Two Part Wedding – A Garden Wedding Ceremony Over Zoom

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Two Part Wedding

Unique, Socially Distanced, Intimate, Special, Joyous, Memorable.

Claire and Nick


WWW readers Claire and Nick (AKA Click) are joining us with their incredibly special two part wedding. I am just over the moon to be sharing their COVID safe wedding ceremony held in the back garden of Nick’s parents. They ensured that their day was a socially distanced wedding celebration and it also held outdoors. Using Zoom software they were able to celebrate meaningfully with their loved ones virtually, they really came up with an ingenious way of marking their union.

Claire looked beautiful in her floaty gown and Nick was suited and booted in a blue wool suit. The flowers were arranged by the mother of the bride and the cake was baked by the mother of the groom, how lovely is that? They also had some gorgeous portraits taken in the pretty gardens.

This special wedding was captured wonderfully by Erica Hawkins Photography and I am sure it will really brighten your day.

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The Proposal

It was magical! We were away for a few days on the Isle of Wight (a favourite place of Nick’s and now both of us!) and had quite the eventful final day. We started with parkrun (which has its own story!), followed by brunch on the balcony of our AirBnB overlooking the beach in Ventnor, a trip to the amazing Fort Victoria Model Railway (Claire loves trains…) and then an afternoon on the beach which of course included ice cream – another of our favourite things. Claire loves a good sunset so on the way home from the beach we stopped off at St Catherine’s Oratory, a local view point with stunning views across the island and out to sea. It’s a place we’d been the first time we went to the Isle of Wight together the previous year, so we knew it would be a great place for something special. We had a bit of a chat about Notting Hill (one of our favourite films) on the way up to the view point and then Nick was acting a little strange as he wasn’t being his usual self and taking lots of photos – instead Claire was the one taking all the photos. The sun was just starting to set and Nick decided to ask Claire to stand with her back towards him so he could get a silhouette photo of her against the sunset. Claire wasn’t too suspicious at this point, but he started taking a while so Claire tried to look round to see what Nick was doing and he just looked a bit shifty (unknowingly to Claire, Nick actually had the ring in his hand along with his phone at this point!). But he got the photo and then told Claire to turn around – and there he was on one knee! He then said something really nice and loving and then paraphrased Notting Hill: “I’m just a boy, kneeling in front of a girl, asking her to marry him.” And obviously Claire said yes! We then celebrated by going out for a lovely dinner at a restaurant in Ventnor. It was a lovely surprise and one Claire wasn’t really expecting, especially given Nick had been saying it might happen by the end of the year, but there was no hint at all that it could happen while we were away, so that made it really special. Nick had sneakily even managed to take off the day before we went away (last minute and in secret, as Claire thought Nick was working all day!) to go and visit Claire’s parents to get their blessing, so that was really nice to find out afterwards too!

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The Vision

Originally a great day of celebration with all our family and friends with a Christian wedding in a Church, tasty food and a fun-filled ceilidh in the evening. That’s still the plan but with COVID-19 it sadly couldn’t happen this year, so has instead been postponed to 2021 when hopefully we can celebrate with all our family and friends in person.

Instead the vision had to change based on the circumstances we were faced with and what we could do with the restrictions set in place by the government. Sadly our initial wedding day came and went with still no government update on weddings. Although we hoped it could happen from sometime in June, no update came and legal weddings still weren’t allowed, so we decided to set ourselves a deadline to just go ahead with a Christian ceremony on our 2nd anniversary at the latest – as Christians we wanted to get married before God, so that could be anywhere!

Due to our beliefs we weren’t living together, so all we wanted was to be able to get married and start our lives together, but to also have our family and friends be able to witness it – cue Zoom! We’d been getting pretty used to Zoom having been using it for our church meetings every Sunday since lockdown started, and so this felt like the best way to be able to have everyone watch us get married.

Finally, for both of us, it was also really important that both our parents were able to be there, so this factored majorly into deciding on the venue.

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The Planning Process

The decision to get married was made on Sunday 31st May with the wedding taking place on our 2nd anniversary the following Saturday 6th June – not a lot of time for planning but who doesn’t like a bit of pressure?! We informed our guests of the plan on the Tuesday, went to the venue to test out Zoom, sort out the rough layout and rehearse on Wednesday, wedding dress was picked up on Thursday, final Zoom details were sent out and gazebos went up on the Friday, and then all of a sudden it was Saturday!

Nick then got there early on Saturday morning to make sure all the pots and plants were in the right place, gazebos were still standing (thanks to Nick’s Uncle for additional help with this!), laptop was set up and connected to WiFi and Zoom (with a backup laptop at the ready!), speakers set up to play the entry and exit music and iPhone set up on a tripod to record the whole thing! Oh, and decorate the shed so it looked somewhat nice(ish!) for Claire to use as her dressing room! It was quite manic to be honest!

We also had loads of help from the best man and his wife with setting up and managing the Zoom meeting (muting/unmuting people for songs, prayers, reading etc.), so they deserve a lot of credit for making it all possible and run so smoothly on the day!

Over Zoom, we had our church leader officiate the ceremony and marry us, we sung worship songs live so that everyone else could hear and sing along, a Bible reading read by Nick’s brother and sister-in-law, prayers by some of our close friends, a mini best man speech, and all the cheering and laughter we could have hoped for. In addition, we were able to interact with them all at the end, say hi and share our appreciation to everyone for joining us in this unique celebration. So the actual reality of this on the day felt so much better than we thought it would have and really added something special and unique to the day.

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The Venue

Nick’s parents back garden! Nick’s parents were shielding and it was the perfect way for them to be able to celebrate with us. They also have a wonderful garden – lots of lovely plants and flowers, especially the alliums which really made it look very special and made for some great pictures. They also have a pergola which was great for the top of the aisle and a perfect frame for photos with lots of the lovely flowerpots. We think they could start a business in small weddings in their garden…!

The nice new garden shed became a rather unconventional dressing room for Claire, and the conservatory windows made a nice mirror for Nick to use to do his tie and hair! The garden path and patio became a nice walkway for Claire to walk round to the start of the aisle, ably assisted by her father carrying a delightful bridal brolly to stop her getting too wet!

The size of the garden was perfect and easily allowed for social distancing to be maintained, and combined with the aesthetic of it all, it was actually the perfect venue for our unique little wedding!

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Your Outfits & Accessories

Quote from Nick “Claire’s dress was perfect”. J It was a lovely floaty dress from Wed2B but with a high neckline, intricate lacework on the body and a low back – which was exactly what Claire was after. Accessories were very minimal and Claire always knew she would wear white trainers with the dress – she found some super comfortable TOMS. It was also freezing so her trusty denim jacket made an appearance! She’s all about the comfort and convenience and very much looking forward to getting a 2nd chance to wear it all!

Quote from Claire “Nick looked very handsome”. Nick wore a 3-piece Donegal suit from Next, so nothing too extravagant but something that fitted perfectly in a nice dusky/navy blue lambswool blend. Nick’s always one for a bit of sentiment so decided to get personalised tie clip and cufflinks with vintage maps on each one of some special places that are important in their relationship – Isle of Wight (engaged), Hitchin (married) and Cornwall (honeymoon). The tie and pocket square are Liberty print and found on Etsy and chosen based on liking the classical floral look to match the colour scheme.

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Beauty & Grooming

All done ourselves! Nick even “cut” his own hair! Claire doesn’t really wear makeup so went to the supermarket the night before to just get some mascara and eyebrow stuff…

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The Readings & Music

Sung worship is a big part of our faith and we both love to sing so it was really important to us that we were able to still do this at our wedding. Luckily Claire’s dad is a fabulous guitarist and led us in some songs, which was really special. We also sent out an order of service to all our guests on the Friday, and made sure to include all the song lyrics in this so they could join in from their homes. Our parents are great singers too so we think it sounded pretty good! We sang Be Thou My Vision, Faithful One and How Great Thou Art.

Claire and the father of the bride walked round the garden and down the aisle to She by Elvis Costello (from Notting Hill!!) and Nick and Claire “exited” to A Thousand Hallelujahs by The Shires (our favourite band).

To keep the ceremony as close to what we would have liked originally we had a bible reading from the book of 1 John 4 (found in the New Testament), verses 7-19, read wonderfully by Nick’s brother and sister-in-law (and interrupted brilliantly by Nick’s niece asking for a crisp!).

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Groomsmen

Unfortunately, none of them were able to be there due to the circumstances of the wedding, but both fathers wore their own new suits and at least had matching ties and pocket squares to fit the theme!

Bridesmaids

Again, sadly they were unable to come to the wedding in the garden, but they will look lovely next year! Both mothers wore a lovely dress they already had instead of their planned outfits and without even planning it, complimented each other perfectly!

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The Flowers

The mother of the bride did an amazing job!! She was going to make the bouquet anyway but not the buttonholes as she thought they would be too fiddly. However, owing to the circumstances, she made them all and they were beautiful. They really helped it feel like our wedding!

Plus we had the many pots of colourful flowers already made up by Nick’s parents to line the aisle and pergola, along with all the lovely garden border plants, shrubs and flowers, so it all looked very lovely, enclosed and intimate.

The Cake

The mother of the groom also did an amazing job!! With less than a weeks’ notice and despite shielding she managed to make an incredible 4 tiered lemon and raspberry cake – which is one of our favourite flavours and one we were hoping to have on our original cake. We also bought some cute personalised cake toppers from Etsy which really completed the cake. We’re not ashamed to say that we finished the cake off in just a few days…

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Your Photographer

Ahhh Erica. She’s wonderful. What more can we say about her. She was the first and only photographer we needed to meet. She was exactly what we were looking for and so kind, lovely, bubbly and made us so excited for her to be at our wedding! She amazingly agreed to come and take photos of our socially distanced garden wedding with less than a weeks notice – it was so important to us to capture the day and be able to look back on it in the future, even more so given the circumstances. She was so encouraging and supportive and took beautiful photos of the day that we’ll treasure forever. It really wouldn’t have been the same without her there.

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The Details & Décor

We borrowed gazebos to line and cover the aisle (very thankful for these because of the British weather), beautiful flower pots from Nick’s parents garden (the father of the groom has fabulous green fingers!), colourful bunting inside the gazebos, fairy lights and a mirror in the shed for getting ready – thanks to Nick for setting that one up. Not much else was needed as the garden already looked so lovely, so it was fairly minimal but really special and unique.

The Honeymoon

Still to happen as we needed to postpone it, but we can’t wait! We’re off to a lovely self-catered homestay in Cornwall in early Autumn.

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Memorable Moments

All of it!!

  • Nick getting tomato soup on the sleeve of his white shirt.
  • Getting ready in a shed.
  • Claire’s dad getting the umbrella caught on the gazebo walking up the aisle.
  • Saying our vows over Zoom!
  • Nick’s niece asking for a crisp during the reading.
  • Trying to say hello to all the guests and spot who was there on Zoom!
  • Nick’s uncle and aunt wearing boat hats.
  • Best man’s mini speech.
  • Nick’s dad firing his party poppers upside down!
  • A huge storm including thunder, lightning and hail after photos in the garden.
  • The epic collapse of our friend’s gazebo under the weight of all the hail whilst eating the wedding cake. Sorry!

As we mentioned earlier, the reality of how it all happened and came together was so amazing, so much so that we wouldn’t have changed a thing! Everything about it just felt so right, and all the comments we’ve since had from family and friends about how much they enjoyed it and were touched by the love, emotion and pure joy on display has just really reinforced our decision that, for us, during this unprecedented time, it was the perfect way to get married!

Advice For Other Couples

It’s all about you both getting married and starting your lives together as husband and wife – the rest of it is extra. We can’t wait to celebrate with everyone when we can but it was actually the perfect day, so even if things don’t go to plan, you can make a new one and it might just be even better than you thought it could be.

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Credit Where Credit Is Due

Photography
Erica Hawkins Photography

Dress
Wed2B

Tie & Pocket Square
Etsy

Cufflinks & Tie Clip
Etsy

Cake Topper
Etsy

Suit
Next

Software
Zoom

Artificial Flower/Grass Stands
Frosts Garden Centre

Just so memorable and special. For more help and advice check out our COVID-19 wedding hub too.

Claire and Nick I cannot thank you enough for sharing part one of your two part wedding day. I really hope that you get to properly celebrate in style with all of your loved ones next year xo Lou

*The social distance guidelines at the time of this wedding were followed. The rule of 6 gathering outdoors was abided by.*

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