The idea that we can overpower negative events with positive thoughts is a modern mainstay, and one that newlywed Lauren Cripps proved works even amid coronavirus. The COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating effects on the wedding industry: there's been a dress shortage from factories in China, ceremonies were limited to five guests and a recent lockdown means they're now practically impossible unless you take the virtual route but, in a race against lockdown, Lauren made it work.
SEE: Coronavirus shattered my wedding but taught me a valuable lesson
Lauren and Gary were the last couple to marry in Lancaster before lockdown
"The Sunday before our wedding date (booked to take place on Saturday 21 March), we made the decision as a couple to phone the town hall and the registration office and see if we could bring our wedding forward," she told HELLO!. "We'd been keeping an eye on the news and we could see a cancellation coming our way." She adds that her and her now-husband Gary felt irresponsible for asking their friends and family to attend, while their elderly family members had already had to bow out.
"We decided a smaller ceremony was the way to go as the most important thing to us was getting married," Lauren said. They moved their ceremony to Wednesday as the couple "had a hunch it was the right thing to do" and, turns out, it was. The night before their rescheduled ceremony, they heard that the venue would be shutting to the public the next day.
SEE: How coronavirus could affect your wedding day
Lauren and Gary reduced their guestlist to 20 people
"I called them in a panic," said Lauren, "And they told me that ours would be the last wedding to go ahead. I can't tell you how fortunate we felt; not only were we the last couple to get married at the town hall, but the last couple to get married in Lancaster with more than two guests."
The wedding went ahead and what happened was a testament to the kindness of Britain in such unprecedented times. "The staff and registrars at the town hall made it a service to remember," Lauren told us. "When we emerged from the service, we did so to cheers from passers-by, car horns blasting and white van men shouting words of congratulations. Afterwards, we went for a meal in a local pub which stayed open just for us, and there was so much love in the room: my sister stood up and did an impromptu speech; my brother-in-law hired a car and drove us to the pub with music blasting; and my sister and brother-in-law treated us to a room in the bridal suite of our reception venue for the night. We honestly believe that people were more excited to witness something lovely in such a trying time."
Lauren says she wouldn't change a thing about her wedding day
As for the reception, Lauren and Gary decided to postpone celebrations until everyone is able to attend, but the newlyweds weren't perturbed: "We will host celebrations on our anniversary," said Lauren. "We may even renew our vows. We've paid for the day, so we'll probably keep it exactly as planned. We have lost a little in terms of having to pay for some suppliers twice, but it's not really a big deal in the grand scheme of things."
Lauren and Gary also made the best of their honeymoon, which they spent in a family friend's lodge in the Lakes and Lauren says turned out "oddly romantic" since they had almost the entire place to themselves.
Lauren says all of her suppliers were happy to move the event forward without a fee
From appreciating fewer ceremony guests whereby the couple "could chat to every single person there and take it all in" to concerns for the uncertain futures of the vendors forced to close their businesses, Lauren's optimistic and selfless approach paid off. "[Coronavirus] has actually made things all the more special," she said. "We will honestly never forget everyone's kindness. If coronavirus has taught us anything at all, it's to look out for yourself, your family and friends. Everything we had planned went completely to pot but we honestly wouldn’t change a thing."
Planning a wedding as we speak? Lauren recommends "enjoying the breathing space. Weddings are stressful, so take the time to reflect on what is important to you as a couple."
Photography: Jo Gendle, Jason Bellinger.
Like this story? Sign up to our newsletter to get other stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.