Writer Megan Musgrove Ward shares her story of organising a Covid Wedding in Suffolk. Read on to find out about her very special, and unusual, big day…
Anyone who knows me, knows that I don’t like to wait for things. I just like to get things done. Which is why the original destination wedding was all booked within a couple of weeks of getting engaged at the beginning of 2020… then Covid happened.
We weren’t due to fly out to Las Vegas until November, so to begin with, I thought it would have all sorted itself out by then. As the months dragged on, I began to think that it wouldn’t be a good idea to travel long-haul, even if we would be allowed to go. So, we made the decision to cancel Plan A, luckily only losing a relatively small deposit, and start again.
We were in a good position in that everything around our wedding was planned to be low-key and as relaxed as possible. Unlike some people who have had to reschedule, we never had a list a mile long of things that needed moving and changing. I had already purchased my dress online in the January sales, so that might give you some idea of how laid-back our ideal wedding was.
By the end of August, I was itching to get something else planned.
I wanted to get things done and dusted before the inevitable tougher restrictions would kick in during the winter period and we still have no idea what 2021 is going to bring. So, I bought my planning to somewhere local. We still wanted low-key, which fitted in with the restrictions, but in a lovely setting that would still be memorable. That was when I sent an enquiry email to the Lavenham Swan.
I love Lavenham. It’s one of my favourite places in Suffolk. Thankfully the Swan were able to accommodate us at such short notice, offering us use of the McCallum room for the ceremony for the two of us and two witnesses, cocktails afterwards and then an afternoon tea (the afternoon tea at the Swan is one of my favourites!). It was all wonderfully simple to organise and soon we had the date booked for the 1st October.
The only rush we had during this entire process came from sorting out the Notice of Marriage. I hadn’t even realised this was something we needed to do! As our original plans were going to be abroad, I hadn’t even looked into the admin that was needed for a UK wedding and it turned out we only had a two-day window to get a meeting to do the Notice in time for our ceremony, but thankfully we managed to get a slot at the Stowmarket Registry Office the next day, getting it done in the nick of time!
After that, there was nothing else we needed to worry about and it was smooth sailing until the ceremony. We purchased the rings from a small family-run jewellers T.H. Baker in Ipswich and booked the wonderful Helen Kirkman of Helen Kirkman Photography to shoot the ceremony and post-ceremony cocktails.
When we arranged the ceremony, the rule was that the bride and groom didn’t need to wear masks for the ceremony, just everyone else in the room. Two days before the ceremony, the Registrar emailed to say that with the new rules in place (where the guest numbers dropped from 30 to 15, so luckily, we weren’t affected), we now had to wear masks too. I quickly messaged a friend from Mordercai & Smith and asked if she had any fabric masks available in red so I could keep it colour co-ordinated with the rest of my outfit.
The day itself arrived and aside from the expected butterflies, everything was remarkably relaxed. I have had friends talk about how stressed they had been in the lead up to their weddings, but I had none of that.
We arrived at the Swan quarter an hour before the ceremony, as did our two witnesses (my sister and my now-husband’s sister) and sat in the lounge area whilst finishing up some last-minute checks with the Registrar. This was when we found out that the new rules now allowed music (when we booked it, no music was allowed for Covid reasons – still not sure why), so my sister quickly found a song I wanted on her Spotify, ready to play when we entered the ceremony room.
The ceremony was short and sweet. Within ten minutes, we were back in the lounge with cocktails, laughing about having to do the ceremony in facemasks. We then had an hour before Afternoon Tea and so took our cocktails into the secluded outside area for photos. Another thing we were incredibly lucky with was the weather. It was the only day that week with sunshine! So, for the next hour, our photographer, Helen Kirkman, was able to get some gorgeous photos while our group enjoyed the sunshine and finished off our drinks.
The Afternoon Tea was, as always, delicious. I’d only had a light breakfast so far that day, so I was more than ready to stuff my face with sandwiches and cake. Our little party passed another hour and a half away at the table and then, that was it.
My husband and I had booked a room at The Swan, so after food, we checked in the Great Green Room and let the afternoon sink in. Early evening, we took the time to explore some of the village before calling into The Greyhound pub for a light dinner from their tapas selection. The next morning, we enjoyed a relaxed breakfast in The Swan (it was an incredible selection) before heading home, picking the dog up from my parents en route.
It might not suit anyone who has been dreaming of a big, lavish party, but for us, it was perfect. If you are simply looking to get married during these uncertain times and are happy with something low-key and straightforward, I cannot recommend it enough.
Our original plan was to have an after-party with friends and family following the elopement. We’re still hoping to do that at some point in the future, when life has a bit more normality to it. But, for now, I couldn’t be happier with the day we did get to have.
Thank you to Megan for sharing her story about organising a Covid Wedding in Suffolk. Visit her Instagram page by clicking here.
If you’re planning a wedding in 2021, why not take a look at our suggestions for Hen Do Ideas in Suffolk – it’s our most read blog post ever!