Kirk minister conducts her first online "betrothal" service

A minister conducted an online “promise ceremony” for a couple who were forced to cancel their dream wedding due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

Very Rev Dr Susan Brown carried out the “betrothal through handfasting” type service for Amy Dickenson and Lloyd Dias via the video conferencing platform, Zoom.

The couple, who are aged 32 and 36 respectively, dressed up in their finery as they would have done for their wedding which was supposed to be taking place at Dornoch Cathedral in the Highlands on Monday.

Amy and Lloyd
Not to be outdone by Coronavirus restrictions - Very Rev Dr Susan Brown conducted an online "betrothal" ceremony for Amy Dickenson and Lloyd Dias

The service on the same day took place in the conservatory at their south London home in 25C heat and their beloved cat Rothko, resplendent in a bow tie, was the only living witness in the room.

The couple, who have been an item for eight years, held hands and exchanged rings which they placed on their right hands as more than 100 people from across the UK and around the world watched online.

Miss Dickenson, who works as a primary school teacher, said: “It was a memorable day and the perfect way to bring everyone we love together into our tiny home to watch us commit ourselves to each other.”

Celebration

The couple cancelled their May 25 wedding at Dornoch Cathedral, which was to be conducted by Dr Brown who is the minister, at the end of March.

They decided just a week before what should have been their big day to hold an online ceremony instead.

Miss Dickenson, who grew up in Dornoch and has known the minister for many years, said: “Susan will marry us outdoors in elopement style as soon as it was safe to do so.

“But we thought this would be a good way to celebrate on the day that we were supposed to get married.

“She suggested a handfasting ceremony, an ancient Highland tradition, but in the end we realised we could not tie hands with only two people present so we just exchanged rings and put them on our right hands.

“The ceremony meant a lot to us and to have everyone there to see it happen.

“We ended up holding hands throughout the service, with Rothko at our feet, and Susan incorporated the original readings from the day and words about handfasting.”

Amy' cat
Looking dapper - Rothko the cat sporting a natty bow tie for the ceremony.

The couple hope to legally marry as soon as possible and will swap their rings onto their left hands.

Londoner Mr Dias, who works for an electrical distribution company, said: “It was the best way of making good a horrible situation.

“People who weren’t able to get to Dornoch originally were experiencing something that they had not experienced before like our grandmothers who are in their 90s.

“They got the chance to see us together and there is an intimacy when you see someone on a screen that you would not see from the back of a church.”

Door opening day to a new future

The couple filled their conservatory with flowers foraged from a local wood and from a local florist, a friend made them a cake and they had a first dance in front of their virtual guests, many of whom looked smart on their top halves but were wearing shorts.

Two “best people” delivered speeches, their meal was a home delivery from a local Vegan restaurant and they had a Zoom after party as well as a socially distanced photography session in a nearby wood.

Mr Dias made a speech and thanked everyone for tuning in.

Very Rev Dr Susan Brown
Very Rev Dr Susan Brown

Dr Brown, a former Moderator of the General Assembly, described the ceremony, the first she has ever been involved in, as “absolutely fantastic”.

“A wedding is such a big day in a couple’s lives – a door opening day onto a different future,” she explained.

“For Amy and Lloyd, it wasn’t about a lot of people coming but marking their love for each other.

“They really wanted it to happen so it seemed like a good way to do it because handfasting is an ancient Highland tradition.

“So it seemed like an opportune moment to revive something from history and put it to good effect in the 21st century.

“They are a lovely couple and it was fantastic that it meant so much to them and for me, to be able to help was great.”