Get married… don’t get married; thousands of couples have had to alter their altar – or bimah – plans this year in line with the ever-shifting rules. Kari Colmans interviews resolute newlyweds who tied the knot against the odds in true Covid style
For the Freemans, theirs was the ultimate love at second sight. Having both joined a Facebook group called Jewish Singles, Abbie, 50, who is the communications lead at the Cabinet Office and Roy, 56,
a property finance consultant, met at a group dinner at The Arkley pub.
While Abbie had always planned to eat with the group, Roy was supposed to be going to a club in London so he thought he would just pop in. He arrived late, they got chatting – and he never made it to the club.
Although they hadn’t met before, Abbie had spotted his “head” a number of times, having read his Facebook profile and already deemed him unsuitable. “He was always posting stuff about soul music and I just thought we seemed so incompatible!” she laughs, while Roy is making a cup of tea in the background before settling down in front of the screen.
She says she didn’t even recognise him when he walked in. “He was so tall and handsome! I didn’t think it was the same man.
“I had left the table for a while and when I sat back down there was an extra seat by me. He sat himself down and he hasn’t left my side ever since.”
Their first date was on his birthday, and on the second date they fell in love. Fast forward eight-and-a-half years, and the newlyweds are still on a high from the best wedding they could have imagined.
Originally, the plan was to get married in synagogue on 7 September this year and have a Kiddush or lunch afterwards.
“I turned 50 the following day,” says Abbie, “so we had booked a big party and invited all our friends and relatives to celebrate our wedding and my 50th at the same time.”
Having only got engaged three-and-a-half months previously (he proposed on New Year, at midnight, at the London fireworks display, with a custom-designed ring) they never intended to wait months on end before making
Aside from one major curveball, whereby they both came down with coronavirus the day after meeting with the rabbi (fortunately they have both fully recovered), they were always very much “let’s get on with it – even in the darkest days”.
“I wanted to be married by my 50th birthday,” says Abbie, as Roy smiles and nods his head in agreement beside her.
“And we held onto the fact that if we were to postpone it, we would always be in the same situation of never knowing if it would or wouldn’t happen.
“There’s so much involved with planning a wedding, how can anyone be sure if it can go ahead with the constant threat of lockdowns? So, we figured we should commit to it.
we held onto the fact that if we were to postpone it, we would always be in the same situation of never knowing if it would or wouldn’t happen
“We both agreed even if it was just us two, the rabbi and two witnesses, we would still go ahead. It was always about the marriage ceremony.”
In the end, they got more than they had initially bargained for. They were married on the date they had always intended in Abbie’s best friend’s garden with 30 guests.
“The rabbi, Jeremy Gordon from St John’s Wood Masorti, came to the house and we had a bedecken, and a mobile chuppah was constructed outside, held up by Roy’s two sons, Sacha and Miles, my cousin Lane and Roy’s best man Clive.
“My mum walked me down the aisle, I walked around Roy seven times and we chose all our own music. It was very personal, intimate and touching.”
Roy adds: “In the end, it felt a lot grander than we ever could have imagined.” The couple can’t stop smiling as they reminisce about their “perfect day”.
“It felt like a Hollywood-style, high-society wedding,” says Abbie, who chose white silk palazzo trousers, a white silk camisole and a champagne gold sequin short jacket with a gold leaf tiara, over the usual ivory gown.
Roy wore a dark blue brocade dinner jacket with matching waistcoat. Guests were served exquisite hors d’oeuvres, mini desserts and sipped on gin and Prosecco cocktails.
“The whole day was a dream,” remembers Abbie. “The people around us were our very nearest and dearest and they felt that Roy and I were accessible as we all spent the whole day together. There was no top table. And no seating plan – everyone just mixed.”
Abbie’s cousin arranged a fantastic wedding car, while his fiancé took charge of the bouquet. She even had a tailor-made surprise wedding cake made for Roy, who collects minerals: a truly original piece that resembled a giant amethyst.
The people around us were our very nearest and dearest and they felt that Roy and I were accessible as we all spent the whole day together. There was no top table. And no seating plan – everyone just mixed.
The couple had a friend film the day and a colleague helped them to produce a highlights video. And, of course, it was very special to get married in her best friend’s home. It was also Roy’s mum’s first day out of the house in seven months.
“The guests couldn’t do enough for us,” says Roy. “I think the wedding was made that much more special because it was so unlikely to go ahead. Everyone pulled together to make it happen, and they all felt so excited that it went ahead, and we were so grateful for that.”
Despite having pulled off the perfect day, they are still set on an encore. But whatever happens, they will always look back on their big day with gratitude and love.
“We were the luckiest people in the world to be able to have such a dream wedding day during such dark times.
“At the last minute, all the stars aligned and we feel totally blessed.”
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