No global pandemic is going to stop me from marrying you

Since we first met each stage of our relationship has been a bit like setting out on a new kind of adventure. We first met in the summer of 2019 through a dating app, which Angie in particular was wary of using. But after prompting from her brother, who had already offered to introduce us in the spring, she gave it a go and after a few days messaging we arranged our first date. As the weather was so nice Will thought it would be fun to go strawberry picking. Despite the heat he thought wearing wellies would be a good idea for trooping through the dry dusty fields, which Angie still laughs at him for! After a few more adventurous dates Will asked if he could call Angie his girlfriend. We spent the rest of that warm summer going for bike rides, swimming in rivers, going out dancing and enjoying all the best that Bristol has to offer. 

 Then just as the restrictions were coming in, Will proposed on a beautiful sunny evening at a spot just south of Bristol, looking out over the sea. Having had the most fantastic evening we then had to work out how to be engaged during lockdown. We didn’t live together so each day of lockdown had the extra frustration and heartache of not being able to be together as we had hoped. So we spent a lot of time on the phone thinking and dreaming about what our wedding would look like and hoping that by the autumn we would be able to have a full wedding. Once restrictions eased we were so glad to be able to spend as much time together as possible and seeing a few people to celebrate. We had started by planning multiple scenarios to fit whatever size wedding we would be able to do, all the while holding on to the hope we could have the full wedding we had hoped for. But by the end of August the reality that this wasn’t going to happen was slowly sinking in. This brought with it further disappointment after such a hard start to our engagement, the sadness of not being able to celebrate with all those we love as we had hoped. 

 Once we had come to terms with it we were able to get really excited to have 30 people at our wedding, with all the details that would make it extra special. It was then, with 11 days to go, that the restriction of 15 people at a wedding was announced at the end of September. We couldn’t quite believe we could have another hurdle before we got married, but after a very stressful few days we managed to move the entire wedding forward by 6 days which enabled us to have our originally planned 30. We were overwhelmed by how flexible our guests were and how accommodating our suppliers were, particularly our venue (The Beacon, Tunbridge Wells) who bent over backwards to ensure our wedding reception could go ahead as we had planned. 

 When our big day came (we’re still learning the new date of our wedding day 5 months on!) and the moment came for Angie to walk down the aisle, all the stress and pain of a 6 month engagement during lockdown disappeared. We loved every moment of our wedding day. Despite the church not being filled, there was still that exciting anticipation before Angie arrived and there was something even more poignant at the significance of the moment of our marriage. We regretted not being able to have all those we care for join in to declare “We will” when asked if they will support using our marriage. But as each of those 28 other people were so important to us, there was still such a gravity to the ceremony and we felt so supported by each person there (and watching online). 

We then had a fantastic reception, which was as beautiful and fun as we could have ever hoped. With dancing being one of the things we fell in love over we would have absolutely loved a big party, and disappointed that this was not going to be part of the day. Despite being the only ones on the dance floor, we were still able to have our first dance as Husband and Wife to Jackie Wilson’s “Your love keeps lifting me higher”, on a beautiful terrace outside, under the twinkly starry sky with all of our guests cheering us on. It was the most incredible feeling! 

Whilst our wedding day was not the big celebration we had dreamed of before the Pandemic, the day was far more special than we could have ever hoped. We were on an absolute high from start to finish and will treasure the precious memories for the rest of our lives! As we reflect back on the day the smaller number of people meant we were able to have proper conversations with each person and enjoy each of them being there. It has also saved us a considerable amount of money, which has enabled us to buy a house this year. While we had initially started planning for a large wedding we did find we were grateful to not have to deal with the expectations of organising our original guest list of 150 people which in hindsight could have put unnecessary stress on our relationship as a result.  

Despite all the difficulties of getting there and the change from our expectations, it didn’t feel any less special and we will cherish the memories of each moment. Having gone through a further 2 lockdowns since the wedding we are so glad we went ahead with it as we did. We have grown so much more in love and deeper in our relationship while having to deal with relentless restrictions. While we could have just moved in together and waited for the perfect time for the wedding, being married gives such freedom from the uncertainty of the future. We can’t depend on the plans we make at the moment but the safety and security we’ve found in marriage gives so much reassurance. 

Photography: @colinianross 

Angie and Will Topping

Angie works as a paediatric physiotherapist and outside of work enjoys dance & teaching pilates.

Will is an electrical engineer and when the weather is nice enough like going out for rides on either his motorbike or pushbike.

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