What an absolute delight to re-live Julie and Guy’s special elopement wedding at Hazel Gap Barn. When Julie contacted me asking me what I thought about the dress she was wearing with her wedding shoes. “Do you think this is okay for a secret wedding?” immediately I knew that this secret wedding was hers, and there was absolutely no way Julie was walking down any aisle in anything other than her wedding dress!
Because of the COVID-19 restrictions and the wedding postponements the boutique was closed and work on our frocks was paused, therefor Julies dress was still in the toile stage. Not one to shy away from a challenge I suggested that Julie should come on the re opening day on the 4th of July and stay for the whole day, and I would fit the dress to her then and there!
I few changes (and late nights later) I was able to deliver Julies dress the day before the wedding and was astonished at how cool and calm both Julie and Guy were. Julie had made their wedding cake and was creating her flowers. I was blown away with how perfect and romantic this was for them.
Grab a cup of tea and have a read through of not only Julies experience of planning, postponing and having an elopement wedding, but Guys too!
What was your proposal like?
Julie: Stressful. It was more of a discussion and agreement after an argument, over two years ago. Although Guy will tell you I proposed to him via WhatsApp out of the blue one day.
We decided to get a ring I already owned modified and the wait to get the ring back was unbearable. The jeweller injured her hand so work was slow. We were going to Scotland to visit my family and was promised the ring would be ready, but it wasn’t and was getting closer to the day we were leaving. I was upset we wouldn’t have the ring to share the good news with my family. The night before we left, Guy came home from work with Lainey (my stepdaughter) and I was sat at the dining room table talking to Lainey, asking about her day. When I looked around, Guy was on one knee with the ring and a huge smile. “Will you marry me?” “YES!” I was so shocked and so happy. He said he had an elaborate plan to take me to the bandstand at Queens Park, Chesterfield, in the morning and do it then but when he picked the ring up from the jewellers’ everyone was so excited for him and gushing over how beautiful the ring was he couldn’t contain it so had to do it as soon as he got home.
It was perfect, just the three of us. All my worry and stress vanished instantly. I’m glad Guy still managed to surprise me with a proposal even though we’d agreed to it months before and already called ourselves engaged.
Guy: The proposal was unconventional, much like the two of us. Due to Julie’s job, we’re apart from each other often and much of our relationship is powered by Whatsapp messaging and video calls. I remember being stood in the living room and during a conversation with Julie, she just dropped out the question so casually that she had to reinforce to me that she was being serious. I accepted without hesitation and so our story began.
How did you find wedding dress hunting?
Julie: From a previous horrendous experience, I was dreading wedding dress shopping and didn’t go into any stores. I didn’t want to squeeze into too small dresses that would only accentuate my insecurities or be told that I couldn’t have the type of dress I was looking for. I looked online for inspiration for a long, long time and I found a gorgeous dress that was way out of price range. I would have also have had to go to a roadshow in London to try it. That’s when I thought maybe I could get a similar dress made and after contacting a few dressmakers that said no, I phoned Lizzie who gave me a super positive impression from the get-go.
Guy: From my point of view, Julie had found a dress design which she fell in love with and while we were sat eating in a Red’s True BBQ restaurant somewhere she told me exactly how much the dress would cost. I nearly fell off my chair at that point and we had to have a serious discussion about how we were going to compromise on the dress. Julie was adamant that she wanted *THAT* *DRESS* and we seriously considered having to view it at a roadshow in London or even having to travel to Israel to meet the designer.
Julie had the brainwave of contacting some dressmakers to see if they could design and make a dress very similar to the one she’d seen. No one really filled her with confidence and to start with it seemed a little fruitless. Happening upon Lizzie was undoubtedly fateful and instantly we knew we’d made the right choice!
How did you decide upon your chosen design?
Julie: I knew I wanted an A-line (to hide my big hips) with long sleeves (to hide my big arms) and originally was looking at blush coloured dresses but found a super sparkly champagne dress that I didn’t even compare to any others.
Going to meet Lizzie for the first time and looking at fabrics to put together my dress, put me at ease and filled me with confidence that Lizzie would make me look and feel pretty in anything. Over the course of our appointments, the dress design changed for the better, different lace and even no sleeves! Lizzie constantly reminded me that my dress is for me, that although we had inspiration from a model in a photograph, it was my dress.
Lizzie is outstanding at making women feel good about themselves. At not comparing bodies to other bodies, and for doing all that she possibly can do to make your vision come to life.
Guy: Julie and Lizzie worked together basing their original concept on the dress which Julie had found. There was talk of modifying the design to make it unique and perfect for Julie. By the time all fittings had been done and the big day arrived, I’d been told that the final dress barely resembled the original concept but that it was truly bespoke and exactly to Julie’s wants.
What accessories did you style your bridal look with?
I wore my normal jewellery, including the Skin and Bone bangle and ring Guy had got me for my 30th birthday a few months before, and the necklace Guy got me when we first got together in 2017. I’ve only taken it off once and that was while I was going for surgery. I wore a hair vine, carried my Dad’s handkerchief that I’d cross-stitched the date onto and a silver sixpence in my shoe that was gifted to me by my Grandad Hunter. My bouquet had two small photo frames with pictures of each of my grandparents on their wedding days.
Covid-19 derailed some weddings this year. How did it affect your planning at the start?
Julie: Almost our whole wedding was planned. We had pretty much organised it all two years prior. We were just about to send out the invitations, almost the last thing to do. We kept trying to keep positive that our wedding was going to go ahead in its entirety so held off for as long as possible to postpone. We couldn’t risk our family and friends health and safety and knew that many of our guests would decline because of the ever increasing situation.
Guy: It wasn’t really a thing for us back at the beginning. We’d done everything (somehow) quite sometime before the COVID-19 outbreak so we were absolutely mortified when we realised that the virus wasn’t going to go away. However, we faced up to reality and found a new date for May 2021, coincidentally falling on the exact date we first viewed our venue! It was a huge disappointment to us that we had to postpone, but because of the severity of the situation, we knew we had to put the safety and health of our guests first. It felt like unfinished business though…
What made you decide on an elopement wedding on your original date?
Julie: As upset as we were that we’d had to postpone to make sure our friends and family could celebrate with us, we knew the whole point of a wedding was our commitment to each other. I’d posed the option of Guy and I marrying in an intimate setting which Guy thought long and hard about.
When the announcement was made that small weddings could go ahead again, I first got in touch with the registrars to see if we could do a registry office wedding and was told that our notice of intent was linked to the venue and there was not enough time to get a new notice of intent for a new venue. I got in touch with Hazel Gap Barn to ask if it was possible for us to go ahead with the wedding and they were more than accommodating and excited to host our secret wedding.
It would be the first wedding they’d hold since COVID-19 started. Everything aligned to make sure we could get married on our original date and even after postponing it still felt like our date. I’m glad we got married just the two of us on our date because our love and being together is what matters. Much more than a big party. Although we’re just as excited for that too. It was fate.
Guy: After we had realised that there was a huge chance that we weren’t going to keep our original date, Julie suggested that maybe we could get married quietly. I was the one who had insisted that I wanted everyone at our wedding and so I pushed back on this idea for a while. I kept a small portion of my mind open, even though I had huge reservations about the quiet wedding and how that would go across with my family, some of which are quite traditional in their thinking.
It was when we visited my grandparents after the first relaxing of the lockdown rules and my grandmother suggested that we might go and get married quietly, I started to see the situation differently. One of my colleagues said the same thing as my grandmother and my thinking shifted even more towards how a secret, quiet wedding might go. It started to make sense to me and very much became a serious option.
How did you feel when you made the decision the go ahead with the original date?
Julie: Ridiculously excited! I wanted to tell EVERYONE! It was nice having this little secret between us though. Something to share just together. I told everyone I could, people that aren’t directly linked to our families or social circle, like my masseuse and hairdresser, Guy’s barber, and the jewellers.
The weekend before the wedding I started having serious doubts about whether we were doing the right thing. I knew getting married was right, but was it wrong to exclude our loved ones? Guy helped me rationale that my family wouldn’t have been able to travel down, there wouldn’t have been anywhere for them to stay, my Dad wouldn’t have been able to walk me down the aisle, that we were still having the ceremony and reception for everyone in May. If we had had our family there, things would have been stifled and awkward, having to socially distance from everyone when all we want to do is hug and kiss them. It wouldn’t have been an enjoyable day.
Guy: Honestly, I was quite anxious. It seemed naughty and like we were the architects of some grand conspiracy, but that anxiety and worry very quickly gave way to excitement. As the registrars and the venue were only just starting to get to grips with how weddings would proceed and with the short notice, we were still unsure a week before the wedding whether it would actually be possible.
How did you create your flowers?
I made the bouquet and buttonhole myself from flowers I ordered from Bloom and Wild. Our actual florist, Frond and Bloom, offered me some advice and will do the flowers for the sequel wedding in May.
What was the morning like, getting ready together?
Julie: It was really nice. We had a nice lie-in, and I made bacon sandwiches to have breakfast in bed and we just took it really easy, stress free. We were extremely relaxed like it was just another day, but with this excitement buzzing about the atmosphere. We were giddy and laughed all morning, all day.
When Lizzie arrived Guy was banished downstairs. He’d set his clothes out the night before in the most adorable little trail, that’s when the nervousness started creeping in. It was real then. I could have burst. There was a ridiculous amount of energy coming from us. There was a sadness that my sister wasn’t the one helping me into my wedding dress, that Lainey wasn’t there doing final twirl tests in her sparkly flower girl dress and beaming that she was wearing high heels and that Guy wasn’t with his brother and best friends getting ready and swigging whisky from the personalised hip flask I’d gifted him. But there was a happiness that today I would finally marry my person, that we’d waited so long for something so good to happen. It felt naughty but it felt oh so right. I’m surprised I managed to keep breathing. I wanted to squeal with excitement. I wanted to tell everyone. I wanted everyone to be sharing in our happiness but I also love that we selfishly kept it all just for us. Focussed solely on the two of us, because that’s what the day was all about, the two of us.
Guy: It was almost surreal. We had an incredibly relaxed morning, lovely long lie-in and bacon sandwiches in bed. We had some phenomenal excitement building up as every minute and hour ticked by. Lizzie arriving made everything super-real for me and I was quickly confined to downstairs to allow the bridal party space and privacy to do all the preparations, giving me the opportunity to still be surprised and dazzled by the beauty of my bride in her dress.
How did Guy react when he saw you?
Julie: He gasped. His eyes lit up and his jaw dropped! He had the biggest smile. He was speechless. It made me feel like the most beautiful, luckiest girl in the whole world.
Guy: Time stopped. She looked so heavenly in her dress, positively bridal and absolutely glowing with happiness. My mouth fell open and I was unable to find words for a good minute or two. She was the perfect bride.
How did you find the ceremony? Was the emotional?
Julie: Yes! Very. Even though it was just the two of us and three witnesses. I was a mixture of so many emotions I didn’t know what way was up. So excited and nervous all at once that I even messed up saying my own name!
Guy: The ceremony was really intimate. With just a few of us there, it was a really special moment. It was quiet, peaceful and the room was filled with expectation and excitement as I was stood in front of the registrar, fidgeting and babbling nervously. As the music started, my eyes were transfixed on the door to the bridal room waiting to get my first glimpse of my soon-to-be wife. Without guests in the room, my whole view was one of my bride looking absolutely perfect, walking through an aisle of candles. Any remnants of worry dissolving instantly, I was left with an absolute sense of euphoria and filled with love. I’ve never felt anything like how I felt at that time and the image of Julie walking towards me will be one of my dearest memories.
What did you do to celebrate to rest of the day?
Julie: Still in our wedding attire we went to Tesco to collect a food shop for our mini-moon to Sherwood Forest Center Parcs. I didn’t want to take my dress off at all, I just wanted to swish and spin in it all day. I wanted to show it off to everyone and bring joy to other people that good things were beginning to happen again during such a hard and troubling time. Two little girls cycled passed us as we got out of the car at our villa and gushed and shouted how beautiful I was and happy wedding day. We spent the rest of the day and night in the hot tub calling each other Mr and Mrs Wall, grinning away and giggling every time we said husband or wife, drinking cocktails.
Guy: HA! This bit is one of my favorite parts of our wedding story. We had a couple of glasses of champagne and just calmed ourselves a little before we headed off to do what every newly wedded couple does… went to collect our shopping from Tesco in our wedding finery. The guy who came to greet us was blown away at the fact we had been married less than an hour and was highly amused at the crazy newlywed couple whose car he was dumping shopping bags into. Shopping loaded, we headed off to Center Parcs at Sherwood Forest, but not before we found a pub to toast the event, again taking pretty much everyone by surprise and revelling in the congratulations coming from strangers. Center Parcs was a similar affair with almost everyone in the reservations hut coming to wish us well and offer their congratulations. It was so special and I couldn’t have asked for more.
Would you have changed anything about your day?
Julie: The day was perfect for us. We’re not the most conventional couple, deciding to buy a house together on our second date, me moving to Chesterfield after our third, Guy coming to Lizzie’s with me to help design my wedding dress. So a secret wedding, or minimony, was right up our street and we’re looking forward to partying with everyone we love next May when things will be safe. We finally feel complete. Nothing exceptional has changed to our circumstances but we feel whole, like our wedding rings were the only missing part.
Guy: I’m a strong believer in fate and serendipity. There are countless things we could have changed about the day, inviting selected family members or friends, telling people we were getting married beforehand or even not deciding to get married at all. But everything about that day, for us was perfect. It was kooky, unusual and totally non-traditional. I couldn’t have wished for a more beautiful day.
What was your favorite moment from your wedding?
Julie: All of it! Hearing the music start, seeing Guy at the end of the aisle, putting our rings on each other, Guy dip kissing me, walking back up the aisle as husband and wife. I couldn’t pick one moment from the whole day. From realising it didn’t matter Guy’s suit trousers didn’t fit the Friday before, that my hair wouldn’t be perfect, from going to bed knowing we were waking up together on our wedding day, the road being closed and us having to detour, to us laughing all week at us riding a tandem bike and competitively shooting crossbows. It was all exactly how things were meant to be, the way the stars and spirits wanted it to be. I couldn’t pick one moment.
Guy: My favourite part is undoubtedly seeing Julie walking down the aisle. Everything about that moment filled me with love and happiness and it’s a memory I will treasure forever.
What did Julie walk down the aisle too?
I ran up the aisle to Gin Wigmore – I Will Love You. It’s got beautiful lyrics that mean a lot to us. The song didn’t even get to the first chorus! I was so excited, I just wanted to get married to Guy.
How did you tell people afterwards?
Julie: We intended to keep it secret. We weren’t going to tell anyone until the wedding in May but realised that ten months is a really long time to keep it secret and that we’d rather tell people on our own terms than people find out accidentally.
We told as many people as we could on our mini-moon, even bagged a free Starbucks, and a whole bunch of strangers sheer elatedness for us psyched us up into telling our family and friends. We didn’t want to hide something we were so proud of. After getting home from our mini-moon, four nights later, and taking a few hours to settle, we video called my parents and just dropped the bomb. Phoned my Grandad Hunter, then went to Guy’s brother’s and told his parents and family.
Guy: After our break at Center Parcs we headed home, already having done a U-turn on my desire to keep the marriage quiet until May. I wanted to keep it a surprise until our so-called sequel wedding but after the big day and the break at Center Parcs, we couldn’t hide our excitement and we wanted to tell the whole world. So off we popped to my parents to spring the news on them, Julie having to video call hers in Edinburgh.
How did they react?
Julie: It turns out it would have been the worst kept secret in history as our parents and friends all had the same reaction, “I knew it!” They’re all extremely happy for us. Everyone has been understanding and thinks it’s very romantic that we got married on our original date and can’t wait to party with us in May. Guy’s Nan had the absolute best reaction, she has been very strict with isolation and lockdown rules so when we went to see her and tell her, her eyes went so wide “You haven’t!? You’ve got married!? Did you really!? Balls to Corona!” and gave us both the biggest hug.
Guy: Everyone was over the moon and so happy for us. Some even said they knew that we were going to do it. We’re known for being quite spontaneous and I think people knew how much the wedding meant to us.
Do you have any advice for couples who have had to postpone their wedding?
Julie: It’s hard. It’s difficult. It’s like you’re grieving but, you will get through this. Everyone will understand any decisions you make. Hopefully postponing your wedding was as simple and straightforward as when we did ours. All our vendors were available for our new wedding date and it was a straight swap. If it’s not though, then your wedding isn’t ruined, it just wasn’t meant to be that way and you’ll find new vendors that will make your postponed wedding date the most perfect day it possibly can be. Keep calm and know that it doesn’t matter where you are, or who you’re with, or what you’re wearing (although pretty dresses definitely make you feel good), all that matters is the love you share with your partner and the commitment you’re willing to make to spend the rest of your lives together.
Guy: Yes. Consider a quiet pre-wedding. It’s such an intimate and personal event and it takes a lot of the pressure and anxiety out of the equation. There’s almost no downside as your guests will still get to celebrate your wedding with you when your sequel arrives, yet you get to share the actual act of exchanging vows and rings with the one you love without any of the nerves or worry!
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to elope?
Julie: Do it! Find a place that you both love and do it! All that matters is you and your partner and not anyone else’s opinions. The wedding is for you two, not for anyone else, so do exactly what you want. Even running away to somewhere remote (or thirty minutes away) and getting strangers to be your witnesses. Anyone that wants to voice a negative opinion isn’t worth your time, they’re not worth crying over, and they especially can’t take your day and your love away from you.
Guy: Try not to overthink too much about the possibility of people being disappointed or feeling excluded by your decision to have your wedding privately. If you’re having your sequel wedding with everyone there, they still get the whole wedding experience and really, that’s the bit that everyone wants to be there for. I took some convincing to go for the concept but honestly speaking, now I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Venue Hazel Gap Barn