“What I realized with my wedding was that as long as the people who are there, are there for the right reasons – they love you, they want to celebrate, they want to have a really good time – then the number doesn’t really matter,” says Olivia Tapping, the global head of social at Soho House. After getting engaged in February 2019 to her long-term partner of 12 years, James, the couple planned to mark their big day on September 13, 2020. But in May 2020 they made the tough decision to reschedule their wedding as the pandemic worsened on a global scale.
Settling on a new date of September 26, 2021, the wedding happened at a sun-drenched Spanish setting with 54 guests. “We originally invited 80 guests in total because we didn’t want a huge wedding. We wanted it to feel quite intimate,” she says. “And then, in the end, we ended up with 54. That number was due to multiple things: COVID-19 meant that a few people just didn’t feel comfortable traveling, especially the older generation. And I had about five or six of my friends all get pregnant during the lockdown.”
The wedding venue
A small number of guests was ideal for the couple’s venue: a holiday villa called Neuendorf House, designed by the architects John Pawson and Claudio Silvestrin in the late ’80s. With its Brutalist-like architecture cast in a warm burnt orange palette, it provided the perfect setting for their outdoor ceremony. “The pictures don’t do it justice,” she says of the special place, which had hosted only a handful of weddings previously. “It took my breath away for a second. I’d just never seen anything quite like it before.”
Working closely with her wedding planner – Lisa from Isla & Smith who Olivia found via Instagram – proved instrumental to seeing her vision come to life on the day. “I just knew that because it was such a unique venue, I needed someone with an eye that would also know how to complement it. And it wouldn’t feel too bridal because it had to fit that minimalist feel,” explains Olivia.
But having to wait longer to get married than anticipated meant Olivia changed her mind on a few details, such as the wedding cake, which was commissioned from a local bakery at the last minute. Flowers were “super important”, which is why she looked to Fjura, owned by Simone Gooch, for inspiration. “I wanted a feminine touch, but I wanted it to feel like it wasn’t overpowering the venue,” she says. Three weeks before the day, she switched from Icelandic poppies – due to a shortage – to bombastic roses and hydrangeas arranged by La Floreria, a florist located in Majorca.
Their two dogs, a chihuahua called Raymond and a pug called Daphne, also had to be included somehow. “We are slightly obsessed by them, we got Raymond one year into our relationship so he’s been with us for the journey,” Olivia explains. “We ensured they were part of the wedding by having their sketches on our menus.”
The bride’s wedding dress
The only feature that left the bride stumped from the get-go was her wedding dress. “I didn’t actually have any ideas,” she says of trying on 50 dresses and still struggling to find the perfect design. Admitting that she left it too late to pick one from a store – you need around six to eight months for alterations – she reached out to designer Emma Beaumont instead. Visiting Beaumont at her atelier, they tried several fabrics and necklines until Olivia made her final decision, knowing that she wanted a dress that was “quite traditional, simple, elegant and timeless with a bit of a fashion edge”.
Having a long train was a no brainer: “That was one thing I knew I wanted from the start – it just felt like the dreamiest thing I’d ever put on. And my inspiration for the design came from a Giambattista Valli couture 2018 piece.”
Olivia already knew her Sania D’mina shoes would complement the final look as they were the first accessory she picked out. As for her jewelry? She sourced her earrings from Annie’s Ibiza (a favorite haunt of Kate Moss).
James, an insurance broker, wore a black bespoke Hackett tux. In keeping with the theme, James’s groomsmen wore tuxes too, while the bridesmaids picked out their own choice of dress in a shade of pink. “I just wanted them to feel great and also for them to have dresses that they’d wear again,” Olivia explains.
Along with COVID-19 adding complications to their big day, the couple also faced flash floods on the island three days before their wedding with a “full river running through the venue”. But they pulled it off, and the sun lit up their Majorcan villa on the day. Walking down the aisle to “The Wonder of You” by Villagers and married by a friend, the wedding all came together like they’d envisioned. “The one thing I would say is that because of the build up, complications and how it went [leading up to it] it almost made the day feel even more special.”
Originally published in Vogue.com