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Couple in dash to tie knot five minutes before coronavirus deadline

PUBLISHED: 06:15 20 March 2020 | UPDATED: 09:05 21 March 2020

Jessica Whitfield and Andrew Peal were able to get married before their wedding venue was shut due to the coronavirus. Picture: Jessica Whitfield

Jessica Whitfield and Andrew Peal were able to get married before their wedding venue was shut due to the coronavirus. Picture: Jessica Whitfield

Archant

“Make it to the church on time” became all too real for a Norfolk couple as coronavirus threatened to nobble their nuptials.

Jessica Whitfield and Andrew Peal were able to get married before their wedding venue was shut due to the coronavirus. Picture: Jessica WhitfieldJessica Whitfield and Andrew Peal were able to get married before their wedding venue was shut due to the coronavirus. Picture: Jessica Whitfield

Jessica Whitfield and Andrew Peal had to dash up the aisle at Southrepps Church on Tuesday after seizing the opportunity to make it to the church before it closed.

The couple, who live near Swaffham, described the experience as the “best impulsive decision” they had ever made.

The newly-weds were due to marry on the Easter weekend but following recent government guidance became concerned the day may be postponed for the foreseeable future.

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Jessica Whitfield on her wedding day with family (pictured) as she and now husbad Andrew were able to get married before their wedding venue was shut due to the coronavirus. Picture: Jessica WhitfieldJessica Whitfield on her wedding day with family (pictured) as she and now husbad Andrew were able to get married before their wedding venue was shut due to the coronavirus. Picture: Jessica Whitfield

They received a call from The Rev Sian Reading on Tuesday morning, who said she could do a quick service as long as the register was signed by 6pm.

In a speedy turnaround, 31-year-old Andrew rushed home to pick up his suit and his wife-to-be’s dress and drove them to the church for the intimate service – signing the register five minutes before the cut-off.

Jessica, 34, an operations director at Winsor Bishop in Norwich, said they took the decision to bring their date forward as they did not want to lose sight of why they were getting married.

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She said: “It was a whirlwind couple of days.

“The run-up from last week saw the picture was starting to look bleak. What is going to happen with the wedding? We had people coming from abroad and there was a slow realisation they would not be here. Our more elderly relatives they could potentially not make it. We spoke with Sian on Sunday at church and said: ‘What is it looking like?’.

“We phoned our parents and asked if they could drop everything and get there for 5.30pm.”

The couple were due to be married in front of 200 people. With short notice, 10 people were able to attend, including the couple’s parents and Susan the corgi as a bridesmaid. Andrew’s father Patrick stepped in as best man and his sister was also able to attend after driving up from London.

The couple plan to host a party at a later date.

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Jessica added: “We can party harder when people feel more in the mood to celebrate. People are trying to continue through all of this madness.”

After the service, the group enjoyed a small reception at the Gunton Arms, which offered the couple a room and the couple watched deer in the morning over breakfast before returning to work.

Colleagues at Winsor Bishop surprised Jessica by decorating the store to celebrate her marriage.


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