A bride-to-be has told of her heartache that her father cannot walk her down the aisle when she becomes one of the first people in Britain to get married under the post-lockdown rules on Saturday.
Francesca Freeman, 24, and Giles Orchard, 26, were forced to cancel their June ceremony after all public gatherings – including weddings – were banned to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Now the couple from Burgess Hill, West Sussex, are to be among the first to tie the knot when restrictions are lifted at the weekend.
But the pair have had to forgo many of the wedding day traditions – including church hymns – that add ‘grandeur’ and adhere to ‘ridiculous’ rules for the ceremony to go ahead.
Francesca Freeman, 24, and Giles Orchard, 26, were forced to cancel their June ceremony after all public gatherings were banned to stop the spread of coronavirus
Now the couple from Burgess Hill, West Sussex, are to be among the first to tie the knot when restrictions are lifted at the weekend
Miss Freeman said she was sad her father Chris (left) will not be able to walk her down the aisle
Miss Freeman told MailOnline: ‘I’m just so relieved that it’s actually happening. We are thankful for a bit of light at the end of a what has been a dark tunnel for all of us.
‘I’m sad that some people won’t be able to be there, like my granddad and Giles’ granddad because they are both old and vulnerable.
‘And it would have been lovely if I had have been able to walk down the aisle arm-in-arm with my dad. But this is not allowed.
‘Giles is a music lover and our ceremony has been cut short because there will be no hymns, which is a real shame as it takes away some of the grandeur of the ceremony.
‘And frankly the hand washing rule when exchanging rings is ridiculous.’
Miss Freeman, a school administrator, and Mr Orchard, a special educational needs teacher, have had to trim their wedding plans to fit in with the new rules.
Miss Freeman, a school administrator, and Mr Orchard, a special educational needs teacher, have had to trim their wedding plans to fit in with the new rules
The couple, who both work at a public school in West Sussex, cancelled their reception, aborted their honeymoon and were forced to tell family and friends they could not come.
Miss Freeman, who is known as Effy, said: ‘We were never going for a big white wedding as we had planned to have our big celebration at a party in Italy.
‘But when Italy became Europe’s Covid-19 hot spot everything was thrown into doubt.
‘We were told that our original date – 13th June – might be possible. But that came and went.
‘Then the government announced that weddings could go ahead from 4th July and we went to see the vicar straight away.
‘So we’ve had 11 days to plan our wedding. But there are lots of things that won’t happen. I didn’t have a hen do and Giles didn’t have a stag do.
‘We won’t have a rehearsal. And we won’t be able to have a rehearsal meal the night before. Our extended family and lots of friends can’t come.
‘We can’t have a reception afterwards. And we can’t have a honeymoon. We are supposed to wash our hands before we exchange rings – but I’m not sure how that’s going to work. And it’s going to rain!’
The couple, who are getting married at the Chapel inside Hurstpierpoint College, have had to adhere to the new rules covering weddings.
The father-of-the-bride cannot walk his daughter arm-in-arm down the aisle as members of different households must maintain social distancing.
Couples must also wash their hands before and after exchanging rings. Wedding reception parties are limited to two households inside or up to six people from different households outdoors.
The couple, who both work at the Hurstpierpoint College independent school in West Sussex, cancelled their reception, aborted their honeymoon and were forced to tell family and friends they could not come
A maximum of 30 people are allowed to attend the ceremony including the bride and groom, witnesses, officiants and guests.
No food or drink is allowed to be consumed unless it is part of the religious ceremony.
All singing and the playing of all wind instruments are banned. Recorded music is strongly encouraged.
Talking loudly, shouting or screams of joy are strictly prohibited. Small children must be held tight and prevented from running around.
Church organs can be used but must be thoroughly cleaned before and after the ceremony.
All communal resources such as prayer books, service sheets and prayer mats are banned.
But Miss Freeman claims some of the new rules are simply unworkable: ‘We have spoken to the vicar about this hand washing rule. And frankly it’s just not practical.
‘It will be ridiculous if we have to go to the toilet to wash our hands and then traipse back down the aisle.
‘We live with other now and we are going to live with each other afterwards so it doesn’t make sense.
‘It’s a shame that I cannot walk down the aisle arm-in-arm with my dad but we are getting married in a big old chapel so at least there is enough space for my dad to walk next to me.
‘To keep within the rules allowed we have cut the numbers down to just 16 people coming to the chapel including us.
‘We were going to end the ceremony on a high with Jerusalem but now we are going to have to use a sound system.
‘We had planned to have a cocktail reception for about 120 guests – extended family, friends and work colleagues. But now there is going to be nothing.
‘We will probably just get a pizza. And my mum said she would make us a cake to have in the evening.
‘I won’t be able to throw the bouquet because of the rules on social distancing. We haven’t got a posh limousine.
‘In fact one of us will drive us home in our Fiat 500. But we live together so I can’t see why we can’t ‘Kiss the bride!’
She added: ‘Getting married is important to us. It’s our sense of commitment. We have been together for four years so we have waited long enough.
‘We certainly did not want to wait until next year.’