With no cameras, no fanfare and fewer than two dozen guests, the secret wedding of Princess Beatrice could hardly have been more different to the bonanza nuptials of her younger sister Princess Eugenie.
Just a week after the low-key Windsor ceremony that took royal watchers by surprise, one of Beatrice’s closest friends, Cressida Bonas, who dated Prince Harry, followed suit and exchanged vows with Harry Wentworth-Stanley in private.
The BFF brides took the decision to marry their respective partners despite the government’s restrictions around weddings, which limit the number of people at a service to just 30 and will only allow receptions of the same number from Saturday.
The result was two intimate weddings that were far removed from the well-publicised affairs one might expect from two such well-connected women in the public eye.
Speaking to FEMAIL, Lavinia Stewart-Brown, founder of Stewart-Brown-Events, a bespoke wedding planning company based in London, explained she thought the pair could lead the way in a trend towards smaller, more low-key weddings, even once restrictions have lifted.
The planner said she has already noted a significant number of couples who have opted for ‘intimate, small town hall ceremonies’ because they wanted the focus of the day to be on the love between two people, rather than the ‘over the top day’.
Smaller numbers can also actually lead to more luxurious ceremonies, Lavinia explained.
‘You do not need to have a large wedding to have an incredible time. If anything, smaller weddings are much more intimate and you can put more money towards making it beautiful with flowers, finer wines, beautiful crockery, or whatever is important to you.
‘You can also choose a venue without worrying about space restrictions, which will be very refreshing for those who have always dreamed of a London wedding. So many of my clients want to have a London wedding, but find that they need to go further out due to space restrictions.
‘The positive of this virus is that it has made people think about how they can make things more intimate and still have a very special and memorable time.’
She added: ‘There is something very magical about keeping it small, choosing your closest family members and friends to see you marry the person you love.
‘You can always have a different celebration or a larger party as such down the line if that is what you want. But the most important thing is that the two people who love each other are getting married.’
Princess Beatrice, 31, married Italian property developer Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi on July 17 in a Windsor ceremony attended only by close family including his four-year-old son, Wolfie, and the bride’s grandparents the Queen, 94, and Prince Philip, 99.
News of the wedding, which took place in the grounds of Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew’s Windsor home, only emerged once the vows had been exchanged and the first photos were shared 24 hours later.
Details of the reception have yet to be confirmed, although it is thought the couple invited guests to a sit-down meal under a trendy open-aired tent in the grounds of the Yorks’ family home.
To complete the low-key feel, the bride borrowed her dress from the Queen and wore the tiara the monarch herself wore on her own wedding day.
In a similar vein, news of Cressida and Harry’s wedding was only made public after the event, after an Instagram post by her older brother was spotted by eagle-eyed royal watchers.
Like the princess, she did not announce the wedding in advance to avoid any press coverage and details of the day have been kept under wraps.
Cressida and Harry, the son of the Marchioness of Milford Haven, also followed government guidelines and kept the guest list to just 30 people – a far cry from the large congregations one might typically expect at a society wedding.
Indeed Cressida had previously estimated that she would have some ‘120 people’ at her big day, once her and Harry’s closest family and friends were accounted for.
There is no shortage of couples who might soon follow suit and exchange vows in private, rather than wait for a potential change in the government guidelines.
The good news is that money can buy access to the country’s most exclusive – and private – venues, making the prospect of a secret wedding more achievable for those with deep pockets.
Among them is James Middleton, the younger brother of the Duchess of Cambridge, was set to wed his fiancee Alizee Thevenet in May but had to cancel their plans due to Covid-19.
Details of the event had not been released but the couple had their choice between a venue in the UK, like his sister Pippa Middleton and her husband James Matthews, or one in Alizee’s native France.
A smaller, private wedding might be particularly appealing to the couple as it would help avoid the media spotlight that Pippa and James experienced at their 2017 wedding.
Tatler cover girl Sabrina Percy, who is engaged to Phineas Paige, also put her 2020 wedding plans on hold but now be tempted by a quieter affair.
Princess Diana’s niece Lady Kitty Spencer could choose something low-key when she weds South Africa-born multi-millionaire, Michael Lewis, 61.
Mr Lewis, a fashion tycoon, is 32 years older than Lady Kitty and five years older than Earl Spencer.
The Spencer family seat of Althorp House is sure to be a likely choice for a wedding venue, although Mr Lewis’s vast fortune means nowhere will be off limits.