Couple to celebrate church wedding as coronavirus restrictions are lifted
A south Cumbrian couple will be among the first to marry in church this weekend, following the lifting of COVID restrictions.
Andrew Barker and Katie Wilson will exchange vows at St John’s Church, Barrow Island, on Saturday 4 July at 12 noon. Only Katie’s father and Andrew’s mum will be present to watch as the Rev Andy Batchelor officiates during the socially-distanced service.
In March, as the coronavirus pandemic took hold, church buildings were closed for public worship, funerals, weddings, baptisms and private prayer. But last week the Prime Minister announced restrictions were to be lifted, with weddings possible from Saturday, though with a limit of 30 people.
Katie, 35, and who is a housing officer for Barrow Borough Council, explained: “We’d planned to get married on 18 April but the coronavirus put paid to all of that. It was obviously really upsetting but we had to accept it.
“That day we had some celebrations at home with our children but since then it’s felt like we’ve been living a kind of lie, acting as if we were married though we weren’t. We wanted to put that right at the earliest opportunity so when we found out that weddings could take place from Saturday we spoke with Andy to see if we could sort things as soon as possible.
“Our three children have all been baptized at St John’s and the church is the hub of the community so we felt it was really important to get married there. I heard the church bells ringing for the first time the other day; it was such a lovely sound.”
Their wedding offers a chance for celebration after some difficult times for the town. In June figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed Barrow to have more than 107 COVID deaths per 100,000 people, making it the 17th-worst affected area in the country.
The team at St John’s will ensure all public hygiene requirements are adhered to for the wedding ceremony. The church is not currently opening for public worship but is open for individual private prayer with all necessary cleaning and social distancing.
Andrew, 37, who works at BAE, said: “We’ve been through worrying times so it’s nice to be able to get together for our wedding, even though we’ll only be so small a group.
“Even though there won’t be many of us there we wanted to get married as quickly as possible; it’s important for us and for our family. It’s a little bit strange to think we could be among the first people to get married in church in Cumbria after the coronavirus restrictions have been lifted.”
The couple – who have three children, Kadie-Leigh, 7, Elsie Louise, 5, and Kayan, 4 – plan to celebrate further with a church blessing ceremony in August for wider family and friends.
The Rev Andy Batchelor, vicar of St John’s, said: “I will be absolutely delighted to be able to take wedding services again. We’ve had to put so much on hold – weddings and baptisms – and I know how devastating that has been for families.
“So to be able to conduct weddings again, and in particular for this couple, is a real joy. It’s wonderful that they have chosen to marry in church at the earliest possible time.”
For further information please contact Dave Roberts, Diocesan Communications Manager, on 07469 153658, 01768 807764 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.