Couples whose wedding dreams were crushed by coronavirus

The invitations are sent, the perfect dress hangs ready and nervous excitement is setting in.

But as the finishing touches are being put in place, the spiralling crisis that seemed so far away in the beginning is more ominous and closer to home with each passing day.

Then, as bleak headline follows bleak headline, the unthinkable becomes reality- the wedding is off for the foreseeable future.

Coronavirus has caused countless major tragedies, but every cancelled wedding represents a heartbreaking personal setback for the couples who have spent months and years planning their special day.

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We spoke to couples in Merseyside about losing out on their weddings to the pandemic that has upended life as we know it.

'It wasn't just about us'

Rachel Kyle, 28, from Kirkby, and fiance Sean Harrison

Kirkby mum Rachel Kyle, 28, said her young children had been excitedly talking about her wedding to fork lift truck driver Sean Harrison, 24, for months.

She said: "This wedding wasn’t just about me and Sean, it was about three of my kids, aged six, eight and 10. They had been telling everyone for months it was our wedding soon.

"I originally thought it was funny, until I found out the reason behind it. The way my kids saw it was, once me and Sean were married that makes him officially their dad."

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Rachel and Sean's wedding very nearly did go ahead at St George's Hall in the city centre on March 21 – despite dozens of guests pulling out due to the pandemic.

But a tragic loss on the morning of the wedding itself meant their day could not happen at all.

Rachel Kyle's children

Rachel said: "In the two weeks, and even the night before leading up to the big day, vendors, guests and the venue for afterwards all pulled out due to the outbreak.

"We would have to have the ceremony without very important members of our families.

"My mum, nan and my eldest son couldn’t be there, the majority of my partner's family couldn’t make it, which was heartbreaking but completely understandable.

"On the Saturday morning, I got up and instead of joy and happiness I felt sadness and worry.

"Then I thought okay, it’s about us getting married not all the material things around us. Then at around 10am we got a phone all informing my partner his nan had sadly passed away."

Rachel Kyle, 28, from Kirkby, and fiance Sean Harrison

Rachel said they called guests and told them the wedding, scheduled for 2.30pm, was off and the couple got a taxi from Kirkby to Sean's home town of Bolton to be with his family.

Sean's nan was initially suspected to have died from coronavirus but it later emerged she passed away due to other unrelated health problems.

Rachel said all parties were extremely supportive and the pair hope to re-arrange in the future.

But in a further blow, the mum-of-six is being forced to self-isolate after developing symptoms of coronavirus.

It is something that has, at some point, touched all our lives.

From cradle to grave, the National Health Service, and the incredible professionals within it who care for us, is a part of British life.

Today, more than ever, we should cherish those who dedicate themselves to our care, heedless of their own health as they work tirelessly to care for people in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

Nurses and others – employed by the NHS and any other part of health and care – we have never needed them more.

So let’s show them some love, and create a living map of gratitude from every corner of Britain.

Click HERE to drop a heart on the map, and show you appreciate the efforts undertaken daily in the NHS.

Thanks a million, NHS workers – we love you.

'I just cried'

For Beverley Burrows, from Litherland, her wedding to Chris McLaughlin was to fall on March 28, their eighth anniversary.

Beverley says car mechanic Chris "is not the romantic type" and his proposal slipped out on an earlier anniversary as the pair enjoyed a meal in Nandos, Liverpool ONE.

But despite the less than fairytale proposal the pair had meticulously planned their wedding day at the Devonshire House Hotel in Edge Lane, Fairfield.

Litherland couple Beverley Burrows and her fiance Christopher McLaughlin, both 24, whose wedding was postponed due to coronavirus

The pair had already suffered a setback before coronavirus reared its head when the collapse of Thomas Cook meant their honeymoon to Cuba was cancelled.

Beverley said the writing was on the wall when Boris Johnson announced stricter lockdown measures on Monday March 23.

She told the ECHO : "When Boris said restaurants and pubs, I was like… does that mean hotels? Because our hotel was completely separate from the restaurant.

Litherland couple Beverley Burrows and her fiance Christopher McLaughlin, both 24, whose wedding was postponed due to coronavirus

"We called up and they said they're going to have to have a meeting, but it was looking like they were going to have to close.

"I just realised that's it, the wedding is off and I cried and cried."

Beverley said she had lost four stone preparing for her wedding day, weight that she had put on while recovering from surgery.

The pair had also been hoping to try and start a family after their wedding day, plans that have been put on hold.

However Beverley says things are looking up as they have managed to arrange a new wedding date to fall on New Year's Eve.

Litherland couple Beverley Burrows and her fiance Christopher McLaughlin, both 24, whose wedding was postponed due to coronavirus

She said: "It has just been one thing after another. My family were really upset, they were still hoping the wedding could go ahead on our anniversary, but we got told we could not have more than five people.

"I would not have been able to pick between my family."

Rachel and Beverley's stories are two amongst hundreds of similar cases across Merseyside.

We asked ECHO readers to share their stories.

On Facebook, Michelle Rice-Morgan said: "Our story is we should have got married on March 28, everything was paid and ready to go but was cancelled just a few days before due to lockdown.

"Got new date of November 21, just praying it can go ahead this time and we are progressing well with the fight against this virus, just can’t wait for all our of family and friends to get together again to celebrate."

Sherelle Chandler was left with sad reminders of the date that should have been.

She said: "We were due to get married April 24, rearranged to July 3 and rearranged again when we had an email to postpone for next year.

"Devastated – we planned everything for three years and now have to wait another year, but our health and our family’s health comes before our day we have so many personalised things with our original date on as well."

Jodie Murphy said she is dreading the day she has to pick up her wedding dress only to have to wait another year.

She said: "My wedding was booked for the July 18, now I’ve got to wait until April next year, absolutely gutted.

"God help me when I have to pick my wedding dress up and all my bridesmaids dresses up when they are ready end of June – it will be one sad day."

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For Laura Hemmings, a very last minute cancellation ended with a slight silver lining.

She said: "We were supposed to be married on March 21. We had checked into the hotel ready to spend the night before the wedding with my children and bridesmaids only to find out at 5.30pm our venue was closing as of midnight and our wedding could not go ahead.

"My poor kids where heartbroken. I’d tried all week not to get my hopes up as the honeymoon we were due to fly out on March 24 had already been cancelled, but figured we had made it to Friday so surely it would be able to go ahead.

"As I’m sure all other brides who didn’t/won’t get their day will agree it’s more important to postpone and have all your loved ones with you without worrying, plus we had a whole wedding cake to eat during social distancing."