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This English Garden Micro-Wedding Concluded with a Fireworks Display Choreographed to a Disney Compilation

By Cathleen Freedman | Photography by 

Katie Julia

|Planning by 

Natalie Hewitt Weddings + Events

For Bernard and Francesca’s eighth anniversary, Bernard arranged a trip to London. While staying at The Ritz, the couple exchanged presents over room service, when Bernard presented the most special gift of all—an engagement ring from Boodles. Francesca emphatically said, “Yes!”

Newly engaged and over the moon, Bernard and Francesca began planning a large wedding at a family home for their 10th anniversary in June 2021. The date auspiciously fell on a Saturday night, perfect for all of the revelry they envisioned for their big day.

By March 2020, however, the threat of COVID-19 wreaked unexpected chaos on those plans. “As soon as England went into lockdown, we knew it would be unlikely [that] we would be able to have the wedding we had originally planned,” Francesca says. “We waited a month to see how the pandemic unfolded, but it wasn’t looking promising. We had to cancel.” After nearly a decade together, though, Bernard and Francesca knew that they wanted to marry that year, regardless of what that wedding would look like.

The couple kept a watchful eye on government updates and guidance before setting a new date. “Our planner worked with all of our suppliers to make our day possible—replanning a micro wedding and having numerous dates on standby until we got the green light,” Francesca recalls about the process. That murky period of uncertainty amidst COVID-19 restrictions was definitely stressful. “But with continuous support from our wedding planner, Natalie Hewitt, to guide us through our new plans, we felt so much more at ease,” Francesca admits. “I honestly couldn’t have done it without her, as rearranging the large wedding we had been planning for two years was a huge task and, at first, was hard to come to terms with.”

Ultimately, they had six weeks to organize their micro-wedding. But this short turnaround did not intimidate Bernard and Francesca. She explains, “We decided that love and health were more important than having a huge wedding.”

For Francesca, one of the most exciting parts of planning was the bridal outfits. She had different looks planned for the original three-day wedding but instead only wore the first dress she selected, a custom Suzanne Neville gown. “I wanted to look like a traditional English garden bride, and Suzanne’s creations are quintessentially English,” she explicates. “The team at Frances Day Bridal, who stock Suzanne Neville and worked together on the gown, were amazing.” They actualized Francesca’s bridal aspirations by adding a fitting belt, exquisite sleeves, and matching veil. She styled with accented Manolo Blahnik heels and jewelry from Boodles.

Bernard donned a tailor-made morning suit he designed with a Lock & Co top hat and E. Marinella tie. He completed the groom’s outfit with classic oxfords by Crockett and Jones. His groomsmen also sported morning suits with matching, custom-made waist jackets and top hats, while the bridal party wore gowns from David’s Bridal.

On the warm summer’s day of August 15, 2020, Francesca and Bernard married in an intimate church ceremony, surrounded by a few of their family members and friends. “It was like a true fairytale,” Francesca remembers. The blooming floral arch and greenery were arranged by Ruth with All for Love florals, and a quartet from Kavolini Strings serenaded guests, while Francesca made her entrance.

After the ceremony, the newlyweds returned home for a leisurely breakfast in their garden’s open marquee, assembled by Jim Jimmy. For dinner, the tables were elegantly set with silver cutlery, cut crystal glassware, gold-edged plates, and bespoke menus. The meal was catered by Socius. Even though the guest list went from 200 to 25, Francesca made sure she still had the six-tier wedding cake of her dreams. An acoustic duo from O&O accompanied the meal, strumming country-Americana tunes on a small platform stage. Bernard and Francesca savored their dinner reception and were able to sit and chat with each and every guest.

Francesca reminisces, “We finished the night with the most magical firework display by 1st Galaxy, which was choreographed to a Disney compilation, before guests departed on a white London double-decker bus.”

When Bernard and Francesa look back on their 2020 micro-wedding, they can’t help but be grateful. “I feel so lucky that we were able to have such a unique and intimate wedding with the people we love and care about most in this world, without the distractions of  ‘huge wedding expectations,”’ Francesca confides. “It ended up being the wedding we always dreamed of but didn’t know was possible.”