When Boris Johnson plunged huge swathes of the country into Tier 4 on Boxing Day, thousands of couples who’d hoped to wed with family and friends looking on had their plans thrown into disarray.
Some, however, decided to make a sprint down the aisle, organising their nuptials with just hours to spare to get the chance to say ‘I do’ in front of loved ones.
In tier 3, 15 guests are allowed to attend but tier 4 allows only for services in ‘exceptional circumstances’.
Here, two couples who made the decision to plan a hasty wedding, fearing the lockdown that has now transpired, reveal how they cut corners to ensure their big day happened.
‘The hairdresser put a few curls in my hair. I hadn’t washed it for six days…’
Jemma Copestake and her new groom Josh, 30, from Shirebrook, Derbyshire, decided to get married on December 30th, with just two hours to spare, after their region was pushed into tier 4…
We did it! Josh and Jemma Copestake heard the news that Nottinghamshire was heading for tier 4 on December 30th and hastily brought forward their January 2nd wedding – despite Jemma having greasy hair
Jemma, who has been with her partner Josh for 14 years, and had spent two years planning her dream wedding, says one of her bridesmaids had to get changed by a roadside to make it to the church on time
A loved-up couple were forced to pull together their wedding with just two hours’ notice to beat the coronavirus wedding ban – before performing their first dance in their kitchen.
Jemma Copestake and her new husband Josh, 30, had been planning their wedding since 2018 and were looking forward to tying the knot on January 2 this year, after already delaying it.
As the country sat anxiously awaiting tier updates on December 30th, 32-year-old Jemma was having her nails done – unaware of the chaos that was about to ensue.
The teaching assistant was just preparing to leave when a bridesmaid called in tears, warning as their region plunged into Tier 4, weddings were to be cancelled.
Initially deflated, defiant mum-of-two Jemma quickly decided at 3.45pm to get married before the 6pm deadline and Josh soon agreed.
Over the next two hours, Jemma’s entire family and community in Shirebrook, Derbyshire, pulled together, emergency scrambling a vicar, photographer and florist.
Miraculously, the blushing bride was ‘running’ up the aisle by 5.35pm – as her bridesmaid quickly changed by the roadside behind her.
The couple, pictured with their two children, Georgie, seven, and Ollie, ten, said they made a Facebook plea to find out where the vicar lived so they could set up a new ceremony with two hours to spare
‘It quickly went from a 15-person wedding to the biggest wedding ever’, the couple had extended family and friends join them on Zoom too
Even her ‘greasy’ hair didn’t dampen her day, as Jemma admits she hadn’t washed her barnet since Christmas Eve – nearly a week earlier.
Jemma, from Shirebrook, Derbyshire, said: ‘It was beautiful. Josh looked amazing. It all came together.
‘I had genuinely had a good feeling that the wedding was going to happen. I didn’t expect us to go into Tier 4. I was stunned when my friend rang me.
‘It’s crazy that everyone pulled together how they did. [Our story has] captured everyone’s hearts.
‘Our first dance was to John Legend ‘All of Me’, so the lyrics ‘you’re crazy and I’m out of my mind’ were rather fitting.’
Jemma and Josh, who have been together for 14 years, had already pushed back their wedding from August 2020.
After a difficult year, the pair were more determined than ever to tie the knot – but they needed the help of their family.
The family, pictured with Georgie (right), seven, and Ollie, ten, says everyone chipped in to make the wedding happen, with Ollie wearing his school shirt
Jemma said: ‘I was at my friend’s having my nails done. She’d literally just finished at 3pm when my bridesmaid called in floods of tears saying ‘Jemma, have you seen the news? We’re going into Tier 4’.
As I was having a cup of tea to calm down, my sister text me saying: ‘Jemma, you need to get married tonight’.
Jemma says: ‘I tried ringing Josh and he wasn’t answering the phone – he’d had an afternoon nap on the sofa. I finally got hold of him and he said “if we can get married tonight, we’ll do it tonight”. This was at 3.45pm.’
The couple tracked down their vicar via Facebook and got them on board, leaving the soon-to-be bride and groom to have a mad dash to the aisle.
Jemma rushed home, dropping the car off for Josh and rushing over to her mum’s house, where she was greeted by a hairdresser, her mum and sister.
In the meantime, Josh had dressed their son Ollie, 10, in his school shirt and got their seven-year-old daughter Gorgie ready.
Jemma said: ‘I called Josh and said ‘you have to be at church by 5.30pm. We’ve been knocked back enough. We are getting married tonight’.
Jemma arrived at the church at 5.35pm – with only 25 minutes to spare until the cut off. As she pounded up the hill to the entrance, she had no time to get nervous, desperate to say ‘I do’ after a seven-year engagement.
The couple’s family and friends filled the churchyard – and Zoom calls – after a social media call-out and after a unique ceremony, the new Mr and Mrs Copestake returned home to a wedding breakfast of takeaway pizza and their first dance in their kitchen.
Jemma said: ‘When I think now, the amount of people who dropped everything. Reverend Angela Fletcher at St Peter and St Paul parish church in Church Warsop is a saint. She’s amazing and we’ll never be able to thank her enough.’
‘We heard the announcement at 4pm, and were in tears…’
Mark and Kimmi Fiander, from Heacham, Norfolk, had planned to wed in New York but re-arranged their nuptials for New Year’s Eve when the pandemic struck
A couple who were so desperate to finally wed after the pandemic wrecked their wedding plans twice have shared how they organised their big day in less than 24 hours – and used artificial flowers for the bouquet and a homemade cake.
Mark and Kimmi Fiander, from Heacham, Norfolk, had dreamed of tying the knot in New York in September but found their plans scuppered by soaring rates of Covid both here and across the pond.
Resigning themselves to a New Year’s Eve wedding in their local church instead, the pair were determined to ‘end a terrible year on a high’.
Third time lucky! Mark and Kimmi Fiander, from Heacham, Norfolk, had planned to wed in New York but re-arranged their nuptials for New Year’s Eve when the pandemic struck – only for a tier change on Boxing Day to see them forced to hastily re-organise again
The couple, who had been dating for eight years after meeting at Howdens, where they both work, managed to secure the room they’d booked for their wedding breakfast at a local pub and persuaded their wedding photographer to cancel his Christmas Eve plans
However, Covid had other plans and the couple found their second big day ruined when
Their vicar, Veronica Wilson, came to their rescue by suggesting that they could wed on December 24th to ensure friends and family could still attend.
The determined vicar even gained special permission from the Bishop of Norwich to get a wedding licence at such short notice.
Mark, 40, and Kimmi, 38, set about making plans, buying up artificial flowers in the nearby city of King’s Lynn for a friend to make up a bouquet and asking Kimmi’s sister to quickly bake them a wedding cake.
Finally! The couple used artificial flowers for the bouquet and a homemade cake made by Kimmi’s sister to celebrate their big day
Their vicar, Veronica Wilson, was the real heroine of the day, the couple say, after she sought out a special license that would allow them to marry within 24 hours
They managed to secure the same room in the pub they’d chosen for their wedding breakfast, the Rose and Crown at Snettisham, and their wedding photographer, Mark Knight, agreed to shoot their big day despite it being so close to Christmas.
The loved-up couple, who met eight years ago at Howden’s Joinery, where they both work, said their were left devastated when they heard the news that their second attempt to get spliced was in jeopardy while in the vets with their four-month-old French bulldog Kenny.
The couple say they were convinced that the change would be from 2 to 3 and were staggered by the leap into tier 4.
Mark told the
‘We only live around the corner from the vets, so when we got home Kimmi said she’d ring Veronica to see if there was anything she could do.
The Big Apple can wait: the couple, who had planned to get spliced in New York originally, said they were left in tears when their tier change announcement was made on December 23rd
A tier 2 wedding allowed them to have close friend and family by their side on their big day
‘She rang her and she was already on it and about to ring us and say: ‘Can you do tomorrow?”
Despite the breakneck speed of their wedding planning, the couple managed to pull off their preparation and walk down the aisle less than 24 hours after hearing the region would be plunged into tier 4, saying their vicar proved the heroine of the hour by making everything happen.
Rev Wilson said she was delighted to be able to help the couple ‘after such a tough year’ and said getting the paperwork sorted was the trickiest part.
‘The complexity was the legal bit. It was just brilliant the diocesan registrar, Stuart Jones, the Rt Rev Graham Usher, Bishop of Norwich and I were able to get the licence ready. We had it all done in an hour and a half.’