The coronavirus pandemic has shut down synagogues, shops and restaurants and forced many to stay at home.
But it didn’t stop Denise, 60, and David Lester, 65, from marrying at Woodside Park United Synagogue on Thursday afternoon.
The Welwyn couple, who were due to marry in front of 120 guests in June, brought the ceremony forward, so the bride’s elderly parents, Hazel, 84, and Eddie Leigh, 87, could be with them on their big day.
Thursday’s ceremony was organised in just three days with help from United Synagogue amid new social distancing measures protecting the over 70 and vulnerable adults.
Since the ceremony, the couple have received hundreds of messages of support.
“It’s a romantic story whereby a wedding was cancelled but rescheduled at very short notice with everyone working together to provide something positive in the midst of the gloom,” Mrs Lester said.
The ceremony officiated by Rabbi Alex Chapper was live streamed to family and friends in Israel, Dubai and the UK. Some 25 guests were spread out across the shul hall in a bid to practise social distancing.
“There was a lot of love in the room, and everybody wanted to help it happen,” Mrs Lester said. “It was sparse in attendance but with so much hope and goodwill it was just wonderful.”
Until the groom stepped on the glass, the couple struggled to believe the ceremony would go ahead, she said. “We’ll carry the memory with us and those people that were there or watching, and even those people that have heard about it will be saying how great that in the middle of the chaos, there was something so special.”
The couple have not yet cancelled their honeymoon to Sardinia in Italy, booked for the summer, but are expecting to do so soon.