Cyndi first met Matt on a cruise ship that she was working on. 'We were due to sail from Rome but the weather was terrible so we couldn't sail, which meant I had a night off for once and met Matt in one of the bars on board,' she reflects.
Matt chose his 30th birthday to pop the question ' and Cyndi was so preoccupied by planning the best lockdown party possible for him that she was stunned by his proposal. 'I cooked all his favourite foods and just as we were going to start dessert, I noticed he wasn't touching his. He then knelt down next to me and asked me to marry him,' she says. 'At first I thought he was joking but then I looked at his face and he looked very emotional. It was so lovely and understated; I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.'
The couple fell for the charms of Rockbeare Manor before they'd even set foot in the venue. 'We looked at so many online and it was our immediate favourite: we loved the dÃ©cor, the setting and the feel,' recalls Cyndi. 'When we met the team there it just confirmed to us we had made the right decision. They were wonderful to work with and our day would not have been what it was without them.'
With no specific vision in mind beyond an 'elegant and classic' celebration, Cyndi and Matt styled the day accordingly with brass candleholders, calligraphy menus and place names edged in gold leaf, plus forest green velvet ribbon tied around sprigs of wild greenery for the tabletops. 'To add to the feel of elegance we also gave our guests a dress code of black tie,' adds Cyndi.
Their brief of 'British, seasonal and wild' was gorgeously fulfilled by the floristry, which featured lots of greenery dotted with deep red berry accents.
The sensory delights didn't end there, with food being another top priority, as Cyndi explains. 'Once we knew our total numbers would be 15 we decided to go all out and make it an unforgettable day.' A food and wine-pairing menu was the decadent result. 'It was so unique and different for a wedding,' says Cyndi. 'We really wanted to show our love to our family who were able to be there, and this felt like a lovely way to do that.'
Post-ceremony afternoon tea canapÃ©s were served ahead of a cocktail hour with a saxophonist. 'It felt very modern and cool ' like you were in a really upmarket cocktail bar,' comments Cyndi.
Then it was time for the feast. Amuse-bouches of spicy parsnip soup were followed by chicken and chorizo terrine and a fish course of pan-fried hake. Guests then tucked into Devon fillet of beef, lemon tart, and petit fours. The evening continued with after-dinner drinks and a grazing board of local meats and cheeses while everyone relaxed in the lounge.
'The favourite moment for both of us by far was saying our vows and getting married; that was our absolute priority. Even if we could only have been married just the two of us, we would have gone ahead because that's what the day was all about for us,' says Cyndi in retrospect.
'Like any couple planning a micro wedding, we worried about keeping guests entertained and if it would feel small. Our guests were never bored and it never felt like 'just' 15 people, it felt intimate and special and not once like it was lacking. So many people have asked if we would do it differently or postpone ' it was the best day and we would not have changed it,' she says.
'Planning a wedding during Covid really does help you prioritise what is important, and even though it was difficult at times we are so glad that we forged ahead and didn't change our plans.'