originally, we were going to have table arrangements in jars and a garland on the top table but with the micro wedding we have saved that for next year. We had buttonholes for all the groomsmen, groom and father of the bride and bouquets for me and the bridesmaids. The flowers included alstroemerias as they are my favourite flowers, amnesia roses as it was the perfect colour for the theme and a pop of red, which is my favourite colour. 


Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day 
James made a sign out of old pallets which said Friends of the bride, friends of the groom, please sit together there’s plenty of room.... With all the restrictions we thought we best change that to lighten the mood a bitso an extra bit of wood was nailed over 'together' to say 2m apart. James also made two signs pointing people to the wedding but these have been saved for next year where there are more people coming (hopefully). We also have a marshmallow stand, hand-cut log slices for the centrepieces and handmade post-box ready to go.  


During lockdown, blissfully unaware of the changes to stay, I spent my time gluing hessian on jars for the centrepieces - not a waste though as they will be utilised next year and we did use four of them to put the bouquets in on the tables.  
James also made a ladder to put photos of our parents and grandparents weddings on but we have saved that for next year and will add our wedding photo to it now.  
Because we weren't going to have the reception and it was a more relaxed meal, we kept things simple with no centrepieces or table names, just candles from the venue. There wasn’t a seating plan in the end as we wanted people to sit where they felt comfortable as well as leaving two metres of space from other households. We will be saving our favours for next year which will be locally sourced honey from a family friend. Next year we are also planning on having a relaxed DIY photobooth as well. 


How did you feel as you walked down the aisle? 
Cold but very pleased it was a dry day and just completely unaware of anything going on around me just focused on James and very calm. 


How did you make the ceremony personal to you?  
We wrote our own personal promises. We managed to keep these secret until we read them to each other but it was really lovely as there were some complementing sections and they had the same tone and sense of humour to them. 


Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages? 
Do as much as you can as early as you can and don’t let any changes to your original plans stress you too much. So much of our wedding changed from what we had planned but we still had an amazing day and were so happy with how it turned out, we won’t be looking back with regret. When picking providers don’t just go on price, go with who makes you comfortable as they were truly a big part of the day and reduce a lot of potential stress by being so accommodating to our constantly changing plans. 


Steal Their Style 
Photography: Joellen Pictures 
Venue: The Oak Grove  
Dress: WED2B 
Seamstress: Linda Biesterfeldt 
Hair: Locks and Looks    
Make-up: Elizabeth Joseph-Love  
Groom’s suit: Moss Bros    
Cake: Artcardia  
Flowers: Just Peachy     
Catering: Plenty of Thyme   

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