The Coniston Saves the (Wedding) Day

The 21st March 2020 is a date that had been in the diaries of Lorien Devonport and Anthony Martlew from Grassington, North Yorkshire for over a year. The excited bride-and-groom-to-be had booked their wedding at The Coniston Hotel Country Estate & Spa near Skipton back in February 2019.

Whilst enjoying a spa day gift experience, Lorien called Anthony to tell him how lovely The Coniston was and he decided to join her for a much needed, last minute luxury break. They fell in love with the award-winning venue with its homely feel almost instantly. They knew that the picturesque lakeview scenery was the perfect backdrop for their big day, so booked their wedding there and then.

Fast forward 12 months, and what should have been one of the most exciting times in their lives had quickly become stressful and uncertain due to the coronavirus outbreak. They could barely take their eyes away from the news stories across the globe, contemplating the stark reality that everything they had worked towards over the past year was in serious jeopardy.

Still the couple remained resilient; because despite spending countless hours planning the perfect wedding reception for their loved ones, both Lorien and Anthony knew that the most important thing was declaring their love to each other. Even if it meant sacrificing the celebration they had dreamed of.

As their big day drew nearer, there was a glimmer of hope that their plans might just happen. However, on the eve of their wedding, Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the nation and explained that restaurants and pubs needed to close to keep the country safe. All three restaurants at The Coniston Hotel Country Estate & Spa closed their doors immediately, meaning that the venue was now unable to host the couple’s celebration. With Lorien and Anthony already on site, they began contacting their loved ones, many of whom were already on their way to join them, to tell them to turn around – the wedding had been cancelled.

As the dust settled on an emotional evening for the couple, The Coniston’s Senior Wedding Co-Ordinator, Sharon Hurst, could see how devastated Lorien and Anthony were. But what struck her most is that whilst the couple were clearly upset that their magical reception could no longer take place, what had truly saddened them was that they were unable to officially join together in matrimony and become husband and wife. She decided to take action.

Sharon asked the couple that if The Coniston could find a way to still marry them, adhering to the new government guidelines, would they still want to. Their answer was an emphatic “yes!”

She then took it upon herself to contact the registry office and a few key suppliers to see if they were still able to play their part in the wedding.

Lorien and Anthony commented:

We said yes without hesitation, we just wanted to get married.

It was still a little touch-and-go for a while and we didn’t actually get the official confirmation from the registrars until 10am on the day. We went from having a full day celebration for 100 people to simply saying our vows in front of just twelve family members. It wasn’t the day we planned for, but it was our dream wedding.

We cannot thank The Coniston enough for making this happen! Sharon and her team really did go above and beyond for us. When they said we could still get married there, we assumed that for convenience we would just being saying our vows in a corner of an empty room, however they treated us just like they would another wedding. The room was beautifully decorated and our ceremony was just as we had planned it, they even brought us all some fizz to celebrate! Before we left, we even managed to have a few photos of us overlooking the beautiful estate – it was picture perfect and just what we had imagined.

We cannot believe that we were one of the last couples to get married, we feel incredibly lucky. The whole situation was a bit like a reset button for us and made us realise what was important. If we were to do it all again, we would do nothing differently. Our small wedding was truly special!

Sharon Hurst, Senior Wedding Co-Ordinator at The Coniston Hotel Country Estate & Spa,  commented:

“As a family run venue, weddings are particularly special for us. Family is at the heart of everything we do here, and it truly is an honour to help couples celebrate their big day with their loved ones. We were so happy to be able to help Lorien and Anthony overcome the difficult circumstances and give them a day to remember. We can’t wait to welcome them back to The Coniston for their ‘mini-moon’ once this is all over!”

Like many other venues, we have so many couples who had planned to be married here this spring but have been left heartbroken by the disruption that the coronavirus pandemic has caused. We want to reassure all our future brides and grooms that we are here to support you every step of the way. Whether it’s advice and guidance or to simply lend an ear, we are here.

We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Lorien and Anthony again, and wish them a lifetime of happiness together!”