Real Wedding During Coronavirus Restrictions

Planning a wedding during this strange and unprecedented time has been challenging, stressful and emotional for many Brides and Grooms.  At Rockbeare Manor (Exeter, Devon) we have spent the last eleven months helping many couples postpone their wedding, but we've also held some absolutely gorgeous, intimate and special weddings. 

Cyndi and Matt's wedding, in December 2020 was one of those, and in this blog Cyndi tells us all about it. 

Beautiful wedding reception set up at Devon Wedding Venue

 For anyone getting married in the coming months this is a must read - it's full of inspiration, positivity and creativity and shows that a wedding during a pandemic, or with restrictions, can still turn out to be AMAZING! 

 “We feel so strongly that even with restrictions our day was like no wedding we have ever or would ever be likely to experience again”.

 Happy couple at wedding reception in Devon

Why did you choose Rockbeare Manor as your wedding venue?

 As soon as we got engaged in May 2020, we started looking for wedding venues in Devon which could accommodate our immediate families to stay over, be exclusively ours and have seriously good food and wine options. It also needed to feel like ‘us’.

Rockbeare Manor wedding venue in devon

At first we thought we may struggle to find all of those things all in one place, even in Devon which has so many lovely options for wedding venues but as soon as we saw Rockbeare Manor in Exeter online, we both instantly felt like it was the one. 

Entrance hall at Rockbeare Manor in Devon

Billiard Room at Rockbeare Manor in Exeter

The décor and setting just spoke to us. After arranging a virtual tour with the lovely Helen, we knew beyond a doubt that it was the place we wanted to get married. We felt it had everything and more on our wish list! 

 Wedding venue in Devon Rockbeare Manor

 Tell us about your wedding day fashion.

I actually purchased my Enzoani dress via DM on Instagram - not the way I pictured buying the most important dress of my life but Perfect Daze Bridal really caught my eye. They seemed lovely and approachable and so I reached out to ask if they might have a dress available. At that time, Matt and I had just had a conversation about going 'all out' on the wedding, and making it as special as possible, so I thought I would up my dress game!

Stunning bride at Rockbeare Manor in Devon

Bride prepares for wedding ceremony at Rockbeare Manor in Devon

They posted it out to me and even found a seamstress based in Devon who would see me the day before lockdown started. Justine was amazing and worked serious magic as the dress was much too big for me, so when I picked it up it fitted me perfectly. I paired it with a jewelled headpiece and veil from Richard Designs and my shoes were from Bella Belle in the US.

Bride poses in the window at Rockbeare Manor wedding venue in Devon

My makeup was done by Laura Le Page and my hair by Brigitte Fisher - two incredibly lovely people who made the whole process very easy. Matt wore a tuxedo from Next, some bespoke cufflinks I bought for him a couple of years ago, his purple poppy pin which shows respect for all the fallen animals during the war and his panda pin which means a lot to us both. 

Groom awaits bride at wedding venue in Devon Rockbeare Manor

 Bride and Groom at Rockbeare Manor wedding

What was your wedding day theme and décor inspiration?

 We didn't necessarily have a theme but we agreed early on that we wanted all our flowers to be British and as wild as possible. We found Charlotte at Floren Studio almost immediately who understood what we wanted, and when we saw the mood board that she had created we fell in love. Our flowers were David Austin roses, Eucalyptus, ranunculus, winter berries and Lisianthus. Our colours were white, lots of green and just a hint of red - it felt very wintery. We also chose a large urn arrangement, fireplace garland and three arrangements for the table.

 Bride chats to friend at covid secure wedding reception

On the day, the team at Rockbeare Manor also added some greenery including winter berries from the garden, which was a lovely touch. As Rockbeare Manor is already so beautifully styled we didn’t feel like we needed to add too much more, but we did want some special décor for the large table.

Wedding reception at Rockbeare Manor wedding venue in Devon

I fell in love with the calligraphy work of Maria Manuscript who I again found on Instagram. She created the most beautiful place settings edged in gold leaf, menus to match, ribbons for my flowers and a perspex sign all done by hand and with immense care and skill. Candle sticks (a lot of candlesticks!) from Keeping it Vintage in-between the flower arrangements brought the whole thing together.

Wedding calligraphy sign at covid secure wedding reception

It was elegant and special which is ultimately what we hoped for. 

 Bride and Groom walk down stairs at Rockbeare Manor in Devon

Food glorious food – what were your choices for your wedding?

 Dollybird Bakes was the first website we looked at, and our cake was the first one on the page. It was two tiers with embossed details on the icing, gold leaf and exquisite sugar flowers almost exploding out of the cake. Hayley who runs Dollybird Bakes sent us samples of flavours (it's a hard job but someone's got to taste them all) and we chose sticky toffee for the main layer and white chocolate and raspberry for the top.

Wedding cake at Rockbeare Manor in Devon

Our original cake was much larger, however with the decreased numbers Hayely simply scaled it down for us.

 All of our wedding catering was of course taken care of by the Chefs at Rockbeare Manor.  As a couple we love food and wine and wanted our day to reflect that. For the reception we served French 75 cocktails and craft beer and afternoon tea with sandwiches, scones, orange drizzle cake, mince pies and Rockbeare Manor’s amazing brownies.

Afternoon tea at Rockbeare Manor wedding venue

At our pre-wedding planning meeting we came up with a food and wine pairing meal that would be 6 courses in total, with wines to match each one.

Wedding reception set up at Rockbeare Manor in Devon

This aspect of the day really made such an impact on us and our guests - we all loved the concept and it helped to fill a little more time in the evening when we might normally be dancing.

 We also had a lovely grazing board of meats, cheeses, breads and pigs in blankets brought out later for guests to choose from, if they had any room left.

 Our wedding favours were handmade bespoke chocolate bonbons by Gayas Cakes, filled with chocolate orange ganache and pistachio praline. Gaya designed the chocolates for us and even sent a sketch so we could really visualize them. 

 Homemade wedding chocolates

Who was your wedding photographer?

 We both hate having our photos taken so we were dreading trying to find a photographer, but we pretty quickly found Alex Toze wedding photography, who not only knows Rockbeare Manor really well but is also Devon based and specialises in photos which are ‘of the moment’. He was just amazing, and took some incredible photos. But more than that he became part of the day, we really enjoyed our time with him, even the couples photos which we both thought might feel awkward. 

wedding guests at wedding venue in Devon Rockbeare Manor

 When we received our wedding photos back we were blown away by the moments he captured, he was just incredible to work with. 

 Playing Billiards at Rockbeare Manor wedding venue

Groom and Best Man rehearsing wedding speeches at Rockbeare Manor

What was the best part of your wedding day?

 Couple marry in covid secure wedding venue in Devon

Actually getting married was the best part for both of us.  We would have gone ahead even if it could only have been us!

 …Very very closely followed by how wonderful and attentive the team at Rockbeare Manor were. Much of the credit should be given to Davy, who, in our planning meeting (which was the day after the winter lockdown was announced), said:

'let’s focus on what you can do, rather than what you can’t'

and from that moment we knew that he would make sure our day was right for us.  He got us as people straight away and that relationship with him is the main reason we think it turned out how it did.

Bride and Groom just married at Rockbeare Manor in Exeter

  Family take selfie at wedding venue in Devon Rockbeare Manor

Covid restrictions sadly meant no dancing.  How did you keep guests occupied throughout the day and evening?

This was the thing we gave the most thought to, and in the end it was really simple.  After the ceremony we had a traditional timeline of drinks reception and photos, followed by the afternoon tea which took us to 4pm. That's when we did something a bit different.  

 Bride and groom open presents

Guests having fun at wedding at Rockbeare Manor in Devon

We hired a saxophonist, Carlo who not only plays jazz but also chart music and even some Christmas songs. He also uses cool backing tracks so it feels very current.  He did two sets for us up to 6pm. Alongside Carlo we worked with the team at Rockbeare Manor to come up with a cocktail menu which we has specially printed, and because Rockbeare Manor do cocktails so well, the combination of the jazz with the drinks felt very much like being in a really nice cocktail bar.

 Cocktails at Rockbeare Manor in Devon

The lights were dimmed, we had a lot of candles and the time flew by as people felt the shift into the evening part of the day.

We encouraged guests to dress in black tie and some even changed into another outfit for the evening. 

 Guests enjoy drinks at wedding reception

Did less guests mean that you had more budget to spend in other areas?

 We had a moment once the reduced numbers were introduced where we looked at each other and said 'let’s spend our original budget on less people, but make it the best it can be' …and we really did!

 Bride and groom in bridal suite at Rockbeare Manor in Devon

We covered almost all the drinks, added additional flowers and did the food and wine pairing for dinner. We even had one Champagne to accompany dessert and then a different one for speeches which was right after the dessert. We also left personalised cards in every room, and bags full of cans of coke, paracetamol, mints and a lot of chocolate because we knew they would be needed the next day! 

This was only something we were able to do because we had less people.  

 Looking out of the window of Rockbeare Manor wedding venue

What advice would you give to other couples having a wedding during the pandemic?

Getting married during a pandemic

Our advice would be not to let things like guests wearing masks or reduced numbers bother you. We were so busy looking at each other and being nervous we can’t even remember seeing our guests in masks. During the wedding ceremony Matt and I didn’t need to wear a mask anyway, and neither did the Bridesmaids when they walked down the aisle. All the other guests were happy to wear them and some even enjoyed finding one to match their outfit. 

Being part of the wedding meant so much more to our families than any concern for having to wear a mask.

Getting married at Rockbeare Manor in Devon

 Not one guest missed a disco or photobooth, even though originally we planned to have both, because in the end it turned out our entertainment was each other. 

Wedding day at Rockbeare Manor in Devon

 Even though people say to us 'did you just have 15 guests?' we always say

it never felt like 'just' anything.

We spent quality time with everyone and it felt so incredibly special, that

even if we could go back and have 50 or 100 guests, we actually wouldn't.

Bride and groom at Rockbeare Manor in Devon


 Cyndi and Matt - our heartfelt thanks to you both for sharing the details of your beautiful wedding day at Rockbeare Manor, our very special wedding venue in Devon. You both showed such courage and commitment to make your big day happen, against all the odds - and with such style !!

From all of the team at Rockbeare Manor, we wish you all the very best for your future together as Mr and Mrs. 


For more Real Weddings and advice from couples that got married during the pandemic click here!

For new wedding enquiries, or options for intimate weddings this year please get in touch with the team - we'd love to hear from you.   

Door to Rockbeare Manor wedding venue

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