Love and lockdown 4.0: Couples rush to wed, others cancel their big day

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They found a priest, a church and a cake, yanked their page boy and flower girl out of school and got the message out to their guests that lockdown was nigh and the wedding was not going ahead the next day, but in a matter of hours.

Oh, and they also had to squeeze the groom in for an orthodox baptism before he could walk down the aisle.

Rachel and Ben Sawyer brought their wedding forward to Thursday to beat the lockdown. They were supposed get married on Friday. Credit:Jason South

While many Victorian couples were forced to delay weddings this weekend due to the COVID-19 lockdown that began at 11.59pm on Thursday, Croydon couple Rachel and Ben Sawyer scrambled to bring their big day forward by 24 hours.

They made the first call just after 9am on Thursday. By 2pm, Ms Sawyer was walking down the aisle watched by about 60 of their friends and family.

“It was pretty amazing,” Ms Sawyer said.

“A lot of friends just dropped everything, a lot of people turned around to their bosses and said: ‘This is the situation, can I just leave?’ They were already at work for the day.

“I was getting ready while watching the [government coronavirus] press conference to find out what was going on. My sister and my other bridesmaid were throwing together the bouquets and Dad was making everyone sandwiches.”

Ben and Rachel at the pub after they rushed to make it down the aisle on Thursday.

In the space of five hours, they found a priest who opened a church for them (St Paul’s Antiochian Orthodox Church in Dandenong) and baptised Mr Sawyer (full immersion) an hour before.

“He had to take his clothes to the church…dry himself off and get changed into his wedding outfit in the church toilet,” Ms Sawyer said.

“At least the water was warm,” Mr Sawyer quipped.

Afterwards, they all piled into a pub for dinner – Ms Sawyer in her wedding dress – and someone had managed to find a wedding cake.

“Everyone in the pub cheered, it was just amazing,” she said.

“Shout-out to the church and the priests, choir, and all of our family and friends who went to great lengths to make it happen.”

The couple decided to delay the full reception by a couple of weeks so they could celebrate with all of their guests. Ms Sawyer said she had no regrets, saying she would have spent her wedding day crying if they weren’t able to press ahead.

Such was the case for Melbourne accountants Den Wang and Fiona Chen, who had to cancel their planned nuptials.

The couple was originally going to get married at the Abbotsford Convent in November last year, but rescheduled to this Saturday, thinking it would be safer.

By Tuesday, their caterer had called them asking them to make a decision within a couple of hours about whether they were going to go ahead.

“At that time, Tuesday was looking OK. The minister was expecting crowds at the AFL so we didn’t want to postpone to the following week and to end up going into lockdown. We thought it was a bit too early to call,” Mr Wang said.

Den Wang and Fiona Chan have had to cancel their wedding this Saturday.

He estimates they will be about $25,000 out of pocket, mostly from catering. Their florist had offered to try and sell as many of the flowers as they could, while their photographer was sympathetic.

“Yesterday was a crazy day and today we’re a bit more calm, but we still oscillate between knuckling down to finding a solution and the other side is angry, disappointed, sad,” he said.

“We’re doing our best to focus on the solution side of things – try and find a new date and get it organised and with everything we’ve gone through now, when we get there, it’ll be extra sweet.”

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