A Wedding By Any Other Name – Sarah and Lea

Brace yourselves, readers, for today we have an absolute corker of a wedding story for you. Not only is it our very first feature of images by the very lovely and super talented Eliza Claire but it’s also the first lesbian wedding we’ve showcased (where are you all hiding? Send us in your pictures, you know we love a good wedding here at AOW Towers!). Prepare to be wowed by Westwood and fall in love with Léger, as Sarah and Lea are carry off their outfits beautifully. It gave me a serious case of dress envy. Twice. I won’t even start on the figure envy…  

Sarah’s account of their day had me laughing out loud, the joy is infectious. I finished reading it thinking just how lucky their guests were to have been part of such a beautiful and intimate day. I really admire how they stayed true to themselves and that the little details reflected them and their history as a couple. Oh, and my favourite photo? The embrace. Incredibly stylish yet it’s the LOVE that leaps out and grabs you. Congratulations, Sarah and Lea, we wish you every happiness ahead. 

I’m deceiving you all already, by referring to my “wedding”.  Technically, I didn’t have a wedding, I had a civil partnership ceremony.  Legally, I don’t have a marriage, I have a civil partnership.  The words feel cold and contractual though, and Lea and I have always used the words “wedding” and “marriage”.

Lea and I met through work and became friends, although it took us a while to get together (this is another story, but it involved kissing in front of a bar full of men, all of whom ignored us in favour of the football game being screened).  When we were friends Lea had always been very adamant that she would never get married, so it came as a great surprise when a couple of years into the relationship she started dropping hints about getting married.  Subtle at first, the hints slowly progressed until a weekly rendition of Beyonce’s “Put a Ring On It” made her intentions clear. 

I proposed on our anniversary, whilst we were on holiday in Madeira.  I’d brought a ring with me, and had managed to sneak a bottle of Krug into my luggage without her noticing.  I’d found a gorgeous place to propose – a secluded sun deck atop a cliff, looking out onto the Atlantic.  We sat on a huge white leather sunlounger and drank the toasty Krug whilst reminiscing.  I asked her to marry me as we drank the final drops of champagne, and the sun was setting.  The rest of the holiday was spent gleefully discussing the sort of wedding we wanted.  By the end of the holiday we’d decided on a small, intimate wedding with us, two witnesses and their partners.  We chose Chelsea Registry Office, as I’d often walked past it whilst shopping on the King’s Road, and stopped to look at the wedding parties having photos taken on the steps.  It’s one of the images that epitomises London for me.  Marcus Wareing seemed the obvious choice for the post-wedding celebrations.  It’s our favourite restaurant, and we’ve spent several happy evenings there together, Lea crying over the splendour of the lamb, me crying at a particularly exciting biscuit.  It’s also the restaurant where I confessed to a couple of friends over a drunken dinner that I liked Lea.  If it hadn’t been for their encouraging words, I might never have asked her out.

Two women planning a wedding together can be brilliant fun – having someone who squeals at your proposed shoe choice, for instance, although the bridezilla potential is instantly doubled.  Thankfully, those moments were few, consisting of an unnecessarily long search for the right coloured rose petals to use as confetti, and the who-wears-Westwood Wars.  Having both exclaimed almost instantly that we wanted to wear Vivienne Westwood, we decided to pay the Gold Label shop a visit.  A rose gold dress, covered in tiny paillettes instantly got my attention.  After being hoisted into the inbuilt half-corset, I reluctantly emerged from the changing room.  Reluctant because I was fairly sure it was “the one”, and I didn’t know whether I should let Lea see it.  Her reaction confirmed it was the right choice, and with that we decamped to The Connaught Hotel for celebratory champagne.  We found Lea’s dress a few weeks later – a skintight cream Hervé Léger bandage dress, perfectly suited one so slim yet curvy (nb, being a lesbian SUCKS when your partner has a better figure than you).   Some snakeskin Miu Miu stilettos and a vintage fur from Portobello finished off her outfit.  I eventually found some ridiculously high strappy gold sandals from Jimmy Choo.  The sales assistant was reluctant to sell them to me when she heard they were for my wedding, but I promised her most of the day would be spent sitting down, and she capitulated.

Aside from the usual round of pedicures, manicures and hairdresser visits, we spent the morning of our wedding reading our lovely cards and messages and wondering if the sunshine would hold out for us.  The florist delivered the bouquets, which I HATED. My parrot tulips weren’t fluffy on top as they were supposed to be, and were interspersed with strange bits of greenery, and Lea’s roses, which were supposed to be white and dark cream were white and peach.  They would have looked more at home in a 1980’s Laura Ashley catalogue.  I didn’t have time to fret though, as we were in the middle of getting dressed.  Lea looked absolutely stunning and teeny tiny – hers was a difficult dress to pull off as it’s so figure hugging, but she rocked it. It was so skin tight she had to wear hideously unattractive flesh coloured seamless knickers underneath.  She took them off halfway through dinner (not at the table I hasten to add).

We’d arranged for a 1950’s white London cab to take us to the Registry Office (the driver asked if we were sisters), and as soon as it arrived it started to rain – thankfully I had purchased an enormous white umbrella. We arrived at Chelsea Registry Office and reported to reception, where they took our details and in a massive equality and diversity fail, asked where the grooms were. The other bridal party waiting in the room were agog when we said we were marrying each other.

We had a few photos taken sitting on the stairs in the registry office, interspersed with a foot stamping exclamation of floral-hatred when Kate (Lea’s best friend and one of our witnesses) tried to pass me a bouquet for the shot.  I was nervous before the ceremony, but the registrar was amazing. He was like a kindly old uncle, and made us feel as though we were the only people he’d ever married.  I cried a bit during the vows.  Lea cried a bit. The guests cried more – even Jess, my witness, shed a tear, and her tears are so rare that legend has it they are able to bring people back from the brink of death. I was quite overwhelmed by it all though, it was so brilliantly full of love.

Afterwards we went to do the confetti on the steps shot, only to find that the people who’d been gawping at us in dirty-lesbian horror in the waiting area had stolen the steps, along with the last bit of dry weather we’d see that day. When they left we managed to do the confetti shot half sheltered in the doorway, although our lovely photographer got wet. She also got my favourite shot of the day – the wife and I walking along the King’s Road under our huge umbrella, giggling.

We decamped to the Blue Bar at the Berkeley for champagne, where Jess read a mother of the bride speech my mother had secretly emailed her (cue more crying). We had a good gossip and much laughter over several bottles of champagne before adjourning to Marcus Wareing for dinner. A waiter arrived at the table with a magnum of pink champagne. I told him I hadn’t ordered it, but he carried on opening it and presented me with a card – the champagne was a surprise from the same friend who some years before had told me to ask Lea out, in the same restaurant.  Dinner was of course amazing – I won’t bore you with food details, although I have to mention the fish and chip soup which was bizarrely brilliant. We drank more champagne, a gorgeous white Lea and I drank on our first visit to MW and a Meerlust Rubicon from 2007 (the year we got together and one of our favourite wines). Oh, and a superb pudding wine.  Jess managed to impress everyone by squeezing in all 12 courses, despite being 8 months pregnant with the gorgeous baby who is now my goddaughter.  They also gave us a kitchen tour, which I was going to sit it out as I’ve been on a couple before, but I’m really glad I went in as Marcus Wareing was actually there. He congratulated us and asked what our favourite food had been. I told him that I used to love the Turkish delight, but he said they’d taken it off the menu as people thought it old fashioned. I managed to resist the temptation to tell him the sensory experience it reminded me of… Whilst we looked at the rest of the kitchen, the wife stuck firmly by Marcus and in her own special drunk way, touched his beard and said “what’s this?” Thankfully, he laughed rather than throwing us out.  I suppose there are worse things than being stroked by gorgeous lesbians.  When we got back to the table a waiter brought us a plate of the much coveted Turkish delight.

We eventually made our way home, where had our own first dance in the kitchen to “The Way You Look Tonight”, before kicking off our shoes and doing more dancing, polishing off some more champagne, then falling into bed and straight asleep without consummating the marriage.

We spent the next day lolling around in bed, wearing fabulous silky lingerie from Myla, nursing our hangovers with buttery crumpets, pizza, ice cream and chocolate, before flying off to the Maldives the following day.

So, that’s the story of my Civil Partnership, but really – it sounds like any other wedding to me.  We’re just waiting for the equal marriage act to be passed so we can do it all over again.

Categories: Any Other Wedding, Wedding Reports
21 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Posted August 13, 2012 at 7:29 am | Permalink

    I’ve got to be honest ladies, when the equal marriage act does get passed I really can’t see how you’re going to top those outfits. ADORE.


  2. Mrs Jones
    Posted August 13, 2012 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    FAB-U-LOUS. How that bar full of men didn’t sit agog at you both I do not know…! What stunning outfits, beautiful brides and a lovely tale. Congratulations.

  3. Mahj
    Posted August 13, 2012 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    This was brilliant, so heartfelt and honest. But honestly, I may not be able to stop coming back and staring at those shoes ALL DAY.


  4. Zan
    Posted August 13, 2012 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Just WOW. I read this while alternately giggling and crying! And I love the umbrella shot, such sheer joy :)

  5. Katielase
    Posted August 13, 2012 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    The shoes are stunning, the dresses are stunning, the brides are stunning but what has really smacked me in the chest is the joy. Every shot is just so filled with it, the love and the joy and the happiness in your smiles. That’s what wedding photos should look like.

    K x

  6. Carly
    Posted August 13, 2012 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    Bore us with details of the food? Never!

    Beautiful photos and smokin’ dresses ladies. Congratulations.


  7. Posted August 13, 2012 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Oh they need to hurry up with same-sex marriage already. How can you POSSIBLY dispute the love between these two?! Ladies, you look a.may.zing. Congratulations! :)


  8. Posted August 13, 2012 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Amazing! The shoes, the dresses, the champers, the words, the smiles, even the rain, and not forgetting the brides, are all somewhat gorgeous.

  9. Peridot
    Posted August 13, 2012 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    There’s so much glamour in this – I suspect that a mixed sex couple couldn’t actually live up to this level of glamour, go the girls!

    I seriously love the gold dress – and the absolutely perfect nail polish with it (Chanel’s Delight perchance?). And I’m still gleeful about the “crying at a particularly exciting biscuit” comment!

    Also love the fact that those men were not going to be distracted from the important issue of football by the sight of two rather glamorous women having a snog. I think it – depressingly – is a reminder of just how important that dull game is to some men.

    PS If you get married again, can I come please?

  10. Posted August 13, 2012 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    It’s incredible, isn’t it? Each time I look at the photos I see something else that I love! These photos inspired me to wear something sparkly today – spreading the sequin love.

    Also, how lucky are Sarah and Lea to count Eliza as one of their friends? She’s done an amazing job!

  11. LNR
    Posted August 13, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Beautifully written, beautifully photographed. And the brides aren’t bad-looking either ;)

    Congratulations on your perfect day! xxx

  12. sandra c
    Posted August 13, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely gorgeous. All of it. Love the story of you as a couple too. I agree about the outfits . You’re going to struggle to top those. Much love and a happy and long marriage to you both!! Xx

  13. Jessie
    Posted August 13, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    This is just so freaking stylish, I’ve read it 3 times already!! I am mainly envious that you both have someone to appreciate Myla lingerie! Don’t like to generalise but most boys I know wouldn’t know their Myla from their M&S! And I am now seriously coveting some Westwood coursetry of my own!

  14. Sharon
    Posted August 13, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    The shoes…..immense! Congratulations to both of you, love the brolly shot x

  15. Sparkley
    Posted August 13, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    You’ve made me cry reading that! Beautifully written, beautiful photos & of course beautiful brides. Lovely xx

  16. Caro
    Posted August 14, 2012 at 2:18 am | Permalink

    “when your partner has a better figure than you” on what planet does either of you have a better figure – you are both gorgeous and have incredible figures! Needless to say, hooray for an amazing wedding and thank you for sharing the story of a wonderful, special day.

  17. Vivienne
    Posted August 14, 2012 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    I didn’t get a chance to comment yesterday….but wow, wow, wow. The dresses, the shoes, the out and out sophistication and glamour. And the LOVE. Le sigh


  18. Posted August 14, 2012 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    Can’t believe I’ve only just had time to comment. I absolutely totally and utterly love everything about this wedding – you guys are so freaking stylish and look smoking hot!! I absolutely love the photos of you walking down the road under the umbrella and the one in the back of the cab – such joy and happiness which is exactly what a wedding should be about.

    I personally can’t stand the term ‘civil partnership’ it is so unemotional and sounds like a formality rather than what your day shows in spades – love, commitment, celebrations and making life long promises to each other.

    When you have your ‘official’ wedding can we have a AOW party please? You guys would clearly throw the best bash around!

    Wishing you both all the happiness in the world


    Oh and I can’t miss out the shoes… they’re the shoes dreams are made of!

  19. Sarah
    Posted August 14, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Awww, thank you for all your lovely comments and also to Sarah for her lovely intro! Peridot, it’s not a Chanel nail varnish (which is perhaps where you’re getting your username from? One of my favourite colours…) – it’s an Essie one, and I can’t remember the name. Had a mani-pedi at a super cheap but very good nail bar in Balham.

  20. Anita
    Posted August 14, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

    I almost never comment on wedding posts these days -but oh, the shoes! The dresses! The coats! The SMILES…

  21. Posted August 18, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been offline so just catching up… these photos are all completely beautiful. So much love and style! Jeez Louise, you both look absolutely incredible.

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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