Natalie & Geoff's Wedding Story
On 8th December 2020, Natalie and Geoff Hill committed to a lifetime together in front of family and friends at a ceremony at the Clarendon Hotel, Blackheath before celebrating with cake and champagne. So far, so normal…the pictures however tell quite a different story, giving a real insight into the reality of weddings in lockdown.
From the family and friends watching from their own homes via an online live-stream, to the celebrant wearing a visor and the wedding party in face masks (handmade by the groom’s mother), Geoff and Natalie’s big day will always be clearly timestamped as a pandemic wedding. Their photo album shows that despite the unusual additions, it was as joyous and emotional a day as any.
The couple, from Lee in south-east London, are one of thousands of couples whose wedding plans have taken an unexpected direction to accommodate lockdown restrictions. They were originally planning a large celebration at a hotel in North Norfolk for July 2021 but decided to bring it forward to December after Geoff, 51, suffered a relapse of the leukaemia he has been receiving treatment for over the past 3 years. Having decided on a pre-Christmas date, to ensure that his children who live in Australia could attend, he and fiancée Natalie, 46, had a mere six weeks to pull revised plans together.
The Clarendon Hotel in Blackheath offered an ideal solution with its Georgian architecture and private garden, and a ready-made ‘intimate wedding’ package especially designed for Covid-compliant celebrations. The couple added to the hotel’s champagne and canapé reception with a cake made by Boulangerie Jade in Blackheath.
The 13 guests permitted under government restrictions were made up of close family members, while dozens more watched the ceremony as a live-stream online. After the ceremony, Geoff and Natalie returned home with their immediate family bubble for a fish and chip supper, joined by others in the wedding party over Zoom.
Geoff even thinks this style of wedding could see new elements introduced to celebrations in the future, especially the ability to involve more guests through online live-streaming: “We were able to organise it so quickly, without the stress of a traditional big wedding, and we still had a wonderful day with all of the people that are special to us there. Because of the significance of the occasion, and the fact that we’re so used to restrictions on our lives, it actually didn’t feel that odd to see the registrar wearing a visor, the guests in masks and guests joining remotely – in fact, by watching online they actually had a better view than they might otherwise have had sat in a larger room with us.”
To anyone considering a lockdown wedding and concerned that it might not be as special, bride Natalie says: “As every married couple knows, your wedding is always a beautiful day. We still read our vows and celebrated with our family at a beautiful venue – it was lovely and I wouldn’t want to change a thing.”