COVID-19 may have forced many changes to Anna and Julian’s wedding, but that just made it all the more special in the end.

While 2020 was a tough year for everyone, love was one thing that got us through.

COVID-19 restrictions forced countless couples to pull the pin on wedding plans during 2020 but this special feature celebrates those couples who charged ahead and still tied the knot. The happy faces on these pages say it all and prove where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Anna Purcell and Julian Wilson were elated when they finally tied the knot last October after being forced to cancel their May wedding plans.

In a time of such uncertainty thanks to COVID-19, this Townsville couple decided they were certain of one thing – and that’s that they didn’t want to wait any longer to get married.

The pair exchanged vows and rings on Magnetic Island in front of just 10 guests on October 11 and say it couldn’t have been better.

Anna and Julian Wilson, Photo: Vicki Miller Photography

How did Julian propose?

Julian proposed in February 2018 while we were scuba diving in Komodo, Indonesia. He planned everything perfectly, organised it with the dive company, hid the ring and a sign in his jacket pocket and even got down on one knee (all underwater). I was completely surprised and I am a hard person to keep a surprise from. He had the ring made by a local Townsville jeweller, TCity.

 

How did COVID impact your wedding?

We had finalised our original wedding plans in 2019 and set the official date for May 3, 2020 on Magnetic Island. We had planned to have a small intimate wedding with just the bridal party and our parents (20 people), spending the long weekend together on the island. Our plans began to change at the end of March 2020 when borders were closing between states as most of our bridal party/family are from NSW. Julian’s brother had arrived early from America and was staying with his parents in NSW. He has now been stuck in Australia for almost a year with all of his belonging at his apartment still in San Francisco. By the middle of April, COVID restrictions had reduced wedding capacity to five people and we considered eloping but decided that we didn’t want to continue without family being involved, so we chose to postpone the wedding to October. We were realistically left with no choice as Magnetic Island closed their doors to nonresidents by the time our date had arrived.

It took a few weeks to regroup our ideas and choose another date, we settled on 11.10.20. Setting another date was a big stress relief and we were so lucky that our local Townsville vendors worked with us to make the new date happen. All our bookings were rolled over to the new date and we were even lucky to gain a videographer (never in the original plans) that had started his business in the middle of 2020.

Anna and Julian Wilson, Photo: Vicki Miller Photography

We were hopeful that the border restrictions would be eased by October however a few weeks out, they were still closed. This meant that our parents, Julian’s brother, best man and other groomsman would not be able to attend. We spent plenty of time considering a second postponement but decided that it wasn’t likely 2021 was going to be any better and we wanted something great to come from that year.

About 10 days out from our wedding, Queensland extended the border bubble to the Ballina area of NSW where Julian’s best man lives. They were able to find flights and make it to Townsville just in time.

On 11.10.20, we went ahead with all the original plans on Magnetic Island with only 10 people. Our amazing videographer was kind enough to set up a ‘livestream’ event so that our family in NSW could be a part of the day. On the day, Julian’s parents travelled to be with my parents and Julian’s brother travelled to be with the other groomsmen in NSW. We sent them all a box of favours, champagne (the same bottles we were toasting with) and letters that we had written them (originally to be given to them on the morning of the wedding, face-to-face) so they could feel included. The groomsmen dressed up in their suits and our parents wore the outfits they had chosen to watch the livestream. Mum had organised another friend to take professional photos of them watching the ‘livestream’ so that Julian and I would be able to see their reactions to the ceremony. It was a great idea and so special.

 

What were the emotions and issues about changing the original wedding day?

COVID restrictions were initially changing so frequently that it was difficult to know what we should do, especially when our choices affected the travel plans of our family and friends. The beginning of April was quite emotional, I’m sure it was the same for most people who were looking forward to something that had been planned for a long time.

For me, I knew that our wedding day wouldn’t be the day that I wanted if my parents couldn’t be involved so we chose to postpone, and that was a huge weight off the shoulders. We didn’t have many issues with changing the date, all our wedding vendors were feeling the full effects of the COVID restrictions so they were more than willing to help move our bookings!

Unfortunately by the time the second date came around, my parents were still unable to attend the wedding however we were more prepared and found other ways to keep them involved. I think the six months in between our original date and postponed date gave me time to accept that COVID would still likely affect our plans and we would have to be flexible. I still wish that my parents could have been there, but our wedding day was as perfect as it possibly could have been given the circumstances. Finally being able to celebrate something in 2020 was a big emotional relief.

What was the standout memory of your wedding day?

Haha, where do you start with this one. I don’t think I can choose a single moment. I’m probably supposed to say “when I walked down the aisle and saw the smile on Julian’s face” but honestly the whole day was seamless and perfect! We didn’t have a wedding planner/organiser, so the bridal party made everything happen. I think the big advantage of having a small wedding was that everyone worked together so well, it was stress free and fun!

One thing you wish people told you about planning a wedding?

It goes so fast! Take every second you can get to embrace the small moments on the day.

Celebrant: Abbey Chivers (Celebrant Abbey)
Make-up/hair: Georgie’s Beauty Room/ Beloved Bohemian (Chereise Anderson)
Florist: Pick a Posy (Katy Jensen)
Bride’s dress: Grace Loves Lace
Groom’s suit: French Connection
Bridesmaid dresses: Jaase Australia
Groomsmen suits: French Connection

Originally published on Townsville Bulletin