Love conquers all in Cornwall’s week of emergency weddings

This week absolute magic happened for those wanting to tie the knot in Cornwall.

It comes as registrars, venues and suppliers in the county pulled out all the stops to get an incredible number of couples down the aisle to beat the looming lockdown.

Some couples had no doubt already changed their plans several times this year due to the pandemic restrictions and for 26 of them, nothing else was getting in the way of saying ‘I Do’.

One couple even got married in their charity shop uniform – proving that love conquers all – and registrars across the county offered to work well into the evenings to make things happen.

Cornwall Air Ambulance superstore’s charity shop manager John was one of those set to get married this weekend, but due to the new restrictions, which came into force on Thursday (5 November), it was sadly not to be.

On Monday, John’s partner Emma decided to contact Truro Registry Office to see if there was any chance they could bring the ceremony forward.

Due to a late cancellation, they received a call at lunchtime to let them know they could squeeze them in at 4pm that same day – leaving no time to spare.

The pair were both on shift in the St Austell charity shop – complete with red uniform – and left straight from there for their wedding ceremony alongside a couple of Cornwall Air Ambulance employees who were delighted to act as their witnesses.

A spokesperson for the charity said: “The couple were even married in their red CAAT (Cornwall Air Ambulance Trust) uniforms – a first for the charity. Congratulations to John and Emma.”

In another last-minute effort – although not quite as speedy as John and Emma’s nuptials – Gareth and Niki Rowett scrambled together to rearrange their big day in just 48 hours after hearing the news of a lockdown.

The Cornwall Air Ambulance shop pair had planned to be married this weekend

The couple from St Austell, were also due to get married this weekend but didn’t want to face delaying everything.

At the time news broke of the new restrictions, the pair were actually on their respective stag and hen parties – leaving them confused about whether their upcoming nuptials could go ahead.

Gareth said: “To be honest we didn’t really think about it that night. I think Niki was up online until about half past one in the morning just having a look about the guidelines.

“On Sunday morning we rung the vicar and saw if there was any chance we could pull the wedding forward to before today and luckily they were able to accommodate us.”

Newlyweds Gareth and Niki Rowett
Newlyweds Gareth and Niki Rowett

That means on Sunday they decided to tie the knot and by Monday evening they were one of the 26 blissfully married couples.

“I don’t think I have ever spoken on my mobile phone as much as I did in those 24 hours and Niki similarly,” he said.

The couple even managed to rearrange their florist, photographer and wedding reception but sadly they did lose a couple guests – including the best man – who couldn’t make it on such short notice.

“They managed to get my best man Andy on video and he did a big speech which was really nice. It was amazing,” he continued.

They even got to have a wedding cake because Niki had planned to make it herself – and had only made the ‘practice’ version on Friday, which turned out delicious.

Nominate your Covid Heroes below

Kathryn Owen, the service manager of Cornwall Registration Services, said that teams swung into action to ensure they could get as many couples married safely before the restrictions kicked in.

She said: “From the point the announcement was made we had various people phoning, emailing and Facebook messaging us to try and find out what they could do so they could get married.

“We also had calls from some of our venues asking if there was any way that couples could bring their ceremony forward to be within the next few days.”

She said the main priority was getting a plan in place for any couples who wanted to get married before the new lockdown – in only four days.

Swinging into action was a team of bookings advisors – co-ordinating with the couples and two registration officers for each ceremony that would be needed to legally complete the ceremonies, she added.

Gareth and Niki managed to rearrange nearly all their plans in just 48 hours

“We had offers from our ceremony registrars saying that they would be more than happy to stay on into the evenings if needed to get couples married before the restrictions kicked in.

“The couples who contacted us either directly or via our approved venues were delighted that as a team, everyone worked together to enable the “I do’s” to be said and the happy day that these couples had been dreaming of was going to be a reality.

“Logistically, the phones were buzzing with calls being made between couples, venues and registration officers to get things sorted and the result was 26 very happy couples who have been able to say “I do” before the new restrictions came into force.”

Congratulations to all those who did manage to get married this week, and for those still eagerly waiting, one day this will all be a funny story you can tell to the grandchildren.

You can stay up to date on the top news and events near you with CornwallLive’s FREE newsletters – find out more about our range of daily and weekly bulletins and sign up here or enter your email address at the top of the page.

Cornwall Live