First Birmingham wedding held following lifting of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions
One of the first post-lockdown weddings to take place since restrictions was lifted went ahead at a Pentecostal church in Birmingham on Saturday.
Getting married on the 4th of July at noon, Dionne Brown and Maciah Smith became one of the first Birmingham (and maybe even in the Midlands) couples to marry after recent coronavirus restrictions were eased.
The duo had originally planned to marry in August but the COVID-19 pandemic put a stop to their upcoming nuptials and completely changed the course of Dionne and Maciah’s wedding, as weddings were banned as part of a national lockdown on March 23.
Having been together for 12 years and both coming from large extended families, the couple were due to tie the knot at a much grander ceremony where they expected to host 250 guests later this summer.
However, plans for a ‘perfect wedding’ were scuppered as news of the global pandemic spread and the UK Government forced a lockdown following a rise in fatal cases caused by the virus.
The precarious situation left their forthcoming matrimonial commitment in serious doubt of going ahead and, as time went on, they realised it may not happen at all.
After months of nearly giving up hope, news of a gentle ease of lockdown restrictions gave the couple renewed hope, but rather than risk waiting and getting caught up in a second wave of coronavirus cases and a potentially tougher lockdown; the pair decided to dive into the deep end and exchange their vows the moment they had an opportunity.
According to the Office for National Statistics, around 73,600 weddings and same-sex civil partnership ceremonies were postponed during the first three months of lockdown.
“Face masks and knocking elbows”
So while many couples chose to postpone their wedding plans until 2021 or even 2022, Dionne and Maciah went in the opposite direction and brought theirs forward, tying the knot over the weekend, complete with face masks and compulsory social distancing measures in place.
Speaking to I Am Birmingham they said, “We chose to get married during these times as this was our third attempt to tie the knot.
“We kept having set backs on the other dates, so were determined to get married before our next adventure as we are emigrating.
“We had initially provisionally booked July 4 as one of the dates for the wedding but it could no longer happen, so when Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that weddings could go ahead on this date, it felt like it was just meant to be.
“Our original plans included 250 plus guests, 9 bridesmaids and groomsmen, speeches, our children taking a greater part and so on, but with only 30 people, this was very different.
“We could not ever imagine our guests would need to wear face masks to our wedding, greet each other by knocking elbows or that we would have no bridal party.”
Social distancing rules
Guests at the wedding were asked to sanitise their hands and were given a face mask before entering the New Testament Church Of God ‘ The Rock” on George Street in Birmingham . The place of worship also had floor and door signs reminding everyone about social distancing measures.
Guests were shown to their seats by ushers, who had allocated seats based on family clusters. These arrangements and ample space between guest seating didn’t dampen spirits as the wedding went ahead.
The pastor conducting the service wore gloves throughout so that he didn’t have to handle the wedding rings, or come into direct contact with others, but all the usual additions to the service such as hymn singing and a sermon remained in place.
According to UK Government rules, weddings may now go ahead but with heavy restrictions. Among these are rules around people from different households not touching, avoiding singing and excessively loud music, no food or drink, and guests must be limited to only 30 people.
Remembering lost loved ones
Although a day of joy and bliss, there were also some sombre reflection for family members who missed out due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Blushing bride Dionne told us, “It was nothing like the original wedding we planned. I 100% could not have imagined certain family members or friends not being there on our big day.
“Looking at photographs of the event, you can really tell it’s a social distancing wedding but it didn’t feel like it at the time.
“I still had the same nerves and emotions tied to getting married. I feel that if COVID-19 had not happened, my grandad would still be here and would have attended the wedding. He passed away at the beginning of May.”
“We definitely have changed perspective of what makes a wedding day special. You do not need the lavish things and hundreds of guests.
“I remember all the thought that went into seating plans, and wedding favours and the hundreds of things couples usually worry about for their big day. None of it is needed.
“Our day was so perfect even though it was not initially what we wanted.”