If you’re considering an elopement wedding, this is a perfect read for you….
Almost a year ago, I had a telephone call with Laura, to be her Wedding Planner for her Wedding that was due to take place in July 2020. Her fiancé also happens to be Ollie Ollerton, famed for SAS Who Dares Wins.
Sadly, for Laura and Ollie, like many other Couples, plans had to be put on hold due to Covid. With so much uncertainty, with both Covid and Ollie’s busy schedule, Laura and Ollie were unsure when they were going to get married.
Like many Couple’s in this situation, they began to think of an alternative – an elopement wedding. I will let Laura continue with the story….
YOUR WEDDING PLANS
What was your original idea for your dream wedding when you first got engaged to Ollie?
Originally, we had planned to have a James Bond themed wedding seeing as Ollie was in the Special Forces.
Having both been married before, we wanted to make it lighthearted and fun and try and steer away from anything too traditional. Guests were encouraged to come in fancy dress and were given the theme “Bond – Babes and Villains” – with free reign to interpret that as they wished!
You were originally going to have a large Wedding, are you disappointed that you couldn’t have the original day that you wanted?
Yes and no. Large weddings can very quickly get out of control and become about keeping other people happy, family politics, inviting people because you have to rather then want to – the list goes on! When the first lockdown struck back in March, I was quite relieved to put things on hold.
Before Covid, did you have any hurdles when planning your original Wedding?
None at all. We’d actually only given ourselves about six months to plan everything but fortunately things were falling into place nicely.
When did you and Ollie decide that an elopement wedding would be the solution to you both getting married?
My son was spending Christmas with his Dad last year and with the restrictions on families mixing at Christmas it was the first time that we were going to be completely on our own without having to fit around anyone else’s agendas.
We decided to head to a hotel in The Lakes called Another Place. It was only when we were looking at the map did we realise how close we were to Gretna Green! We both had the thought at the same time; “Why don’t we go to Gretna and have a Christmas wedding?!”
The goal for us was always about getting married rather then having a wedding. This just seemed like the perfect opportunity. The 27th December was also Ollie’s 50th birthday so we decided to do it on that day. What better way to celebrate a milestone birthday in a time when we can’t party?!
Did you manage to put any of your original plans into your Elopement wedding?
Yes! Seeing as we were going to be having a Bond wedding, we thought to ourselves, “What would Bond do if he was getting married?” We came to the conclusion that he would probably just elope on the quiet and then zoom off in an Aston Martin to a remote log cabin on the side of a mountain somewhere.
We called in a few favours. We’d done some work with Aston Martin a few years ago and our contact there arranged for us to borrow a DB11. We also work with the Graythwaite Estate on the edge of Lake Windermere, they let us park our camper van in a beautiful private spot overlooking the lake for a couple of days. There we stayed for our mini-moon. It was absolutely perfect.
We modelled our look on the poster for the James Bond film Spectre. Ollie wore a black suit, and I wore a Ghost dress which was the exact same dress that Lea Seydoux wore in the film.
Were there any hurdles that you came across when planning your Wedding at Gretna Green?
Loads! I actually still can’t believe we managed to pull it off.
We’d booked everything about six weeks in advance, during the second lockdown in November. Like everybody we assumed and were making plans based around things being okay over Christmas.
When all the tier systems were changing and tightening in the run up to Christmas it was a bit worrying. The hotel got in touch with us to say that they would cancel our booking if our area changed to tier 3. Fortunately Shropshire and Cumbria both stayed in tier 2. But then just before we were leaving for The Lakes Scotland announced they were going into a tier 4 lockdown on Boxing Day!
Overcoming those hurdles….
I was straight onto the Scottish government website to find out what that meant for weddings . Fortunately even with the tier 4 restrictions wedding ceremonies up to 20 people were still going ahead, and there was a travel exemption if you were travelling to a wedding.
The people at Gretna Green were great. They were constantly calling us with updates and keeping us in the loop. But even so, until we were actually there, standing next to the famous Gretna Anvil, I never took it for granted that everything was going to go ahead as planned.
Did you consider any other locations other than Gretna Green? Why did you choose Gretna Green?
No – it was only ever going to be Gretna Green and that was down to its proximity to The Lakes. But funnily enough, I have always fancied a Gretna wedding I also found out that I had a Great Aunt that eloped and got married there too!
Is there anything you would have done differently for your elopement wedding?
Not really. The only thing I will say is if you can have a couple of close / special people there then don’t write that off as an option and think it has to be just the two of you. It’s such a special moment when you say your vows. If you can have a few people there to witness that then it is wonderful to share that beautiful moment with others who really care about you.
When we were saying our vows, I was quite overcome with emotion and did have a sudden pang of regret that our nearest and dearest weren’t there to share that moment with us, knowing how much they would have loved it.
What was the highlight of your Wedding Day?
Taking my heels off and getting some warm clothes on after a load of photos on the edge of a freezing Lake Windemere!
Joking aside – it has to be when we said our vows. When you get married at Gretna everything is organised for you if you want and you don’t have to think too much about anything. It is perfect when you are planning a last-minute elopement wedding! I hadn’t really given much thought to the vows and what we’d actually be saying to each other. Plus, we were looking at getting married as a mission that needed to be completed as any last-minute restriction changes could have meant that everything would have been cancelled at the eleventh hour. When we were stood there, looking into each other’s eyes making this beautiful declaration of love to one another, I suddenly and unexpectedly found myself overcome with emotion and fighting back tears of joy. Ollie forgot what he was supposed to say, and I got the giggles halfway through our vows!
Were there any hiccups on your Wedding Day?
No nothing – everything worked out perfectly as planned and it was such a special day.
What advice would you give to Couples who are not sure whether to postpone their Wedding Day, or even may not have thought about eloping?
I would say in uncertain times like these, just crack on and get married! After all, getting married is about two people making a commitment to each other.
A big wedding is wonderful but is generally always about putting on a show for other people.
Ask yourself what are you getting married for? Is it for you or for other people? If you are struggling with family politics and it’s adding stress to planning your special day – use the current restrictions to your advantage!
Never has there been a better time to plan a small wedding. Especially if that’s what you are secretly wanting deep down but are having to do something else due to family pressures. Those that love you will be happy for you whatever you decide to do. Plus, you will save a fortune!
Wed now, Party Later……
And remember this….now is the perfect time and excuse to have two weddings – a small elopement wedding, followed by a big party with all your family and friends when we can. Imagine that – a stress free wedding knowing that you are already married, and your day is just about celebrating your union with all your family and friends. None of us know what’s around the corner and I think life is too short to put your plans on hold, because who knows when weddings will be ‘business as normal’ again? So, don’t be a victim and allow the circumstances to dictate the outcome. Be creative and see these times as an opportunity to do something different!
NOW THAT YOU ARE MARRIED
There is a big trend in 2021 for the Elopement Wedding, and also for the “Wed Now, Party Later” concept. Are you and Ollie going to have the Party Later Wedding when you can?
I actually don’t know! At the moment we have no plans to. That may change as the restrictions lift. It would be great to have a proper celebration with all our family and friends.
If yes, will you be making any changes from your original plans?
I think we’ve ticked the Bond theme off now so probably wouldn’t go down that route again. It would have to be more of a relaxed party then a wedding. A celebration of marriage rather then a wedding day. Who knows…? originally, we’d booked a celebrant to do a hand fasting ceremony and I still have a hankering after that so maybe we will swap the Bond glamour for a summer boho festival vibe one day!
Finally, why did you decide to hire me as your Wedding Planner? Is there any advice that you would give to Couples considering hiring a Wedding Planner?
I am probably the most un-organised person there is, and administration is not my strong point. To have someone that can take control of all of that for me is an absolute must. Also, when we originally started planning our wedding, we had only lived in Shropshire for about six months so we were new to the area. I had zero local knowledge of suppliers. And that’s where a Wedding Planner can really help with recommendations and pointing you in the right direction.
I’d suggest meeting with Wedding Planners first to make sure you click and that you are on the same page. Find one that is flexible in how they will support you. You may only need help finding suppliers and be able to sort everything else out. Or you may need someone to hold your hand from start to finish like me if the original plan would have gone ahead!
I’m so happy that Ollie and Laura managed to get their dream wedding day – even if it was different from how they’d originally planned it. For more details on the Wedding Planning service available, click on the Services page to find out more.
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Photo Credits Catherine Bradley www.catherinebradleyphotography.com/