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Freya Dowson is an international documentary photographer based in Dubai.

About Freya

If you’re just catching up on our wedding story, you can start from the beginning here.

So by this point you will know that we had to move our wedding on the day to a different location because tropical storm Fay was heading our way. In the morning, before wedding party preparations got underway, our bridesmaids and groomsmen packed all the decorations into garbage bags and took them on the back of scooters to the Four Ways Inn, our new venue. When Adam and I arrived and walked into the reception, it was the first time that we had seen the tables and the venue decorated, and it looked so amazing! Everyone did such a wonderful job. No one told our wedding party what to do or where things should go, they just improvised and the result was a dream. My godmother had brought lots of decorations over from the US, our paper tassels were lovingly hand-made, my mum gold-leafed hundreds of shells, and our florist showed her amazing talent for making what I dreamed up, a reality.

Looking back, moving the venue was such a blessing. I mean, aside from the fact that we didn’t have tents and tables blow through the windows of the house, it took a lot of pressure off Adam and I, as well as our family. It took the stress of hosting off our shoulders, we didn’t have to worry about anything like cleaning up or the safety of our guests because it was all taken care of by our venue!

And how amazing is that wedding cake?!? My wonderfully talented brother made it himself. It took two days and several hours during the reception to pull it off. While everyone else was eating, he was in the kitchen slaving away with sponge and flowers and blueberry jam. You can’t even imagine what a catastrophe the venue change could have been for the cake, but Dominic pulled it out of the bag by putting the cake and everything he needed to assemble it into a taxi and rushing it to the venue almost as soon as the ceremony was finished. And also, it was absolutely delicious. We served it for dessert after dinner and it was a hit! 

We had speeches during dinner, which was a random assortment of sushi, oysters, BBQ, pasta, and all sorts of things. The idea was that people would be able to eat what they wanted, whenever they wanted. A sit down dinner with table service is lovely, but we wanted something very informal and that’s just the way it turned out. Speeches from family made us tear up with their kind words, while speeches from friends had us laughing from start to finish. If you haven’t read Morgan’s maid of honour speech you can see it here, and the groomsmen sang a wonderfully hilarious and humiliating song about Adam that had everyone in stitches. I think that’s a groomsmen/best man speech that will be very hard to top.

That handsome photo of Scroggi up there serves to highlight our wedding favours! Adam dedicated about six weekends before our wedding to hand-making and painting sugar bowls for our guests. My uncle Julian designs ceramics for all sorts of fancy brands, but he has a small studio in south London where he and Adam slaved for weeks on end to make 70 miniature bowls. We put them in little hand-made cloth bags my mum designed herself and had made in India. Everyone put so much work into making this day special, I think we could have had to relocate to the moon and it wouldn’t have mattered – it would have been just perfect either way because of all the effort that so may people put into it. 

Our first dance was to Everywhere I Go by Caitlin Rose. It’s always been one of our favourite songs, and considering how much we jet around the world (together and apart), it seemed the perfect fit for our first dance. Also, you can see on the windows in the background that the rain was just beginning….

^^^^ That up there, is what I like to think of as Taylor Swift face – when people are mingling around and suddenly ‘Shake it Off’ comes on everyone loses their sh*t on the dance floor. We danced for hours as the rain came down and because we just had an ipod and speakers, people could play DJ and put on whatever they wanted. 

The only downside to having a wedding at a hired venue however, is the closing time. By 12:30 they were switching on the lights and we had to head home. But at that point, I don’t know who made the decision, but somehow the pool party was back on! When we were planning on having the wedding at the house we asked guests to bring their swimming costumes and a towel so that we could all jump in the pool at the end of the night. Because the venue change was a day-of decision, many guests were still carrying their swimming stuff – so off we went back to the house to continue the party! By this point, the rain had stopped, and everyone was ready for a change of location…

When we got home people were more interested in swimming in the ocean than the pool because it was so much warmer. We swam, drank some more, ate leftover potato salad from the rehearsal dinner the night before, and kept the party going until the wee hours when the rain picked up again. We ordered another fleet of taxis and everyone headed home – by the time the last couple left it was absolutely chucking it down.

Adam and I fell into bed, absolutely exhausted but so happy with the way everything had turned out, but only a couple hours later we woke up to this and a waterfall running through the house.

As it happens, when tropical storm Fay hit Bermuda, it turned into a category two hurricane. The rain that caused everyone to get out of the water was the beginning of the storm hitting the island and escalating into a full blown hurricane. And as you can see from the photos below, it caused some pretty serious damage. 

When Adam and I went back to our venue the next day, roof was completely gone. All of our decorations had blown away and where we had been dancing only a few hours before was flooded. The fans had snapped off and flown away, and miraculously the only thing to survive were our mason jars!

The photo on the left is the areal view of the hurricane over Bermuda, the one on the top right and bottom left is our venue the day after. It’s now being torn down and rebuilt!

The funny thing about the hurricane is that it kind of made our wedding more special. The night before we had arranged to meet everyone for brunch, and miraculously it was the only place open and able to serve food the day after the storm – until the roof caved in and flooded the place. But when Adam and I first arrived expecting the restaurant to be empty, everyone was already there, chatting away about how amazing the storm was. Despite the fact that most people were without power, mobile reception and any news on their canceled flights (there was a hole in the roof of the airport) – the storm had brought people together in a way that nothing else could. None of us could believe that, only a few hours before, we had been swimming in the ocean as a hurricane was moving in! Some peoples doors blew off, others had trees in their swimming pool, but everyone had a story to tell.

Adam and I spent the rest of the day driving around the island checking on people and trying to locate others, which was made all the more difficult because all the traffic lights were down and many of the roads were blocked. It all felt a bit post-apocalyptic. That night we met up at The Pickled Onion on Front Street for one last drink with friends and family. It was the only place we could find wifi and it was so wonderful to see all of our friends form different countries adding each other on facebook, promising to keep in touch and swapping hurricane stories.

Hurricane Fay made our wedding special in a way that nothing else could, it changed our plans and made the whole day so much better than it would have been if we’d planned it ourselves. I think Adam and I are living proof that it really doesn’t matter how much you stress over the planning and the little things, what will happen is going to happen and on the day you just have to let it all go and lean into all the fun that’s happening around you. 


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