Love in the time of corona: ‘This year has shown anything can happen’

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Love in the time of corona: ‘This year has shown anything can happen’

In the second part of our series on couples who tied the knot - Covid style - we speak to newlyweds Katy and Ollie!

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

Katy Shaf and Ollie Cohen’s paths crossed four years ago when Ollie – working as an estate agent – showed Katy around her first home. And while sparks didn’t fly immediately for Ollie, 28, and Katy, 33 – it would be another four years until they’d meet again – it only took one date before he knew she was “the one”. 

It was actually a colleague of Ollie’s who asked Katy if she’d be up for a blind date and their paths crossed once more. That was on the Monday, their date was on the Friday, and six months later they were sharing a new home.

“It was love at first sight,” laughs Katy. “For him, not me!” A romantic proposal followed at home, complete with roses, candles and balloons. Katy was totally shocked: “I didn’t expect it,” she says, beaming at the memory. 

Katy Shaf and Ollie Cohen on their big day

“Everything was set for December. Wedding at the Rosewood, Holborn – it’s the most beautiful hotel, the décor is stunning. Totem was doing the music, Philip Small was in charge of catering. Jamie Paskin was toastmaster, of course! A lady called Alina was doing the flowers, and I’d already found my dress at The Wedding Club in South Kensington.”

But as Corona news only worsened, Katy and Ollie decided to push the big party to next year and have a civil ceremony on the same date as their first dinner, but a year later. 

So on 1 November, just before the second lockdown was announced, they managed to pull together their nearest and dearest – while the extras kept it 2020 and joined in on Zoom – for a civil ceremony at The Haven in Whetstone. 

“I wanted to keep it as much like a ‘real’ wedding as possible, so I stayed at my parents for two nights beforehand so that I wouldn’t see Ollie,” she recalls. 

They had 15 of their immediate family join them, with another 70 or so dialling in. Her bridal attire consisted of a white jumpsuit from ASOS that arrived “literally two days before”, having kept the postman pretty busy with a constant flow of rejected bridal ensembles. “I still wanted to feel like a bride!” 

Katy and Ollie cut their wedding cake

Her closest friend made the cake, they chose music over a band, and her wedding florist still pulled together a beautiful bouquet. 

“To be honest, it was a blessing when the numbers went from 30 to 15, as 30 can cause a broigus, but 15 really is just immediate family,” admits Katy.

After nearly most of their relationship spent in lockdown, the couple are excited for the future, although it seems Ollie is quite happy with the arrangement. 

“The best thing about being in lockdown with Katy are the dinners she cooks us every night,” he says. “I’ve also learnt how patient she is with me, and how caring and helpful she is to everyone around her if they’ve needed anything during lockdown.”

I wanted to keep it as much like a ‘real’ wedding as possible, so I stayed at my parents for two nights beforehand so that I wouldn’t see Ollie

Understandably, Katy doesn’t want to give too much away about Part Two, as the big party plans for 2020 have been “copied and pasted” to April 2021, keeping all fingers and toes crossed. But I can tell she’s desperate to spill the beans a little, her big smile filling my screen as she thinks about the dress. 

“When all my friends and family see it, I know they’ll think ‘that’s so me, but with a little twist’”. 

And while they obviously can’t wait to do it all again under a chuppah, nothing will take away from their ‘little big day’. 

The best thing about being in lockdown with Katy are the dinners she cooks us every night

“I’ll remember Part One because we were with our families. And I definitely can’t forget locking Katy out the house the morning of the wedding, and her banging down the door at 8am so she could get her make up done,” Ollie laughs. “Don’t worry I didn’t see her!”

“I think this year has shown us that anything can happen,” adds Katy. “We have just tried to make the best of it and have ended up, PG [please God], with two celebrations instead
of one. 

“Win win! All I can say is let’s get 2020 done – and get on with 2021.”


Katy Shaf and Ollie Cohen on their big day

Katy and Ollie cut their wedding cake

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: