Couples reveal what it’s REALLY like be getting married in lockdown

Couples reveal what it’s REALLY like be getting married under the new Covid-19 restrictions – from swapping to an ‘elopement’ package to the pain of having to choose ONE parent each to attend

  • Ceremonies allowed to restart with up to 30 people in England from Saturday
  • New rules ban singing and say spoken responses ‘should not be in raised voice’
  • One couple, of Bury, have brought date forward for fear of second Covid-19 wave
  • Katie McGregor, 36, and Ollie Glaze, 38, moved their big day from May to July 30
  • Becky Pearey and Jamie Hansell will tie the knot on July 11 with social distancing 

With post-lockdown weddings given the green light from this weekend, couples desperate to tie the knot are having to rejig their plans to suit the strict new rules.

Ceremonies are restricted to 30 people – which includes staff – and receptions are banned, while fathers cannot walk their daughter arm-in-arm down the aisle and couples must wash their hands before and after exchanging rings.

More than 250,000 weddings usually take place in the UK each year, but most couples have been affected by restrictions that came into force in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Here couples share how they are planning their socially distanced celebrations.

Terry Armstrong, 41, a pension administrator from Gateshead, is marrying his partner Lindsey Hill, 33, a building facilities operative, this Saturday. 

Terry Armstrong, 41, a pension Administrator from Gateshead, is marrying his partner Lindsey Hill, 33, a building facilities operative, this Saturday

Terry Armstrong, 41, a pension Administrator from Gateshead, is marrying his partner Lindsey Hill, 33, a building facilities operative, this Saturday

He told FEMAIL that, after pestering their venue ‘for ages’ and watching every daily briefing, only this week they’ve had it confirmed that their big day is going ahead.

‘So despite planning for a year, it’s all come down to a mad rush,’ he said. ‘The wedding is on July 4 at 12 noon. I believe we’re the only couple getting married that day at Newcastle Civic Centre.’

Terry told how they had the unenviable task of reducing their number of guests from 80 to just eight. 

‘We had to choose our two witnesses, one parent each – so we both went with our mothers – our son Jack and my brother Dean, who will act as camera man,’ he explained.

Terry told how they had the unenviable task of reducing their number of guests from 80 to just eight

Terry told how they had the unenviable task of reducing their number of guests from 80 to just eight

‘We had to cancel the reception which meant I wasted months on writing a speech!’ 

After the ceremony the couple now plan to celebrate their wedding at home with their son and a takeaway.

Terry added: ‘We plan to have a big celebration on our one year wedding anniversary.’

The couple weren’t keen to postpone their legal union because they are concerned there will be another spike in coronavirus cases.  

‘We don’t think people are taking Covid-19 seriously enough, despite the government warnings, so “normal” is a long way away,’ Terry said.

The couple weren't keen to postpone their legal wedding because they are concerned there will be another spike in coronavirus cases

The couple weren't keen to postpone their legal wedding because they are concerned there will be another spike in coronavirus cases

The couple weren’t keen to postpone their legal wedding because they are concerned there will be another spike in coronavirus cases

‘We just wanted to get the legality of marriage done while we can and begin our lives as husband and wife. 

‘Lindsey will miss having her dad walk her down the aisle, and I will not experience the same nervousness of waiting at the front to see her for the first time coming in with her walk-in music. 

‘Also the exchanging of rings is banned, so these are all things we will try to recreate in the future with a celebrant ceremony.’

Stephen Toner, 32, from Accrington, Lancashire, and his fiancée Chloe Simpson, 26, have actually brought their October wedding forward to August out of fear of a second wave of Covid-19.

Stephen Toner, 32, from Accrington, Lancashire, and his fiancée Chloe Simpson, 26, have actually brought their October wedding forward to August out of fear of a second wave of Covid-19

Stephen Toner, 32, from Accrington, Lancashire, and his fiancée Chloe Simpson, 26, have actually brought their October wedding forward to August out of fear of a second wave of Covid-19

Stephen, who runs his own company SWT Catering, told how they were due to hold it on a rooftop terrace followed by a dinner at 20 Stories, a restaurant and cocktail bar in the heart of Spinningfields in Manchester – but they initially postponed their nuptials when the country went into lockdown in March. 

At a glance: What are the rules for weddings from this Saturday? 

  • Members of different households must maintain social distancing, so fathers cannot walk daughters arm-in-arm down the aisle
  • Couples must wash their hands before and after exchanging rings  
  • Receptions are limited to two households indoors, or up to six people from different households outdoors
  • Up to 30 people are allowed at the ceremony, including the couple, witnesses, officiants and guests, and staff not employed by the venue
  • No food or drink is allowed to be consumed ‘unless required for the purposes of solemnisation’ 
  • There should be no singing during the service or use of instruments which have to be blown into 
  • Spoken responses should ‘not be in a raised voice’ 
  • If a small child is involved, they should be held a parent, guardian or member of that child’s household 
  • Couples should consider using recordings instead of singing
  • Organs music is allowed but they must be cleaned before and after
  • Books, reusable and communal resources such as service sheets, prayer mats, or devotional material should be removed from use. 
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After waiting for months for news, they decided to hold the ceremony at Bury Town Hall – where they gave their notice of marriage in January – when it was announced small ceremonies are now allowed.

Stephen told FEMAIL: ‘Our new date was October 9, but myself and Chloe were concerned about reports of the possibility there being a second wave of Covid-19 in the later months of this year.

‘We didn’t want to take the chance of waiting for that date for it to possibly be cancelled and then having to wait a lot longer to get married.

‘I paid for our notice of marriage on January 15 this year and I know you have to get married within a year of that notice. Also with our honeymoon to Paris booked this year, we cannot delay it for when Covid is over as there would be more cost involved – though saying that, it may not be over for a very long time which is frustrating.’

Not only is it now not possible to have their big day at their dream venue, Stephen said ‘almost everyone who should be involved will be missing from our wedding’.

‘We’ve had to cancel all the decorations we’d planned for, and Chloe had to buy a new dress with extra funds due to the original not being appropriate for the limited space of the venue change.’

The couple have also had to shave their guest list down from 50 to eight people, which includes two registrars and their son Riley, and are planning to hold a party in the future.

‘It means my best man is not able to come, my fiancée will have to walk down the aisle on her own, and there’ll also be no music due to the ceremony being cut down to only saying the law abiding words to conclude our marriage,’ Stephen said. 

‘The only plus side is having additional funds in the later months to splash out on to make that future party as good as possible!’

Becky Pearey, 31, and Jamie Hansell, 35, booked their big day at St Nicholas Church in Gosforth, Newcastle on July 11 a year ago after getting engaged in Kos in May 2019. 

Becky Pearey, 31, and Jamie Hansell, 35, booked their big day at St Nicholas Church in Gosforth, Newcastle on July 11 a year ago after getting engaged in Kos in May 2019

Becky Pearey, 31, and Jamie Hansell, 35, booked their big day at St Nicholas Church in Gosforth, Newcastle on July 11 a year ago after getting engaged in Kos in May 2019

Becky told how she has known what she wanted for her big day since she was 10, and her parents Sue and Keith, who live in Paris, drove to the UK by car on Sunday so that they can quarantine for 14 days before the nuptials. 

But while Keith is allowed to walk her down the aisle, the duo won’t be able to traditionally link arms if they are to maintain the one metre social distancing rule. 

Becky, a trainee primary school teacher, told ChronicleLive: ‘We are trying to work out how Dad is going to walk me down the aisle. He’ll have to walk a metre in front of me because of social distancing rules.

‘My dress is amazing. My mother, mother-in-law and dad were there when I went to choose it and it was Dad who picked my dress. It wasn’t something I would normally go for but when I tried it on, it was just perfect.’

Becky told how she has known what she wanted for her big day since she was 10, and her parents Sue and Keith, who live in Paris, drove to the UK by car on Sunday so that they can quarantine for 14 days before the nuptials

Becky told how she has known what she wanted for her big day since she was 10, and her parents Sue and Keith, who live in Paris, drove to the UK by car on Sunday so that they can quarantine for 14 days before the nuptials

Becky said she has been ‘so excited’ for their wedding and had been emailing Rev Jane Nattrass every week asking questions. 

‘We had planned to have the reception and evening do at Doxford Hall, but because of coronavirus they aren’t opening until later in the summer, so we are having to postpone that until next year,’ she said.

‘Instead we hope that we can have a glass of champagne and afternoon tea at the church.’

Becky told FEMAIL she has reduced her bridesmaids from six to two – her sister-in-law and sister-in-law-to-be – while Jamie is having just two ushers out of his original five – his best man and Becky’s brother.

Becky said she has been 'so excited' for their wedding and had been emailing Rev Jane Nattrass every week asking questions. Pictured during a socially distanced rehearsal

Becky said she has been ‘so excited’ for their wedding and had been emailing Rev Jane Nattrass every week asking questions. Pictured during a socially distanced rehearsal

‘Next year when they can actually do what they normally would in the church and we have more guests, they will play their part,’ she said.

‘It’s going to be fairly strict, so the more people just sitting as guests the easier to control social distancing and seating.’

Sadly Becky’s mother was unable to be with her daughter during the final preparations leading up to the big day, and they can’t even hug when they reunite, but Sue will attend her last dress fitting via FaceTime.

In order for their extended friends and family, especially those that are abroad, to ‘attend’, the couple are broadcasting the ceremony on Zoom.

Keith told the publication it will be a ‘very proud moment’ when he walks Becky down the aisle, despite the social distancing restrictions. 

In order for their extended friends and family, especially those that are abroad, to 'attend', the couple are broadcasting the ceremony on Zoom

In order for their extended friends and family, especially those that are abroad, to ‘attend’, the couple are broadcasting the ceremony on Zoom

‘We have honoured all the confinement guidelines over the past few months and as a result of this, we will now be able to enjoy an unforgettable day with our family. We can’t wait,’ he said.

Another couple getting married later this month are Katie McGregor, 36, and Oliver Glaze, 38, of Ayrshire.

The couple were due to wed on May 12, but rearranged to July 30 and, instead of the 100 evening guests and 30 at the ceremony, they have opted for an ‘elopement’ package.

Katie and Oliver will enjoy a humanist ceremony on a beach in Scotland with just them, their six-month-old son Benji and their two dogs.

Another couple getting married later this month are Katie McGregor, 36, and Oliver Glaze, 38, of Ayrshire, pictured with their son Benji

Another couple getting married later this month are Katie McGregor, 36, and Oliver Glaze, 38, of Ayrshire, pictured with their son Benji

Katie, a sustainability manager, said it was too short notice to organise rooms in hotels for everyone, so they’re planning a blessing in Hertfordshire – where Oliver’s family is from – next year. 

‘The original plans were that family and friends would come up to Scotland and make a week of it,’ she told The Times.

‘There is definitely some disappointment as obviously family want to be there, but on Oliver’s side one of his parents is shielding and my dad is in remission from cancer. 

‘We’re all on the same page. It was important for us to get married, to wait another year seemed too much.’

Formal bridal party photographs swapped for more ‘candid’ shots with ‘pretty’ PPE to match the colour scheme

Wedding photographer Matt Munro from Atlas and Munro Photography told FEMAIL that traditional wedding photographs such as a line-up of the bridal party are a no-no under the current restrictions. 

Matt went on to explain how a more ‘reportage’ style will be used, meaning more candid shots as opposed to the posed formal group shots. 

‘This will actually work in couples’ favour as some of the best wedding shots are when people don’t notice the photographer is there,’ he said.  

‘The most important thing when shooting a wedding now is to be as creative and as resourceful as possible, so the photographs still bring back lots of happy memories.

‘Traditional shots that were a staple before the pandemic, e.g. the bridal party all getting ready together, won’t be able to happen.

‘Instead you can capture the last minute preparations in the garden such as arranging of the dress, veil and bouquet. I will make sure there are loads of brollies to hand if the weather’s looking grim – sometimes this can create a really fun atmospheric shot!’

Matt said the emphasis on photos is now ‘more candid shots’, adding: ‘Part of my usual approach to photographing weddings is to be as discreet as possible and this sometimes means using longer telephoto lenses so I’m not always in people’s faces. 

‘Thankfully this approach is not affected by the 2m rule. The biggest challenge here will be making sure I’m aware of the people not in front of the lens and accidentally getting too close to the people around me.’

He encouraged couples to get their guests to wear ‘pretty fabric’ masks in the same colour scheme as their wedding.

‘If your guests are wearing masks, try and help them source ones made from pretty fabric, instead of surgical ones,’ he said. 

‘They could cover the surgical ones if necessary. It’s nice to share your colour scheme with guests if you have one so they can match their mask fabric to it and make it less jarring visually in the photos.’

He added that he is also doing shoots with couples on the day that their wedding should have been.

‘It is popular at the moment to have a professionally shot set of photographs that capture the memory of the date even if it didn’t go ahead,’ Matt said. 

To keep and his clients safe, Matt said he will be taking all the same precautions he has been during lockdown.

‘This involves sanitising my equipment and my hands prior to the wedding as well as at regular intervals during the event,’ he said.

‘I’ll be keeping lots of hand sanitiser – even for guests to use – and back up masks in my camera bag. Thankfully all of my PPE is very light so it won’t really affect me to carry these items around.’ 

For more information visit www.atlasmunro.com 

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