Coronavirus: Widnes couple say 'I do' after clock strikes midnight

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image copyrightFamily handout
image captionThe couple said their vows under the Peace Garden Pergola at Runcorn Town Hall Register Office

A couple are believed to be the first to say "I do" in England after the easing of virus restrictions.

Newlyweds Louise Arnold and Jennifer Wilson, both 22, tied the knot at 00:01 BST in the grounds of Runcorn Town Hall in Cheshire in front of 16 guests.

Those unable to attend the ceremony including family and friends in Australia and New Zealand still put on their wedding outfits to watch online

"It's hard to put into words how much this means to us," said Ms Wilson.

The couple, who have been engaged for three years, had cancelled their previous plans as travel restrictions meant Ms Wilson's family in Australia would not be able to attend.

"Last week the registry office rang and asked if we wanted to be the first couple in the UK to marry after lockdown and we just said yes," said Ms Wilson, who has been working as a senior dementia care assistant throughout the pandemic.

"We both work nights normally so the time suited us."

image copyrightFamily handout
image captionPlans for a reception with 120 guests have been postponed until next year

Ms Arnold, who works for lorry firm Eddie Stobart, added: "With it having just been Pride month, this felt like something we couldn't really pass up.

"Not just for us but for other LGBT people who haven't been able to get together to celebrate Pride."

The couple from Widnes had just over a week to prepare for the rearranged nuptials under the Peace Garden Pergola at Runcorn Town Hall Register Office.

The childhood sweethearts met eight years ago while Ms Arnold was on holiday in New Zealand, where Ms Wilson was living.

She added: "I think everyone has been excited to be able to celebrate something positive after the past few months."

Registration service manager Andrew Lucas said he was "delighted to help Louise and Jennifer say "I do" on what we think was the first wedding after the lockdown period".

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