How did COVID-19 affect your wedding?
I moved to London for work in 2014 and met Sam (who’s British) shortly after. When we got engaged in 2019 we knew we wanted to get married back in California (where I’m from), so we planned our wedding for August 2020. When COVID hit, we quickly realized how unlikely it was that we’d be able to pull it off, especially as half of our guests were coming from the UK and legally couldn’t enter the country due to COVID immigration policies. We decided to push our wedding to August 2021, but in the meantime got married at a courthouse in London. This allowed us to start the green card process for Sam because we were also planning a move back to California. Toward the start of 2021, the COVID situation in the UK was still bad and travel was still restricted.We decided to push our wedding again to August 2022. In the meantime, we had secured Sam’s green card and moved back to California. We finally had the wedding of our dreams in August 2022. We made sure to include some fun British touches as a nod to where we fell in love.
Editor’s Note: Here, we’re happy to share some of Jessica & Sam’s London Courthouse wedding, photographed by Brigi Veres.
We knew we wanted to incorporate some British touches. We found the British phone booth from Blueprint Studios—they created it for a Harry Potter movie premiere but hadn’t used it since. Shortly after, we discovered the voicemail guest book that uses a phone as a prop. We put it in the phone booth, which was the perfect way to incorporate the phone booth into the wedding without it looking too tacky or gimmicky. We also had Pimm’s as our specialty drink, which is a popular cocktail at British weddings. And, our tables were named after London tube stations.
How did COVID affect your wedding planning?
Planning was…long. We stopped and started so many times due to COVID. The worst moment was early in 2020 when we had to make the call to cancel it the first time. The best moment was in early 2022 when we started to feel confident that the wedding actually (and finally!) was going to happen.
We wrote short, personal notes on the back of each person’s name card. It was fun to watch people discover the notes on their own
Sam’s best men gave the best speech. Sam was a barrister back in London (AKA a lawyer – the ones who wear wigs!). They brought in a wig and made him wear it while they told stories about him, themed around the concept that Sam has always wanted to become a “whiskey guy”. They brought out a couple of different whiskeys and had us taste each during the speech. In British weddings, the best men speeches are known to be ruthless and the goal is to embarrass the groom as much as possible. I remember speaking to his best men ahead of time (one American, one British) to make sure they toned it down a bit for the American audience. It turned out to be the most perfect speech.
What was the best part of your day?
Sam: Watching Jess walk down the aisle and seeing all of our friends and family finally all in one place….it was such a feeling of relief for the wedding to finally happen.
Jessica: Spending time with all of my favorite people. I was overwhelmed by happiness that we finally got to have the wedding of our dreams.
Looking back, what do you think guests will remember most about your wedding?
We had the most gorgeous weather. Hollins House is in Santa Cruz, close to the beach, and can be notoriously foggy and overcast. Someone was looking out for us that day because the sun was out and the temperature was perfect. Overall, I hope they’ll just remember it as a super fun wedding.