Spalding couple are first to tie the knot at Deeping St Nicholas Parish Church after lockdown
A Spalding couple experienced the beauty of intimacy when they became the first bride and groom to be married at a village's church after lockdown.
Colin and Maria Harrison, of Wygate Meadows, tied the knot in front of 30 guests at Deeping St Nicholas Parish Church where just three weeks of preparation were needed to make the newlyweds' big day a special one.
The couple, who first met each other in January 2016, had originally hoped that up to 100 people, including friends and relatives from Maria's home country of Malta, would have been present to witness the exchange of vows with her husband.
But the couple moved quickly to make their wedding day COVID-secure, while also taking on extensive cleaning and spectacular decorating duties at St Nicholas's Church itself.
Maria, also known to her friends as Christine, said: "We had a wonderful, wonderful day and it worked out absolutely fantastic.
"Me and my daughter made all the flower arrangements in the church and they looked stunning.
"We were planning to have some very close family members and dear friends with us from Malta who had all booked flights to the UK and were supposed to be with us on the day.
"But because of coronavirus, all the flights had to be cancelled and so we've promised them that we'll have a blessing ceremony in Malta as soon as it's safe to do so."
Among the guests were Colin's two daughters and three grandchildren from his previous marriage to late wife Barbara, as well as Maria's three daughters and five grandchildren from her previous marriage to late husband Roger.
Colin, formerly owner and managing director of a packaging supplies business based in Donington, said: "We first met purely by chance when a mutual friend of ours was having her 60th birthday party at the Black Bull pub in Donington.
"Our friendship developed slowly, but nicely, and the first time we went out locally as a couple was to the Rotary Club of Spalding's Two Lips Ball in May 2016.
"I proposed to Maria in December 2019 and then I surprised her with a trip to a hotel in London where we were officially engaged in January of this year, the fourth anniversary of our first meeting."
An extra special note to the wedding was provided by World War II Burma Campaign veteran Jack Mills who acted as the bride's father on his 99th birthday.
"Jack is a very good friend of mine and has become like a second father to me," Maria said.
"He always used to say: 'If you ever get married again. It would be an honour to give you away if you want me to.
"Jack's speech at our wedding was wonderful, as were the speeches from Colin's brother Keith, who was best man, very close family and friends from Malta that were read out by my daughter Sharon and her husband Jonathan."
Colin said: "It was a perfect day and evening spent in Stamford with our two friends from Donington, followed by an overnight stay in wonderful surroundings.
"We don't feel as though we missed out on anything."
Mr Mills said: "The wedding went very well indeed and it was very great honour to give Maria away.
"It was also really nice to speak on behalf of all the people there, wishing Maria and Colin a happy marriage and hoping they will have a happy life together."
The Rev Erica Crust, assistant priest at Deeping St Nicholas Parish Church, said: "Colin and Maria were an amazing couple who went the extra mile or two which was lovely.
"They had a lot of work to do after their banns of marriage was read three weeks before the wedding.
"But the groom had the church industrially cleaned, the church looked fantastic and the way they decorated inside it was stunning.
"There was even enough space for them to have a glass of champagne and cake as they went out of the church."