6th April 2020
When I was initially contacted by this lovely couple to write and conduct their Renewal of Vows Ceremony a couple of months ago, none of us could have predicted how our lives would all change and how suddenly it would all happen.
Jonathan and Laila married on the 6th April 2018, in the lovely Botanical Gardens in Sydney, Australia.
They decided that on every anniversary, they would renew their vows.
I was hoping we could meet and chat over coffee so I could find out about them and their story, to enable me to write them a fitting ceremony.
The first choice of venue had been a remote piece of beach area at one of the lovely hotels here in Dubai, The One and Only Royal Mirage.
The date was set, the venue chosen, now I just had to write the ceremony.
Of course, within weeks, restrictions were put in place and lockdowns began all over the world.
We were unable to meet in person so the couple filled out an online questionnaire for me and gave me answers to some of those all important questions.
Where did you meet?
Where was your first date?
Who proposed and where?
After receiving lots of information about Jonathan and Laila, I made a start on their ceremony.
Then restrictions and lockdowns became even more stringent and hotels began to close their doors.
We started getting use to the phrases, Social Distancing and Self Isolation. The tagline coming out of the UK, Stay Home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives.
Laila’s parents kindly offered their back garden for the ceremony. There were to be no guests. A very intimate and special ceremony for the couple led by myself.
We carried on with our plans and then at the eleventh hour, we were delivered a directive that we were not permitted to leave home unless we were key workers or for emergencies.
Now, none of us wanted to cancel or postpone. The 6th April was chosen for a reason.
During the lockdown period, my husband and I, William, also a trained and qualified Celebrant with the UKSOC, managed to polish up our skills of the video calling app Zoom.
On Sunday 5th April, we all decided that we could conduct the ceremony on the 6th as planned but it would be done via Zoom.
This was a first for AG Celebrants and I did wonder how it would feel.
At the agreed time, we set up our meeting and all met, so to speak, for the first time, on camera.
Laila was wearing a beautiful white dress and Jonathan was looking smart in shirt and dare I say, shorts. (Seems to be the uniform of business men and women working from home all around the world!)
We had a little chat, I wished them a Happy Anniversary and then it was lights, camera, action.
I lit a candle behind me before we began and then started to conduct their own very private, special renewal of vows ceremony.
Jonathan and Laila reaffirmed their vows to each other and we spoke about the significance of the wedding rings they had originally exchanged two years earlier on their wedding day.
The ceremony finished with Jonathan giving his beautiful wife a kiss and followed with some photos being taken, courtesy of William and included their adorable dog.
Although it felt odd not to be able to give them a hug in person, there was also something very unique about delivering their ceremony from our home into their home.
The couple, that evening, were planning on ordering in takeaway from the restaurant where they had had their first ever date.
Was delivering the ceremony this way ideal? Who’s to say?
Was it special and unique? Definitely.
Will they remember it? For sure.
And what a story for their children in years to come.
We are living through a period of history that children will study one day at school.
In these uncertain times we are having to postpone and cancel many events but one thing we can never cancel is love.
Stay safe everyone and in the words of HRH The Queen (and Vera Lynn), We’ll meet again.