Right up until just a few days before their wedding in The Netherlands on 19 October 2020, our daughter and her husband-to-be (Hannah and Pieter) were wondering if they would have to call the whole thing off.
Planning a wedding is nerve wracking enough in normal circumstances but during the time of Covid-19 with ever-increasing restrictions, anxiety has the potential to reach another level!
One big decision had already been made a couple of months earlier – predictions of a second hike in the number of Covid infections and possible further and stricter lockdown restrictions meant that if the wedding was to go ahead, the plan to have a friends and family attend the ceremony, reception and party would have to be shelved.
A “change of plan” card had been sent out and plan B was hatched – only their two sets of parents would attend the wedding (and be witnesses) and a celebratory meal for the six of us would take place at home. Plans for parties and other celebrations would have to be shelved for 2021 or whenever possible.
The surprising thing was that despite downsizing the celebrations there was still lots to organise – the rings, the wedding dress and groom’s outfit to choose and fitted, flowers, photography, the wedding cake, lunch menu, wines, transport to and from the wedding, meetings with the celebrant, hair and makeup, catering etc etc.
Suddenly after the busyness of preparations the big day dawned. The sky was grey but after weeks of constant rain we were all delighted that it was a dry autumn day.
The young lady doing the makeup and hair arrived promptly at 9 am and at the same time four of Hannah’s best friends from Australia joined in on a simultaneous video call.
How lovely it was to have their company while Hannah was getting ready for this momentous day! Thank goodness for modern technology which allowed them to be in the room with us, making Hannah laugh and cry and sharing these special moments.
While Hannah was having her hair and makeup done her flowers arrived – a stunning bouquet of autumn flowers – along with matching “button hole” sprays for the rest of us as well as two different arrangements for her hair.
The table decoration had been picked up the previous day and was already on the table. The autumn colours in all the arrangements were stunning and the talented florist had incorporated some lovely Australian wattle, eucalyptus and grevillias into the table arrangement and bouquet in a nod to Hannah’s birthplace and home of 21 years.
All the chatting with her friends had slowed the makeup and hairdo process – we realised that time was running short when the photographer returned from Pieter’s parent’s house where she had been taking photos of him getting ready. The next job was to take photos of Hannah getting into her wedding dress!
Well it was quite a struggle – the dainty little (and numerous) buttons just refused to be captured by the delicate loops running up the back of the dress. I tried, the makeup person tried, Jonathan tried. All to no avail. Time was marching on, my hair and makeup was still to be done, the limo arrived! EEK!
What we needed was an old fashioned button hook! “Wait I need to get my tools” the Father-of-the bride said.
He returned brandishing a small Phillips screw driver (an indispensable piece of kit for every emergency!) and niftily buttoned up the dress. In the meantime the makeup artist did a super quick job of my hair and make up – thank goodness she had experience in doing fashion shows where working quickly under pressure is the norm!
By the time we went downstairs to get in the car the poor driver was having conniptions about being late! Google maps told us that it would take exactly 13 minutes to get to the wedding venue- the beautiful Renaissance City Hall (Stadhuis) in the Market Square in Delft – and we had exactly 13 minutes! Brilliant!
We were just a couple of minutes away when we came to a dead stop – as fate would have it, the landmark Koepoortbrug (Cow Port Bridge) over the Rhine-Schie Canal was about to open to let a boat through! Talk about stressful!
In the end we arrived only a couple of minutes after the appointed hour just as the bells of Oude Kirke (the ancient Protestant Church opposite the City Hall) rang out “Here comes the Bride”.
As we got out of the car we had a wonderful surprise – Pieter’s sister and three brothers, their partners and children were all there!
We all had to wear masks in the car and as we entered the City Hall but once we were in chamber itself we were able to socially distance and were allowed to take them off.
It felt very strange walking in with our wedding clothes accessorized by fetching surgical masks. I kicked myself for not thinking of finding ones that at least matched our outfits – including a white lace one for the bride!
The ceremony was just so precious – small of course (six of us and the celebrant) – but so intimate and romantic. It incorporated music with special meaning to the couple, a lovely speech from the celebrant and both of the bride and groom making heartfelt and beautiful vows to each other.
Then it was time to don our masks again and step outside to the sound of the Church bells ringing and Pieter’s family blowing bubbles and making a wonderful racket on various percussion and other instruments!
Soon we had the other kind of bubbles cracked open and distributed and we all drank a toast to the bride and groom and posed for “socially distanced” photos.
While Hannah and Pieter went off to have a photo shoot around the picturesque alleys, canals and woods of beautiful Delft, the two sets of parents went back to Hannah and Pieter’s place.
When we arrived we found some of their good friends busy decorating the house with sheets bearing messages such as “just married” and “Mr and Mrs”. They had also left stunning flowers, chocolates and all sorts of lovely treats.
While waiting for the happy couple to return we enjoyed some delicious canapés prepared by Chef Ryan and served by his partner and professional front of house manager Jess.
It was so mild that we were able to enjoy our pre-lunch drinks outside! Later we sat down to a long and incredibly special meal lovingly crafted by Ryan who until Covid hit was a chef at the Neil Perry’s signature restaurant at Melbourne Casino in Australia, where his partner Jess also worked as front-of-house manager.
The food was sensational!
While we were enjoying our delicious meal we surprised Hannah and Pieter with videos recorded by friends and family across the world – from Australia, India, England, Japan and Vietnam. Hannah’s bridesmaid made a hilarious but sorrowful speech; there were beautiful songs, poetry, speeches and toasts proposed. It really felt like all those special people were with us and watching the videos brought much laughter and of course, a quite few tears. Then there were gorgeous cards and gifts to open.
We lost count of all the courses but each was more delicious than the last.
Lunch eventually finished well into the evening and then all too soon it was time to wave off the newly weds to their classy honeymoon hotel Hotel des Indes in The Hague.
What a spectacular day it had been. Everything had gone like clockwork and even the weather behaved! Despite Covid preventing loved ones from attending, we all agreed that it had been a really memorable and wonderful wedding.