Love in Lockdown | Rachael & Gavin

Original Wedding Date : 16th September 2020

Wedding Status : Married on 16th September 2020 celebrations scheduled for October 2021

We had originally booked our wedding at Ellingham back in January 2019. When it came to booking the venue, we were mindful we had friends and family scattered across the country and so when we began our search for a venue, we wanted somewhere that our guests could descend on and that was exclusively ours for the whole weekend. Ellingham was the first venue we visited and afterwards knew that we didn’t need to see anywhere else. It ticked all of our boxes and just blew us away.

The team at Ellingham had been wonderful from the moment we booked our wedding with them and during lockdown it was no different! They were always at the other end of the phone to answer the many ‘what if’ questions we had – even though they were often as uncertain as we were about what was going on. As we got closer to our date and battled with our own uncertainty they were really helpful in giving us options and helping us to re-plan our day. Their communication was excellent throughout the whole process. When lockdown began in March we knew we’d have a long period of uncertainty as we waited for news on weddings resuming and the circumstances under which they would. We remained hopeful that by October 2020 things would be different, but sadly they were not.

In the weeks leading up to our wedding we were hit with so many Covid-19 rule changes, including the ‘Rule of 6’, the ‘North East Local Lockdown’ and then the guest numbers being cut from 30 to 15 with two weeks to go. As a result, we had conjured up a plan for every possible ‘what if’ and outcome we could think of, but it sadly meant that we had to re-arrange our actual plans about four times. Each of these iterations of the plan meant that we were cutting back more and more from what our original ‘Wedding Day’ should have looked like. However, we knew getting married on our original date was so very important for us, so we pushed ahead regardless. Once we had made the decision to go ahead with just the legal ceremony at Ellingham regardless of whatever further restrictions were going to be thrown at us, we were excited! Finally, it felt like we were back in control of our wedding! Although making the decision to go ahead was exciting for us, it was, at times, overshadowed by a feeling of impending dread that we’d be hit with yet another restriction or have it taken from us last minute, like we had heard happen to so many other couples. It was only really the couple of days before when the panic started to fade and the excitement started to build.

When it came to our actual wedding day, it was perfect… truly perfect. It was nothing like the wedding we had originally planned all those months ago, but we were ok with that. We were safe in the knowledge that we get to do it all again next year, with hopefully a few more people!

What we experienced on the day was nothing short of spectacular. We were apprehensive before the day arrived that the Hall might feel a bit empty with only the 15 of us, however we were wrong. As our guests were arriving, everyone gathered in the Entrance Hall and Blue Room. After the ceremony, we had arranged for our pianist to play during the small drinks reception. As a result, the majority of our guests gathered together in the Entrance Hall, only moving through to the Blue Room to cut the cake later on. As a result, with a bit of clever crowd management and some lovely live music, the place had a real buzz!

On top of the ecstatic feeling of becoming husband and wife, we shared an overwhelming sense of achievement having gone ahead after facing so much doubt and uncertainty. We felt so lucky to share such an intimate celebration with our immediate family and closest friends, in the beautiful surroundings of Ellingham Hall. Everyone who was with us on the day fell in love with Ellingham too and can’t wait to come back next year. We also can’t wait to share our day with the many loved ones who couldn’t be with us to celebrate this time round next October.

Is there any advice you’d give couples going forward?
Focus on what is important to you. Restrictions and guidelines changes are outside of your control and it’s easy to get distracted by what you can’t do instead of focusing on what you can do. We would suggest speaking with your venue, your suppliers and other couples about their experience. Do your research. The day won’t be what you imagined when you first started planning but that doesn’t mean it won’t be special. In fact its a very different kind of special. We felt we had a lot of time to really spend with our guests and our fantastic photographer had plenty of time to get some really cool shots of us – even suggesting going to the beach, which you would never normally have time to do. If you, like us, just want to get married we recommend that you just go ahead! You won’t regret it! Love cannot be cancelled.