Hereford couple Sandra Winnicka and Bruce Havard had been planning their wedding for 18th April since they got engaged on the same date two years ago.

Church booked, reception venue booked and paid for and absolutely everything else in place too – flowers, cars, wedding dress for Sandra, dresses for the bridesmaids, suit for Bruce, honeymoon sorted and hotel rooms booked for the majority of the 90 invited guests who wanted to stay overnight.

“We’d planned the wedding to take place in my home town of Inowroclaw in Poland.” Said Sandra. “I was born there, and half of our guests were family and friends who had booked flights to fly over to join us for a few days from the UK.”

“When the coronavirus initially started to be talked about in the media at the beginning of the year, we never dreamt that it would ever have such an effect on our wedding plans let alone the whole world!”

As the coronavirus pandemic escalated Poland closed its borders, so the couple were forced to change their plans and managed to get a last minute slot at the Registry Office in Hereford which was subsequently cancelled days later when the lockdown came into force.

At the same time, Sandra and Bruce’s business, Berries Restaurant at Oakchurch Farm Shop, Staunton-on-Wye, was also forced by Government regulations to close temporarily.

“Since then we’d pretty much put the date to the back of our minds.” Said Bruce. “It wasn’t until the day before that we thought we should mark the occasion in some way and go ahead with the event in our own little way.”

The couple quickly downloaded the wording for the wedding ceremony from the Internet and went ahead with 5-year-old daughter, Liliana, conducting the service with 3-year-old daughter, Nadia, giving Sandra away.

“It was an absolutely magical day.” Said Sandra. “Although we’ll be doing the whole thing for legal reasons as soon as we can, the 18th April 2020 is always going to be the day that we’ll say we got married and the date that we will be celebrating our anniversaries in the years to come.”