Since I was a young girl, getting married was something I had dreamed about. Even before my husband proposed, I had a Pinterest board full of inspiration and ideas for our perfect wedding and marriage. Being the perfectionist planner, the majority of our wedding was planned 6 months into what turned out to be a 22-month engagement. I had planned it all; dotted every ‘i’ and crossed every ‘t’. It was almost all done. All that remained was perfecting the final details, waiting for our day to arrive and looking forward to married life.
Sadly, one thing I had not planned for was a global pandemic that led to the UK going in to national lockdown 3 months before our wedding. I was devastated, years of planning for our dream day and hopefully blissful marriage had ground to a halt. As with any dream deferred, my spirit was crushed. Although I was devastated at the time, on reflection this was a blessing in disguise.
Like many, the pandemic put a spanner in the works of our 2020 plans. However, in the case of our wedding it also got us to think differently. It forced us to consider what was most important to us: was it the wedding or the marriage? Of course it was the marriage. With this resolve in mind, it enabled us to adopt a completely different approach to our wedding. In April, we had initially decided to postpone the wedding to June 2021, in the hopes that it could go ahead as originally planned. However, in August it became apparent that ‘normal life’ would not be returning any time soon. So, we decided that we would not let the pandemic put our lives on hold any longer. 2020 alone had shown us that the best-laid plans often go astray, so we chose to seize the opportunity to get married whilst we could. We erased years’ worth of planning and instead started from scratch, planning a wedding in just 6 weeks.
This new approach left lots of room for creativity.
Government restrictions meant a total of 15 people (including us) would be able to attend our wedding. Whittling our guest list of 260 down to 15 seemed like an impossible task. So to ensure everyone we wanted to be part of our union could attend, we opted to live stream our wedding. This allowed us to share this day with more people than we could accommodated in person, with over 500 people tuning in from around the world. This also worked a lot easier for our guests. They no longer needed to buy outfits, find childcare, or book travel and accommodation. They could still be part of our day from the comfort of their own homes. We also asked all our virtual guests to take a selfie, so they could be included in our wedding album, so they were included in every sense.
My husband and I are both of Ghanaian heritage. Weddings in our culture consist of a traditional marriage followed by a white wedding. This would normally happen over the course of two days. But given the restrictions, we chose to combine the two ceremonies, ensuring to retain the essential elements of both. Moreover, although wedding receptions were permitted, the area where we got married was already in lockdown. So instead of a traditional sit-down meal, we gave our guests a ‘takeaway’ wedding reception which included a meal, drinks, cakes and giveaways. We also incorporated the speeches and the cake cutting in to the wedding ceremony.
One of the biggest benefits of our lockdown wedding was the freedom from tradition. In the age of viral extravagant weddings, the pressure to have an insta-worthy wedding is all too apparent. Yet, the prospect of the average wedding costing over £30,000 seemed ludicrous to us. Even when planning our original wedding, we had agreed to keep spending down to a minimum and sought to fulfil our wedding dreams within reason. In our minds, that money was better spent on a mortgage or rental deposit – something that was long lasting…or at least lasted longer than a day. Our lockdown wedding showed us that it is possible to have a beautiful wedding without excessive spending.
In spite of all the changes, we were still able to have the wedding we had always hoped for and to finally start married life. Our wedding was intimate, yet incorporated our loved ones, honoured our culture and most importantly was affordable. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
Every cloud really does have a silver lining!