Wow!! What a crazy old month it has been hey! A little over six weeks ago I was returning from staffing an incredible one week self development process known as “Path of Love”. We were located in a retreat centre in the Hunter Valley, and whilst Covid-19 was a very much on everyone’s minds, the current restrictions we find ourselves in had not yet taken place. Sure, hand sanitiser was ever present, but we were still able to socialise, hug, and be in a shared space with many people all at once. It hindsight it was like being in a safe little bubble of love.
I left this retreat on March 20th, and returned to a world that seemed to have changed over night. Social distancing, something that I had never heard of, let alone contemplated before, was the new phrase on everyone’s lips, and whilst weddings were still being permitted, change was definitely on the horizon. I conducted my last full wedding (two in fact) on Saturday, March 21st. What happened over the next few days was something that truly had to be seen to be believed.
With the government quickly imposing restrictions seeing weddings being cut back to 5 people only, I had distraught couples phoning and emailing me on a daily basis, all wondering what they should do, looking for someone to help them make sense of what was happening, as their special day seemed to disappear right before their very eyes.
Most of them made the heartbreaking decision to postpone their wedding day, as the idea of getting married without their family and friends present, just wasn’t an option for them. And whilst they were busily liaising with their other vendors and trying to find a new date that suited everyone involved, I remained in regular contact with one particular couple, Lara and Chris, who were finding this decision incredibly difficult.
Now I have known Chris for many years, and have met Lara regularly at various functions and occasions since. They have been guests at many weddings that I have conducted for mutual friends and I was so chuffed when they asked me to be their celebrant. Given our friendship, it was easy to talk openly and honestly with each other about the decision that they were trying to make. I said that I could see how difficult this was, and that how, for them, it clearly wasn’t a case of just moving a party from one date to another. It was clear that the act of getting married and calling each other husband and wife, was something that they simply could not postpone.
We talked about all the options and what we could do as a team, to make this happen for them. Of course they wanted to have more people there, who wouldn’t, but sadly, we had to follow the rules – just the two of them, their two witnesses and me! Oh, and their two fur babies, Milo and Ralph, but fortunately they didn’t have to be counted under the current Covid-19 restrictions of 5 people.
I left them to talk about it overnight and they got back to me the following day. “Let’s do it” they said. And we did – on Saturday 4th April, on the dunes of Arrawarra Headland,Chris and Lara became husband and wife. They closed their eyes and we began with a moment of silence, dropping in to the emotion of the day. I spoke about why this day was so important to them, using their words that they had shared with me. We then said the legally required wording and they shared their beautiful heartfelt vows to one another, and exchanged rings.
In all honesty, it was simply beautiful. Real, raw, authentic love, focusing and celebrating that important moment as two people become husband and wife. There was no huge bridal party, no wedding arbour, no suit, wedding dress, wedding cars, or even a signing table. There was even no shoes, as the path to the headland was wet and muddy. Just two people, in love, sharing a very special and emotional moment.
They also had many friends and family join them via a video link which was set up on a tripod by Chris’ brother, Sam. Sam had travelled all the way from Germany a couple of weeks earlier to be here for the wedding. With the video set up, he then became one of the witnesses, and their parents watched on, via the video link, on their phones, whilst standing about hundred metres up the beach.
Now don’t youworry, they had the Moet on ice and intended to celebrate the moment in style, but they also decided that the party with their friends and family would have to wait, and I have agreed to join them to conduct a renewal of vows ceremony later in the year.
So I guess I just wanted to try to express in words, just how special it was for them to be able to go ahead with their marriage. Yes they would have loved for it to be happened the way they had planned, but at the end of the day, they still got married, in an intimate, heartfelt and incredibly moving ceremony, in a place that was special to them both, amidst the craziness of Covid-19.
Here’s what Chris and Lara had to say:
“Our decision to continue with our ‘wedding’ was based on love. Our love for each other and our love for our families – especially those who travelled from overseas to be with us. Having the small ceremony really highlighted the emotion of the occasion and how important it was that we were there for each other. Our love triumphed over the pandemic, and we are so happy that we soldiered on, despite the road blocks.”