Love in the time of coronavirus: Ilkeston couple celebrate happy wedding day with a difference
The COVID-19 pandemic has upturned family life and romantic plans all over the world, but this weekend a Larklands couple helped to show that love will always find a way.
Paul and Nicola Dawson, 46 and 40, married at Ilkeston registry office on Saturday, September 5.
It had taken 10 years of gentle encouragement from their parents before they took the plunge – in the end, Nicola’s mum Joy Woodward took matters into her own hands.
Joy said: “They are so laidback, they’d never have done it otherwise. Nicola said if I booked it, she wouldn’t mind either way – so that’s exactly what I did. I phoned her up and said, ‘You’re getting married, you’d better tell Paul.’”
The original date was set for June, with 30 close family and friends due to attend in the Mayor’s Parlour, but the pandemic saw it called off.
Instead, on Saturday, as father of the bride Steve Woodward walked Nicola across the bustling Market Place, many of the couple’s loved ones turned out to cheer them on.
Steve gave Nicola’s hand to the waiting groom at the doors of the town hall. Due to public health restrictions, Joy and the couple’s daughter Roxy Dawson, 14, were among just six people allowed into the ceremony in a small side room, including two officials.
Photos were taken in the grounds of St Mary’s Church, with the blessing of Rev Andrew Baguley and a wedding arch Joy had made in secret.
She said: “It’s taken about five weeks and has been driving me mad, but I just wanted it to be a bit special.”
The happy couple met 20 years ago at the former Old Wine Vaults on East Street, just yards away from the wedding venue. Paul now has a job with Severn Trent Water while Nicola works at Weleda on Heanor Road.
Following the service, they met friends for socially distanced drinks, first at the Spanish Bar on Bath Street, then the Three Horse Shoes on Derby Road, where household bubbles were seated at separate tables.
The day ended at home in St John’s Road, where neighbours surprised them with celebratory banners.
Joy said: “Even though they’d put it off, they were really glad and thankful in the end. Paul said, ‘I’d never have done it without you.’ I think the conditions made it even more special and memorable, it was certainly different.”