A Christmas wedding in Cambridge re-arranged at short notice
02 Feb 2021
Corinne Girling and Paul Brown married on Christmas Eve, re-arranging their January wedding in 24 hours to avoid cancelling altogether
Photography: Neal Laver
How was (if at all) your wedding affected by Covid-19?
We were always very motivated that we wanted to marry each other – whatever that may look like, so we didn’t postpone our wedding, in fact we brought it forward. The wedding was planned for January 2, 2021, then on December 23, 2020 a press conference was held to say we would be in Tier 4 from Boxing Day – meaning the wedding would have to be cancelled. Our world came crashing down. Messages of sympathy came flooding in. I was at work and when Paul called me, I was already in tears. He said: “I’m not waiting until next year, I want to marry you as soon as possible.” One of the messages for us included a slightly intriguing e-mail from Father Miles, who was due to perform the ceremony - our marriage licence had come through the previous day, so he said he could marry us on Christmas Eve. So, we re-arranged the wedding in 24 hours.
Did you have to change venue/suppliers?
All of our suppliers were totally wonderful. When we called them with 22 hours notice, they all confirmed that they would make sure they were there for us. We had our wedding car, hair and make-up (plus an assistant), vicar, photographer and even the dressmaker agreed to go in at 10pm on December 23 to make sure that my wedding dress was steamed, prepped and ready for the morning of the wedding day. We are so grateful to all our suppliers who re-arranged their Christmas Eve to spend it with us.
Did you change the theme/ethos of your day?
When it came around so quickly, we were a combination of amazed and grateful. We’d been very motivated to marry however we could that when it happened this way it almost didn’t seem believable – a total whirlwind 24 hours!
What was the theme for the day, and did you have a colour scheme?
It was a winter wedding theme, using forest green. I have always wanted a Christmas wedding but wanted the Christmas notes to be subtle (garlands, a bit of sparkle and splashes of green and red). Turns out I got the most Christmassy day I could have imagined.
What venue did you choose and why did you choose it?
We chose to marry at Saint Vigor's with All Saints Fulbourn – my local church growing up. Our reception was to be at Swynford Manor, Six Mile Bottom – an elegant venue which I have admired ever since I was young. We wanted a place that we would pass regularly to remember our day.
Tell us about your floral arrangements
They were homemade from a mix of faux flowers from Dunelm and The Range. We made eight buttonholes, four bridesmaid bouquets, two flower girl bouquets and the bridal bouquet for £72 and thought they looked perfect. The church had its own Christmas tree up as well.
Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day
We weren’t able to use many DIY ideas we had for the full day but I was able to surprise my dad and the groom with personalised socks with my face on – Paul’s saying “I love my wife” and my dad’s saying “Best dad in the world”.
How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?
Totally overwhelmed – I was meant to be at work! I was already so touched to see so many people had made the effort to come at a days notice (even from Cheshire) to either be at the service or just to stand outside. It was the most amazing surprise and meant I felt so loved and grateful. Not everyone originally invited could come, so some people who arrived expecting to be standing outside the church were actually able to enter (including bridesmaids and ushers who hadn't made the original 15).
What was your most memorable moment?
Paul: Seeing Corinne walking down the aisle.
Corinne: Paul making a mistake signing the register - it made us laugh just as reality was hitting that he was officially now my husband!
What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?
Paul re-arranging the whole day within 22 hours for Christmas Eve! I was meant to be working on December 24, so it was a case of getting cover and seeing if our loved ones could all join us (which amazingly so many could).
What was the most important investment for you?
The church. It was so special to be in a church on Christmas Eve, amongst the excitement of Christmas with those who we wanted to celebrate with most. Our vicar was brilliant and made us laugh along the way and they even managed to livestream the whole service to our friends and family at home (and a few others as the views are now up to almost 1,000!)
If you could go back and change anything, what would it be?
Nothing. It was a mad day, not textbook perfect but so full of excitement, love and surprises.
Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages?
Enjoy the ride and remember that you’re doing it so that you will end up married to the person you love – that’s what matters most. You can make as big a celebration of it as you want but try not to let the planning be anything but exciting.
Will you be holding a celebration at a later date with those who couldn’t attend?
Yes. We have a ‘back up date’ booked for Swynford Manor on January 2, 2022 on what should have been our one year anniversary. We hope to renew our vows and then have the full day as you would traditionally expect.
Steal Their Style
Photography: Neal Laver
Ceremony venue: Saint Vigor's with All Saints Fulbourn
Dress: Peter’s Bridal Warehouse
Hair & Make-up: Elly Jayne Makeup Artist
Bridesmaids make-up: Sabrina Professional Makeup Artist
Bridesmaids’ dresses: Coast
Groom’s outfit: Moss Bros
Stationery: Bride’s father
Cake: Bride’s mother
Flowers: The bride and groom
Transport: Peterborough Wedding Cars