He’s officially off the market! England rugby player Jonny Wilkinson has married his long-term girlfriend in a secret ceremony in the south of France.


The 34-year-old national treasure married his girlfriend Shelley Jenkins on Monday in an intimate ceremony, watched over by only two guests. The couple have been dating since 2005 after meeting in Magaluf, where Jenkins was working as a cocktail waitress with her twin sister Tracey.

The tiny private wedding took place at the town hall in the Riviera resort of Bandol, where the two have been living since Wilkinson joined French club Toulon in 2009. Local mayor Christian Palix, who officiated the ceremony, confirmed it was a ‘small, intimate affair’ which was attended by Wilkinson’s mother Philippa and only one other guest.

As sad as we are to see Jonny off the market, we wish them a happy married life together! If you’re inspired by the couple’s French day, check out our other Real Weddings abroad – or, if you’re considering a small, private wedding, keep reading for our top tips!

Small Wedding Tips

 1. Stand firm

If you’re considering an intimate wedding, let friends and family know as soon as possible so that people don’t feel the decision has come out of the blue – and stick by your decision. Be polite but firm – make it clear that you understand that it might be an unpopular choice amongst extended family and friends, but that it’s still your decision to make and you’re standing by it.

2. Throw a follow-up party

Often couples choose to have small weddings because of timing or budget issues – so why not keep your wedding intimate, with only very close family and friends invited, and then throw a larger party later when your budget allows, or when the timing is better? This party can be less formal than a wedding reception, but still means that you can invite extended friends and family to join in your celebrations.


3. Go abroad

If you can afford to, consider a destination wedding. It’s much more manageable when you’re only considering a small wedding party, and people will be more likely to understand why they haven’t been invited. Take advantage of small numbers and jet off somewhere you’ve always wanted to go – it’ll be a lovely personal touch, and all the more a special experience for your guests.

4. Consider your venue

It sounds obvious, but traditional wedding venues may not work as well for much smaller weddings. Instead of a huge church, try a cozier chapel room – that way, the room won’t look empty in photographs. Equally, instead of a huge country hall, restaurants work beautifully for intimate gatherings. The more communal table layout is perfect for making sure you can spend quality time with your select few!

For more tips on planning weddings, big or small, check out the advice on our Planning section!