By Hollie Bone
A couple have become the UK’s last couple to wed before the coronavirus lockdown – tying the knot ‘against all odds’ despite some guests cancelling minutes before the bride walked down the aisle.
Matthew, 34, and Angel Fone, 40, from Crawley, West Sussex, got hitched at the Buxted Park Hotel in East Sussex on Sunday [March 15], just over 18 months after the pair got engaged in August 2018.
Their big day was vastly different to what they had envisaged just six weeks ago, with the Covid-19 pandemic seeing almost half their 60 original guests drop out – meaning they even needed a replacement best man 48 hours before the ceremony started.
But despite fearing their £9,000 nuptials would be off completely, the couple managed to say I do ‘by the skin of their teeth’ and said their ‘perfect day’ was made special by those who persevered to be there – although they won’t be jetting off on their honeymoon any time soon.
Sales advisor Angel said: “I think we are probably the last couple that might manage to do it for a while, and the last to be married before the UK went into lockdown.
“I was terrified the wedding wouldn’t go ahead, I was at absolute panic stations.
“Even minutes before the ceremony started we had guests phoning to say they weren’t coming.
“Luckily, nothing can take away from the fact that I have married the man I love.
“The minute my dress was on, everything else fell by the wayside and it didn’t matter how stressful it had been.
“We just held on to those that did make it and it was amazing to have them because it just made it even more special knowing that despite everything going on we still managed to get married.
“We made it happen on a wing and a prayer by the skin of our teeth, and despite everything else going on it was the happiest day of our lives, it was perfect.”
Angel and IT resource manager Matthew have been together for nine years after meeting through friends and only started to realise the impact Covid-19 could have on their wedding just 10 days before the ceremony.
Their big day was mired with coronavirus-related issues, with two best men dropping out due to health concerns and flight cancellations – leaving third choice Chris Nash with just 48 hours to prepare a speech.
The couple also had 22 guests cancel and their live musician drop the job – and even had to dish out their desserts themselves after their sweet cart server also changed her mind about attending.
By 9pm the newlyweds said the dance floor was almost empty with just 15 family members and close friends sticking it out until the bitter end.
Angel and Matthew had also hoped to use guest donations to splash out on a honeymoon to the Caribbean but with Covid-19 halting travel worldwide, they instead extended their stay in their venue’s honeymoon suite for two extra nights.
Coronavirus was still the hot topic throughout the day with guests discussing the virus throughout the day and the killer bug even getting a nod in all the speeches.
But despite the nationwide coronavirus panic, the couple insist they are just grateful to be spending the rest of their lives together.
Angel said: “It was probably about 10 days before the wedding that it hit us that something could really go wrong.
“We had to have a pre mixed CD done by a friend because the live musician pulled out.
“My now-husband had to settle on a third best man because the two before had dropped out.
“Initially Matthew had his best mate of over 20 years flying in from Amsterdam for the wedding, but he cancelled about two weeks before because he has a young baby and was taking precautions.
“Then he asked another best mate who was coming from Portugal, and he pulled out just two days before due to flight cancellations, so Matthew had to ask a third friend, Chris.
“The poor fella only had 48 hours to prepare a speech. Bless him! But he did so well given the circumstances.
“The lady who was meant to be serving sweets for us just left us a cart with serving bowls and no sweets so we had to fill it full of our own and serve it ourselves.
“And our photographer had wipes with him all day – we didn’t mind, by that point we were just saying to him ‘take whatever precautions you want, please just don’t cancel on us!’
“People were dropping off the dance floor – after 9pm there were only about 15 guests left, all our family and closest friends.
“But after all the main thing is we have the rest of our lives together.
“And we can’t thank the hotel staff and our Master of Ceremonies Marc Desseaux enough, we have been floored by their generosity and hospitality.
“Everyone really pulled together to make it happen and we have been lucky in adversity.”