Real Weddings

Rosa Clara for a Simple But Special Wedding at Gray’s Court – Emily & Ben

Sarah Symonds

With a laid back attitude to their now-micro wedding, today’s featured real couple have still managed to have a stunning ceremony and celebrate with their very nearest and dearest, remembering what’s important.

We’ve all been riding the Coronacoaster for a year now, the ups and downs have been quite frankly bonkers but there’s still some good coming out of the year that was 2020, namely beautiful microweddings like this special day when Emily and her beau tied the knot in historical York.

We’ve still got the Rosa Clara gown of bridal dreams, a pretty palette of white and pale grey with the occasional pop of something blue, and a gorgeous, central venue right next to the famous York Minster.

They might’ve had to downsize a smidge but Emily explains why, for her, the big wedding she’d hoped for turned out to be overrated, and that small and intimate was definitely the way to go! We also find out about the clever little Covid-related favours our couple gave their guests to remember the day they attended a unique 2020 wedding. Let’s find out all about it, shall we?

With photography by Amy Jordison Photography


Emily says: We got engaged on the 14th of January 2018. We had gone to New York and after a close shave with security, Ben successfully smuggled the ring to the Top of the Rockefeller Centre and proposed as we were looking out over Manhattan at dusk.


We were married on the 11th of September 2020; we wanted a time of year when the weather would be pleasant but not too hot.

Everything was at Gray’s Court in York. It was love at first sight! Gray’s Court really is a hidden gem, nestled away next to the Minster. It is a stunning hotel full of character and the food options really wowed us. With Covid restrictions, we were really limited with reception/evening options but working with Gray’s Court was a dream and we were able to have a mini-reception at the same venue as the ceremony.


We just wanted to keep things simple and centre the day on friends, family and the location. We chose simple, muted colours and settled on various shades of grey, with the flowers being accented with blues.


My dress was by Rosa Clara and I went all the way to South Wales to get it! My mother-in-law lives in Swansea and had mentioned this little boutique wedding dress and outfit shop, Rowberry. We had a visit when we were in Swansea for Christmas last year, and I know it’s cliche, but I just knew it was the perfect dress for me. I spent days pondering and agonising over it, and made my now-husband pull over at the shop just when we were leaving to come home so I could dash in and put down a deposit! I liked that it was very simple and elegant, and I fell completely fell in love with the lace detail on the back.


Ben wore a lovely grey tweed suit from Allen’s of Olney. We live in Northamptonshire and found Allen’s at a local wedding fair (one of the few wedding fairs that I managed to drag Ben to!) The groomsmen also all wore grey suits with a tweed waistcoat, matching the groom, again from Allen’s of Olney.


My bridesmaids were in full length grey dresses. All three were different shades and styles, from different brands. I didn’t really want them all completely matching. My sister, Chief Bridesmaid, wore a suit from Hugo Boss; she’s not a dress kind of person and I wanted her to feel comfortable and fabulous in what she was wearing, and she certainly looked it on the day.


We used the wonderful Aimee Long in York. She was fantastic with a room full of indecisive women!



We hired Amy Jordison Photography. I would 100% recommend Amy! She was absolutely wonderful. Amy created a bespoke package to suit our needs, and the communication was excellent in the run-up to the wedding, which was especially reassuring during the pandemic. Amy captured our day beautifully and we couldn’t be happier with the results and the service we received from her! We even got to see her parkour skills, leaping over the gate to the city walls.


We didn’t have a videographer although Amy made us a fantastic highlight reel with music.


My bridesmaids and I had bouquets by Ello Flower in York. Janine was fantastic and again, coped very well with my general indecisiveness! We also had lovely table floral arrangements created by Ello Flower.


Given that 2020 was the year of Covid, we had little bottles of hand sanitiser with custom stickers on reading ‘Spread Love Not Germs’! This was in addition to our original favour plan of a little bag with a couple of scratchcards for each guest, with a shiny lucky penny, and custom stickers saying ‘Lucky In Love’.

With the Covid restrictions, guests at our ceremony had to wear face coverings. Instead of having everyone in different ones or single use ones, I made custom masks for everyone to wear and keep, and embroidered them with B and E.


Our cake was made by a family friend. We chose lemon for the larger tier and then a vanilla latte flavour for the top. Our topper was the special part for me. I found a pair of custom pug decorations that were handmade in Japan (but that only arrived about 24 hours before we left for York!)


Gray’s Court were excellent in developing our menu. We had a consultation with the chef who advised us and helped come up with ideas, easily coping with both vegetarian and vegan requirements. Our starter was an heirloom tomato salad with mozzarella, mains were lamb for meat-eaters and aubergine steaks for vegetarians (with dauphinoise potatoes and peas) and dessert was a summer fruit posset with ice cream. The food was incredible.


We had the brilliant John Morton come and do a magic show for us. John had entertained at my cousin’s wedding a few years ago and as he is usually based in North Lincolnshire, we were incredibly grateful that he was willing to travel to York for us. He put on a fantastic show (one of his very few in 2020!) of parlour magic, followed by the Enigma Box, a team-building, escape-room style experience. As we only had 14 guests, this worked perfectly!

Thanks to

All of the suppliers were excellent, especially given the Covid impact on everything! Ello Flower did an incredible job after only meeting us for about five minutes and me sending a few pictures from Pinterest! Aimee Long was great. I couldn’t have a makeup trial due to restrictions, but Aimee was fantastic, talking through ideas and did an amazing job on the day. Amy Jordison, our photographer was extremely reassuring and flexible.

The team at the venue were fantastic. Sarah, our main contact at Gray’s Court, really went above and beyond to make sure everything was perfect on the day and throughout the two years of planning! We can’t praise her and the team enough!

Best bit

Everything was just pure joy after the ceremony! Once the official bit was out the way it was just lovely to have canapés and drinks relaxing in the beautiful garden at Gray’s Court with our closest family and friends.


We had to rearrange our honeymoon due to Covid, but are hoping to go to Japan at some point next year (fingers crossed!). We were able to have a couple of days in the Cotswolds though, including lunch at the Michelin-starred Cross at Kenilworth on our way.


I would say that small, intimate weddings are underrated! I always thought I wanted a big wedding because that’s just what I thought the norm was; but our intimate day was just perfect and we got to share it with our nearest and dearest, and it saves a lot on the RSVP and menu choices headaches!

Also, the Brides Up North Find A Supplier directory was really useful, and the real weddings were great for inspiration!

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