What was it like to get married during the pandemic?
Small & Intimate wedding at Eastwell Manor, Kent
Rebekah & Chris had always planned on having a smaller, more intimate wedding, even before Covid. However, with the restrictions, it meant that, even they, had to make some adjustments and that lots of their loved ones couldn’t be there.
Determined to still have their special day, they changed their venue from Leeds Castle in Maidstone to Eastwell Manor in Ashford and went with a different date. They had their ceremony at The Manor Gatehouse registry office in Dartford…… and it was all just so beautiful.
Having a smaller ceremony means that there is so much more time and from a photographers point of you, that really is a wonderful thing! I did a pre wedding photoshoot with Rebekah & Chris I knew how much they loved photos…..well more Rebekah than Chris, but he had come around to the idea when he realised I wouldn’t be asking him to stand there and ‘say cheese’ all day. I’d spoke with Rebekah and she said that she was really keen to make the most of all the beautiful grounds at Eastwell…so that’s exactly what we did! It was a beautifully sunny day and the abundance of red leaves that sprawled across the building made for the most perfect backdrop.
I asked Rebekah some questions about her day and here is what she had to say…
How We Met
Chris and I worked for the same company but different offices, as I was located in Houston, TX and he was located in Kent, England. The actual first time we met was January 20, 2019 in the Bardot Brasserie restaurant in the Aria Hotel in Las Vegas, as we were there for a trade show for work. I arrived late to dinner that night and can remember the first person I saw while walking in was Chris and I just locked eyes with him. It was definitely love at first sight, as he literally took my breath away. Like people always tell you – when you meet the person you are meant to be with, you just know and in that first moment, I just knew! He was my soulmate.
The trade show in Vegas takes place every year and by the time it happened in 2020, I had left the company that Chris works for but was still living in Houston. Since Chris was flying out to Vegas, I took a few days off to meet him there, as Vegas is special to us since that is where we met. While I was on the flight to Vegas, Chris had FaceTimed my dad and asked his permission to marry me – of course my dad gave his blessing! Chris was staying in the Trump Hotel, which is where we had all stayed the previous year, so once again it was wonderful nostalgia feelings. On the morning of February 5, 2020, we were standing at our room window looking out over the Vegas strip, definitely reminiscing, when Chris got on one knee and proposed. I honestly can’t remember anything he said except “I love you more than anything in the world” and “Will do the honour of being my wife?” Teary eyed, of course I said yes!
Jump forward to October 11, 2020, while Chris was having my wedding band made, he had made some changes to my engagement ring and I had the honour of reliving my proposal! Instead of just giving me my ring, he took me out to Scotney Castle and made a romantic day out of it. Scotney Castle is definitely a Disney Princess feel so his aim was to make me feel like one. Right in front of the castle, Chris got back down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. Both proposals were so romantic and sentimental in their own ways!
My vision for the wedding was definitely timeless and elegance. I knew I wanted to be able to look back in 20 years and still be in love with all my choices. But before getting engaged, Chris and I always planned to run off alone to Italy and get married in Tuscany so my vision was more or less inspired by Tuscany.
The Planning Process
Like most men, Chris gave me full reign on planning the wedding how I wanted it and he would give input when I was stuck with decisions (or make phone calls for me while I was still in America). However, we were on a roller coaster planning this wedding due to Covid!
By March 2020, I had almost everything planned. We had chosen to get married on September 9, 2020 at Battel Hall at Leeds Castle with just our families attending. At that point, the planning was pretty simple as Leeds Castle has a preferred list of suppliers to use. Since the wedding was in autumn and my colours were inspired by Tuscany, the colour choices were made simple – wine red, champagne and greenery with touches of blush. However, the dreadful Covid happened and turned our wedding upside down. With the lockdown happening, we were unsure if the wedding would even take place or if my American family could attend. As we were on the fence, I had until early June to decide with Battel Hall if we wanted to go though with the wedding. We made the tough decision not to proceed and move the wedding to a later date at the registrar’s office. It was without a doubt emotional for the both of us as we had planned a perfect wedding that had to be cancelled and moved.
As the lockdown lifted, Chris and I decided to elaborate on our wedding and celebrate with a wedding breakfast after the ceremony that took place at The Manor Gatehouse. In the early days of planning our wedding. I was torn between having it at Battel Hall or Eastwell Manor. Eastwell Manor had been booked for September 9th so that decision was made for me then – but since moving the date to October 23rd, Eastwell Manor was available and we decided to book their restaurant for our wedding breakfast and invite our closest friends and our families. As our party grew larger and lockdown restrictions were changing constantly, we booked a private room at Eastwell Manor for the wedding breakfast and were able to then customise our celebration.
Eastwell Manor fit my vision perfectly as it is timeless and elegant. And the vine on the building is just a dream! We could not have been happier with our decision to book with them and their staff was amazing to work with!
Outfits & Accessories
To be honest, planning the outfits and accessories was the easiest part! While I was still living in Houston, my mother and I went wedding dress shopping at Weddings by Debbie. I knew I wanted sleeves, lace, sleek and once again, timeless and elegant. I had found a few photos of dresses to show my stylist and the first dress she pulled out for me was this jaw dropping Essence of Australia dress. The moment I put it on, I knew that was what I was going to marry Chris in. I tried on a few more after that but nothing compared to the first. Since my dress had so much lace and detail, I went with a long simple veil that wouldn’t distract from the lace back of my dress or the lace train.
For my accessories, I let my mom choose my earrings. I have always loved pearls so she chose statement earrings with diamonds and pearls that matched perfectly. I then wore my great grandmothers wedding ring for my something old and Chris’ grandmother’s engagement ring as my something borrowed to complete my look. For my shoes, I went with some glitzy Jimmy Choo wedding heels.
I don’t think most brides would allow this – but I let Chris choose what he wanted to wear. I told him it had to match the wine red colours in my bouquet and I let him proceed with whatever he wanted. Like me, he went with the first (and only) outfit he looked at, a tan and brown suit with a maroon tie. When looking back at photos, we can’t believe how well all the colours matched flawlessly!
Like I did with Chris, I let my matron of honour choose what she wanted to wear. I wanted her to feel beautiful and to feel like what she was wearing was her own style. She chose a beautiful maroon dress with lace overlay that I couldn’t have picked better myself. She was stunning!
Hair & Makeup
I went with the hair and makeup stylist that Chris’ sister chose for her wedding which is Bridal Beauty by Emma. I loved everything I had seen of hers and knew she would do amazing, which she did! Since my dress had such a detailed back, I knew I wanted an updo to show it off. Initially I chose an updo with a bit of a twist on the side, but the week of the wedding I changed to a simple chignon bun. Again, I felt my dress was so detailed that I needed something more simple with my hair. Looking back, I am so happy I made that switch. For my makeup, I let Emma run with what she thought was best. I wanted a dramatic natural look which she did perfectly!
Since I am not from the area, I relied on my matron of honour to help me find a florist, which was Daisy Chains. They curated my bouquet, my matron of honour’s bouquet, my table pieces and buttonholes to my exact vision. My brother’s wife is a wedding planner so prior to meeting the florist, I asked her for some recommendations. My only requirement was a cascading bouquet. The two of them came up with a beautiful masterpiece!
Unfortunately due to covid, we were not able to take a honeymoon right after the wedding. But we have been planning our honeymoon for our one year anniversary for a safari in South Africa. We truly cannot wait!
Our first most memorable moment was the car ride alone from the ceremony to the reception. Newly married and just talking and laughing about how nervous we were leading up to it that day and how we finally made our dreams come true. It was definitely a precious time alone.
Our second memorable moment[s] was when it was just Chris and I, the photographer, Kerry Ann Duffy, and the videographer, MAC Videography, out on the grounds of Eastwell Manor. Chris and I were just pouring out our love to each other while Kerry Ann and Mike were capturing it all. It is just a feeling neither of us can put words to but the sweet moments together that are now captured mean everything to us.
I would also say the morning of the wedding, getting ready with my matron of honour and FaceTiming my mom while getting ready were very special to me.
Advice for other couples
Advice we would give to other couples would be to relax and just enjoy the process! It is something that will only happen once so take deep breaths and enjoy all the small moments. Something will most likely go wrong in the planning or the wedding day itself, and in our case almost everything in the planning went wrong, but none of that matters. It truly is a special day to bask in love with each other and all the rest is just a bonus! Let the planning bring you together and laugh about all the silly things that happen along the way because they will make good memories. It goes by so quick so just enjoy it and know that in the end, you get to marry your best friend 🙂
How did you find having a small intimate wedding? would you recommend it?
We would both recommend a small intimate wedding! It is exactly what we both wanted to begin with so we weren’t too upset with the covid number restrictions. Looking back, we got to spend such quality time with our guests and it was just so intimate and meaningful. We got to speak to each person that attended and we knew each guest had a special impact on our lives and relationship. We wanted to share our special day with the most special people to us. Unfortunately my family could not make it to England for the wedding, so we will have another American wedding to celebrate with them.
Venue – Eastwell Manor
Dress – Weddings By Debbie
Cake – Tracy’s Cakes
Hair & Makeup – Emma Haynes
Film – Mac Videography