Our pandemic wedding was so special

When Becky and Jamie Hansell heard the news that the UK was entering its first lockdown of 2020, they were worried their wedding would have to be postponed.
A groom puts the wedding ring on his bride's finger

The wedding had been booked for July 11th at St Nicholas’s church in Gosforth, Newcastle, a church which had a lot of connections and meaning for Jamie’s side of the family.

The wedding had been 12months in planning, helped by the vicar, the Revd Jane Natrass. Becky and Jamie had first met her at a wine tasting event organised by the church some time before, and said they instantly knew they wanted her to do their wedding ceremony.

“I love Jane to bits!” said Becky, “She’s just so down to earth and reassuring. She’s the kind of person you can just pick up the phone and call, or text her – she’s approachable and just wants to be helpful.

“When we heard the news about the first lockdown, we were texting with Jane every other day and talking about all the options. I was really upset that the wedding date was in danger of being moved, but Jane had a lovely way of calming me down about it all. We did talk about postposing, but we just wanted to go ahead if we possibly could. It was a significant year for Jamie’s parents since they had married at St Nicholas’s too and it was their 40th wedding anniversary, so we wanted to tie in with that.”

Fortunately the couple didn’t have to postpone, but it was going to be a different kind of wedding ceremony than they’d planned for.

Becky remembered: “The day of the wedding was kind of crazy and untraditional – I know you’re not supposed to stay together the night before a wedding, but we did because it meant the logistics of everything were all so much easier.

“We had to cut down on the number of bridesmaids and had limitations on the aisle – my dad would have to walk behind me 2m away and of course there were hardly any guests.”

Jamie went to the church first and remembers how quiet it was: “When I went into church, I  had 5-10mins just to sit with my best man, and gather my thoughts. If the church had been full of people I wouldn’t have had that time of peace, so it was kind of nice, and helped me just focus and be calm.”

When Becky arrived, people who couldn’t come into the church were waiting outside to watch.

She recalls it was a moment of mixed emotions: “This day that I’d been dreaming about all my life since I was a little girl was now happening, but it was so different to how I’d imagined it.

“But once we were all in church, it felt such a peaceful, safe space. I was always adamant I wanted a church wedding and think this was the reason why – you feel that warmth. And because there were so few guests there, it was really quiet as well. It gave us time to focus on the commitment we were making, to reflect and to really take it all in. I don’t think that would have been the case if it had been the original full guest list.

“Obviously we didn’t want all our extended family and friends to miss out, so we live-streamed the service, and in the end, far more people saw the wedding than would have otherwise – people abroad watched it, even some of my former school teachers saw it! From that point of view, it was a blessing in disguise – that we could share that moment with so many more.”

It was especially poignant for Jamie whose dad couldn’t be at the wedding because he was in a care home, but the care home staff had put on a special buffet there and streamed the video for everyone in the home to see.

“The carers had made such an effort for my dad, and that was fantastic. I paid tribute to him myself by having a bite to eat in the pub beforehand, because that’s just what he did before his and mum’s wedding – it felt like carrying on a bit of a family tradition,” said Jamie.

Since the wedding day, the couple have tuned in to ‘Zoom church’ at St Nicholas and got to know a few more people there.

Becky and Jamie were one of the first couples to get married after the first lockdown restrictions were eased. See their TV interview on ITV Tonight, featuring vicar Jane too.