Gema and Matt’s original wedding was June 7th, on their five year anniversary, for which they’d planned to wed in New York City, honeymoon in Kuala Lumpur and Bali and then have a big pub reception back home afterwards. It was due to cost them £25k but when Covid scrapped those plans they took the opportunity to re-evaluate everything. Although they still plan to have another big wedding next year, they really didn’t want to have to wait a whole year to be legally husband and wife.
On August 22nd they had a registry office ceremony at home in Leeds, followed by a portrait session with their photographers and bottomless brunch. They spent just £1000 (£2500 if you count the rings!)
Gema explains, “2020 has been a very odd year. We’ve spent the majority of it in lockdown and working so hard on the frontline (I’m a paramedic and Matt is a police officer) that we just wanted to take something back for ourselves. When the pandemic began to gain momentum and NYC faced cancellation, we gave notice to get married at Leeds Town Hall before Slam Dunk Festival as we were due to go there for our joint stag and hen parties. We were going to turn up in jeans and t-shirts, we’d even bought Matt a t-shirt from the Circa Survive merch store as Slam Dunk Festival happened to fall on the anniversary of our first date, so we wanted to honour that, and just get it done and go and party with all our friends and all our favourite bands. But then NYC was cancelled and Slam Dunk was cancelled, then it was slap bang in the middle of lockdown so we couldn’t do it even if we wanted to…”
“We had planned to completely postpone to next year, but when our honeymoon was cancelled and a little camping trip we were due to go on with friends on 20th August – 23rd August showed bad weather, we hit fuck it and called Leeds Registry Office on Thursday 20th August and asked if they had space for that weekend. We were met with a lot of questions; “Which Saturday again? THIS Saturday? Oh!” But, they had a morning slot at 10:15am for us. We took it, with the only hesitation being that we had to have Ryan and Paige from Shutter Go Click Photography with us as we wanted them to document our mad time and also be our only guests and witnesses. Luckily, after a little schedule shuffling, they were free for us. It had all come together. The next day we travelled up to Leeds and stayed the weekend, ready for our ceremony on Saturday, 22nd August.”
While Gema did wear some of her wedding accessories which she’d bought for New York – like her headpiece made by Twin Flame Styling and her Converse wedding shoes – all the clothes they wore were things they had in their wardrobes already. “There was no time to get anything else and I was not able to get wedding dress from my seamstress”, she explained, “I think the difference between this wedding and a lot of other weddings was that we just wanted it to be about us, for us, and with nothing else getting in our way. We got married with legal witnesses in normal, but nice, clothes and then still in our clothes went for a standard bottomless brunch, wandered around Leeds City Museum, went for another pint at North Brewing Co., then grabbed a Five Guys, before heading back to the hotel to nap and watch PS. I Love You on ITV. It was a total blast. And helped only to strengthen the reason why we wanted to get married – because we loved each other.”
“Our favourite part of the day was just that it was about us”, Gema concluded. “It was free of phones and posting rubbish and reading any news. We didn’t have to deal with or entertain anyone else, we were just able to focus on us in that moment for that one day. Our advice to other couples who are dealing with all this stuff right now is to just do what you want to do. Everyone will be happy for you either way and you are going to be the ones who remember everything, they aren’t. We were worried our parents might be disappointed that we eloped. I know my dad wanted to see me get married and Matt thought his parents might not want to travel to NYC for a blessing, but they were both ecstatic.”