On August 22nd 2020, it happened at last. My best friend Allen and his lovely partner Rakhee finally got married in an intimate minimony wedding.
I’m Julian and I was Allen’s best man. And here I’m sharing my experience of a wedding in coronavirus times.
The wedding day was a long time coming. Allen and Rakhee had scheduled their nuptials for April 2020. They’d been many months of planning and preparations, right down to the smallest detail.
A Weekend of Celebrations …
At least the couple had intended the event to be that. They’d booked a grand and beautiful venue for a weekend of celebrations. The event would bring together two large families and many friends from across the world – 200 in total.
But then the dreaded C-word came into our lives turning everything upside down. First of all, the wedding was rescheduled by a few months. Then it was a year’s postponement. And then, with a few weeks’ notice, the wedding was back on for the end of August 2020. But in a much different form. This time an intimate minimony wedding. ( A minimony ceremony usually involves an officiant, a small group of loved ones and a select number of suppliers, ie. your photographer)
The UK guidelines at that time, restricted attendance at weddings to thirty people at the most. In total there were sixteen of us plus the photographer and the two registrars.
I felt so honoured when Allen asked me to be his best man together with Ashley, his brother. So it meant a lot to me to attend this wedding, especially after all the ups and downs of the last month. Yet, being the only guest arriving from outside the UK, I needed to ensure my attendance at Allen’s wedding was both legal and safe.
I was living in Berlin at the time, which had a very low number of cases during the summer. After a lot of thought, I decided that I would do my best to make it to England, but minimising the risks. Easier said than done.
Initially preferring not to fly, I booked three successive modes of transport: Eurostars through France or Belgium was the first plan, but that had to be cancelled a week before the wedding; then a ferry from the Hook of Holland was cancelled a day before my departure. Finally, I settled on flying directly from Berlin to London a few days before the day.
Arriving in the UK, I knew the wedding would be very different from the original conception. From a grand celebration in a sumptuous location, it would now be a much smaller, intimate affair. And in truth, I didn’t quite know what to expect.
Worries soon dispelled
But, on the day itself, any worries I had about this wedding in the present Corona virus times were soon dispelled. The first thing that became clear is this: big or small, the focus of the day remains the same. Celebrating the union of two loving partners.
The legal ceremony at the town hall in Frome was very sweet and tasteful. Despite the hygiene rules in place (1.5 metre distance between the attendants, masks worn indoors and no cheering it never felt sterile or emotionless. Extended family and friends attended via Zoom to witness the beautiful exchange of vows and rings.
When the newly-married couple looked in each other’s eyes and everyone in attendance started clapping and stomping their feet, I completely forgot that we were only fifteen people in the room. Nor did it matter one bit. We were all here to celebrate and share this special moment.
A Covid-compliant wedding reception
After the official ceremony, the celebrations moved to the decorated marquee in the groom’s parent’s garden. Sandra, the groom’s mother (and Fabulous Functions UK MD) had pulled out all the stops and made it look amazing.
Entering that marquee with a canapé in one hand and a glass of Champagne in the other transported me from suburban England into a different world.
From the flower arrangements to the delicious four-course meal, it at no point felt like this wedding was a Plan B or a last-minute affair. In fact, the intimate setting, with all the guests sitting on one long table, allowed conversations and sharing the moment with the happy couple, in a way not possible at a much larger celebration.
It was the small things that made this day so special. Instead of catering staff taking care of everything, family members shared those tasks. Parents, brother and sisters carried in plates and poured wine.
This was a joyous, celebratory gathering, and every single person played their part in making this intimate minimony such a special occasion.
Now, in an ideal world, the rest of the family and close friends would have been present. Fingers crossed they’ll also have the chance to celebrate with the new married couple sometime in the future in the manner of a sequel wedding. Yet, at no moment, did I feel that this wedding was ‘too small’.
Very different from the original plan yes, but beautiful in its own right.
The focus of the whole day was on the couple and it was truly a shared experience. Even more so than if 200 people had been in attendance.
I know that Rakhee and Allen will cherish this day forever.
And it’s one intimate minimony wedding that I’ll never forget!
Thank you so much Julian, for writing your account of your best friends wedding in these Covid times. This was certainly a wonderful wedding and the memories will be cherished by the couple and the guests a like. It was full love and joy.