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Rosalind and Alex were the first couple to say their vows at the wedding venue since it was forced to close for events due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The couple enjoyed a small ceremony with just eight close friends and family in the setting of The Secret Garden, the venue's fully licenced outdoor wedding area.
Read on as we chat to bride Rosalind and find out what it was like to emerge from lockdown and say "I do" under exceptional circumstances.
Images courtesy of Matt Ryle Photography
Rosalind and Alex met at work and hit it off over lunchtime chats in the canteen, covering everything from world travel to cars. Rosalind tells us, "We just work well together. We were both attracted to each other's independence and bonded over a similar sense of humour." The pair began dating soon afterwards, and as they say, the rest is history.
Alex proposed at their home on Rosalind's 28th birthday. Although she'd been expecting him to pop the question, as her dad accidentally let slip following their return from a family holiday, the exact time and place was still a surprise.
The couple were both in love with the idea of tying the knot at a barn venue, and Rosalind had grown up in Chichester making her keen to be close to home on such a special day. "We liked the beauty of Southend Barns. It needed very little decoration as it's so naturally beautiful, plus the alpacas and chickens were also a selling point thanks to our love of animals. We visited just once and were sold," the bride explains.
The date was set for 4th April, 2020, but when the country went into lockdown on 23rd March, the couple's plans were thrown into disarray. Rosalind says, "When Covid first struck we started planning just to hold our ceremony on the original date, but that was soon knocked on the head." Undeterred, they revisited opportunities again as restrictions began to ease and managed to snatch a date, just at the right time so they didn't need their banns re-read. "Rescheduling the ceremony, reception, suppliers and the honeymoon was difficult, but everybody was very understanding and helped us to rearrange at no extra cost," Rosalind tells us.
However, the couple weren't out of the woods yet as they still faced a number of challenges. The bride explains: "The main problem we faced was ensuring that a socially distanced wedding was possible with our family bubbles. Fortunately, our wedding car provider, Splitty Wedding Hire, and the venue owners at Southend Barns were very well set up and had trained to put social distancing measures in place, along with adequate sanitisation. Safety was the number one priority."
So, on the 11th July, 2020, Rosalind and Alex were finally able to say "I do." Naturally guest numbers needed to be limited to close family, and while the planned reception wasn't possible, they were still able to celebrate simply with a barbecue at home. Unfortunately, it was no longer possible to include bridesmaids and groomsmen, but Alex's dad stepped up and performed the role of best man admirably. Rosalind remembers, "We were only at the venue for an hour or so, for a short ceremony and photographs, but the team were kind enough to allow us to bring some drinks and prepared them for us all to enjoy after the ceremony."
Understandably, Rosalind felt anxious in the run up, concerned about what their family and friends might think. Although members of their close family were aware of their plans, no one else was. "We decided to keep it quiet, just in case there was a second wave, or for whatever reason, we weren't able to go ahead. We'd already had one day cancelled, so that was still in the back of our minds," she explains. However, we're delighted to report that the response from their nearest and dearest turned out to be nothing but overwhelmingly positive. "The day was perfect. Just having our closest loved ones there made the day so intimate and even more special," the bride remembers with happiness. She even got to enjoy her first journey in a VW Campervan, a vehicle she'd loved from a young age.
Rosalind looked stunning in Erica Anne by Rebecca Ingram. "I wanted a simple style – comfortable yet impactful," she explains. She accessorised with a pair of sapphire earrings – something blue – and a Tiffany necklace. She carried a bouquet containing a picture of her mother and decorative bells, which her mum also had in her bouquet when she got married. The blooms were blue and white hydrangeas picked from the couple's own garden, along with some Rosemary in memory of her mother.
The groom wore a Marc Darcy suit: Harry indigo tweed check, with the best man, Alex's dad was dressed to match. They're both long term season ticket holders at Manchester United Football Club, so both accessorised with the team's official navy and silver stripe ties. The buttonholes included rosemary and eryngium in keeping with the blue theme.
Rosalind and Alex intend to be back at Southend Barns in November to celebrate their nuptials with more of their beloved family and friends. "We'll be having another ceremony, but haven't decided, as yet, what form this will take, but it will be followed by a meal and hopefully a party," Rosalind explains. She continues, "We're very open minded and will make our plans work with the restrictions, allowing us to get the best we can out of the situation. Now, we're legally married, so at least there's an element of being able to move on to the next chapter. We're determined not to allow the pandemic to put our lives on hold any longer."