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Coronavirus: Couple wed in their living room after marriage plans thrown into disarray by pandemic

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Anita and Paul Shears get married at home. Credit: Hannah Julia Photos

Anita and Paul Shears get married at home. Credit: Hannah Julia Photos

Anita and Paul Shears get married at home. Credit: Hannah Julia Photos

When she imagined her wedding day, Anita probably didn't picture it happening in her living room.

But that's exactly where newlyweds Anita and Paul Shears exchanged vows on Monday, and despite the circumstances, for them it was perfect.

Anita, a 22-year-old special education needs teacher from Ballymoney, and Paul (25), a web and graphic designer from Dorset, met back in 2015 while at University in Lancaster and got engaged last year.

Their wedding plans had been going well and they were looking forward to their big day on April 11 this year.

But the restrictions due to the coronavirus outbreak got more and more stringent, and with family dotted around the world, doubt began to be cast as to whether the day could go ahead at all.

Anita said: "We had basically sorted everything.

"We had a venue and the caterers, and dresses and everything."

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Anita and Paul Shears get married at home. Credit: Hannah Julia Photos

Anita and Paul Shears get married at home. Credit: Hannah Julia Photos

Anita and Paul Shears get married at home. Credit: Hannah Julia Photos

"And then since Christmas, we were getting all the little bits together," Paul added.

They had their order of services printed - all displaying the date of the wedding - which they had chosen, so that Paul's family could come over from England at the Easter holidays.

But it was alarm bells instead of wedding bells that were ringing a couple of weeks ago.

Following a meeting with the venue, worry started to set in because Anita has family in Canada and America and they were unsure as to whether they would be able to make it, as travel restrictions started to be put in place.

There were also complications for Paul's family in England.

The couple felt they were on constant catch up as they tried to keep on top of their plans in the midst of constant changing government guidance.

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Anita and Paul waving to Anita’s granny through the window. Credit: Hannah Julia Photos

Anita and Paul waving to Anita’s granny through the window. Credit: Hannah Julia Photos

Anita and Paul waving to Anita’s granny through the window. Credit: Hannah Julia Photos

And last Saturday, they realised their dream of their wedding in three weeks wasn't going to be possible.

The venue and caterers were very understanding and accommodating with a plan to reschedule due to the circumstances.

So they re-arranged a wedding blessing and party for August 3, which they hope will still go ahead.

However, they thought they could have a small ceremony on April 11 out in the open in the garden - with just a handful of friends and family with a special social distancing seating plan done up.

This was especially important for Anita, as her granny lives in an annex attached to their house, and she could watch through her window.

But soon they realised this was getting more and more complicated.

On Saturday, they decided to move the ceremony forward and initially planned for Wednesday, March 25.

So they set to work and got everything organised - but on Monday morning, after checking the news, they knew that lockdown was coming.

Anita rang Paul, who was already going to the registrar to finalise Wednesday, and said - "let's get married today".

Paul recalled: "She said, 'How do you feel about moving it forward and doing it today'."

"We were at the point where we had worked so hard to try and make it right that we just wanted to get married and have people there that we loved," Anita explained.

Their friends and family were so supportive - and although they couldn't be there in person, Paul's family watched via FaceTime.

The whole thing was very relaxed, with only their nearest and dearest - very socially distanced - watching.

Paul said: "We got married in Anita's lounge in the end and it was really weird because you couldn't hug anyone and they were all sitting far apart.

"We had a seating plan for people who lived in the same house, as in Anita's brothers would sit spaced out on the same sofa, but everyone else was two metres apart from them and then two metres apart from each other.

"But we did it and it worked."

He added: "It was really lovely. Neither of us were nervous at all because it was so relaxed.

"My parents were on FaceTime, so they could join in and you could hear them crying in the background."

Their minister, Rev David Park, conducted the ceremony and kept his distance, too, while the couple stood in the living room - and Anita walked down the stairs with her dad. And what exactly did the bride wear?

Anita's wedding dress wasn't going to be ready in time, so she ordered a dress from ASOS, which arrived on Monday morning - in fact, she was trying it on when she rang Paul to suggest they get married that day.

But they will keep their original attire for the big event in August.

The couple say they are so grateful for how understanding their family and friends have been.

They now hope that their celebration in August will be something for their friends and family to look forward to, and that their living room wedding could serve as some happy news in the midst of so much turmoil.

Paul said: "If we can give people something a bit more positive to brighten up their day, the message of God's good work through our lives, that's great that we can share that."

Anita said the whole ordeal has shown her that in the end "it's not all about the fuss".

"When it comes down to it, none of that matters at all."

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