2020 has been an unprecedented year for the wedding industry and photographers, as we all adapt to life with COVID-19.

Of course, we at Icarus Photography have been no exception. We have had first-hand experience of honouring a wedding booking that was thrown into uncertainty by the pandemic. Our own experience reflects those of the wedding industry at large.

The wedding in question was booked in 2019, months before the first signs of Coronavirus would alter all our lives. Our clients, Theresa and Rob, planned for a modest wedding at Swindon Registry Office in Wiltshire.

The wedding was booked for 26th September 2020. The couple asked us to cover the photography for the ceremony itself and family and friends afterwards. This fell within our Emerald package.  Photography for up to several hours, with the option of the wedding breakfast or afternoon reception.

Then the pandemic and the first lockdown happened.

This was an unprecedented situation, and we worked our way through it. Staying in touch with our clients. Theresa and Rob were understandably anxious that they may have to postpone or even cancel their wedding. We reassured them that if that were the case, we would honour the new date if there was a postponement.

Fortunately, restrictions eased, and we soon realised the wedding should be able to go ahead. Although a wedding which must be COVID-secure. No more than 30 people would be allowed to attend. Including the two officials, myself and my business partner Jon. The two photographers.

Swindon Registry Office would institute social distancing, sanitising and mask wearing at all ceremonies in the COVID-secure environment. We had a zoom meeting with the couple. We made some suggestions for photos and they provided us with requests for family and friends.

We all had one last moment of anxiety as the government announced, due to rising infections, that weddings would be reduced to a maximum of 15 from 28th September. Fortunately, the wedding fell on 26th September, just before the new restrictions came into force. There would be no more than 26 of us in total.

The wedding would be one of our most memorable, despite the restrictions. Saturday, 26th September was a pleasant autumnal day with mixed cloud and sunshine. We arrived at Swindon Registry Office and met some of the guests as they arrived in the car park. We began to take photographs, looking for those natural shots that have become much of our style.

We spoke to Rob after his arrival and went through the ceremony. When Theresa arrived with the bridesmaids, we took reportage shots as the bride and bridesmaids left their car and walked to the entrance.

Once we entered the Registry Office, we checked in using the NHS app for test and trace requirements. This is now a requirement at all COVID-secure venues. The Registrar briefed us on the rules for ceremonies. We could not take photos until the ceremony had finished, when we would be able to take posed shots.

As we entered the Garden Room where the wedding would take place, we took some posed shots of the bridesmaids. The Garden Room, well-lit and spacious, normally takes up to 65 guests. Due to restrictions, some seats had been removed to create social distancing. We all wore masks as we entered the room. The only exception the bride and groom and the officials.

The ceremony itself was conducted swiftly and Theresa and Rob were very soon man and wife. Jon and I took posed photos of the couple after they had signed the register. Then the guests were asked to take their own photos. The entire ceremony was conducted in a professional manner. A balance between fulfilment for the couple and guests and minimising time inside. 

We went outside following the ceremony to the adjacent Rose Garden. The weather stayed dry with glimpses of sunlight and we were able to get a whole range of posed and natural shots of the bride, groom and wedding party.

Once we had finished, we left after confirming with Theresa and Rob they had no more requests. We were not required for a reception that they may hold next year. Once they saw the edited photos the couple made plain how pleased they were and gave us a positive review. Despite restrictions, the wedding was a success and gave us valuable experience of a COVID-secure event.