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
We are only a few seconds into our Zoom interview while I check names, ages and professions, when Lucie, 38, who heads up talent at a marketing software agency and Gil, 30, a data analyst, start giggling about their eight-year age difference.
Eyebrows perhaps wouldn’t be raised had Gil been the older party, but while we will remember 2020 for many reasons, an antidote for sexism is certainly not one of them.
The couple were introduced in the summer of 2017, when they were set up on a blind date by family friends. They met at The Gallery bar in West Hampstead and the conversation flowed when, before they knew it, they were the last ones standing while the staff mopped beneath their feet.
Gil was “intrigued”, it being the first time he’d gone on a blind date, while Lucie was “open-minded, but with no expectations,” she laughs. He jokes that this was probably a good thing: “I set the bar low,” Gil deadpans.
They were already planning the second date before the first had finished and, before they knew it, things were serious.
“There was no game playing, no faffing,” Lucie clarifies, still giggling.
“And had we met online, he wouldn’t have even come onto my radar. Literally. He would have been excluded from my profile algorithm options because of the age gap.”
We chat further about the age gap as it’s clearly a source of much amusement between them. Some of Gil’s female friends found it surprising at first, while the lads were generally “really impressed”.
They recall a date in the early stages where they went to play miniature golf and were immediately given student tickets, no questions asked, which cemented the fact that they didn’t look off-balance at least.
Two-and-a-half years later, Gil proposed in a very casual way one Sunday evening at home.
Gil told Lucie they needed to have a chat. She thought it was something ‘serious’. “There’s something missing from your left hand,” he mumbled to himself, before dropping to one knee.
Lucie’s parents were already in the know, as he’d asked her father’s permission.
Gil laughs, remembering that equally dramatic moment, which sounds like a scene from Friday Night Dinner. “Lucie’s father is a little hard of hearing. I kept trying to whisper, ‘can we have a chat?’, but he couldn’t hear me. I ended up shouting it while Lucie was only standing a few feet away. Luckily she was too busy talking to hear him. His reply was, ‘about bloody time!’”
Lucie had spent the day with her mother, who being so frightened of spilling the beans, had not said a word the entire time.
The couple never intended to wait long after their January engagement and set on August this year for their nuptials before Covid made other plans just a few weeks later.
Their siblings arranged an online engagement party in April, in the depths of the springtime lockdown “before Zoom fatigue set in”, jokes Lucie.
After endless consultations with both their rabbis over double chuppah legalities, the couple decided on a civil ceremony this year, to be continued in 2021.
“The idea of having a chuppah without all of our family and friends was unimaginable,” says Lucie, whose brother, sister-in-law and nieces live in
They also didn’t want to disappoint their non-Jewish friends, who were beside themselves with excitement to see them “thrown up on the chairs”, along with all the other traditions.
So they set the date for the civil wedding on 30 August, the same date as the planned Part Two next year, so that they would only have
They tied the knot at The Gatehouse at St Albans Register Office with only 12 people in attendance, while other immediate family joined on FaceTime. Lucie’s brother delivered a reading over his iPhone.
“It was so strict on numbers that at one point my uncle had to leave the room so the photographer could come in!” she says.
The ceremony was followed by a small gathering in Gil’s parents’ garden. The mums collaborated on catering, with Lucie’s mum making a wedding cake, while other family members added little touches to make it special, such as a wedding car to take them back and forth from the ceremony.
But despite having had such a special day – “I never imagined I’d actually say ‘I do’ like in the films,” says Lucie – Part Two, in a country manor in Windsor, will still be the main event.
“We did the best we could to make Part One special, and it does remind you what it’s all about: getting married,” says Gil. “But we won’t feel married until we’ve stood under a chuppah,” Lucie adds.
“However, you’ve got to do what works for you. Everyone has an opinion, and everyone likes to share those opinions! But at the end
of the day, I get to marry the love of my life twice. And not many people can claim they’ve done that!”
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.
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.
By Joe Millis