WHEN the ban on large gatherings to beat the coronavirus threatened one couple’s wedding last Saturday, they dropped all their plans and made their vows in an almost empty church.
So, instead of 150 guests and a big party afterwards, just ten close relatives were at Our Lady of Sorrows and St Philip Benizi Roman Catholic Church in Fordingbridge, Hampshire, to see Olivia Norman-Walker marry her fiancé, Zak Carleton-Green.
They were among the last couples to be able to marry. On Monday night, the Prime Minister announced a complete ban on weddings and baptisms, and tight restrictions on funerals.
“We just really wanted to be husband and wife,” the bride said. “Everyone understood where we were coming from, and why we had made the decision. They were really sad because it wasn’t what we had planned, but it was to keep everyone safe; so they just went with it.
“It was a lot smaller than we had originally planned, and the church felt quite empty. It was perfectly imperfect, and we loved it. Everyone had a good time, and, because it was such a small gathering, everybody got to talk to everybody.
“I wore my wedding dress, and Zak wore his uniform as an officer in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. He had a best man, but I didn’t have any bridesmaids. Everyone else dressed up as if it was a proper wedding, but we just didn’t have the big party afterwards. It was going to be a hog roast in the village hall. We are hoping that, if everything has blown over, we can do it in November.”
Mrs Carleton-Green’s godmother, the Revd Anna Norman-Walker, who is Rector of St Leonard’s, Streatham, in south London, was to preach at the ceremony, but will now bless the couple at their delayed wedding breakfast ,whenever that might be. She said: “Bless her lovely heart; she is an amazing girl. When she told us, she said: ‘We both feel a little bit broken at the moment.’ My reaction was to send a message to say how proud we were of her making such a difficult decision. I thought they were amazing. It was tough for them.”
Today they should have been on honeymoon in Mexico. Instead, Mrs Carleton-Green is preparing to return on Monday to her job as a paediatric nurse at Southampton General Hospital, where she expects to be on the front line against Covid-19.