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.
“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!”
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
“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
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