It was a relief that we could only accept 10 people due to government regulations (Photo: Almass Badat).
I was never one of those girls who dreamed that their wedding day would grow up.
I thought it would be nice to have a party with all of my friends and family, but I became increasingly disillusioned with the “most important day of your life” feeling that I experienced from bridal tails in my 20s and early 30s.
When I met my current partner in 2015, marriage wasn’t high on my agenda.
And with full disclosure, my partner and I already have children, own a house and a business together – 100% of the commitment is there. I’m not one to do things in the traditional order.
When we got engaged on vacation to the Isle of Wight in August 2020, we had dreams of throwing a big garden party in the south of France – where my partner is from – and we were hoping it could be possible this summer.
But it wasn’t just the pandemic that threw a wrench into the works there, it was affordability as well. Even if you borrow the cost of the traditional wedding dress and suit, formal dinner, cars, flowers, band, photographer, and just one buffet venue, you’re still looking at thousands of pounds.
To be honest, I’d rather spend that money on a new kitchen and bathroom.
And then there is the level of politics.
While we both have small immediate families, we have large extended families. If you start to include all cousins, aunts and uncles, our workforce will increase by at least 50.
I definitely don’t feel like I missed not having a big wedding (Image: Almass Badat)
And that’s before we get on our list of friends, many of whom have taken on family status in recent years.
It’s not that I’m not romantic or that I don’t want to party with all of my friends and family, but it felt too hard to cut down on this invitation list.
I also didn’t really understand how to get engaged for years. And after going through a slew of medical crises with ourselves or my immediate family (a highly undesirable cocktail of cancer, stroke, open heart surgery, miscarriage, and spine injury after a fall), we really felt we were something needed celebrate during the pandemic.
Since the third lockdown, I’d checked the Hackney Council website to see if City Hall was picking up wedding bookings again. When slots opened at the end of March, there was data from April 12th. We booked for April 30th even though we would have left for the earliest possible day if we hadn’t already been on vacation.
So we planned our wedding in a month.
Everyone who has come lives within walking distance or a short taxi ride away (Image: Almass Badat)
It was a relief that government regulations meant we could only accommodate 10 people (including us!) Instead of having to limit the number ourselves. It definitely took the strain off the day and meant I only had a very short list of things to organize.
I felt guilty though – maybe mostly because I didn’t have my group of five college friends there. But there was no way I could invite one and the rest of the group, and since we only had four guests at a time, we had to be extremely selective.
In the end, it all came down to who we’ve spent most of our time with since we were born, who we’ve lived with, and who has been there on our darkest days. Everyone who has come lives within walking distance or a short taxi ride away.
The ceremony was very quick and only lasted about 10 minutes. We were able to record on Zoom so our closest friends and family could watch internationally.
When our neighbors came, we were able to distance ourselves socially between the two gardens to enjoy a buffet and then a dance. It meant that I could speak in depth to everyone. Although I’m quite an extrovert, I find large gatherings overwhelming. It definitely felt very relaxed and easy with smaller numbers.
The ceremony was very quick and only lasted about 10 minutes (Image: Almass Badat)
In fact, it was pretty easy to organize a socially distant wedding for 10 people in less than a month. I didn’t go for a traditional wedding dress and picked up my dress online at Wolf & Badger for £ 120. I’m taking part in the Business Book Awards online at the end of the month, so this should be my second time.
In my day-to-day work, I like promoting small businesses so the wedding gave me the opportunity to sponsor some of my favorite businesses that I have connected with online, some local Hackney businesses, a little bit of French and some fabulous black British Company – all of them felt very much us.
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I was responsible for the logistics and communication. Hadrien, my partner, was responsible for the decoration. We made some last minute expense on a large gazebo purchase to make us rainproof and he took helium balloons into town, but that made the garden feel really special and not like any other day.
We picked up the flowers on site from the main road just before being picked up by our neighbors in a taxi to go to the venue, which was a 10 minute drive away.
Our two children came to us after school and helped cut the rainbow cake. They thought they had a party just for them. We ordered a few pasture plates and were able to pack a lot of leftovers in Tupperware for the neighbors and it was Hadrien’s birthday, which was a few days later.
It was really nice to just go upstairs and sleep at the end of the night and not have to worry about packing a suitcase or traveling somewhere. I definitely don’t feel like I missed not having a big wedding. The intimacy and the ability to be with just a few friends made it very special.
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