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Couple get married alone after covid outbreak means no guests can attend their big day

Sam and Caroline’s families were due to meet for the first time at their wedding – but they ended up tying the knot just the two of them.

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A bride and groom whose meticulously planned wedding – where their families were due to meet for the first time – was cancelled due to coronavirus have released candid shots of their intimate ceremony after they tied the knot –  just the two of them.

Sam Lindsay, 27, originally from Walsall, West Midlands, and Caroline Lindsay, 28, of Dayton, Ohio, USA, had planned to tie the knot in Munich, Germany, on March 27, surrounded by 24 loved ones.

But, when the COVID-19 outbreak forced them to cancel their big day, they hurriedly brought their date forward to March 18 and married alone – before, as Caroline explained, “honeymooning in isolation”.

Caroline and Sam at a baseball game in Cincinnati, Ohio (PA Real Life/Collect)

The couple met in 2013, when they were teaching English in Vienna, Austria, and were initially just friends.

Then, in time, after returning to their respective homes and staying in touch long-distance, romantic feelings gradually began to develop.

In 2015, they made the life-changing decision to move to Munich, Germany, together – despite not being an official couple at that point – and their relationship has gone from strength to strength ever since.

Caroline and Sam on their wedding day (PA Real Life/Vreni Arbes/www.herztanz-fotografie.de)

Explaining how their wedding plans dramatically changed, Caroline, a freelance musician, said, “We have no family here in Munich, so our plans to bring everyone together had been really quite elaborate, and had taken months.

“As the outbreak spread, people were reassuring us that we’d be okay – but the travel bans around the world, that meant our families wouldn’t be able to reach us, made the decision for us.

“It was very hard in the build-up, knowing they wouldn’t be there, but on the day itself, I actually didn’t feel sad. It was a beautiful day, and Sam, who is my best friend, and I, spent it together just the two of us. Though it was disappointing not having our families meet, being alone almost made it more romantic.”

Caroline and Sam, who works in SEO marketing, first met when their studies had brought them both to Austria, and they fell in with the same group of friends whilst teaching English.

Both moving back home a year later, they stayed in contact, and soon, their feelings became more than platonic.

“After a while, we both got bored of being back in our home countries. Things between us were blossoming,” she said. “I had landed a job in Munich and, in a huge leap of faith, we decided to move out there together.”

Caroline and Sam at a Chelsea football match in London (PA Real Life/Collect)

She added: “My family were in shock, but I just knew deep down, it would work out – and if it didn’t, at least I’d taken that plunge and given it a go.”

When Sam and Caroline first arrived in Munich in July 2015, they were not an official couple, although that soon changed.

“We were in this new city where we knew nobody, navigating all these challenges, which brought us closer,” Caroline explained. “Originally, we had planned to get separate apartments, but we ended up moving straight in together. We knew each other really well, and had been friends for ages, so it made sense.”

Caroline and Sam on their wedding day (PA Real Life/Vreni Arbes/www.herztanz-fotografie.de)

As their relationship strengthened, in time, talk turned to marriage. Then, in early 2019, after a romantic break in Portugal, they decided it was time to get engaged.

“It wasn’t a down on one knee proposal or anything,” said Caroline. “We discussed it and made the decision together, like we do with everything.

“From the beginning, there was lots to discuss about how we would do it – would we marry in Germany? In the US? In the UK? We had to think very carefully about the logistics of it all.”

Caroline and Sam visiting Paris (PA Real Life/Collect)

After months of detailed organisation, a plan began to form.

Sam and Caroline decided to fly their families out to meet one another for the first time at Munich’s annual Starkbierfest beer festival at the end of March, before marrying in front of 24 loved ones in a register office ceremony the following day.

“The day after that, we’d organised a party for everyone, plus our friends here in Germany, on a boat. There were going to be about 70 guests,” Caroline said. “I’ve met Sam’s family lots of times, and vice versa, but the two have never met each other, so it was going to be really special. We had a whole weekend planned for everyone.”

However, as their big day approached, the COVID-19 outbreak escalated, and the virus began to spread across the world.

Caroline added: “I’d been following it closely, and fairly early on, I’d thought it might mean cancelling our wedding.”

The bride-to-be’s loved ones tried to reassure her, but then, President Trump implemented a ban suspending all travel between the United States and Europe.

Caroline and Sam at Munich Christmas market (PA Real Life/Collect)

Similarly, the Foreign Office in the UK advised British citizens against all but essential international travel, and Germany closed its borders.

“There was no way our family could get to us, and we didn’t want anybody to risk spreading infection by trying to travel,” said Caroline.

“I know that, with everything going on in the world, a wedding doesn’t seem that important. I understood I had to cancel, because there is much worse going on out there, but it has been hard to feel like there is no room to be sad about it.”

Caroline and Sam on their wedding day (PA Real Life/Vreni Arbes/www.herztanz-fotografie.de)

If their family could not be there in person, Caroline and Sam figured they could at least provide them with pictures of the special day – so they were disappointed when their original photographer, unable to travel either, was forced to pull out.

“It was difficult thinking I would have nothing – no semblance of it being a special day. I’d wanted the photos to show my family, but also to cling onto some bit of reality in all the mayhem,” she said.

“Thankfully, we found another photographer last minute and could not be more grateful for her.”

 

Worried that the register office would close its doors, too, Caroline organised to bring their wedding day forward to March 18.

She continued: “Right up until the last moment, we were worried something else would go wrong. I was phoning them the night before to check I was still getting married in the morning.

“At ceremonies in Germany, witnesses aren’t required, so Sam and I got married just the two of us. The only other people there were the officiant and our photographer.”

Caroline and Sam on their wedding day (PA Real Life/Vreni Arbes/www.herztanz-fotografie.de)

Caroline continued: “Before exchanging vows, we did a speech about how we met – even though there was nobody there to hear it. Then we went home, where our neighbours had left flowers and Prosecco outside our door, and I made us a wedding cake.

“Though it was sad that our families weren’t meeting, which a lot of our plans had been about, it was actually really nice to spend a whole day with just Sam and I, with nobody else there, and no other distractions.”

Caroline and Sam on their wedding day (PA Real Life/Vreni Arbes/www.herztanz-fotografie.de)

Delighted with the pictures their photographer had taken, Caroline and Sam could not wait to share them with their loved ones.

“We posted them on social media, and got so many messages, and family and friends sharing them. It was bittersweet, as we would have loved everybody to be there, but the love and support was really nice,” Caroline added.

“Maybe one day, when things are calmer, we can finally throw the party we had wanted and get everybody together, but we aren’t planning anything right now – it’s too uncertain.

“For now, we are enjoying being married, and will never forget our special day.”