A couple whose wedding plans were thwarted by Covid-19 said “I do” during lunch break at their first wedding in the UK.
Lucie Hacq and Charles Langevin met on a ski trip in France in February 2014 and planned to tie the knot on September 12 in a stunning red brick castle near his family home in Normandy, France.
However, government measures to contain the spread of coronavirus resulted in their reluctant decision to postpone the trial.
Still, all was not lost after Islington, north London’s investment banker Lucie, 31, discovered a Facebook post asking couples to apply for a Las Vegas-style honeymoon – which she and the management consultant would Charles (33) were accepted.
She remembered how on September 10th, when she leaned out the window of a white Toyota Prius while Charles did the same thing out of a black cab, she became husband and wife and said, “It was all such a whirlwind.
“I was married during my lunch break and then went back to work!”
While Lucie is still hoping to throw the French wedding party she dreamed of in 2022, she said the last minute nature of their wedding continued a theme that ran through their relationship from the start.
She said, “We only found out about 48 hours earlier that we made the cut for the drive through the wedding.
“All of our wedding gear was in France for the day we were supposed to be big. So I struggled a little to find something to wear.”
“In the end I just grabbed a polka dot dress – the whitest thing in my closet,” she continued.
“But it was such an adventure and so beautiful that Charles and I had the opportunity to celebrate.”
It was also a last minute decision that brought the couple together when Lucie was invited to go on a short term group ski trip to the French Alps with some friends and Charles happened to be at the party too.
Thinking about the February 2014 holiday season, she said, “I hesitated, but I made up my mind at the last minute and flew out about three days later. I had never heard of or met Charles at the time, but it turned out to be the best decision I’d ever made. “
Lucie and Charles spent a moment together and spent most of the trip together.
But they didn’t expect their romance to last, as they would then live nearly 300 miles apart, with him in Paris and her in London.
Instead, their bond was strengthened by regularly exchanging messages on WhatsApp, and when Lucie was on a pre-planned vacation in Paris in May, she made sure to see Charles.
“Until then, we knew each other very well as we’d talked a lot on WhatsApp, even though we’d only met for the second time in real life,” she laughed.
When Charles met again the following month while visiting London, he was lucky for the third time and they made their relationship official.
Lucie recalled: “We were out with mutual friends, when little by little everyone else went home and left us alone. While we were talking we decided everything was going well and we wanted to become a real couple. “
Even so, their relationship stayed away for another four years – with him in Paris and her in London.
She said, “That had its challenges. We’d try to see each other every two weeks and take turns being the one to travel.
“Going to Paris every few weeks was expensive. But it was worth seeing Charles. “
Then, in 2018, Charles finally crossed the canal and moved in with Lucie.
She said: “He moved because he got a new job, but the first few months involved a lot of trips to South Africa, so we were still quite a long way away – even though we lived in the same house.”
Then, about six months after they moved in together, Charles suggested Lucie over dinner while on a ski trip in France – a nod to how they’d met.
Fortunately, she accepted, soon looked for her dream location and settled in a castle in Normandy.
“We had more or less organized everything,” she said.
But as Covid-19 spread and the world began to lock up, it became clear that Lucie’s big day was turning into a pipe dream.
With the current rules not allowing more than 10 people to congregate in France at the same time, and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office advising against all travel from England down to the essential – with those returning here were instructed to self-isolate for 14 days – they had no choice but to quit.
Lucie said, “We tried to remain hopeful and keep telling each other that things could change, but as the months went by we became less and less convinced.
“There were so many restrictions that we couldn’t celebrate the same way. We didn’t want our guests to be uncomfortable and some of them didn’t want to travel or were screened off so couldn’t come anyway.
“Right now we could only have had a maximum of 10 people including Charles and I. We invited 100 guests and it didn’t feel right to leave so many of them out. Even my hairdresser called and said she couldn’t afford it To isolate for 14 days and miss work so she wouldn’t be able to come either. “
After many soul-seeking and lengthy conversations with relatives and their wedding planner, the couple decided in August to postpone their special day.
Lucie said, “I know it was the right thing to do, but I felt really frustrated and sad.”
Accepting defeat, she saw no way for her to marry Charles for the foreseeable future – until she spotted a Facebook post in early September asking couples to attend the UK’s first wedding.
Hosted by Ride Hagel App NOW FREELucie, who has just merged with the former Kapten app to become the UK’s only platform where you can book a black taxi and private rental vehicle in one place, took the chance.
She filled out an application form and was delighted to find about two weeks later that she and Charles, along with three other couples, had been selected to participate.
She said, “Our wedding anniversary should have been September 12th and we were told that the transit would be on September 10th – close enough! We only had about 48 hours to prepare, so I ran to Spitalfields Market in east London to get rings and Charles grabbed a suit. “
“Instead of a wedding dress, I went for a Brooks Brothers polka dot dress that was already in my closet,” she added. “It’s actually the same dress I wore in the photos we took for our original save the date cards.”
Unlike most couples, the bride and groom worked on the morning of their wedding – he worked from home and she from an office. Then, at lunchtime, they were picked up and driven in separate FREE NOW cars to a bandstand in Arnold Circus in east London.
On the way, Lucie fetched a tailor-made bouquet from a specially furnished kiosk, while Charles passed a matching boutonniere through the window.
When the couple arrived at the bandstand, they went up the aisle to meet the humanist celebrant Zena Birch, who she then married in a personal ceremony.
“It took about 15 minutes, but we were so in the moment that everything was blurred,” said Lucie. “Then we signed a certificate and ate the wedding cake, champagne and photos.
“Charles had been picked up from his home where he was working while my car met me at the office. I actually went back to work. I was only out of the office for about two hours. It was like I had just taken a long lunch break and was married again. “
Lucie and Charles hope that they can continue their dream celebration in the idyllic castle in 2022 – but stay happy and do not regret their unconventional wedding day.
She concluded: “We know that at the moment there is no point in planning a lot as things are constantly changing and the future is very uncertain. Even so, we are so happy that we had this adventure together.”