Oakham couple tie the knot in Rutland as soon as lockdown lifts
It’s nearly 20 years since they first met, but Zoe and Rachel Nealson wasted no time in tying the knot as soon as lockdown lifted this week.
The couple took advantage of the easing of pandemic restrictions on Monday, and by 11.30am they were marrying at Oakham Register Office.
Zoe, a town councillor, said: “We had planned to marry on March 19, with a full wedding ceremony the following day conducted by a humanist celebrant and with our friends and family.
“But our daughter Wren, who has a rare genetic liver disease, was put on the urgent list for a liver transplant just after Christmas and so we decided to postpone the family celebration.”
Wren, aged seven, received her transplant a few weeks ago and is recovering well. She is expected to be able to stop shielding and return to Brooke Hill Academy in Oakham after the Easter holidays. Her younger brother Milo, who has the same condition, underwent a transplant when he was two. Now six, he is in good health.
Rachel Johnson and Zoe Neal first met as university students in Birmingham, which Zoe recalls fondly.
“We were both 20 and I was working in the student union bar one Monday when Rachel came in, put some tunes on the jukebox and started dancing on the tables!
“After some time together we went our separate ways. When we got back together in 2018 and things were very different - Rachel had three children, while I had developed multiple sclerosis and was living in Oakham.”
Rachel proposed to Zoe while they were away in Mexico on 2019 and they immediately made plans to marry in 2021.
Despite the slight delay caused by the lockdown, the couple were able to enjoy a ‘wonderful day’ on Monday and, blessed with good weather, enjoyed ‘a peaceful sit in the registry office garden’ after the ceremony.
The wedding celebration they plan to hold with family and friends promises to be a less tranquil affair, with the couple teasing their children that they have plans to sing.
“We don’t seem to need to try to embarrass them,” laughed Zoe. “The fact that we breathe seems to embarrass them.
“So, we’re going to make the most of this at the wedding. The other day we serenaded them with a Simply Red song in the car and they had their heads in their hands!”
While the children might be at an age that their mums induce eye-rolling at every turn, they are looking forward to being a part of the full wedding ceremony, with Annabel, who turns 10 today (Friday) and Wren ready to be bridesmaids, and Milo a page boy who will be wearing a tuxedo with pride. They expect to hold the celebration once all restrictions are lifted.
“We can’t believe what 2021 has brought,” said Zoe. “It’s been a crazy year already, but in so many ways it has been great.”