The couple met and fell in love while starring together in The Effect at the Sheffield Crucible. Seven years later—following a “very romantic” proposal on Hampstead Heath that involved a carpet of bluebells—the pair wed onstage at Wilton’s Music Hall. “We knew we didn’t want to get married in a church or country house,” says Ophelia Lovibond, who played the female lead. “It just didn’t feel like us. We met in the theatre, so to get married onstage… the idea of art imitating life felt very potent.”
The actress, who will shortly appear as Carrie Johnson opposite Kenneth Branagh as the Prime Minister in This England, also wanted her gown to deliver a certain amount of drama. “My wedding dress wasn’t something I’d thought about prior to getting engaged,” says Ophelia, “but I realised I had quite a distinct idea of what I wanted. Something timeless and elegant, clean and crisp but still theatrical.” She continues: “I think certain images had lodged in my brain: glorious Givenchy and Balenciaga gowns from the late ’60s, with great big bows and capes. I thought, that’s what I want: traditional and simple, but with a dramatic element.” Bridal designer Kate Halfpenny more than rose to the challenge. “Kate’s boutique was the only place I went to,” Ophelia says. “She’s so kind and creative, and when I was telling her my ideas, she drew it before my eyes. It was so easy–I knew I’d found the person who was going to make my dress.”
For her wedding, Ophelia chose a gown made of mikado silk. The dress had an oversized bow at the back and a cape that flowed from underneath, leaving her shoulders bare. Crucially, the bride knew she could “dance my socks off in it” because she felt completely comfortable in it. And of course, it had pockets. There really aren’t enough superlatives to describe how happy she was with the dress.
The bride, Ophelia, knew she wanted to wear Manolo Blahnik’s classic Hangisi heels (recognized by Sex and the City fans worldwide) in green the moment her fiancé, Henry, presented her with an Art Deco-inspired emerald ring. Emerald and diamond earrings—a 30th birthday present from her mother—served as her something old. A pearly Shrimps handbag on loan from her maid of honor, Heidi, was the perfect something borrowed. “Cressida Jamieson also embroidered bluebells on my headpiece as my something blue,” says the bride. A pearl Simone Rocha hair clip in her retro-inspired up-do was the perfect finishing touch. “I love the 1960s aesthetic, but I didn’t want to look like I stepped off a movie set,” says Ophelia. “I wanted to look like an amplified version of myself.”
The ceremony itself—held on May 1, which marks the ancient Celtic festival of Beltane—was “jubilant,” Ophelia says. “I loved it so much.” The couple asked director Daniel Evans—who directed the play that brought them together in 2015—to serve as their celebrant. “In the play the characters fall in love, and sure enough Henry and I were falling in love,” Evans says. “It was speaking about it with so much knowledge – it made the whole ceremony so meaningful and personal.” It also incorporated a gospel choir, who sang “All You Need Is Love” as Ophelia walked down the aisle on her mother’s arm.
The couple was married in the Lady Chapel of St Mary Undercroft, the Houses of Parliament’s church. Following the ceremony, they celebrated at a reception in the newlyweds’ east London home. The hall had been transformed with a top table on the stage and banquet tables for guests to enjoy a meal of Bannockburn beef with duck fat potato cakes, with a flourless Italian chocolate cake and rhubarb compote to finish. “Instead of a big tiered wedding cake, we asked five friends to make different cakes,” Ophelia says. “My mum made a teddy-bear’s picnic cake – the same one she made for me on my sixth birthday, my 18th, and now my wedding day.”
The bride, Ophelia Halfpenny, wore a dress she had bought in a charity shop for her wedding reception—which included an energetic ceilidh with the father-of-the-groom among the musicians, followed by a performance from Hackney Colliery Band and a DJ set from her friend, BBC 6 Music DJ Gemma Cairney. “When it was time for the ceilidh I was like, right, cape off,” she said. “We really wanted to make sure there was lots of scrumptious food and music, and for everyone to let their hair down.” The joy is what she will remember most about her wedding day.