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Ards bride Kirsten moves big day forward and 300 guests watch online as they tie the knot during coronavirus pandemic

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Kirsten Robson and Richard Groom tie the knot at St Matthew's Church, Walsall

Kirsten Robson and Richard Groom tie the knot at St Matthew's Church, Walsall

Kirsten and Richard at the altar

Kirsten and Richard at the altar

With some of Kirsten's 12 housemates who attended the service at a safe distance

With some of Kirsten's 12 housemates who attended the service at a safe distance

Even though their 150 invited guests ones couldn't be with them, the icing on the cake for Kirsten and Richard was being joined online by their loved ones who watched the moving wedding service in seven different countries through the Facebook live stream

Even though their 150 invited guests ones couldn't be with them, the icing on the cake for Kirsten and Richard was being joined online by their loved ones who watched the moving wedding service in seven different countries through the Facebook live stream

Kirsten Robson and Richard Groom tie the knot at St Matthew's Church, Walsall

A couple whose dream Easter wedding was thrown into doubt by coronavirus restrictions have tied the knot a month earlier than planned and streamed the ceremony to 300 guests around the world on Facebook.

Kirsten Robson, who is originally from Newtownards, and Richard Groom were initially planning to exchange their vows on April 14 so their relatives could turn out in force.

Instead, their big day was hastily brought forward to last Saturday at St Matthew's Church, Walsall, near Birmingham.

The bride's 12 housemates, who all pitched in to help pull together a wedding to remember in just four days, were the couple's only attending guests.

Kirsten, who attended Newtownards Model Primary School and Strathearn School in east Belfast, met Richard, a care assistant, while studying at Wolverhampton University.

The couple, both 26, got engaged in September 2018 and had spent 18 months arranging their nuptials before it was clear their original date was doomed.

Kirsten, who works as the church's administrator, told the Belfast Telegraph: "After Boris Johnson announced the restrictions two weeks ago, Richard said he thought we should bring the wedding forward.

"I felt that there was no need and it would all be fine. Last Tuesday, when further restrictions were announced, which included closing all churches except for weddings and funerals, I realised that perhaps we should.

"We had put a year-and-a-half into planning our perfect wedding but once we knew there was going to no way we would be able to get married in April, we took the opportunity while we could. That Tuesday night we clarified that we could legally marry and then set the wheels in motion for the following Saturday."

Kirsten's housemates helped with all the arrangements and took on the roles of cake bakers, florists and photographers, while one even sang at the ceremony.

She explains: "Up until Saturday I lived in a big house with nine bedrooms along with four lodgers and a family. Another family came to visit two weekends ago and ended up getting stuck with us due to self-isolation. Everyone pitched in to make the wedding happen in four days."

As Kirsten wasn't able to collect her wedding dress in time, she ended up wearing what was supposed to be her "going away" outfit.

"It's a very traditional thing that not many people do anymore but the dress previously belonged to my sister. It had been her going away outfit at her wedding two-and-a-half years ago which she passed on to me. When I looked in my wardrobe, it felt like the right choice in the circumstances."

Even though their 150 invited guests ones couldn't be with them, the icing on the cake for Kirsten and Richard was being joined online by their loved ones who watched the moving wedding service in seven different countries through the Facebook live stream.

Only St Matthew's rector the Rev Jim Trood, who led the service, and the 12 housemates were allowed in the church and all were placed at a safe distance around the building.

Among those tuned in were Kirsten's parents, Paula and Brian, nana Anne and sister Tanita, who all dressed in their finery for the occasion and raised a glass to the happy couple.

"I think our families were so very happy that we were able to share our special day with them online, rather than them missing out all together," Kirsten said.

Belfast Telegraph