Couple who raced against the clock to get married in Lancaster amid coronavirus shutdown say they wouldn't change a thing

Lauren and Gary Cripps had just 48 hours to re-arrange their wedding, and were the last couple to be married at the town hall before it closed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Tuesday, 24th March 2020, 3:59 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th March 2020, 4:00 pm
Lauren and Gary Cripps on their wedding day. Photo by Jason Bellinger.

Lauren, nee Holden, 35, from Lancaster, and Gary, 32, from Huddersfield, were due to tie the knot on Saturday March 21.

But they decided on the Monday beforehand that it was too risky, and set about trying to bring their wedding date forward.

Lauren, a freelance copywriter who went to Christchurch Primary and Ripley High School in Lancaster, said that everyone involved in their big day pulled out all the stops to make it work.

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The morning of the wedding, at The Borough, in Dalton Square. Photo by Jason Bellinger.

"Initially we had people saying we were being melodramatic," she said.

"But we re-arranged for Wednesday and invited close family and friends only.

"We had less than 48 hours to re-book the registrar and re-arrange all the suppliers.

"Lancaster City Council had a meeting to decide what they would do about closing down the town hall, and then afterwards told us ours would be the last wedding there at 1.30pm on March 18.

The couple tie the knot. Photo by Jason Bellinger.

"That's when we knew we'd made the right decision.

"We were still nervous on Wednesday morning, and would have understood if they'd cancelled, but it went ahead and we're just so happy it did."

The couple, who now live in Longwood, Huddersfield, where Gary works as a project engineer for a refrigeration company, met in 2017 after connecting online.

"People have been phoning up devastated for us, but we're just so pleased to have got married!" Lauren said.

"We feel really lucky to have been able to 'get it done', as Boris would say.

"It was bittersweet at the town hall when they closed the doors behind us not knowing about their futures.

"The service was lovely, even though it wasn't what we had planned, but I wouldn't change a thing.

"Everyone just rallied round so much.

"The men went to The Borough in the morning where they couldn't do enough for them, and we all went to The Fleece Inn in Dolphinholme afterwards.

"It was last minute but they stayed open for us, and made sure we were well fed. My sister did a speech. It worked out perfectly."

Lauren said that the day after the wedding was pretty stressful.

"We were due to have our night do at Lancaster House Hotel on the Saturday, which was when the wedding was originally going to take place," she said.

"But in the end we decided we had to postpone it until next year.

"We're planning to have a one year anniversary party.

"Maybe we'll wear our wedding gear. Either way we'll still host a wedding do.

"People have been so generous with their gifts despite not coming to the wedding.

We want to start a family, so it was really important to get the legal part of that done."

Lauren and Gary went to stay in a lodge in Bowness, in the Lake District, on Sunday night, but returned home early on Tuesday, March 23, after the government announced a lock down.

"It was oddly romantic as we felt like we had the place to ourselves," Lauren said.

She added: "We're just so thankful to all the businesses, and our family and friends, for pulling out all the stops to help us make it happen."

Best men at the wedding were Tom Howard and Ben Dyson.

The groom's brother Peter Cripps was groomsman.

Lauren's sister Sarah McSweeney was the matron of honour, and Sarah Willougby and Emma Rothery were bridesmaids.

The couple's parents are Carol and Steve Holden, from Lancaster, and Christine Cripps and Dave Bamforth, from Huddersfield.

Lauren said she would like to thank Elizabeth at Mears Ghyll Bridal Rooms in Brookhouse, Tara of Lune Valley Home and Garden, Bowerham, photographer Jason Bellinger, videographer Jo Gendle, Lancaster Town Hall, Belle Ame Hair/Make Up by Emma Askew, and Wendy's Cake Heaven for making the day happen despite the challenges.