Thousands of weddings across the UK have been ground to a halt by the Coronavirus pandemic that’s put the country into lockdown. But for some couples, they’re finding a (socially-distanced) way around this difficult situation.
From a ceremony over Zoom to a recently-qualified doctor who wanted to marry before he was called to the frontline, read the stories of our four amazing couples who went ahead with saying ‘I do’. And don’t worry, none of them broke any rules!
If you’ve had to postpone your wedding, perhaps you’ll be inspired to consider a video ceremony or, when restrictions are lifted, an intimate ceremony with just a few nearest and dearest. The most important thing is that you are starting your life with the person you love – celebrating (and, oh boy, will you celebrate!) with all your friends and family can come later.
“We Got Married on Zoom” – Zuzanna and Sam
Wedding florist Zuzanna and fiancé Sam got engaged in Ibiza last July and spent eight months planning and preparing for their dream wedding – elegant with a boho twist – before lockdown scuppered their plans. They decided to get married anyway and held a beautiful wedding on video-calling platform Zoom on the 30th March. Their guests watched from home in their wedding outfits while Zuzanna and Sam said their vows and first danced around their living room.
Just 10 days before their wedding, their venue closed due to Government restrictions (which “shook us a bit,” said Zuzanna), so it was all hands on deck for plan B. “We were going to gather our pastor, our family and closest friends, and have a little ceremony in a park somewhere. But three days later, the Government announced we are going into lockdown. This one hit us hard,” she admitted.
“But from the very beginning, as much as we wanted to have a beautiful wedding and celebrate with our loved ones, our focus was on getting married, not on the wedding day itself. So we kept pressing on. COVID-19 stopped us from having the wedding we spent months planning and preparing for but it did not stop us from getting married!
There was no bouquet in my hand, which is ironic since I'm a wedding florist. But hey, I was about to marry the man of my dreams and my best friend, and that was the only thing I cared about at that moment.
“We emailed all our guests and invited them to our Zoom wedding. We asked everyone to put on their wedding clothes and sneakers and send us photos of themselves on our big day so we can put together our wedding photo album afterwards. (We’re all about relaxed vibes and we live in sneakers, and we wanted our wedding to reflect who we are – the original plan was to get changed into trainers after the ceremony and have all our guests wear their favourite pair too.)
“On the day, we had our pastor come down, we pushed some furniture away, creating some space in the living room, we set up our laptop and lights in the right places so our guests could see us well. And we got ready. No trim for Sam because, of course, everything was closed, no hair and makeup artist for me. I don’t wear a lot of makeup so I’m not great at it but I did the best I could. I spoke to my girls and we prayed over the phone, I put on my dress and I was ready to marry my man.
We had a little kiss (one of our friends watching said 'Hey, you're not allowed to kiss yet!'), I waved at the laptop to say hi to everyone, we held hands and our pastor began to speak and pray for us.
“There was no bouquet in my hand, which is ironic since I’m a wedding florist. But hey, I was about to marry the man of my dreams and my best friend, and that was the only thing I cared about at that moment. I waited for our song to start playing in the living room (‘Known’ by Tauren Wells), I waited for a few moments, took a deep breath, got out of the bedroom and slowly walked towards the living room where Sam was waiting for his bride. I was so excited to see him and his reaction when he saw me was so precious. We had a little kiss (one of our friends watching said ‘Hey, you’re not allowed to kiss yet!’), I waved at the laptop to say hi to everyone, we held hands and our pastor began to speak and pray for us.
“Our ceremony was so beautiful and special. It was so much better than we expected it to be and we loved every single minute of it! After the ceremony Sam said a few words to our guests and we all raised a glass. Everyone wanted us to have our first dance, so they watched us having a lovely moment two-stepping around the room. It was all so beautiful in its simplicity. We loved seeing all our guests actually dressed up, looking their best for our wedding even though they were all in their homes. Everyone loved being a part of our special day and we received such great feedback and so much love from everyone.”
Everyone wanted us to have our first dance, so they watched us having a lovely moment two-stepping around the room. It was all so beautiful in its simplicity.
Zuzanna had chosen her friend and “amazing florist” Ulrike of The Floral Journey to do her flowers so she didn’t have to worry about it the day before her wedding. “She’s super talented and we absolutely love her work so we felt extremely blessed to have her onboard. We got together a few weeks before the wedding and DIY-ed our welcome board together and spray painted tonnes of bud vases for our centrepieces. Ulrike was so pumped for our wedding and couldn’t wait to make all our beautiful arrangements.
“Since she didn’t get to create all our gorgeous arrangements, on the day of our wedding, she prepared a beautiful roast dinner for her family and decorated their dinner table the same way she was going to decorate all the tables at our wedding, in our honour. We were so touched by it.
On the day of our wedding, our florist prepared a beautiful roast dinner for her family and decorated their dinner table the same way she was going to decorate all the tables at our wedding, in our honour. We were so touched by it.
“Right now, we are absolutely loving our super-extended lockdown-themed honeymoon. We feel so blessed that we get to spend so much time together right at the start of our marriage. It’s awesome.
“Once the lockdown is over we will still get our family and friends together and celebrate with hugs. And our amazing friend and our fave photographer of all, Nataly Jennings, will still get together with us for a beautiful styled shoot. We’ll get to jump into our wedding clothes again and this time we will have Ulrike’s gorgeous flowers. It’s going to be so awesome and we can’t wait for it.
“God really does work all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).”
“We Had to Choose Just Eight of Our Loved Ones to Join Us” – Poppy and Ashley
Images: Ryan Welch Weddings
Poppy and Ashley had spent 16 months planning their dream wedding at Fairyhill in Gower, with 108 friends and family joining them for the day. But just two days before their original wedding, their venue called to stay that the registrar could only preside over ceremonies of 10 or less people. They had to make the difficult decision of choosing between postponing and cutting down to just eight of their loved ones.
The couple, who’ve known each other since childhood, but lost touch and reunited three years ago, decided to go ahead with their wedding – “that’s all we ever wanted” – and quickly had to choose who would attend.
“Straight away we decided to have our family there: Poppy’s parents and brothers, and my parents and sister,” said Ashley. “It was hard saying to our grandparents that they couldn’t come but we did it for their own safety – we didn’t want to put them at risk just for a few hours.
It was hard saying to our grandparents that they couldn't come but we did it for their own safety.
“Our other family complete understood and we had a party at our house later that evening for those that couldn’t come. We’re having a blessing in December back at Fairyhill too.”
Their grandparents didn’t miss out entirely either. Both grandmas put their fascinators on at the same time as their 2pm ceremony on 21st March and raised a glass to the happy couple!
Poppy decided to save her wedding dress for the blessing in December, and wore a beautiful little black dress she’d been planning on wearing to the celebration party they were meant to have at their house the day after the wedding.
Since the wedding, I've found myself thinking that I wouldn't have had it any other way. It was perfect.
She walked down the aisle with her Dad, and then they shared a meal and celebratory drinks hosted by Fairyhill. As they were able to hold their ceremony on the same date, they used their planned wedding flowers and cake, which looked perfect on their happy, but unexpectedly small, day. Their photographer Ryan Welch joined them to capture their gorgeous photos.
“Since the wedding, I’ve found myself thinking that I wouldn’t have had it any other way,” said Ashley. “It was perfect; Fairyhill really pulled out all the stops for us to make it such a special day and they couldn’t have done more for us.”
Lots of couples face the same situation of having to drastically cut their guest list after lockdown ends, but Poppy and Ashley found a huge number of positives to their small ceremony.
Having a small group of people is a lot more intimate and personal. Also it allows you to relax a little more and enjoy the moment due to less distractions and worrying about things that could do wrong.
“We had this all happen two days before we were supposed to get married. At the time, we were so disappointed that we couldn’t have our special day with all our friends and family around is. But personally, I would say having a small group of people is a lot more intimate and personal. Also it allows you to relax a little more and enjoy the moment due to less distractions and worrying about things that could do wrong. I would say just enjoy your day, because even though it’s not what you may have planned, it is still your big day and it’s what you’re going to remember for the rest of your life together.”
“We Got a Marriage Licence with Less Than 24 Hour’s Notice!” – Hannah and Aaron
Images: Britta Marie Photography
Hannah and Aaron tied the knot on the island of Jersey after being granted a special marriage license with less than 24 hours’ notice. The couple married on 26th March outside Hannah’s family home, with family and neighbours watching their ceremony out the windows.
They were due to marry on 4th April at Chateau La Chaire with Hannah’s family travelling from Scotland, Aaron’s from Cornwall, and guests coming from Australia and New Zealand – but it quickly became clear that plan wasn’t going to happen.
Jersey announced they were cancelling all weddings between 30th March and 30th June, so it really was now or never for the couple.
The Superintendent Registrar told them to get in touch with Revered Jonny Scott of St Martin’s Church and the Dean of Jersey, who whizzed into action and got them a special licence to marry outside Hannah’s family home in less than 24 hours.
Hannah walked down a lantern-lined aisle with her Dad, holding a makeshift bouquet and with a lovely backdrop DIY’ed by her family. Family and neighbours looked out their windows and threw confetti down on the couple.
“The ceremony itself was beautiful and certainly something that we will always remember with Reverend Jonny Scott calling upon our neighbours and family to get involved,” said Hannah.
We were also able to FaceTime Aaron's family back in Cornwall who watched the ceremony and celebrated themselves in their garden with some bubbly, which was really special.
“We were also able to FaceTime Aaron’s family back in Cornwall who watched the ceremony and celebrated themselves in their garden with some bubbly, which was really special.”
Their photographer – Britta Marie – was even able to come and take photos from a distance, while their cake maker – Kico Cakes – made a small version of their wedding cake at short notice. “It was absolutely delicious and brought a bit of normality to an unusual, but equally lovely, day,” Hannah said.
They celebrated with takeaway and champagne, plus plenty of party games and a boogie to their wedding playlist.
“It’s a day that we will never forget and we now have a story to tell… not many people can say that they had to get married under such circumstances!
It also made us take a step back and really appreciate what matters - it wasn't about the big white wedding dress or huge party. It was about having our loved ones close and enjoying our health and happiness.
“It also made us take a step back and really appreciate what matters – it wasn’t about the big white wedding dress or huge party. It was about having our loved ones close and enjoying our health and happiness. We will definitely be making up for any missed celebrations as soon as we can, though!”
Hannah and Aaron said they “cannot wait” to hold a reception next year on what will be their first wedding anniversary at Chateau La Chaire.
“I Wore a Borrowed Dress and Family Friends Threw Us a Wedding Breakfast” – Keeba and Ben
Their venue and suppliers were happy to postpone their wedding reception until 16th January 2021, and since all the paperwork was in order, Ben and Keeba decided to see if they could still travel to Scotland as planned and get legally married.
Images: Ellie Nash
“Since Ben was likely to be drafted to the front line to help with Coronavirus, we didn’t know when else we might have had the chance to get married. Wanting to minimise the amount of people involved (at this stage, there weren’t any actual bans on gatherings in place and shops were still open), we decided to have the wedding outside. We had booked a humanist celebrant (which is legal in Scotland) and they can marry you anywhere they deem suitable.
We decided to bring the ceremony forward a couple of days - which was a good idea as Nicola Sturgeon banned weddings the following day (so the day before our original date)!
“Our celebrant, Jenny Shepherd, and family friends of mine (where we were staying) gave us a list of possible places so on Thursday we did a reccy and settled on the shore of Loch Morlich near Aviemore as our favourite place. We then approached the Forestry and Land Scotland to get permission to have our wedding there and that was granted. As my dad and step-mum live in that area, we asked them to act as our witnesses, and the daughter of our family friends kindly offered to drive two and a half hours to take photographs and record the day for all those who couldn’t be there. This was especially welcomed by my mum who is now confined to her house in France (we also tried to make her feel a part of the day by cutting the cake in the evening with her and my step-dad watching via FaceTime).
“Our celebrant mentioned that she could do the ceremony on the Saturday if that worked for us and so we decided to bring the ceremony forward a couple of days – which was a good idea as Nicola Sturgeon banned weddings the following day (so the day before our original date)! It all happened to quickly – four days from deciding to postpone to saying ‘I do’ and we were both so busy trying to arrange the new date and keeping our guests and suppliers updated as well as speaking to our insurers (and Ben still doing his final exams!).
We loved the fact that the location for the wedding on the schedule says 'On the shore of Loch Morlich'.
“It wasn’t until we picked up the marriage schedule on Friday afternoon that it really felt like it was going to happen. The registry office had been very good to us as we had to change everything except our names and that of the celebrant! We loved the fact that the location for the wedding on the schedule says ‘On the shore of Loch Morlich’.
“Everyone came together to do what they could to help make it happen. The family friends we were staying with were going to make our wedding cake so said they’d make a mini one for us and offered to host a wedding breakfast at their house. Before I’d left London, another friend offered to lend me her wedding dress (I didn’t want to wear my dress for the castle so that is now waiting in Scotland for January) and my step-mum lent me a cover-up (I would have frozen without it!).
“Ben had hired a kilt which he planned to change into for the evening ceilidh so he decided to just wear that and save his suit. And, as our flowers had already been delivered to the florist, we decided to make use of them so the florist left them for us to collect in Inverness.
I'd put on a massive coat in an effort to hide my dress from Ben until we got there, although it didn't quite work as it kept falling open when I changed gear.
“On the day itself, after getting ready, I drove the four of us to the wedding in a car packed with camping table, chairs, picnic hamper with flasks of tea, flowers etc. I’d put on a massive coat in an effort to hide my dress from Ben until we got there although it didn’t quite work as it kept falling open when I changed gear.
“We met our celebrant (who provided a tablecloth and bluetooth speaker) and our photographer friend at Loch Morlich and then they set up the table on the beach while I changed the coat to the cover-up, put on heels (Marks and Spencer versions of the blue Manolo Blahniks that Carrie Bradshaw ends up wearing to her city hall wedding in Sex and the City!) and lipstick.
Of course I almost lost my shoe, and during the ceremony we were interrupted by a duck and a couple of old English sheepdogs - but it was all rather relaxed and terribly romantic.
“My dad walked me down the world’s longest aisle to the music of Pachelbel’s Canon where Ben, our celebrant and Gwyneth (my step-mum) were waiting. Of course I almost lost my shoe – heels and sand do not really mix! And during the ceremony (which was a shortened version of what had been planned) we were interrupted by a duck and a couple of old English sheepdogs – but it was all rather relaxed and terribly romantic. As part of the ceremony, we had a traditional handfast and our celebrant ended with a reading.
“There was a group of people having a picnic nearby on the beach and they were very moved to witness our wedding from a distance telling us it had made their day as we left.
“We had planned to share a bottle of champagne there on the beach but were all so cold we decamped to the car park and toasted our marriage there. Then we returned to my family friends’ for a delicious meal of Beef Wellington, chocolate and salted caramel fondants, and plenty of bubbles. They’d strung their house with bunting and greeted us with a confetti shower too. My dad and I even had a father-bride dance in their kitchen.
Ben and I agreed that, even though it wasn't how we'd planned to get married, it was altogether a perfect day and we're so glad we went ahead with it.
“Ben and I agreed that, even though it wasn’t how we’d planned to get married, it was altogether a perfect day and we’re so glad we went ahead with it.”
Keeba says she can’t wait to see Ben’s face when he sees her in her real dress in the ballroom at Achnagairn Castle next year. For their guests, their January wedding has given them something to look forward to in the future.
Their lochside ceremony on the 21st March will be the date they celebrate as their wedding anniversary, “but I imagine we’ll also have a glass on the 16th January too. Why not?!”
Like the idea of a small ceremony and a big party later? If you’re considering postponing your wedding reception, here’s the eight steps you should take now.