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  • Rita O'Reilly | Divine Celebrancy

Coping with Covid | Tom & Emily's Postponement Story.

Emily and Thomas certainly went through the full gamut of emotions when they were planning their big day but I am glad to say that on September 27, 2020 their dreams to marry each other were finally realised and they could not be happier. I absolutely loved seeing the smiles on their faces knowing that ultimately they had a wonderful wedding day, albeit not exactly how they had originally imagined it.

James Simpson Photography

Our paths crossed back in mid 2019 when their wedding journey began and I was truly excited to be a part of it.


Their original wedding date was April 18, 2020 at Milton Park Country House Hotel & Spa in Bowral as the date and the location, being in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, were both meaningful to them.


Unfortunately, in early 2020, Emily and Tom's plans came to a standstill with the unexpected arrival of a world-wild pandemic. Emily being a registered nurse was learning first hand that things were about to get worse before they would get better and that there was really nothing they could do but postpone their wedding and ride out this scary wave. With this understanding, Tom and Emily consoled each other as they discussed their options and tried to reimagine what their day, when it finally came, would be like.


With many of us currently living in the grip of another Government lockdown preventing weddings from going ahead, it is my hope that couples planning their big day would benefit from hearing how couples, like Tom and Emily, handled such an emotional and upsetting time.

"When we started planning our wedding day we placed a lot of emphasis on making sure our closest family and friends would be able to come, especially considering we had lots of family living overseas.
We also planned the day around things that were significant to us and our relationship i.e. an April wedding as that's the month when we first met, and somewhere in the Southern Highlands as that meant something to us."
The Tuplic Garden at Milton Park Country House
Once we realised the restrictions would impact our wedding day, our initial reactions were:
Emily: Anger, Disbelief and Frustration! I just cried for days, so much time and effort was spent planning the day exactly as we wanted; I felt like it had all gone to waste. I am such an organised person and a bit of a perfectionist so this was really difficult. At the same time, I felt helpless, as it looked like there was absolutely no way to change anything.
Tom: Worry, Concern and Disappointment! I was disheartened and I just felt bad because Em was sad that we couldn't have the day we wanted. I felt like everything was out of my control and I couldn't do anything as her partner to fix it.
During that time, the Government rules stated that weddings could only go head under the 5 person rule which only allowed us, our celebrant and two witnesses and we couldn't bear the thought of not even our parents being able to witness our special day.
I went straight into 'fix it' mode, I was almost possessed. After talking with Tom, I began by calling our venue and then our vendors to try and sort everything out. We discussed our options and together we came up with an alternative day in September where all of our vendors were available, so we could still have the exact same day as we had planned for April. We then had everything crossed in the hope that we would be able to go ahead in September.
Our vendors were absolutely incredible! Everyone was so understanding and accommodating. I felt like I was bothering them so much with back and forth "What dates are you available in September?", followed by "Ok, if you still have this date can we please book it in".
It was a frantic rush because I knew so many couples would be doing the same thing, and we wanted to keep all of our suppliers the same; after all, we picked them for a reason! We couldn't fault any of our vendors honestly, they made the whole experience that much easier."
For our family and friends who weren't able to attend, we set up a Zoom meeting and had family member film it live for us. We sent out the link earlier in the week for them to watch along.
On our actual wedding day in September, we had to adhere to Government restrictions. We had limitations on the number of guests allowed to attend due to the 4sqm rule. This reduced the venue's capacity to accommodate our numbers which meant that we could only have 60 out of our 110 guests.
We weren't allowed to drink alcohol standing up which we thought was going to affect our post ceremony canapes, but our venue set up tables and chairs without us knowing which was lovely, so our guests could still enjoy their drinks and canapes.
Our celebrant Rita, suggested that we consider not having a dance floor in our reception room, so we weren't reminded of what we were missing and instead, having our first dance outside in the beautiful garden under pretty lights. This is exactly what we did. It was magical being surrounded by our family and friends who all waved sparklers as we danced.
Luckily for us, a few days out from our day, the 'no dance floor' rule was revised to allow up to 20 to dance but they could only be members of the wedding party and the couple's parents. Tom and I were thankful that our parents and our wedding party could join us for a dance.
It was a stressful time but I have to say that we definitely learned so much. We learned lots about each other and we were able to refocus on what was truly important to us.
I definitely learned that you can't always control every aspect of your life and sometimes you just need to ride the wave, adapt and overcome (which was certainly made easier with Tom's love and support). We now reflect on the whole experience as something we can tell our grand-kids!
Financially speaking, we were much better off, plus it felt more intimate and the people who were there, truly cared about us being married. It was so special.
Honestly, on our wedding day, it really didn't feel like there were any restrictions at all! We were both over the moon that our day had finally come, and we had realised that becoming husband and wife and sharing that with our closest family and friends was all that mattered.
What I remember most about our wedding day, was that once we were at the altar and holding each other's hands again, all of the stress and worry that we felt beforehand just melted away. Because no matter what happened, we were going to walk down that aisle as husband and wife, and that was the happiest moment of our lives.

Some words of advice from Emily and Tom...

Emily: I know how hard it is to be told to relax because at the time you feel anything but relaxed. I think at the end of the day, all the fancy "Instagram worthy" optional extras don't matter that much, it's all about becoming husband and wife in front of your nearest and dearest. Take a deep breath, explore your options, refocus your plans together as a couple, and choose your happiness over everything else.
Tom: As the husband, we're generally 'fixers' - we like to fix things. But this was something that couldn't be fixed with brains or brawn. The best thing you can do is be a shoulder to cry on and hug your wife when she feels like it's all falling apart. Remind her that you are getting married because you love one another. It will happen, hell, high water or global pandemic.

Photographer: James Simpson Photography


A Note from Rita...

This current lock down is affecting couples in many different ways and if it is affecting you adversely seek advice from wedding professionals. Your vendors have been through this before and will definitely be able to assist you to get though these uncertain times in the best way possible and see you happily married.


When Emily and Tom were going through their wedding crisis in 2020, we had many phone calls and even though back them I, as their Marriage Celebrant, wasn't as experienced with dealing with Covid restrictions, as I am now, I was still able to give them good sound advice for them going forward. On September 27, 2020, it was exciting to see them happily married and enjoying life together.


Below is their gorgeous wedding video filmed by Erive Films who captured Tom and Emily's wonderful day and the romance of their first dance in the gardens of Milton Park, enjoy.



Tom and Emily's A Team

Celebrant: Rita O'Reilly | Divine Celebrancy

Photographer: James Simpson Photography

Videographer: Erive Films

Venue: Milton Park Country House Hotel & Spa

Muscians: D&S Duo

Florist: Mali Flores

Stylist: Grey Designs

Dress: Sweetheart Bridal Boutique

Hair: Kayla Jones from Escarla

Makeup: Marta Szabo

Cake: Baked Couture Cakes

Hair accessory: The Loop Market

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