A couple living in Sussex were among the first to get married in a church on Saturday 4th July in an unexpected ceremony, after previous wedding plans had been put on hold because of the Coronavirus.
As churches across Sussex cautiously began to open for a wide range of services with safeguards in place, many couples grabbed the opportunity and brought forward their plans prompting a busy weekend for some parishes eager not to miss out on helping make many people’s dreams come true.
In the parish of High Hurstwood the wedding was an unexpected one from the start.
Revd Mark Ashworth, parish priest, said: “I knew Lydia’s father, Jerry from our local Churches Together meetings. I am Chair of Churches Together and Lydia’s father is an elder at the local New Frontiers International (NFI) church.
“He phoned me and told me that his daughter’s wedding, originally planned for the 2nd May at the United Church, had been postponed and the Church had no plans to resume weddings yet. However, the couple were keen to be married quickly because of personal family reasons.
“We originally planned to hold the wedding on the new date of Saturday 11th July. A special license had to be applied for and we thought it would take at least a week.
“I contacted The Revd Marc Lloyd, Rector of Warbleton, Bodle Street Green & Dallington and the
Rural Dean of Dallington. He met the couple immediately and discovered through chatting to them that they actually wanted to get married on the 4th July. That very same day we received the common licence. And the wedding was on!”
The couple Alastair and Lydia (now Mr and Mrs Taylor) quickly organised decorated PPE face masks for all of their guests, each one decorated with a thistle and rose to mark their English and Scottish heritage along with the date of the wedding.
The service adhered to the strict guidelines for social spacing with chairs spaced 2 metres apart – mostly in twos. The guests were all happy to oblige the ‘new normal’ conditions.
The wedding and worship music were played via the TV screens. The blessing of the service and exchange of vows were conducted seated.
The Bride was allowed to walk down the aisle with her father – as they were living in the same house. The two flower girls, Annie and Lilly, were joined by the page boy, Sam, and they walked down the aisle – in their own ‘bubble.’
Mark Ashworth added: “The service was beautiful, and it finished with the bride and groom signing the register – using different pens from their witnesses. We played a video, put together by their friends for the original service date, and then a family friend played the piano as they all processed down the aisle with a big smile, delighted to be married.”
Story and images – Diocese of Chichester