Real Weddings

ASOS Bridal & Monsoon for a Micro wedding at The Isla Gladstone Conservatory – Charlotte & Lottie

Sarah Symonds

We’re obsessed with this simple, elegant and chic little big day! With a classic all-white palette, a stunning, light venue and two beautiful ‘preliminary’ dresses, we just can’t fault the styling of this micro wedding at The Isla Gladstone Conservatory in Liverpool.

For our brides Charlotte and Lottie, knowing that their ‘big wedding’ dreams were going to be put on hold didn’t deter them from wanting to still marry on their original wedding date. Cue the most stunning and elegant micro wedding you ever did see! The glass house of The Isla Gladstone Conservatory was the ideal summer venue, ensuring that the weather couldn’t derail that which even a global pandemic had failed to, and keeping everything bright and pretty, come rain or shine.

With a big wedding still to follow, Lottie and Charlotte still have the excitement of knowing that there are still two more unreal gowns, a line up of six bridesmaids, a dramatic colour palette change and another big celebration on the horizon, but that doesn’t mean that the smaller day couldn’t be everything they’d hoped for and more. The girls tell us how they’re glad they still opted to have their photographer to capture wedding number one and how using faux flowers for the fabulous bouquets means they can be used again for the wedding next year! Nicely done, ladies… and we get first dibs on featuring the sequel!

With photography by Sarah Brookes Photography


Lottie says: I proposed to Charlotte first at a beautiful waterfall in Turkey, after the planned proposal at the top of Machu Picchu wasn’t possible. Charlotte was completely surprised and there were lots of happy tears.

Charlotte says: I then returned the proposal, believing Lottie also deserved that special experience. I surprised Lottie with a weekend in a glamping pod. When she arrived, the pod was filled with 100 balloons, each with a photograph and a reason why I loved her attached to each one.


Our wedding date was the 11th September 2020. We wanted a late summer wedding and had been together three years that September so this seemed to make sense. Plus it was one of the last Fridays available as we booked less than a year prior!

As Covid19 hit and it became clear that we weren’t going to be able to have the wedding we planned, we discussed it with the venue and they were great at helping us move the ‘big wedding’ to June next year (as it was all already paid for). But we did still want to get married as planned this September and so we began organising our small wedding for the original date.

We held the wedding at The Isla Gladstone Conservatory in Stanley Park, Liverpool. We would have liked to get married abroad originally but it is difficult for some members of our close family to travel and so we decided against this.

We really liked the idea of getting married outside but because you can’t trust the weather in England the glass house, inside/outside feel of The Isla was the next best thing. We also loved the fact that The Isla has the bandstand outside where you can get married if the weather is good. We also went with The Isla because it is a large open space – we originally planned a big wedding with around 125 day guests and another 125 night guests and so needed the space, rather than being in a venue where our guests ended up spread out across several smaller rooms.

When first visiting The Isla, we immediately found our wedding coordinator, Rachel, really friendly, helpful and accommodating which really sealed the deal. Rachel has continued to be amazing throughout!


The colour scheme for our ‘big wedding’ is black and gold with lots of greenery. We were originally going to go with blush and green but felt this has been done a lot and so wanted something a bit different. As a couple, we are nearly always in black and white and we loved the idea of tuxedos and that kind of colour palette, so that is what we went for in the end. The greenery is to sort of soften the colour scheme and bring in our love of the outdoors.

For the small wedding the colour scheme was white dresses and flowers, and then lots of greenery additions.


We both bought wedding dresses for the original ‘big wedding’. Lottie designed her own with Jessica Bennett Bridal and I bought a Stella York Dress from Liverpool Bridal Boutique. Both were absolutely amazing designers and shops, and we couldn’t recommend them enough.

Jessica Bennett is so incredibly talented and worked amazingly with Lottie, even as we went into lockdown, to design and create her dream dress.

Liverpool Bridal Boutique and the staff there are also amazing. I was really anxious before going dress shopping but they immediately put me at ease and helped me to find the most perfect dress and even enjoy the process!

However, having decided to go ahead with a much smaller legal wedding and then celebrate in a bigger way next year, we decided to save these dresses for June (more people to look at them!) which meant we had to find alternative dresses for the September wedding.

Lottie bought a dress online from ASOS Bridal range and fell in love with it as soon as it arrived. I struggled initially, going to Cheshire Oaks and buying every white dress we could find and then taking them all back. It’s hard to find a formal white dress that isn’t actually bridal. After various unsuccessful shopping trips (to shops where you weren’t allowed to try dresses on!) and lots of ‘well this one is alright but it’s not perfect’s, I also went online and bought a dress from the Monsoon bridal range that I was completely happy with!

Both of these dresses were around £100 which was amazing and we received so many compliments and comments from people who couldn’t believe these weren’t our ‘actual wedding dresses’.


Our brothers will be acting as best men/groomsmen at the wedding in June and we plan to rent tuxedos for them and our dads and Grandad, but this time round they just wore their own outfits – although we did take them all shopping.

We got some of the suits in the sale at Moss Bros, Cheshire Oaks which were great value and the staff really helpful!


We have six bridesmaids between us and bought their black bridesmaids dresses from ASOS around ten months ago. They were the first thing we bought, before our own dresses, and we are all really happy with them.

Like our ‘actual wedding dresses’, we decided to keep the bridesmaids’ dresses for the June wedding and, although our bridesmaids were at the wedding (bar one who sadly tested positive for Covid19 the day before the wedding and couldn’t come!) they just wore their own beautiful outfits.


Our makeup was done by Molly’s Makeup and Emma Jane Makeup.


Our friends and bridesmaids drove us to the venue on the day in their own cars – including sticking a bow on which was a nice touch! We are lucky we have friends with nice cars.

Even for the big wedding in June we don’t plan on hiring wedding cars, as the ceremony and reception will be all in one place so there’s no real need and we would rather spend the money elsewhere.


We had Sarah Brookes Photography. We couldn’t recommend Sarah highly enough! She was amazing from start to finish. Prior to our little lockdown wedding, Sarah visited our venue to scope out potential photo opportunities which was great and helped the day run smoothly.

We then had a consultation and discussed which combination of photos we wanted, and discussed the order of service. Although, given the restrictions, the time was pretty limited so Sarah ensured she could fit in all the family photos first then allow guests to go off and enjoy their drinks whilst my wife(!) and I went off and did our couples shoot.

To be honest, I didn’t know whether it would be worth having a photographer due to the limited number of guests and was worried it would be a waste of a seat (no offence Sarah!) but I can honestly say I am so grateful that we are able to share all of our gorgeous photos with our wider friends and family who were not able to be there on our special day. Other family members took some dodgy photos on their phones on the day, but as they were distracted and wanted to enjoy what was happening, their snaps were not the best!

Sarah was approachable, well dressed, attentive and organised. The photos were edited and emailed to us within a week of the wedding. Super speedy service! I would happily book her again, she made us feel at ease because she is so lovely.


We decided against a wedding videographer for our small ‘lockdown wedding’ and feel the amazing photographs Sarah took capture the day well enough. We do intend to book a videographer for the big wedding in June however.


We booked White Event, based on the Wirral, to do all our decorations and flowers for the ‘big wedding’ and when we decided to postpone and just have a small lockdown wedding, we asked that they just provide us with a bouquet each, which they did. Our bouquets were made of faux flowers so we will be able to use them again in June!

We also did some DIY decorations for the small wedding just to add a bit of something special. We used lanterns and candelabras we already owned and decorated them with some fake greenery and flowers from Homesense, then dropped them off at the venue a couple of days before the wedding. We loved the Brides Up North real weddings as inspiration.

Rachel from The Isla then laid out the decorations, adding a couple of other bits on the tables that The Isla stock free of charge.

UNVEILED Network Member Adamapple Confetti provided some gorgeous ‘confetti flingers’ in personalised tubes, which were a lovely little touch. A lot of our guests chose to keep the tubes as a memento from the day, as did we.


A lady called Fiona Costigan made our cake. It was a gorgeous lemon and poppy seed sponge with white chocolate ganache.


The Isla will be providing the food for the wedding in June. On this smaller occasion, we went to a restaurant and just had pizza and buffet style food.


We didn’t have any formal entertainment at this wedding but we are planning a live band for September. We created a Spotify playlist to use during the ceremony and then a second playlist for guests arrival and the drinks reception. This was really easy and worked well.

Thanks to

Sarah Brookes, our photographer, really went above and beyond to get to know us, She even visited the venue in advance, despite us booking her with relatively short notice. Sarah is a lovely person and we enjoyed having her be part of our day.

We would also recommend The Isla Gladstone. The venue is beautiful and the staff are amazing. We are part of various bride groups on Facebook and have heard so many horror stories from other brides about how their venues have responded to the pandemic, so we just feel so incredibly grateful for the support, reassurance and flexibility Rachel and The Isla have provided. All the staff at The Isla have been amazing throughout all this uncertainty and they have been accommodating and reassuring wherever possible. The venue is beautiful and good for both large weddings and, as it turns out, also for smaller ones.

Best bit

It’s a cliché but becoming ‘wife and wife’ was definitely the best bit and ultimately what it is all about.

Whilst there were obvious negatives to having to drastically reduce our guestlist, there were pluses to. We both noticed that we could really connect with each of our guests during the ceremony because there were so few people and they were spread out, meaning we could see everyone clearly. Also having plenty of time to chat to everyone and not feel we were rushing round trying to mingle meant we could really take it all in.


We ended up booking a week at an all inclusive resort in Turkey about four days before the wedding. These are such uncertain times and we didn’t know what we would be able to do or where we would be able to go, so we left it until the last minute and then just asked the travel agent where we were least likely to go into lockdown! We are not generally all-inclusive type people but having a week relaxing in the sun was lovely.

We are hoping to be able to go to Costa Rica for three weeks for a bit of an adventure honeymoon when things are more normal.


Our advice would be to try and stay relaxed. We are both generally quite laid back people but staying relaxed about the wedding was essential in such uncertain times.

This also stretches to the day itself – don’t sweat the small stuff, find quiet moments with your partner and just try and take it all in. This is much easier with a smaller lockdown wedding so there are positives!

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