Faced with a global pandemic, heavy rain, and a wedding limited to 15 people, one couple decided there was only one way to spend their big day: a drive-through wedding.
Roma Popat and Vinal Patel have bypassed Covid-19 restrictions by allowing 200 guests to watch the four-hour ceremony from the comfort of their own car.
The couple married in front of a small gathering of immediate family members at Braxted Park, a 500 acre estate in Chelmsford, Essex while friends and family watched on big screens from more than 100 cars parked outside. Another 300 guests from all over the world tuned in via video link.
As is the tradition with Hindu weddings, the groom entered, traveled across the field before the ceremony and waved to the guests who were still dressed for the occasion from a decorated golf buggy driven by a face mask member of the venue.
The couple, both 30 years old, later toured the grounds in the same buggy to greet their guests, who honked their horns and lit their lights in socially distant celebrations.
Upon arrival, guests were asked to stay in their cars unless they needed the toilet. They were given snacks, antibacterial hand gel, and trash bags for their trash. You could also use a website to order food from waiters on Segways to be safely delivered to their vehicles. Popat and Patel were originally supposed to get married on April 20 and made the difficult decision to postpone the wedding until October after the lockdown disrupted their plans.
Another 300 guests from around the world watched live footage of the couple making their vows via a video link in Braxted Park, a country house in Chelmsford, Essex. Photo: Tim Stewart News Limited
Popat, a marketing manager, and Patel, an IT consultant, joked the idea of a drive-in cinema-style event to their wedding planner, Saheli Mirpuri, who specializes in luxury Asian events.
The north London couple visited the film Bad Boys at a local drive-in theater to see how it might work in practice. At the time of the wedding, which was booked for last Friday, the limit on attending state-sponsored weddings had again been lowered to 15.
“Soon we all enthusiastically put our heads together to bring this wonderful, Covid-compliant wedding together to accommodate more than 15 guests,” said Mirpuri. Lockdown had been really difficult for her London-based company Saheli Events.
“This year has been so difficult, especially for Asian luxury weddings and celebrations,” she said. “But this was a creative way to make sure guests felt together with the couple that day, and we are delighted to have worked with so many fantastic suppliers to bring it all together.”
The bride said it meant everything to the couple that their friends and family could be part of the celebration. “When we had to postpone our wedding in April, we had no idea whether or not we could get married this year,” said Popat.
“It literally meant everything to us to have everyone there, albeit in a slightly different way than what we had imagined. It’s a day we will never forget. “
Alex Rayner, the executive director of Events at Braxted Park, said it was frustrating to see wedding companies unable to operate due to government restrictions, and the venue was pleased to have surmounted them safely.
“We launched a drive-in wedding within just three weeks … [enabling] The visitors in the cars can enjoy the wedding experience, albeit from a distance, ”said Rayner. The venue has since received “a barrage of requests to repeat the process”.