A post-lockdown church wedding in Clapham, Bedfordshire
06 Apr 2021
Emily Hoyle and Samuel Hurn-Bassick were able to go ahead with their August wedding in 2020 despite many last-minute changes
Photography: Abraxas Wedding Photography & Video
How was (if at all) your wedding affected by Covid-19?
Our wedding thankfully went ahead on the day it was planned to, although it was a close call on getting our licence due to the earlier lockdown and a lot of changes had to be made for the new restrictions. We got the go-ahead for the wedding less than a week before our wedding.
We were limited on numbers (only 30 guests allowed), and we decided to go for less than the number given by the government to try and be as safe as possible, but this turned out well as we thoroughly enjoyed the intimacy of a smaller wedding and felt much more relaxed than we might have done, had we gone ahead with our original guest list of 150 people.
We also had to socially distance where possible and the vicar had a lot of work to do as ours was his first wedding post-lockdown and the church is very small. We had to take out any hymns from the order of service, as singing was not allowed, and cut the service down so that it was over as quickly as possible. We also had to work out movements in the church at the rehearsal to ensure that everyone stayed far enough apart. We couldn’t do the signing of the register as we usually would, with our witnesses stood with us either.
We moved the reception to Sam’s parents’ large back garden so that we could socially distance, bought party food platters and drinks from supermarkets and got enough cake stands so that each table (each household), had their own food. We hired portaloos at the last minute so that everything was kept outdoors and bought bulk amounts of hand sanitizer to give to the guests and place at important places. We struggled to find a last-minute florist for our flowers but a local woman, Alison, very kindly did them for us and they were perfect. Originally, we weren’t even going to have photographers, as we were going to have a couple of people we know who do photography as a hobby take candid shots, however we decided to treat ourselves and couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to capture our special day.
What was the theme of the day?
The theme of our day stayed the same, although we did make some alterations to overcome some difficulties that came about due to the new situation i.e my grandmother was making the wedding cake and could not get the things she had originally planned on getting to decorate it with, but it still looked beautiful.
What venue did you choose and why did you choose it?
St Thomas Becket C of E Church, Clapham, Bedfordshire has a wonderful history, is our local church and the vicar is lovely. It is quaint and not overstated so it was perfect for us. Sam’s parents’ back garden was chosen as we needed a last-minute venue, it saved us money and it is big, which allowed for social distancing.
Tell us about the dress
I knew I had found the dress because it made my mum, Lorraine, burst into tears and I welled up as well. I tried on three dresses and this was the one out of the three that I preferred on the hanger. The designer is Sophia Tolli. I had always known I wanted a more classical dress. I didn’t want it to be white and I wanted lace on it so this matched my idea perfectly. The seamstress (Sophie) put a small lace pocket on the inside of the dress over where my heart is, so that I could place a locket with my grandad’s ashes in, and a locket borrowed from my mum (for my something borrowed) with a lock of his hair in inside it, so that he was close to me as he was originally going to give me away but passed away in 2018.
Who were the bridesmaids and what did they wear?
Unfortunately, two of my bridesmaids couldn’t attend – Loz and Kendra, and neither could my two flowergirls – Annabelle and Tilly. My maid of honour, Cheryl, bought her own dress which was lemon yellow and knee-length which she wore with flat sandals as she is very tall.
Where did the groom get his suit?
Sam had issues with a reputable suit company which he had got the suits from and this meant that we just had to get what we could. The suits were from Matalan, the waistcoats were from Boundary Mills and the ties and pocket squares were from Debenhams.
Tell us about your floral arrangements
I knew I wanted a cascading bouquet as this is what my mother, grandmother and great grandmother had. I didn’t want it to be too dense and wanted it to look quite natural and free-flowing. I left the decisions up to Alison (who does flower arranging as a hobby), and only provided her with ribbon to show her the main colour of the day (mauve), and asked that a white rose was in the bouquet in memory of my grandad, Roy. The buttonholes were white roses and heather.
Often the aspect that makes a wedding original to the couple is the detail – tell us about the details of the day
Our invitations were done by my mother, Lorraine. I also secretly got some of Sam’s friends and family, both those who were attending the wedding, and those who couldn’t, to put together short video messages for Sam, which my mum and step-dad, Nigel, then put together, along with messages from me mixed in. My parents then surprised me by adding in messages from some of my friends and family, and we both watched the video at our respective locations on the morning of the wedding. I wanted to do this for Sam so that he could see that he still had the support of many people, even if they couldn’t be there.
It was lovely to have a family member’s back garden as the reception venue as this actually felt more personal. All of the decorations at the reception were handmade by Sam’s mother, Karen, and myself.
I also arranged for sugar decorations of the Batman logo to go on one side of the wedding cake as Sam had said throughout the engagement that he wanted a Batman wedding cake. My grandmother, Janet, is very talented at cake making and decorating and she has done international orders in the past, so it made sense that she made my wedding cake.
The favours were bought last minute and came from a flower wholesaler called Savins. These were a glass tube with cork stopper with either lavender or other similar style herb storks inside. We then ordered some wooden favour hearts online which had our names and wedding date on, attached ribbon to them, and used the ribbon and the cork stoppers to hang the hearts from the tubes.
Sam's mother arranged for photos of the family to be gathered up and put them into photo frames which were bought from various charity shops and painted to match the colour scheme of the wedding. These were then hung on a fence by ribbon and created a family tree of both sides of the family.
Also I have been in the Girls’ Brigade for 25 years therefore, it only made sense that they played a part in the wedding. I asked my fellow leaders if they would mind being outside the church, so that I could say they had been there, even though the current restrictions meant that they couldn’t play any more of a part in the day. They then surprised me by contacting the parents of the Seniors, which is the section I run, and asking them to come along. They all attended in uniform and stood to attention as I walked up to the church and threw confetti over us both as Sam and I left the church.
Our friend Richard, made some outdoor games for our guests to play, which provided some entertainment, especially while we were having our photos taken at the park.
How did you feel as you walked down the aisle?
Nervous, but excited and proud with my stepdad, Nigel, giving me away to a wonderful man.
How did you make the ceremony personal to you?
Limitations made this difficult as there wasn’t much time available to us so we couldn‘t have many readings, sing any hymns etc. However, each guest had a part to play in the day. In terms of the ceremony alone, our friend Richard controlled the music station, the maid of honour and best man did their usual roles in looking after the bride and groom, and also did readings. Although the maid of honour and best man are supposed to witness the signing of the register, we instead had two of our other close friends who were there do this, Jo and Evan, so that they also had a part to play.
What was your most memorable moment?
Sam – Watching Emily walk down the aisle.
Emily – Having the photos done in Bedford Park (this was another last-minute decision), where we could have time for us before the reception and let it sink in that we had actually managed to get married in such a difficult year.
What was the most challenging aspect of planning this wedding?
Having to change almost everything at the last minute and not only make sure we had the food etc for everyone, but also that we had everything in place to allow for social distancing, and actually remember to social distance in the hype of it all.
Did you have any evening entertainment?
No. If we had gone ahead as planned, we were having a Ceilidh. Hopefully we can still have our one-year blessing and to be able to have this.
If you could go back and change anything, what would it be?
Nothing. The day was less about the pomp and fancy and more personal and intimate, which was perfect for us.
Where did you go on honeymoon?
Our parents surprised us a couple of days before the wedding with a booking for two nights in a Yurt (The Old Piggery, West Park Farm, Wilstead Hill, Bedford, Bedfordshire) so we stayed there on the wedding night and the night after. We then had one night at home before travelling up to Alnwick where we stayed in a hotel and visited the gardens where we got engaged and did some more sightseeing for a few days. We originally hadn’t made any plans for a honeymoon, as we didn’t know whether the wedding was even going to be able to go ahead as planned, so this again was a last-minute booking.
Do you have any advice for couples in the planning stages?
The day is about you. You will be paying out a lot of money for this one day so make sure it is what you want it to be.
Have fun throughout the process and try not to let it become a chore.
Communicate with each other and share this moment and all the decisions it entails – except for those big surprises you have for each other – this isn't something you will get to do together again.