Friday, September 10, 2021, was a magical day for designer India Hicks. After postponing her wedding twice due to the coronavirus pandemic, she was finally able to marry her partner of 26 years and father of her five children, former advertising executive David Flint Wood, in her home village of Oxfordshire. Despite the cancellations, she couldn’t have imagined a more perfect day.
As the goddaughter of Prince Charles and granddaughter of Lord Louis Mountbatten, India has attended her fair share of royal weddings. At 13 years old, she was even Princess Diana’s bridesmaid at the iconic globally broadcast event. This fall, more than 40 years later, the designer was able to tie the knot at her own dream wedding in a much more intimate setting. It all kicked off with an "unconventional" sit-down dinner and dancing the night before the ceremony. The next day, David and India made their relationship official at Brightwell Baldwin Parish Church before celebrating with a casual lunch reception at Lord Nelson Pub, just across the street from the church.
Our wedding was always going to feel a little unusual! How often is it that the bride is walked down the aisle with with three tall sons in front of her, her daughter as her chief bridesmaid behind her, and her eldest son beside her?
"Our wedding was always going to feel a little unusual," admits the bride. "How often is it that the bride is walked down the aisle with three tall sons in front of her, her daughter as her chief bridesmaid behind her, and her eldest son beside her, who folds back the veil and gives her away to his father!"
Naturally, India, who has published not one but two books dedicated to her love of entertaining, organized the entire thing.
“I'm a planner, so I planned my own wedding from the party the night before to the pub lunch to what the bridesmaids were going to wear to where my mother would draw up in a car to the stamps that went on the invitations to the color of the color of the flowers that were bouquet—every part, every moment, every detail of a wedding, I planned. And I loved it,” she admits. “Was I, perhaps, over-invested? Certainly, but I think most brides will be, aren’t we?”
The weekend's events began with a beautiful dinner in a field in Brightwell Baldwin, Oxfordshire, in front of the home the couple built there a few years ago. A grand, army-color canvas helped set the scene, as did "millions of lights," hanging foliage and flowers from the mother-of-the-bride's garden, and the bride's signature design touch.
"I designed the napkins we used at dinner, a collaboration with Pomegranate Inc. They were hand-block printed in India white on cream with gold thread around the edges," India describes. "Everything felt just incredibly special and meaningful. And yet quite country, too—a little bit rustic, very down to earth, and low key in some respects."
The couple invited 100 of their closest friends and family members to dine and dance the night away. She wanted to start the party before the ceremony to build a sense of community among her guests. "I was very aware of Covid! We asked everybody to do a test before because my mother was 92," India explains. "We were incredibly lucky that no one came with it; no one left was it; no one had it. I'm very proud of that."
Her plan for the soirée? “Dinner and a little dancing the night before our wedding, not just because everything we were doing was happening backwards, but with the idea that everyone would be more relaxed in church the next morning, not as a result of the mild hangovers but because of the camaraderie from dancing in a field together,” she later posted to Instagram.
The dinner menu itself included noteworthy items that friends made with love and care. Claire, their “top banana,” cooked cottage pie and poached pears for the main entrée. For appetizers and side dishes, their neighbor brought assorted cheeses, and their close friend baked handmade bread.
The night of the party, Hicks wore a long white mermaid dress with lace detailing and ribbon sleeves from Naeem Khan, a friend from the time as a model. "He was one of the first designers I wore when I first started modeling in New York, and he's been a friend of a sense," she says. "It just felt wonderful that I was wearing a dress designed by him."
On her wedding day, India donned a custom ivory lace gown designed by Emilia Wickstead. “Emilia Wickstead created a dress that felt perfectly at home in a church deep in the English countryside,” she reminisces. The elegant long-sleeved, high-neck dress with a flared skirt was inspired by Grace Kelly but embraced a modern flair. The bride also rocked shoes from Christian Louboutin, whose two daughters were bridesmaids in the wedding.
India completed her look with a brooch borrowed from her mother's jewelry box. "It was my grandmother's, actually. It's diamonds with a touch of blue," she says. "I pinned it to the back of my dress because Emilia Wickstead, who designed my dress, didn't want anything on the front because she thought it would ruin the look—the very clean look that we've spent 17 months designing."
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue: "The brooch was my something borrowed and blue, the old was obviously me, and the new was the dress," she adds with a laugh.
"My daughter Domino, as always, was my shadow," India says. "We spent the night before the wedding curled in bed together at my mother’s house, whilst David was with his brothers, sons, and best man."
While India admits the boys had their fair share of chaos on the morning of the wedding, she, Lady P, and Domino had quite the opposite. "It was just very calm that morning for us," she explains.
The only hiccup came from the weather forecast, which called for torrential, torrential rain. "I remember looking out the window as my hair was being pinned up, and I thought, 'My goodness, this, this could cause a few issues!' But, just as we got in the car to go to the church, the clouds cleared and the sun came out," she says. "We had the most beautiful weather; it was it was really incredible."
In addition to her family’s presence, Hicks also incorporated nods to her mother by hand-picking flowers from her garden.
The hanging floral installation at dinner, the archway greenery outside of the church created by Babylon Flowers, and the confetti guests threw during the exit-toss all contained precious petals from that garden.
Her bridal bouquet was also made by the same florist, Pulbrook & Gould, who arranged her mother’s wedding bouquet back in 1960.
As for the groom? "David wore a suit by Ralph Lauren, who we have both known and admired for many years," shares India. "I met Ralph when I first started modeling a long, long, long time ago."
The couple's five children were a primary part of their big day. "Each of our four sons had very distinct roles," India explains. "Wesley MC’d at the dinner the night before, Amory gave a speech, Conrad read in church, and Felix gave me away. Domino was the chief bridesmaid."
The ceremony took place at Brightwell Baldwin Parish Church in Oxfordshire, which holds significance to the bride's family. "I was married in the church where I was christened and where my father was buried, our closest friends and family filled the pews, and the English sunshine even made an appearance through the stained glass windows," shares India. "The hymns we sang, the readings we choose, the prayers that were read reflected our British upbringings."
"As I stepped into the church, everything just sort of fell into place. It was incredible," she reflects. "There were all the people that I love most there with me and my five children. And as I walked down the aisle to marry the man I've been with for 26 years, I had no idea how emotional I was going to feel. And it was completely different. I had, obviously, thought it through, and in my mind's eye, I could picture every detail and every moment, because I planned it. But I had no idea the sort of the sort of swell of emotion that came over me."
"As I walked down the aisle towards David, I was overcome with the sensation of being in exactly the right place at exactly the right time—there by the altar was the man I would finally call my husband with all five of our children witnessing the ceremony about to happen," says the bride.
At the alter, they exchanged vows and India slipped on her wedding ring, designed by Charlotte Chenais and chosen by David while in Paris last spring. Hidden on the inside, it had a secret engraving, with the words “amor vincit omnia,” which translates to “love conquers all.”
It was significant moment, after all this time. "For 26 years I had said, 'No, I didn't, I didn't need to be married. I didn't need to be somebody's wife. I didn't need to say his vows," admits the bride. "And, actually, I discovered that I did need it. I did want to be somebody, his wife. And it was meaningful, to be at a church together. It's been really lovely saying, my husband, and for him to say, his wife."
The music was extraordinary throughout, says India. The ceremony selection was quite traditional, with a 12-member chorus coming from Oxford to perform and a soloist singing Ave Maria. It was all traditional English hymns—until the very end! "As we walked out of the church, a boombox was turned on. It was quite fun!" says the bride.
Following the ceremony, the newlyweds "squeezed" into family-run Lord Nelson Pub with their 100 guests, where they all enjoyed Bloody Mary’s, Pimm’s, and lunch outside. "It's a lovely traditional English pub, where I've eaten for many, many years, and we actually hosted the christening of one of our children as well," India adds. "We put up a marquee outside, and there were lots of little tables on the inside dotted around. So, from the night before, the lunch felt very different in the way it looked and felt."
Naturally, India also made sure the pub lunch was adorned with distinctive details. Kitty, a 17-year-old local baker, made 100 rolls that each contained the couple’s initials. She also helped create some special design moments for the reception.
"I worked closely with a young talented calligrapher and together we designed place cards for the pub lunch that were tiny clay flower pots with fresh moss on top out of which a little wooden stick held white card on which the guest name was increased in dark green ink," she shares. "There were so many tiny details like this through the two days of celebrations."
The wedding cake was made by the couple's dear friend Claire, who India says has been part of their family for 17 years. "She made this very traditional English fruitcake, which, you know, gets made months in advance," explains the bride. "It has all sorts alcohol liquor in it, and marzipan and icing, royal icing. Plus, all the flowers!"
While the couple skipped traditions such as the first dance and family dances, they did have a wedding cake, which, while unplanned on India's part, made for an eventful end to the wedding festivities.
"The day before the wedding, our middle son Amory asked David and I to come for a moment alone with him. It was almost like we were in trouble,” she recalls. When he pulled them aside, he said, "Mom, Dad, I want to give you these gifts. This is what I would want if I was getting married," and he gave David a beautiful blue sarong, and India what she can only describe as “a Japanese carving knife, kind of like a samurai knife. “It was very surprising, very mad, and very lovely,” she admits with a laugh. “It was so bonkers—but so fabulous as well."
The surprising gift came was meant to be: When it came time to cut the cake, India picked up the sword, saying, "I have no idea what would have cut the cake with otherwise!"
Looking back, India says it was these in-between moments that she remembers most. “I tell you what, the most fun was right at the end,” says India, as she reflects on throwing the traditional bouquet (her niece caught it) and driving off in David’s beautiful Mercedes, as their friends waved and tin cans hit the “Just Married” sign adorned the back of the car.
“We drove two minutes down the road, turned into my mother's drive, and went home for a cup of tea," she explains. "Rather than rushing off on our honeymoon, we spent the weekend with our kids in our home together. Looking back, that was the most special moment, reliving every wonderful memory of the wedding, just absorbing it and feeling the warmth from it and not having to rush off or pack or get on an airplane or go anywhere.”
Photography David Loftus
Planning and Design India Hicks
Welcome Dinner Gown Naeem Khan
Wedding Dress & Veil Emilia Wickstead
Bridesmaid Dress Emilia Wickstead
Bridal Shoes Christian Louboutin
Groom's Attire Ralph Lauren
Hair and Makeup Jo Allen of Hair & Makeup Atelier
Reception Venue Lord Nelson Pub
Florals Pulbrook and Gould
Wedding Cake Claire Baldwin
Video Editing Wes Films