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(27 Jul 2020) LEAD IN:
In the UK, so-called 'microweddings' could be the answer for couples hoping to tie the knot under government coronavirus guidelines.
Currently a maximum of 30 guests can attend weddings, if social distancing measures are in place.
After more than four months of lockdown, wedding ceremonies are being held across England.
Many couples' wedding plans have been up in the air, with them forced to postponed their big day.
As of July 4, wedding ceremonies up to 30 people are allowed to go ahead in England.
Against the backdrop of the Devonshire countryside, this bride and groom, with their puppy in tow make their way down the aisle.
The Brickhouse Vineyard wedding venue, with views of green fields, woodland and wildflower meadows, specialises in intimate wedding affairs.
Following several cancellations, newlyweds Emily Green and Casey Soar are excited to tie the knot.
"It were the original plan just two months later really. We were supposed to get married in April, that had to be postponed then until June and then we had to cancel that again. So we just thankful that we could actually get married today," explains Green.
Inside the venue, their marriage ceremony is conducted by the Trish Harrogate, Head of Devon Registration Service.
Weddings in England must still be held under a fixed, permanent structure which is licensed.
"It's been very different, the first thing we would do is come in and shake the couple's hands and introduce ourselves. So that's really difficult. We have to just do a social-distanced wave. And then they would generally stand closer to us. And then with the signing of the register, they would…the registrar would stand over them and direct them to make sure they're signing the right places. So we're having to use little sticky notes and just kind of think outside the box a little bit. And again, at the end of the ceremony, we would hand over the certificate. And unfortunately, we're not able to do that. So having to put it down at a distance for them then to collect it," Harrogate explains.
Co-owners of the Brickhouse Vineyard Joanna Pisko and Matt Szczepura designed the venue for small intimate gatherings and elopements.
"So a micro-wedding it's is a small, intimate wedding. Usually, though, those weddings are also called elopement weddings when you have only two people. Sometimes they bring their children, sometimes they bring their pets. So, for example, today we are having an elopement wedding and the couple are bringing their puppy," explains Pisko.
In the past, elopements were marriages conducted in a sudden and secretive fashion.
But for a modern-day couple, a wedding for two is a personal affair and a way of keeping costs low explains Pisko.
"And I think this is quite a trend at the moment, many people, even before the impact of Coronavirus we're looking to host smaller, intimate weddings. And obviously now, after the pandemic, as we (are) emerging out of pandemic, and we can only host intimate and small weddings up to thirty guests. So we've had a lot of enquiries from people who had to cancel their weddings abroad or cancel larger weddings. And now they've changed their mind and decided to have something more smaller, more intimate and more personal," explains Pisko.
Pisko and Szczepura acted as the two witnesses needed to sign the register in UK weddings.
With the exchange of rings and their marriage certificate completed and placed on a bench at a distance, Emily and Casey toast to the occasion.
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