Across Britain, would-be newlyweds are frantically making adjustments to wedding plans thrown into disarray by the worldwide pandemic.
Some are rescheduling for later in the year, hoping that the lockdown will ease in time for their big day. Others have postponed until next year to allow the recovery to take hold.
Wedding planners, in tandem with the owners of venues, are working flat out to help.
Sarah Brookfield-Almond, group director of James’ Places, which runs five wedding venues in Lancashire and north Yorkshire, is concerned about a likely concertina effect as thousands of 2020 brides try to switch to next year.
She also points to varying guidance from county council registrars around the country. In Lancashire, she says, registrars have warned that they don’t expect to be conducting ceremonies until September. “It’s less than helpful to have made the decision so early.”
Brookfield-Almond claims that many in the industry feel let down by insurers, with only a “tiny number” paying out on cancelled wedding claims. “Wedding insurance is a very specific and specialised product, yet the government doesn’t seem to have asserted any pressure on them to honour these claims,” she says.
“All the burden is being left on a hospitality and wedding venue industry that is already seriously challenged.”
Sharon and Mark
The couple were due to marry at Caerphilly register office, south Wales, on 2 May
Sharon Lovesey, 44, who works in a call centre, and Mark Evans, 45, a baker, met online last April. Six weeks later, Evans proposed. “As soon as we met, we just clicked and fell in love,” says Lovesey.
“We were so looking forward to the day, but it wasn’t to be. We’re gutted.”
The couple spent their intended wedding day trying to pretend it was just a normal Saturday. “I could have cried all day, but I managed to hold it back,” says Lovesey. “We were really quiet. We went out to do our food shopping just to keep our minds off it but we kept saying things like, ‘We should have been getting ready now, we should have been having photos done now, the car would be arriving now, we should have been man and wife now’.”
On what would have been their wedding night, they watched films and ordered a takeaway.
“It was so upsetting not becoming Mrs Evans that day,” says Lovesey.
The couple are hoping they can at least have a few witnesses for their rescheduled wedding at the end of June. They also plan to have a blessing next year on their wedding anniversary, followed by a rescheduled honeymoon in Turkey.
“It’s the same resort, just a different hotel,” says Lovesey.
Lisa and Sarah
Originally due to marry in August, the couple deferred their big day to April 2021
Lisa Barnish, 28, a Ladbrokes manager, and Sarah Johnstone, 35, marketplace manager for the same company, have been together for two-and-a-half years.
“We got engaged on holiday in Barcelona,” says Barnish. “It was me who asked Sarah on the beach.”
They were due to get married at the Shireburn Arms, Hurst Green, on 14 August. “We fell in love with the place as soon as we walked in and looked at the amazing scenery,” says Barnish.
The pandemic has forced them to postpone both their wedding and a planned honeymoon to Italy in September.
“Fortunately, the Shireburn has been amazing and we’ve been able to get a new date of 23 April 2021.”
Lisa would have happily kept the various gifts, signs and wedding cake toppers that carried the August date, arguing that “it would be a story to tell, a memory to keep”. But she was over-ruled. “Sarah insisted they would be out of date, so we’re buying new.”
Both are “very relaxed” and trying to take the upheaval in their stride. “We’re just grateful that all our family and friends are safe and well.”
Lockdown rules permitting, they hope to get away for a few nights to mark their planned wedding date. And just to get them in the party mood, they intend to drink “lots of gin”.
Alex and Laura
The couple had planned to marry in Italy on 30 May.
Alex Mason, 27, a sales manager, and Laura McCartney, 24, a nurse, should have been getting married in the garden of an 8th-century monastery on Italy’s Amalfi coast on Saturday.
But now the whole event, along with a “mini-moon” in Sorrento and a full honeymoon in Santorini, has been put back to July 2021.
Mason and McCartney, both from Wombourne, south Staffordshire, have been together for five years and got engaged in Dublin in December 2017. Laura recalled: “Alex had planned it and stood up to propose in front of a restaurant full of people.”
The couple chose Italy for their wedding but then came the pandemic. So far they’ve received a refund from Airbnb but are still pursuing British Airways over the cost of their flights. At the moment the airline is insisting on giving vouchers rather than a cash refund so they can buy fresh tickets – still with BA.
McCartney finds it “horrible” to catch glimpses of her wedding paraphernalia bearing next Saturday’s date, but is relieved that everyone on the couple’s 35-strong guest list is still able to come to the wedding next year.
“It’s still our dream location, so we’re more than happy to wait to have the day as we intended,” says McCartney. “We are so very lucky to have our family fit and well, and for us to have our health during these scary times.”
The couple intend to spend their now-abandoned wedding date “getting some nice food in, cracking open a bottle of wine, watching some movies and having a romantic day together”.
McCartney adds: “We know it’s important to remember there are people out there losing loved ones. We’re very lucky to have one another and to be able to get married next year.
“It was a blow at first, but we were the ones to actually make the decision to postpone. We didn’t feel it right to get married with everything that was happening. We could have hung on longer, but it was clear from the start that weddings in May – especially the ones abroad – would not be going ahead this year.
“My hen do had already been cancelled and it was making us both very stressed and upset. Once the wedding was postponed it felt like a weight had been lifted off our shoulders.
“We now are both focusing on just getting through this lockdown, looking forward to seeing loved ones again and hoping everyone stays safe. We will have our special day and it will be perfect even if we have to wait another 14 months.”