Colourful, Crafty, Budget, Personal and Unexpected!
Becky and Matt
WWW readers Becky and Matt’s planned wedding day was due to be held in July 2020 but alas COVID-19 came along and just changed everything didn’t it?! Well Becky and Matt were not going to let a pandemic get in the way of their special date; the 11th July 2020 and decided to host an un-wedding celebration on what was to be their big wedding day.
They marked the date with a beach blessing at Felpham beach in which they said their own heartfelt vows to one another in the glorious sunshine. Following they had some sunny seaside portraits and did some baking in their gorgeous kitchen at home. They were then joined by their loved ones via Zoom for fizz and cake complete with their home and garden decked in hand made bunting, a quilt banner and a table laden with treats. These two both looked so loved up, totally rocking their cool outfits and their celebration really radiated joy. What a perfect way to mark their pandemic wedding date.
Anna Pumer Photography was on hand to capture this very special celebration and I am so happy to be sharing these lovely images today, thanks for sharing guys.
Matt: I knew we were going to go down to Cornwall to see Becky’s extended family and we had had such good times there before I thought it would be the perfect place. I had a pretty short time frame so it was a mad rush getting the ring designed, made then delivered to a friend so I could keep it all a secret and collect it just two days before driving down.
I spent the whole time we were there trying to work out when to do it; having told nobody except a handful of friends what I was planning. On 17/06/18 we ended up deciding to go to Gwithian beach on a whim and I realised this was my chance. I crammed the ring into my pocket underneath all my other stuff and we set off.
I was so nervous! We had had a big lunch and I’d been drinking so much water I needed to do a nervous wee in a rock pool. Finally, after walking along the beach we found ourselves near a cave where we were totally alone. Becky was looking into the cave wondering if it went anywhere, so I grabbed the ring and got down on one knee. She was shocked but fortunately she said yes (after exclaiming “what are you doing!?”).
Becky: It wasn’t even a particularly sunny day, we were wearing anoraks and were pretty windswept – it wasn’t anything elaborate but I wouldn’t have changed a thing! We phoned our parents from the beach to tell them the news and then went back to surprise my nan, who was so astonished and absolutely thrilled.
All we really knew was we wanted to have a fun, relaxed and colourful day with plenty of cake and dancing. If money were no object then it would have been full on fun-fair and as many animals involved as possible. But buying a house soon put a stop to any crazy wedding related splurges! Who would have guessed that 18 months into planning the big day that a global pandemic would have thrown a spanner in the works?
The Planning Process
In March of this year we took the decision to postpone our real-wedding because without family and friends it would not have been the same! We are hugging kind of people and the thought of having to distance ourselves from the few people we might have been allowed to share the day with just didn’t seem like an option for us.
After rearranging all of our suppliers for next year, our photographers Anna and Todd surprised us with a message suggesting we have an un-wedding and they would photograph it remotely (apparently this is a thing). We had been thinking about how to mark our original wedding date as we didn’t want to spend the day weeping and moping around in self-isolation. Honestly, at first, we didn’t know how to feel about the idea of a non-wedding. Putting on a wedding dress and eating cake just the two of us might have been weird. The more we thought about it, the more appropriate it seemed to make the most of the cards we had been dealt so we decided to go ALL IN and plan the best non-wedding we could!
Our first port of call was asking our Reverend (and very close friend) if there was any way we could do some sort of blessing via Zoom. She was immediately on board with the idea, hoping as time went on restrictions might relax and that she could be there in person. We knew getting legally married wasn’t an option so together we planned a short blessing that would lift our spirits and enable us to affirm to one another the promises we would have made and look forward positively to next year’s lawful marriage.
Our next priority was trying to make it feel as much like a wedding as we could (just without the legal paperwork), so we decided to have some rings made that we could exchange. We had already bought our wedding rings for next year so needed to keep costs down so we chose to have the blessing rings made in silver. They turned out beautifully! We are so happy we took this decision as they provide a constant encouraging reminder to both of us going forward in these uncertain times.
All that was left was for how to involve our family. We felt uncomfortable inviting any guests to our house in person because our garden is so tiny. With this in mind we chose to host an un-wedding breakfast over Zoom.
We did not have a budget for a non-wedding. After planning the real-wedding for so long and already paying deposits for everything we had to keep costs as low as we could (without skimping on cake of course).
The venue obviously had to be our house – no decisions required there! As lockdown relaxed, we changed our plans from a blessing in the garden to a blessing on Felpham beach five minutes walk away. This turned out to be the best idea ever as the tides and weather were perfect. We honestly couldn’t have picked a better place to NOT get married!
We wrote our own ‘vows’ as we realised that at the real-wedding in the church we wouldn’t necessarily be able to say, in our own words, exactly how we feel about each other. We kept these a secret from one another until the blessing took place which ended up being one of the best decisions we made as it made the day even more personal. It also felt wonderfully romantic as no one else would ever hear them!
Becky: The flowers I made by hand from crepe paper and floristry wire; this bouquet was a test run for the real-wedding so nothing was wasted! I was undecided about whether to use them, unsure if they were too ‘weddingy’ for a blessing, but there are no rules for an un-wedding, so Anna persuaded me to take them for a pop of colour. I am so glad I did because they look great in the photos and it gave me something to hold so my arms weren’t all flappy and awkward!
Your Outfits & Accessories
Matt: I wore my graduation suit from a few years back and a Claudio Lugli shirt that I was thinking of wearing in the evening for our real-wedding; accessorised with a dinosaur belt from Paul Smith and bright pink Converse.
Becky: I wore a dress I bought in a sample sale for £99 (on my first wedding dress shopping trip). I chose it as a backup outfit thinking it would be perfect for dancing the night away if at a later date I found THE dress that wouldn’t allow me to dance like no one was watching. Turns out it was the perfect dress to have in reserve for getting non-married and paddling in the sea! I also wore some panda print Vans (which gave me blisters almost immediately) and a Dr Martens bag. In my hair I wore some ‘happily ever after’ heart clips from Crown and Glory.
Matt: It was a DIY job for me, Becky cut my hair and I trimmed my beard, simple!
Becky: It was also very DIY for me too. I don’t usually wear a lot of makeup so knew I wanted to keep it natural. A couple of weeks beforehand, with the advice of Claire (my makeup lady for the real-wedding from Modern Vintage Wedding Hair and Makeup), I took the decision to invest in some Charlotte Tilbury products and throw out the foundation I have been embarrassingly using since I was probably still in my teens… a couple of YouTube tutorials later and I think it went OK!
I was lucky enough to have had a haircut booked in for the real-wedding and just a couple of days before it was scheduled restrictions were relaxed to allow that to take place. Amy did a great job of getting rid of my damaged lockdown locks and gave me some tight curls in the hope they would last overnight. After few gentle brushes in the morning to get rid of the hairspray tangles I added the hair clips and was as ready as I was ever going to be!
Anna was one of the first decisions we made after we got engaged. We loved her relaxed, informal and colourful photographic style and when we met her for the first time we all clicked immediately. After Anna and Todd got together, they happened to be living near us for a while which was great excuse to meet up again, it felt like a group of old friends going out to dinner! It was Anna’s suggestion to hold the un-wedding and her and Todd did such a great job on the day of coming up with ideas of how to get the best shots. The results really speak for themselves (and they love cats so are clearly winners).
We ended up with a lot. of. cake. Not only did we buy a vanilla rainbow cake and profiteroles from M&S but Matt’s parents sent a box of cupcakes, a friend from work sent a box of 24 Millie’s Cookies AND it was our cats first birthday so we had to get him a ‘Cuthbert Caterpillar’ from Aldi and some mini-Connie Caterpillars; you know, as a side. We may have got carried away.
The Details & Décor
Matt: Becky spent a good few weeks hand sewing decorations – I think she must have made about 50m worth of bunting in the end, all from scraps of material and ribbons that she had around the house. She also quilted a ‘one more year’ banner which added some colour to the garden and is now hanging up in the house as a memento of the day. We also made use of some of the other decorations we had accumulated for the real-wedding. The pièce de résistance was a 3ft tall bubblegum pink gnome to put in our garden. It’s honestly massive. We were driving through Chichester and saw it for sale and we virtually did an emergency stop to go buy it. It’s awesome. It also apparently looks like Anna’s Uncle Tony.
Matt: The day got off to a bad start as our enormous 3 year old Ragdoll cat Hershey had a bad stomach all night. I ended up having to do an emergency vet run the morning of the non-wedding – a 90 minute round trip! Predictably he was fine (except for a smelly bum) but this meant that Anna and Todd arrived before I was home (so Becky was home alone in her wedding dress) and I had to do the quickest groom-prep ever seen. We were both late for our own blessing!
Another highlight was trying to make cupcakes in the presence of our other cat Lando. He’s a notorious butter thief so half the experience was spent looking over our shoulder to make sure he wasn’t stealing anything. The cupcakes came out terrible anyway and because of lack of time remained un-iced, but it was a fun experience!
Becky: I loved the family zoom chat, it was perfectly imperfect! Everyone had made the effort to dress up, decorate their gardens and houses and came digitally armed with fizz and even more cake. Even Matt’s grandparents managed to work their computer to join us (even if he could only see us as a tiny thumbnail which he spent the following hour unsuccessfully, and very vocally, trying to fix)!
Advice For Other Couples
What we did isn’t going to be for everyone. We were really worried that the day would feel sad with us both thinking about what could have been and the day we should have been having. Having a non-wedding ended up being the best decision we could have made though – rather than being sad we spent the whole day laughing and having the best time!
Credit Where Credit Is Due
Anna Pumer & Todd Lawton Anna Pumer Photography
Alexis Dove Jewellery (Lewes, East Sussex)
Amy’s Hair Creations (Bognor Regis, West Sussex)
Does it get any more romantic and meaningful? I think not! If you aren’t sure what to do with your pandemic wedding date, have a think about having an un-wedding celebration. A party to lift your spirits and give hope, supporting your wonderful wedding suppliers and bringing together your loved ones virtually for a fun afternoon.
Becky and Matt I cannot thank you enough for sharing your pandemic wedding story with us. I sincerely hope that your 2021 wedding is everything you hope and dream for xo Lou