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Couple Plan Their Wedding In Just Three Hours To Avoid It Being Cancelled By Tier 4 Restrictions

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Couple Plan Their Wedding In Just Three Hours To Avoid It Being Cancelled By Tier 4 Restrictions

Robert and Nuala Stanley had planned to throw a huge wedding in July with over 150 guests, but, like many couples across the country, the coronavirus pandemic well and truly screwed everything up.

The couple of six years had delayed their wedding until just after Christmas, fixing a new date for December 28th and ensuring that everything fit with new Covid-19 restrictions.

But when it was announced their area in Basildon, Essex, would be thrown into Tier 4 at 00:01 last Sunday, the pair decided to do the impossible and spontaneously tie the knot in a matter of hours.

Speaking to Tyla, Rob says the driving force behind the decision was a promise he had made Nuala to marry her by the end of the year.

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But how they managed it in such a short amount of time he's still not sure...

Rob and Nuala got married at three hours' notice (Credit: Content Bible/ David Dean Photographic)
Rob and Nuala got married at three hours' notice (Credit: Content Bible/ David Dean Photographic)

Knowing that this would be the last opportunity they would legally be able to wed in 2020, the pair took the leap of faith after Rob's pal suggested the last minute wedding, and, miraculously, they managed to pull it off.

"We were due to get married in July, and obviously that got postponed, so we moved it to the 28th of December, naively thinking everything was fine by then," Rob recalled.

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"Obviously as every announcement has come along we have been more and more stressed and anxious about the whole thing.

"Originally we were supposed to have 150 people, then it was 30, and then it was 15. Everything has sort of just come down and down, but we said 'no, its fine, we'll still get married'."

The most recent hurdle the pair had to face was being thrown into Tier 3 ten days before their wedding day, but they had adapted their plans at the last minute.

Rob added: "It got to Saturday 19th, and by the middle of the day the rumour started spreading that there was going to be a Tier 4".

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After their fears were confirmed, both he and Nuala were "absolutely devastated".

"In the announcement there was no real news on weddings, they said communal worship could take place, but we frantically searched the internet, and our priest was doing the same, and it got to about half past 5 when we realised weddings were no longer allowed in Tier 4," he went on.

"We were so upset, just sat at our dining table in disbelief."

The pair had pretty much resigned there was nothing they could do when Rob's pal texted him suggesting they fast forward their nuptials to avoid their wedding being cancelled.

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"We were sat having dinner and one of my friends text me like 'Could you not get married tonight?'," Rob says.

The government announced Tier 4 for Basildon on the 19th December (Credit: PA)
The government announced Tier 4 for Basildon on the 19th December (Credit: PA)

"We laughed and said 'This is impossible, there's too much to do'. Her dress was still at the seamstress an hour away, we'll never get a registrar, I didn't even have a suit."

At around 7pm, after some encouragement from Nuala's mother, she rung the priest, who wasn't too sure about the logistics of the idea at first.

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"He said 'To be honest, I don't think it's possible now'," Rob remembers. "But, to be honest we just wanted to married.

"[Nuala] said to the priest, 'If you give me the registrar's number can I ring him?'

"She rung this registrar at 7.10pm and he was so confused by the whole thing. She was crying down the phone like 'Please, please, please'.

"At first he was really apprehensive, but when Nuala said the whole thing was hinging on him, he just said, 'You know what, this year has been terrible, let's just do it.'"

From this point onwards it was all systems go, troubleshooting a series of problems to ensure that everything ran without a hitch before their ceremony at 10.30pm, in just three hours' time.

Nuala's brother picked her dress up from neighbouring Southend, which a seamstress had kindly steamed at the last minute so it was ready for her to wear.

He also lent Rob a suit from his own wedding, seeing as he didn't have his own yet.

Plus, Rob's mum turned some flowers from around the house into a couple of bouquets, and the photographer - who wasn't free - found a replacement to step in at the last minute.

As for the 15 person guest list, all the couple's nearest and dearest dropped their plans with just a moment's notice and they managed to fill their quota almost instantly.

Friends also gathered outside of the church with confetti (Credit: Robert Stanley / David Dean Photographic
Friends also gathered outside of the church with confetti (Credit: Robert Stanley / David Dean Photographic

Rob's Best Man even made the two hour drive from Norwich to join the couple for their special day.

With barely any time to get wedding ready, the pair and all their guests got to the church just in the nick of time, and they were married at 11.30pm, just 30 minutes before the new restrictions came in.

Sweetly, some of their friends caught wind of their plans and were outside the church with champagne and confetti to mark the occasion, in line with the guidelines.

Some of them wore suits and a couple were even in dressing gowns because they had dashed out so quickly to be a part of the celebration.

"It was just the most bizarre thing," Rob says. "I'm still not sure how we quite pulled it off, it was just ridiculous."

It got to midnight and Rob and Nuala drove home, swinging by Rob's elderly grandparents on the way so they could share the good news from a social distance.

"We just stood at the other end of the driveway at half past 12 while they were just crying," he says.

They then got home to banners, balloons and champagne on the doorstep, left by more pals who had found out about their special plans.

Claiming that they'd change nothing about their last-minute nuptials, Rob concludes: "It was amazing and we've had such a good response.

"The next morning we woke up in bed with our rings on and we just couldn't believe it. We were telling friends and family and they were like 'You guys are crazy'.

"It was such a whirlwind. In the day, I was playing golf and at 7pm the very day we were getting married we still didn't know it was happening. It was so surreal."

The next step for the pair is to have a big celebration next year on their one year anniversary, once all this has (hopefully) blown over, with all the friends and family who weren't able to attend.

"Back in July, I said to Nuala 'I promise you we'll be husband and wife this year'. It was the last possible chance.

"I don't know how we've done it, but we're so pleased it all worked out."

Featured Image Credit: Robert Stanley / David Dean Photographic

Topics: Christmas, Real, Life, Coronavirus

Joanna Freedman
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