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A Town Hall Ceremony Followed by a Relaxed, Mini Beach and Garden Reception in England

By Shayna Seid

Now that it’s crystal clear that hosting a big wedding at this time is just not possible due to the spread of COVID-19, we’re sharing the experiences of real couples navigating the re-scheduling, cancellation, and civil and commemorative wedding processes in an attempt to help others make informed decisions and to spread our support to all during this time.

Fashion stylist Natasha Heasman called off her July 31st wedding in Ashdown Forest in the U.K. because of the spread of COVID-19. Here, she’s sharing how she and her husband, Ben Langley, made the final call and decided to get married at town hall.

Quite early on in England’s lockdown, the couple decided to take control of the situation and postponed their summer wedding. “I wanted the lead up to our wedding to be as special as the day itself, instead of constantly worrying if it will be going ahead or not,” Natasha says. “It made more sense to have the ball back in our court, postpone the wedding, and eat copious amounts of cake.”

“We had in mind that it would be really nice to do the legalities this year and then renew our vows next year for our one-year wedding anniversary; therefore, everything was postponed except for the registry office,” Ben explains. In 2021, the two will have a low-key ceremony, so Natasha can walk down the aisle with her father, in her original Halfpenny London gown, followed by a big party.

As for their town hall ceremony, the two had always had the 29th booked because they couldn’t legally be wed outside at their forest venue. “Tash always liked the idea of a smaller wedding, and based on my family size and the fact that I’m a bit of a groomzilla, I was quite keen on a larger shindig,” Ben says. “In hindsight, it’s worked out perfectly!”

For the micro-wedding, planning was quite relaxed. “We knew we were getting married, and from there just invited others,” the groom explains. “We asked everyone to bring picnic blankets and their own food for a socially distanced picnic on the beach after the ceremony.”

To say, “I do,” Natasha casually looked around for an outfit in the weeks before going to town hall. She spotted a Goen J dress online and bought it immediately. Her headband was originally bought for her cancelled hen party, and her veil was jokingly purchased by her bridesmaids for her Zoom hen do. “I’d looked a lot online and couldn’t see a difference between the one I had and the ‘genuine veils’ on bridal websites, apart from a hefty price tag,” she says. “I took the risk and it paid off; I had so many comments on the day and many messages asking where my ‘headpiece’ was from.”

Ben was originally going to go in jeans, but as plans shifted, he thought he should “funk the outfits up slightly.” They found his suit together in the first shop they looked in, and the pair chose a floral shirt to complement it.

After the intimate, legal ceremony, the newlyweds were greeted by friends throwing confetti, and they all made their way to Holywell in Natasha’s hometown of Eastbourne. Everyone set up in the gardens and dipped in the water at the beach. “It honestly couldn’t have gone better,” the bride remarks. “We got very lucky; we were allowed 30 people in a gathering, and as of two days later, this was reduced again to six.”

Looking back at everything, the two are so happy with how everything turned out and “over the moon that it’s not over—part two is still incoming!”