Plan B.eautiful

It was love at first sight for Sophie and Chris. After chatting online for while they decided to meet face-to-face and the rest, as they say, is history. "I know it sounds cheesy, but it's true," confirms Sophie. "We had our first date in Ipswich town centre at a little coffee shop and ended up talking for hours. We hit it off straight away as we had so much in common and we both wanted to meet again. After that it didn't take long for us to feel like we'd known each other for years!"

Chris proposed in May 2019 while they were on holiday in the Peak District to celebrate the three-year anniversary of their first date. Sophie recalls, “Chris wanted to climb Kinder Scout, one of the highest and most challenging peaks. We arranged to do it, not realising it was literally a rock climb to the top. We were both shattered when we reached the summit and as I was standing at the edge looking at the scenery he called me over and got down on one knee. I burst into tears and a group of hikers nearby gave us a round of applause. It was a total surprise and we spent the whole two-hour trek down talking about the wedding!”

Umbrellas Shortly afterwards they started planning their big day and booked a large countryside wedding venue for 10th August 2020, little knowing what was around the corner. When COVID first struck they agreed to sit tight for a while in the hope it might all blow over by the summer. "Oh how wrong we were!" sighs Sophie. "We decided in May that we'd move the whole wedding to June 2021 as we both thought it would be ok by then. Come September though, with infection cases on the rise, we took a long hard look at our plans and decided to go for it and have our 2020 wedding, as all we really wanted was to get married." They whittled the guest list down to nine key family and friends and notified the other 41 day guests and more than 60 loved ones they'd originally invited for the evening do.

Sophie and Chris' contact book

Bride's dress

The Bridal Lounge, Hadleigh
www.thebridal-lounge.co.uk

Cake

www.moomoocakes.co.uk
www.moomoocakes.co.uk

Faux flowers

Village Green
www.villagegreenuk.com

Groom's suit

Hair and make-up

Harpist

Zöe Anderton
www.zoeanderton.co.uk

Venue

Jimmy's Farm & Wildlife Park
www.jimmysfarm.com/weddings

Wedding night stay

Seckford Hall Hotel & Spa
www.seckford.co.uk

Bride and groom "Unfortunately our original venue was far too big for such a small wedding, so we immediately started researching intimate venues that would still fit our style. We came across Jimmy's Farm, which I'm ashamed to admit I'd never actually visited before, despite living only two minutes away! We went for a tour around the restaurant and the grounds and instantly fell in love. The restaurant is beautifully decorated and is the perfect size for an intimate ceremony and the grounds are lovely too. It was just what we wanted and it fitted our rustic, countryside theme perfectly." They booked the date for 3rd December and got cracking with the arrangements in order to pull it off in time.

Dress The search was then on for Sophie's dream dress. "I already had an exact picture in my mind of what I wanted and I bought the first one I tried on." She had her heart set on a vintage boho-style, halter neck dress with detailing on the top and a not too voluminous skirt. The Bridal Lounge in Hadleigh happened to send her an email showcasing some of their sale dresses at the time and one in particular, ELIA by Aire Barcelona Bridal, caught her eye. "It was exactly what I was looking for so I immediately booked an appointment." As soon as she tried it on, she knew it was the one and chose subtle accessories with just gypsophila in her hair so as not to detract from the dress. "My mum also bought me a lovely white fluffy jacket to wear in case I felt cold as it was a winter wedding." Unfortunately, Chris didn't get chance to sort out the suits before rescheduling their wedding and shortly afterwards the country went into lockdown so fittings weren't available. Sophie says, "We decided to not worry too much about the groomsmen matching, after all as long as they were there that was all that really mattered."

Dressed table

Sophie handmade almost all the decorative details. The favours were goodie bags with hand sanitiser and personalised face masks and all the girls had their own gifts, which included personalised Converse shoes to wear on the day and dressing gowns for her mum and sister to wear while they were getting ready.

Favours

"I was very lucky to be the first bride to use the newly created Hay Barn bridal suite at Jimmy's Farm. Situated across the way from the restaurant, it's beautifully decorated and was a really lovely place for us to get ready and chill out before the ceremony," enthuses Sophie.

Confetti shot The wedding flowers were artificial and as a special personal touch, in honour of both her nanas, she tied their wedding bands to her sister Lauren's bouquet and their engagement rings to hers. "It felt nice to have a memory of them so close to us on the day," she explains. She also made the men's buttonholes and for added greenery used flocked eucalyptus garlands for the table decorations. They had a long table separated in the middle for their guests while they sat at their own table at the top. "It was lovely as it felt like we could see and talk to everyone," she recalls.

Cupcakes They'd already booked Fiona of Moo Moo Cakes in Suffolk for their wedding cake. "We chose her as I'm intolerant to gluten and dairy and she makes the most amazing cupcakes for people with special dietary requirements. We just decreased the order but only by a small amount, as you can never have too much cake," laughs Sophie. They also had their original harpist to play as they walked down the aisle pre- and post-vows.

First look "Walking back up the aisle together as a married couple to the theme from Up will always be one of the favourite moments of my life." – Sophie

Bridesmaid
Reception

Christmas tree The Christmas decorations were already up at the venue which added an extra cosy festive feel and the food was great too. "We had roast dinner with a choice of trifle or brownie for dessert. It was delicious, the service was amazing and they were so accommodating to my dietary needs," Sophie adds.

Sparkler arch When it came to the order of the day, they had to do things a little differently as it was a winter wedding and the ceremony wasn't until 3pm. "Because it would be dark afterwards, we decided to have a 'first look' moment. It was raining so we did it in the celebration tent which was absolutely lovely. Being able to have this time together before the ceremony was so special and it gave us the chance to take it all in before the celebrations began."

Evening shot

"The ceremony was shorter than normal and I was worried it was going to feel rushed and impersonal, but it was not like that at all. Lisa from Suffolk Registrars was amazing and made it so special for us and we were just lost in the moment," remembers Sophie.

Following the ceremony there was the usual confetti throwing and a sparkler entrance to dinner which produced some great photos. "When the sun went down, we also had some shots taken out in the rain, which was freezing, but so worth it!" Sophie recalls.

After dinner there were plenty of emotional speeches,with hardly a dry eye in the house. Sophie and Chris had their first dance and there was time to relax and chat before winding up at 9pm. "It didn't feel as manic as many weddings, we had lots of moments where we could just soak it all up and because we'd just come out of lockdown the day before, I think it was more emotional and personal. It was just so heartwarming to have our nearest and dearest together," adds Sophie.

First dance Although their cruise honeymoon had to be put on hold, they stayed at Seckford Hall Hotel in Woodbridge for their wedding night. "It was so lovely," remembers Sophie. "They even upgraded us to the honeymoon suite which was amazing and when we woke up the next morning it was snowing which felt really magical!"