Beautiful ceremonies are a dime a dozen, but a great wedding is something special.
My daughter Isabella Walker-Smith was married in Vancouver late last year. Originally it was an Australian countryside wedding for 120 people. When the virus continued raging, it shifted to Vancouver where Isabella was living with her husband-to-be, Lindsay Hatton. Now she was down to two people. See how the simple ritual of sharing vows and exchanging rings became one of the happiest, most memorable, and stress-free day of their lives. And Covid wasn’t an issue they had to worry about. Read more, ‘Weddings May Never Be The Same, But That May Be A Good Thing.’
The road to get to the wedding was realistic. It was a really good lesson in ‘this is your expectation, this is the reality’.
You can either fight it or say, ‘Let’s see how we can make it as best as we can’. The couple who had been dating since their mid-twenties, and knew they wanted to get married, and not waste time cancelling dates due to Covid, soon settled on the Vancouver Club as the place for their wedding set, with a ceremony at City Hall.
At a time when planning a wedding may be harder than finding your soulmate, it was a great time to learn the art of the pivot.
“We were always aware of the fact that there was a global pandemic. And rather than fight it we lent into it.”
Isabella was looking forward to working with the Vancouver Club and a group of vendors (florists, make-up artists, hair stylists, photographers), scouted whilst living in Vancouver. She visited New York in September to look for the right dress, shoes, and accessories but had more luck online than Manhattan’s traditional department stores and bridal boutiques.
“Once we got over the thought of not having immediate family or key friends present and preparing ourselves for the reality: it was full steam ahead.” And Isabella couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
“The pandemic wasn’t on anyone’s guest list, which forced us to rethink our walk down the aisle yet it didn’t mean giving up on a beautiful ceremony altogether,” Isabella says.
It had become abundantly clear that the fairy-tale, white-horse-and-carriage, glass slipper extravaganza could not happen anytime soon. It wasn’t safe to waltz down the aisle in a dress that matches the window treatments, before hundreds of their besties.
In late November 2021, Isabella slid up the stone stairway of City Hall, after a day at the Vancouver Club, to wed her Australian fiance, Lindsay, so they could start their new life in New York – completely undeterred her beloved family were on the other side of the world. Lindsay is the US President of a rapidly expanding Australian start-up and moving with Isabella to Manhattan in early 2022 to open offices for his company.
“It was 3 degrees, but the sun was shining and we couldn’t believe our wedding day was finally here.”
“We got ready together, I tied his tie and he did up the buttons on my dress. All convention was thrown out the window. There were no pre-wedding nerves or jitters. It was the opposite. We were ever-present and most of all we couldn’t stop laughing. Not in our wildest dreams, did we think this would be how we got married, but we couldn’t stop saying how fun it all was. It felt like magic!”
Isabella reflects: “The best way to describe it—one of the most fun, memorable and stress-free days of our lives.”
Planning a two-person wedding is much simpler. The small, quick ceremony was a point of stability – we knew we could create exactly what we wanted. “We exchanged meaningful vows in the grand council chamber at Vancouver City Hall – not a place I ever envisaged for our wedding, but it was profoundly beautiful, short, and moving.”
The restaurant was booked for a grand private five-course dinner with good wines and champagne following the ceremony. Lindsay made the most incredible speech – because he could relax and say what he really wanted to.
“I think it’s the first time I’ve actually had truly great food at a wedding”, Isabella says.
The Rosewood Georgia Hotel, in downtown Vancouver, was booked for a weekend before flying out to holiday at Cabo San Lucas in Mexico on Monday for ten days of over-the-top hotels, horseriding, waking up early to jump in a boat to go deep-sea fishing, exploring, endless views….and eating, so much guacamole. It was the honeymoon of dreams.
“I can’t imagine doing it any other way. We were present with each other – there was no stress. It was just a whole lot of fun,” says Isabella. “We realised it’s not about the hoopla – It’s about getting married. It’s really just the biggest blessing in the world to have each other and have a really strong relationship.”
Isabella and I hugely enjoyed putting the wedding together from different sides of the world. She chose each item: there were two dresses, (one had to go back), a coat, (for the Canadian winter), shoes, rings, flowers, etc. Her fabulous grandmother gave her two family wedding rings.
Isabella says, ‘I collaborated with Mum: two pairs of eyes are better than one. I chose everything but Mum helped me work out final details, suggesting I wear my hair down and have a few centimetres off the ends. It made the biggest difference. I would have gone with the easy option of wearing my hair in a chignon. She also suggested taking the dress up three centimetres and ditching the handbag – saying I didn’t need to carry things around on my wedding day. Again, it was a small thing, but it’s all in the details.
“Ask your most stylish friend for advice – they can be your secret weapon.”
About the veil, “I had a bespoke, short two-tier veil made and when it arrived I face-timed Mum and we couldn’t stop laughing. Mum said: ‘You’ve never had a head for hats.”
“It just didn’t work. I found a delicate, barely-there birdcage veil on a headband from an American designer that worked perfectly with the tailored dress. It wasn’t as pulled apart as the veil but still added a ruffled, bridal touch.
For the flowers…I went for white peonies, which were the only thing available during a Canadian Winter. I was hoping for a smaller bunch, and when they arrived they looked as big as a Ferris wheel, were slightly lopsided, but on the day, it simply didn’t matter.
“We went for a classic look for the groom with a well-cut navy suit, a Ferragamo tie I gave him a few years ago, and black shoes.”
Remember the hardest part about getting it right relies on the appropriateness barometer. “Most importantly wear what you feel best in’, says Isabella, “That is when you have the best time.”
You Don’t Have to Invite Everyone
“Since no one can travel easily, and Australia had strict lockdowns at the time, we didn’t feel bad about not including family or friends. Everyone totally understood and were all just so happy for us. That wouldn’t have been the usual reaction.”
Of their pared-down wedding? “I just think it’s so fitting. Our lives are full, exciting, and much better with each other.”
You Can Adjust on the Fly and Actually Enjoy Yourself
Isabella didn’t mind about the weather. There had been torrential rain in Vancouver for two weeks leading up to the wedding, but as it was the two of them, it didn’t matter. The car, a vintage jaguar sportscar, that had been organised, didn’t move. It was for effect only.
Isabella’s bouquet arrived and was the size of a ferris wheel. The groom’s corsage wasn’t what she imagined. Rather than freak out, she went with the flow. And saw the funny side.
On the morning of the wedding, the forecast was for sunshine at lunchtime, so they pushed the schedule back an hour. ‘We didn’t have to think about guests arriving or when the band was supposed to start playing.
“Without a schedule from the venue we were truly able to relax and enjoy what was happening around us.”
There were lots of Perks
“We were so present during the day, there was no stress, no politics, which probably wouldn’t have happened if the original wedding had. We had champagne in our hotel suite at Rosewood between the ceremony and dinner.”
And You’re Spreading Joy
When Isabella and I shared news of her micro marriage on Instagram we were moved at how joyfully people responded, beyond the scope of a normal wedding. But of course, this isn’t a normal year. We’re all desperately in need of good news during the current times.
Weddings are where the world becomes your oyster and this was a true lesson in what a marriage is all about, choosing the right person that feels like home no matter where you are in the world.
HERE’S ISABELLA’S LIST OF SERVICES, SUPPLIERS, AND PROFESSIONALS:
- Photographer: Blush Wedding Photographers @blushwedphotos
- Flowers: Da Fiora Design, @dafioridesign
- Bride’s dress: Badgley Mischka, @badgleymischka
- Veil: Jennifer Behr, @jenniferbehr
- Engagement Ring: Cerrone Jewellers, cerrone.com.au
- Bride’s Wedding Bands: A gift from the bride’s grandmother.
- Groom’s Wedding Band: Jennifer Fisher, @jenniferfisherjewelry
- Earrings: Diamond Studs from Cerrone Jewellers, cerrone.com.au
- Shoes: Aquazzura, @aquazzura
- Coat: Max Mara @maxmara
- Fragrance: Byredo
- Hair & Makeup: Ksenia Ogolikhina @artistrybyksenia
- Restaurant for Wedding Feast: Elisa’s, elisasteak.com
- Venues: Vancouver City Hall followed by The Vancouver Club, vancouverclub.ca
- Hotel: The Rosewood Hotel Georgia, Downtown Vancouver, rosewoodhotels.com
- Celebrant: Stephanie from Vancouver Officiant, vancouverofficiant.com