A couple devastated when coronavirus cancelled their wedding decided they still wanted to mark their special day – and held a virtual ceremony instead.
Sue Barsby, 49 and Chris Marshall 56 were due to tie the knot on Saturday March, 28 but their ceremony was postponed after the UK was put into lockdown.
Refusing to be deterred and spend their special day doing nothing, the couple reached out to a celebrant who offered to conduct a handfasting ceremony in exchange for donations to the NHS.
Sue, who has two sons training to be junior doctors, thought that was the perfect way to celebrate what would have been their big day.
She said: “I didn’t want to be moping around thinking about what could’ve been.
“I came across someone advertising handfasting ceremonies in return for donations to the NHS on Facebook.
“As my sons work for the NHS, I thought that sounded perfect.”
While not legally recognised, handfasting is an ancient ritual that involves a couple’s hands being placed together and bound with ribbon or cord which symbolises their joining through marriage.
Despite exchanging rings and wrapping their hands in cloth in front of an iPad in their living room, with just Sue’s youngest son, Oliver, 20 there, she said the whole event was an ’emotional time’.
She said: “Looking back it does look strange. It felt weird but real in a lot of ways.
“Both of us were getting married for the second time.”
Sue looked stunning in a white dress and, even though Chris was unable to pick his suit up from where he had hired it, he looked smart in a shirt and jeans.
The pair had some long-lens photos taken on their driveway and family and friends, including Sue’s two older twin sons, James and Christian, 24, got dressed up and enjoyed the reception via a Zoom video link.
Sue said: “My sons were in their suits and all dressed up, even though only one of them was at home. We had some drinks. My five-year-old nephew Wilf was dancing.
“Chris and I had our first dance in the conservatory. We cut a Tesco birthday cake and even had a hangover the next day – so it was incredibly worthwhile and turned out better than expected.”
The couple, from Clitheroe, Lancs., had been together for five years and engaged for a year; however, their plans were thrown into turmoil a week before their wedding when PM Boris Johnson announced plans to close the bars and restaurants.
Sue said: “The registrar rang to say we could still go ahead with it in line with government guidelines of a much smaller gathering with two witnesses a couple of days before.
“But once Boris said about the pubs and restaurants, I knew the venue was gone.
“It was not a complete surprise. It was in the back of our minds that it was going to be cancelled.
“After initially being upset on the Friday, we thought we can’t risk it – so postponing it was the most sensible thing to do.
“People’s health is most important.”
Fortunately the couple have not lost any money and have instead postponed their legal wedding day to March 2021 and still plan to honeymoon in Barbados next year
Sue added: “It’s just an unfortunate situation – I’m not angry at anyone. We’re going ahead with it next year. I’m sure it will be just as good – if not better after this year’s unfortunate events.”