2020 likely isn’t a year that we will look back on too fondly. But for many couples, it was the year they had looked forward to and planned for; it was going to be special – the year they celebrated their marriage. The pandemic has ripped through all of our lives in many ways, but what’s it like to have your wedding day – that most important of life’s milestones – taken from you so abruptly? We talk to three brides to find out how they navigated this strange time and created a special wedding day in 2020.
Malin and Alan
How did Covid-19 restrictions impact your wedding plans?
Fortunately for us we had planned an outdoor wedding in Sweden. So for us the only thing that changed was the number of guests.
With the travel restrictions around the world and the quarantine on people’s return most of our friends were unable to attend. Sweden has restricted the number of people in one gathering to 50 so with the guests that attended we complied with the guidelines, other that that, nothing much had to change with our planning.
What were the main challenges you faced?
The main challenge we faced was to get our Certificate of No Impediment for Alan as the offices in the U.K. were closed until end of June. So that has been the only potential spanner in the works. Luckily on the Swedish side it took less than a week to get the all clear and we received the letter on 6th August, just two days before our wedding!
How do you feel about your smaller than planned wedding?
The whole day was incredible. It was the hottest day of the year so far, we couldn’t have asked for a better day. Everything went to plan and turned out even better than we could have hoped for. We count ourselves very lucky to have been able to still go ahead with our day pretty much as we planned it. Friends all around the world joined via zoom or other media during the day and music was played live from the U.K. by Alan’s brother. Extended family who initially were invited for the evening party joined the ceremony instead and we asked those who wanted to, to bring their own chairs if they felt more comfortable keeping themselves at a distance.
The ceremony was beautiful and even my 96 year old grandmother was able to be there to share this moment with us, definitely a highlight. We had trust in the universe and knew that everything would plan out just the way it was meant to and it did.
Zoe and Tom
Tell us a little about your wedding day and how you made it special despite the restrictions?
Tom and I finally got married on Saturday August 8th, in a very small ceremony in the village I grew up in, after being able to get a common licence from the Bishop. It was just Tom, me, our parents and siblings and my 4 year old niece as flower girl.
Our re-imagined small wedding reminded us that our marriage was really about the joining of our families. Everyone played a part (or three!). My mum and my sister and I spent the morning of our wedding day making flower crowns and bouquets. My husband’s brother organised all the music including playing and singing a song he wrote himself during the ceremony, and was also Tom’s best man, and a witness!
The village had pulled together and organised beautiful flowers for the church, petals for the flower girl, and photographs, and many of our neighbours came to watch from a safe distance!
We weren’t able to have a wedding reception because of the government rules not relaxing, so my mum made our wedding cake and hosted champagne and cake in my parents’ garden, and we had a small family dinner outside afterwards.
What did you miss most in having to change your plans?
We missed our friends, of course, but we’re hoping to be able to have a marriage blessing and a big celebration in our original location with all our friends and family, once the pandemic has passed. We decided to wear our “proper” wedding outfits for our smaller ceremony, which were black tie, so we did look rather fancy for a tiny village church in North Yorkshire!
It was quite far from our original wedding plans, which were in a chapel in my old university and a grand medieval hall with around 100 guests, but in the end it was really just as special. My advice is to go ahead with getting married even if it can’t be the perfect day you had planned – in the end, the material things did not matter so much to us.
Emma & Gareth
What were the original plans for your wedding day?
A low key affair was something we’d both always wanted. We booked a village hall with enough space for all our friends and family, – unlicenced – so we were going to provide all the booze and give everyone a good time. For us it was about a big party with a ceilidh band and excellent playlists! We wanted to keep it simple so we didn’t create any unnecessary waste, and we didn’t have to be picky about numbers.
What made you decide to go ahead despite the restrictions?
We both just really wanted to be married to each other. Our lives have been improved exponentially with each other and we just really wanted to take that next step. The most important part of the wedding day for us was the getting married; and once the 30 people guest restriction came in, we thought there was no reason not to. The party could come after all the Covid nonsense was over and we could have the small and intimate wedding ceremony I had always wanted with just our most important family members.
What did you miss most about having a smaller wedding?
Our immediate families filled the 30 easily so we had no friends there which was a shame. Gareth is most gutted we didn’t have friends there. For me, knowing the party is coming, I was more gutted about the lack of dancing than the lack of guests. I don’t just mean because we couldn’t have the ceilidh band, but we couldn’t even turn the volume up on our playlist and have a dance due to the restrictions. That was hard, and I must admit I did break the rules a little to jig to Lizzo when she came on!
What were the best bits about having an intimate wedding?
It was nice to have a small, intimate ceremony without having to upset people. We both said that just getting around to spend time with all 30 guests was challenging enough and we don’t know how we would have worked round the original 130 guest list, it would have been exhausting so it made it more relaxed I guess.
Our venue – Matlock Imperial Rooms– were really helpful at making the day special despite the rules, they went over and above to help us and to make sure we could have as much of the original plan as possible and help us relax and enjoy it. Thanks to Super Kitchen for the fareshare buffet, it was wonderful food with great service. Also by having the fareshare buffet option, which serves food that is saved from being thrown away unnecessarily by supermarkets and manufacturers, they helped us towards our aim of a waste free wedding. All the suppliers and other services were also super helpful and flexible which really was a big help.
What advice would you give couples facing a similar dilemma?
Be honest with yourselves and each other about what the most important part of the wedding day is to you both. If you can’t get that with the restrictions you’re probably better off waiting. If you can still have the elements that are most important to you then why wait?! The ceremony for us was by far the best bit. We loved the experience of marrying each other, it was really special. It’s only your opinions that matter too, don’t let other people’s input blur what you really think.
Huge thanks and congratulations to Malin & Alan, Zoe & Tom, and Emma & Gareth from all of us at Patchwork.