Josh & Lisa - A Covid Wedding Story
Josh & Lisa - A Covid Wedding Story
Josh and Lisa
It was the 17th June 2020. I was 18 weeks pregnant and we had been working from home in our three-bed flat for three months. Josh was ducking in and out of the flat all morning. My head was completely consumed with work and I didn’t really take much notice of what he was doing or think to ask. He took me for a walk at lunch to make sure I took a break. This was a regular occurrence during those sunny days in June but this particular day was overcast and damp. I knew I needed the break and fresh air so off we went.
We had decided to go to Dunnet Beach which holds a special place in my heart and will always be one of my favourite spots. As we drove through the village of Castletown we noticed some low lying mist on the beach and we decided to take a walk around Castletown Harbour instead where there is a flagstone heritage centre. The harbour also looks over to Dunnet Beach. There are lots of information boards dotted around and I stood on top of a wooden deck to read one. I took a moment to look at my favourite spot on the beach covered in mist and breathed in the fresh sweet sea air. I am going to miss this when we move to America I thought to myself. Josh had been offered a new job role in up state New York and we had a moving date set of 20th August.
I heard my name and I turned around and Josh was on one knee. It was right there and then that I agreed to marry this man with tear brimmed eyes presenting my Granny’s wedding ring to me. A ring that my mum had given to him only that morning when he took a doorstep visit to ask my Dad’s permission to ask me to be his wife. So that’s what he had been doing that morning.
We had often talked about what we would like when we got married before we were engaged. We just both knew that we wanted to be together forever. It was a given that we would do it one day. We always agreed it would be a small affair. And on the way back to the car that day we discussed our plans.
We wanted to be married straight away, as soon as we could, before we moved to America so we could have as much of our family with us as was allowed during this pandemic. There would never be a better time than right now. We applied for special permission to be married within 21 days which was granted given our move to America and we set a date. 10th July 2020. When we announced the news about our engagement to our families it was alongside the bombshell that the wedding would take place in three weeks time.
There were still so many restrictions around weddings and numbers of guests in relation to Covid so we knew we needed to have an outdoor ceremony. My sister’s garden in the Caithness countryside was the perfect place. Her husband’s family have a farm and their house on the family land has a stunning view of the sunset looking across the Pentland Firth with Dunnet head and Orkney on the horizon. We just had to keep our fingers crossed that we would get nice weather. Not something you can rely on in the Scottish summers.
My husband’s family live in Wales and by the time the wedding date came around they were allowed to travel to the highlands to be able to attend the wedding. Self catering accommodation was recommended. Unfortunately, my Granny had needed to be moved to a care home. This left her house lying empty. Josh’s family could stay there safely as it had been empty since before there were any cases of Covid. The house of the Granny who’s ring Josh had presented to me on the day we were engaged and who sadly passed away in November 2020.
We had our list of 10 guests. My mum and dad, my brother, my sister, her husband and her two girls, age 3 and 5. Josh’s parents and his sister. A few days before the wedding it was announced that rules allowed 15 people at an outside gathering and I had three of my closest friends on stand-by to come along after the ceremony.
The wedding prep was nothing like your regular preparations. Firstly, we did everything in three weeks. We had a lot of help from friends and family and we could not have done it without them. My sister’s husband decided to build and paint some new decking, a fence and a new gate. There were home made decorations and favours from giant paper flowers to hand painted stones. I ordered a vast amount of dresses from high street shops and tried them on in my bedroom at home. The final dress getting the seal of approval from my sister and mum from a photograph. A simple lace covered number with a full skirt to accommodate my bump which was growing by the day at that stage. A friend offered to make us a wedding cake. It was dotted with artificial flowers which she sourced from my already booked florist – Jan Sutherland Floristry. I opted for an artificial flower bouquet for both me and my two nieces filled with thistles and white roses. (This now stands pride of place in our home in the USA). We borrowed a gazebo from my Aunt and hired a tepee tent from Lime Life Bell Tent Party Hire. A company from Nairn who travelled to Caithness the day before the wedding and pitched the tent. It came fully equipped with decorations, a table and chairs, a carpet and even a chandelier but most importantly a heater. It was simply beautiful. I had heard that a local photographer (SDM Photography) was offering doorstep photo shoots during the pandemic and I reached out to her to see if she would be interested in taking some pictures of our day. She was ecstatic to be able to do a wedding.
The day before the wedding was consumed with preparations late into the night. Dying my own hair, painting my own nails, pitching the gazebo, hanging lanterns, even putting that last coat of paint on the decking.
The day of the wedding arrived. 10th July 2020. We were blessed with really lovely weather. The sun was shining brightly and the garden looked perfect. Flowers and ribbons and bunting and lanterns. I walked down the isle to a Florence and the Machine version of “Stand by Me” following my two gorgeous flower girls who scattered rose petals as they walked between the 8 chairs which were laid out in front of the gazebo to witness our ceremony. Josh stood proudly in the centre of the gazebo trimmed with flowing drapes tied with ribbons and giant paper flowers.
After the ceremony we were whisked away by the photographer. We took to the fields amongst the cows for a beautiful photo shoot. Suzie from SDM Photography’s enthusiasm for her first wedding during the pandemic shone through and we now have some stunning photographs to remind us of our special day. Even a couple with the cows in the background.
A buffet from Stacks of John O’ Groats was delivered and our small party sat down to some delicious sausage rolls, pasta salad and the most amazing brownies I had ever tasted. I think they now do a recipe book which I must order. We ate from plastic plates and drank from plastic wine glasses and had a ball. Our own specially selected songs playing in the background.
Nothing about the day was scheduled or planned. It all just fell into place. There were speeches from Josh and my Dad and the whisky and prosecco were flowing. Or Nosecco in my case.
A first dance to “Grow Old With Me” by Tom Odell on the newly painted decking with our family and friends surrounding us wrapped in blankets. The light was fading and lanterns hung above us and the sky was filled with dramatic whispy clouds.
As the sun went down and it became a little chilly we sat around the fire pit wrapped in blankets and watched the sunset. We danced in the grass and I felt so grateful in that moment. I had married the most handsome and kind man I had ever met. I had my favourite people all around me. The best day of our lives to that point. A day surrounded by our very nearest and dearest. A day so intimate and just about us. About the love between us and the love we have for our families. Two families that were brought together that day. Two parents who were soon to become grandparents to the same perfect little girl.
We are now a family of 3 living in the USA and loving every day as husband and wife and embracing every moment with our precious little girl who arrived on 7th November 2020.