Couple stage 'DIY wedding' in their Manchester flat

By Joe Bradshaw
BBC News

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image copyrightPete Duncan
image captionThe ceremony was conducted in their living room before a decidedly unusual-looking "priest"

A couple whose dream wedding had to be put on ice due to the Covid-19 lockdown decided to take matters into their own hands with a "do it yourself" ceremony.

Beth Davis and Pete Duncan transformed the lounge of their two-bed Manchester flat into a "church".

The bride wore a homemade dress made from a queen-sized fitted bed sheet, and the couple exchanged vows before a "priest" made from empty beer boxes.

Beth and Pete hope to do it all again next year - this time with 175 guests.

"It was supposed to be one of the best days of our lives and it was going to be really sad," Pete, 31 told the BBC.

"We didn't want that so having a wedding at home turned it into one of the best days ever."

Beth, 26, said: "I got pretty emotional - it was my hen party in March so I came back from that straight into conversations about postponing the wedding.

"Having our own private wedding at home still felt like a big occasion."

'Taste of next year'

After the happy couple exchanged rings on Saturday, musician Beth played Mendelssohn's Wedding March as she left the lounge arm-in-arm with her new "husband".

They then headed to a local park for photographs in front of bemused families and runners out for their daily exercise.

Beth threw her bouquet into the air, and the couple showered themselves in confetti.

"We had a few people say congratulations and some joggers smile at us," Beth laughed. "It was a taste of how next year might feel."

image copyrightPete Duncan
image captionBeth and Pete met on Tinder in 2016 and have been engaged since December 2018

Next came a wedding feast of sorts - chicken pie back at their Withington flat.

"We cut it like we would cut the cake," said Pete, who is starting a PhD in criminology in September.

Family and friends - many dressed up in their finest for the occasion - virtually attended the reception and disco via social media.

"It was my dad's birthday," said Pete. "Even though he didn't see us actually get married, he still said it was one of his best birthdays ever."

The lockdown designed to tackle Covid-19 has had a huge impact on the wedding industry.

Initially, in March, Church of England weddings were limited to a maximum of five people in attendance. Ceremonies were then stopped completely, along with other gatherings of people, as restrictions tightened across the UK in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus.

There has been no firm date announced as yet for when weddings will be able to resume.

Between 1998 and 2017, an average of 57,000 weddings took place between March and May each year alone in England and Wales.

Registered marriages . in England and Wales. A chart to show a consistent number of registered marriages in the last four years on record .

Bernadette Chapman, founder of The UK Alliance of Wedding Planners, said she hoped a lot of pent-up demand would be released when life eventually returns to normal.

"The vast majority are postponing their weddings," she explained. "The actual number of couples who have outright cancelled is very, very low.

"Based on conversations with my members, we are looking at less than 5%. I predict the last quarter of 2020 will see an increase in last-minute micro weddings and 2021 will be a boom year for larger, party-vibe, sentimental weddings."

Beth and Pete said they planned to be among them.

"We're going to get married as soon as we can at the registry office and then the new date is booked for June 2021," said Beth.

"At the moment, we're not sure which one we'll count as our actual wedding day."

And, while waiting another 12 months is frustrating, one silver lining awaits.

"Our first choice honeymoon destination in Jamaica was being refurbished at the time we were originally going," said Pete.

"Now the date's pushed back, they can have us to stay so we really can't wait."