A great wedding with unforeseen circumstances

Most organised couples, when organising their wedding, may ask: What if it rains on the day? What if one of my major suppliers does not turn up? Very rarely would one consider: What if the wedding cannot take place because a pandemic sweeps through the whole world?

A wedding I photographed recently took place on 21st March 2020, the last weekend before ‘lockdown’ of the country, as Coronavirus (also known as covid-19), gathered momentum globally. As it turned out, the day was only 3 days before weddings were officially banned and churches officially closed. It was a time of much uncertainty and speculation. Leading up to the wedding day the couple and I were in constant communication covering different scenarios. The wedding ceremony was originally planned to take place at St Alfege Church, a very beautiful medieval church in the centre of Greenwich, followed by a reception at the equally gorgeous Trafalgar Tavern with families and friends. Just a few days before, there came the announcement that all pubs and events venues were going to be closed. Inevitably the wedding reception had to be postponed. A question mark remained regarding the church ceremony. It was not until the day before that we received confirmation of the go-ahead by the church, with the condition that only 5 people were allowed for attendance. The sisters of both the groom and bride stepped in as witnesses, while parents and other guests stayed at home.

I was more than glad that I was allowed to take part as a photographer, taking pictures from a ‘socially acceptable’ distance (i.e. 2 metres) under the Covid-19 guidance. Technically this did not impact the photography, as I always try to cover the ceremony discretely without disturbing the vicar and couple.

I turned up at the wedding preparation venue with a strong sense of responsibility, knowing that the wedding photographs will be a key part of the communication to fill in the gaps for the friends and family not able to attend. The couple were in good spirits as I arrived in their flat and did not show any traces of stress despite the circumstances. The much reduced guest attendance aside, there were other signs of disruptions: no proper flower arrangements (the bride made the bouquets herself using flowers received as a gift); the wedding cake was sitting there lonelily in the box. Regardless, the couple were feeling positive that they could go ahead with the wedding, after all the uncertainties. Their sense of happiness really gave me the feeling that love could conquer all, for better or for worse. Being able to be together is the most important thing of all.

St Alfege Church is a grand church with a spacious hall and balcony. While physically it was almost empty due to the absence of guests, it was filled with emotions and everyone in attendance was on a positive beat. We were greeted by the very lovely and warm vicar, who conducted the ceremony with grace and passion. Many times I have felt emotional at weddings that I have attended and photographed, this one particularly so.

As the couple left the church they were greeted by a few more members of the bridal party and dried flower confetti showered on them. There was laughter, there were smiles. Joy could be so simple.

Somehow I had the feeling that getting married in difficult circumstances makes the bond stronger. A great wedding is not about how luxurious the layout is or how much details have been cared for. It is about the state of mind, the couple’s mind and attitude.

I wish the couple all my best, and look forward to being part of their company again when restrictions are lifted and we are able to celebrate at the reception!