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A Love That Sparked During a Storm Had Another Interrupt Their Wedding in England

By Shayna Seid | Photography by 

Verity Johnson

Lucy Charlotte Straker and Anthony Hart Harrigan IV’s mutual friend was visiting London from New York City for Lucy’s 30th birthday and decided to set the two up on a blind date. “Hart was sold on a picture, whilst I took a bit more persuading!” she says. “We went for a few too many drinks at The Thomas Cubbitt during a snow storm,” and after a little more than a year, he proposed immediately after asking for her father’s permission. 

Hart’s parents were over from Charleston to meet Lucy’s family in the country. They had brought the engagement ring with them but had left it in London, as Hart had planned to propose weeks later in Deià, Spain. However, it was the last opportunity for him to ask for Lucy’s father, Reuben, for her hand in marriage.

After Hart received his blessing, Reuben announced the upcoming engagement to Lucy’s mother, Sophie, not realizing that Lucy was also in the room.  “With all plans spoiled, I had no option but to get down on one knee there and then and propose with no ring in front of the oven,” Hart says. “I’m not sure many grooms can say that their engagement was a surprise to both them and their other half!”

Once engaged, Lucy knew she wanted to get married at a venue by a lake just off Hadrian’s Wall. “It’s where I grew up in Northumberland, and so the location was extremely special to me,” she says. “Furthermore it was George R. R. Martin’s inspiration for the Ice Wall in Game of Thrones. My sister also got married here, so I knew it was possible; although, she went for a summer wedding which was slightly more sensible!”

For their early February wedding, the couple also chose a marquee with a clear side, so the dramatic, Roman crags could be seen during dinner. “I wanted the overall aesthetic to be elegant but also tie back to the rural setting that we were in,” Lucy says. As for florals in winter, Flowers Unlimited, the supplier, and Lucy’s mother, who Lucy planned most of the day with, managed to source and freeze hundreds of paperwhite bulbs, so they bloomed on time. 

The bride’s wedding dress ended up being one of the first she tried on with her mother and sister. The Australian designer, Karen Willis Holmes, is only stocked in two places in the U.K., but the team was incredibly helpful when the bride reached out for styling and fit advice. They had even sewn a small blue ribbon on the label, as Lucy’s “something blue.”

For her “something(s) borrowed,” the bride chose her cousin’s veil and her aunt’s diamond bracelet, and she completed her bridal look with her family’s tiara. Hart looked handsome in Ede & Ravenscroft black-tie with black velvet, Belgian loafers. 

The day before the wedding, Lucy and her mother decided to move the ceremony up from 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 a.m. because Storm Ciara was predicted to hit with 65mph winds in the evening. The reception dinner became a reception lunch, and late night dancing turned into afternoon antics with the storm following close behind.

On the day-of, everyone met at Hexham Abbey for a traditional Church of England service. The abbey “is steeped in history, as there has been a church on the site for more than 1,300 years, since Queen Etheldreda made a grant of lands to Wilfrid, Bishop of York c.674,” Lucy explains. However, the ceremony had two unexpectedly untraditional elements. At one point, the vicar skipped an entire page and Lucy had to remind him to marry her and Hart. And he decided to perform a magic trick, to everyone’s surprise. 

After finally being announced as husband and wife, guests were transported across a stream to the reception via gun busses. “Seeing everyone’s reactions as they saw the location in daylight was magical—especially for the American contingent, as it’s so different to most American weddings,” Hart says. Once there, people were greeted with champagne that was personalized from Pierre Morlet—Lucy’s parents drove to Champagne to collect it.

Then everyone sat for an amazing lunch, catered by The Orde Food Company, and danced to The Fabulous Hurricanes—“a very apt name, given the situation,” Lucy says. “The storm rolling in combined with the fear of evacuation meant everyone danced harder and partied longer. 5:00 p.m. felt like 5:00 a.m.” Hart adds, “The Charleston contingent really gave the Brits a run for their money on the dance floor.”

At 7:00 p.m., the team measuring the strength of the winds had everyone evacuate for safety reasons. At 8:00 p.m., a huge gust of wind split the marquee straight down the middle.

The party all headed to The Twice Brewed, which had provided custom beer for the reception, and carried on. The bride, her mother, and sister all changed into matching, custom trainers to more comfortably celebrate in. 

The next day, the newlyweds were supposed to host their 200 guests in that same marquee from the previous night, but thankfully, Lucy and her mother found an alternative venue, so they could still have their hog roast and debrief with their family and friends.