Couple marry in front of 250 guests in cars to get around 15-person limit
A creative couple staged Britain’s first Covid-compliant ‘drive-in’ wedding to bypass the guest limit – with 250 watching the ceremony from their cars on a big screen.
After they tied the knot, bride Roma Popat and groom Vinal Patel toured the field next to their venue in a golf buggy, waving as parked-up friends and family honked their horns.
Guests were welcomed to the unique event with a hamper containing tasty snacks – as well as safety instructions, anti-bacterial hand gel and bin liners for their rubbish.
During the four-hour Hindu wedding, they could order food from a dedicated website to be delivered by waiters and left their vehicles only to use toilet cabins.
Another 300 guests from all over the world also watched the live footage of the couple saying their vows at Braxted Park, a stunning country house in Chelmsford, Essex, via a video link.
No more than 15 people are permitted to attend a wedding celebration in person, according to official government guidelines.
Marketing executive Roma, of Southgate, north London, told how she and IT consultant Vinal, both 30, were originally due to marry in April.
During lockdown, they took the difficult decision to postpone their wedding until October.
Roma said: “At the time, we did not understand the severity of the situation and were still holding out hope that we could have a re-arranged wedding for 700 guests, as originally planned.”
When wedding ceremonies and sit-down receptions were limited to 30 people because of the pandemic, the couple hit upon the idea of an unique drive-in cinema-style event.
Roma explained: “A lot of our family and friends were saying they would like to watch coverage of our ceremony in small groups in their gardens.
“We then thought, why not have a mass screening instead in a Covid-compliant way?”
The north Londoners, who got engaged in December 2018, went to watch the movie Bad Boys at a local drive-in cinema for research purposes.
Roma said: “We saw how people were parked and how the technology and food ordering worked.
“We spent more time looking around us than watching the movie and thought the whole thing was amazing.”
By the time of Friday’s wedding, the wedding gathering limit had been further reduced to 15 by the government.
Roma said: “We both come from big families. It meant we each had only our parents, siblings and a set of grandparents able to attend the ceremony in person.
“It did not sit right with us that so many other friends and family were not able to be there and we wanted them to be part of our celebration.
“Our guests all dressed up still even though they were only in their cars.
“We had two big screens showing the ceremony and it was surreal when we then processed through the middle of the field on the back of a golf buggy to give our guests a wave.
“They went crazy. Everyone was honking their horns and cheering us. It was incredible.
“We had a live Zoom feed for everyone else all over the world, as far away as India, America and Canada.
“Both of us had the most amazing day and we have since had so many calls and messages from guests saying how much they enjoyed the experience and felt part of it.
“It literally meant everything to us to have everyone there, albeit in a slightly different way to the one we envisaged. It’s a day we’ll never forget.”
Vinal added: “We did not want to let Covid stop us marrying.
“We were determined to get on with our lives and soldier on and make the best of our wedding and Roma did an incredible job of re-arranging it over the past few weeks.”
Roma had help from specialist luxury wedding planner Saheli Mirpuri, of London-based firm Saheli Events.
She said: “This year has been so difficult for couples wanting to wed.
“Celebrations don’t come much bigger than traditional Asian weddings and so it was a challenge to help make Roma and Vinal’s big day so special.
“We’re delighted with the success of the drive-in, which was a creative way to ensure that guests felt they were with the couple on the day, and to have worked with so many amazing suppliers to bring everything together.”
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