Drive-in WEDDING! 250 guests watch bride and groom tie the knot from their cars



A couple have staged Britain’s first Covid-compliant drive-in wedding, with 250 guests watching them tie the knot from Audis, Land Rovers and Lamborghinis on a 500-acre Essex estate to get around the 15-person limit.

After the ceremony, bride Roma Popat and groom Vinal Patel, both 30, toured the grounds in a golf buggy, waving as parked-up friends and family honked their horns.

Guests were welcomed to the unique event on Friday with a hamper containing tasty snacks – as well as safety instructions, anti-bacterial hand gel and bin liners for their rubbish.

During the four-hour Hindu wedding, they could order food from a dedicated website to be delivered by waiters, but were only allowed to leave their vehicles only to use toilet cabins.

Another 300 guests from all over the world also watched the live footage of the couple saying their vows at Braxted Park, a stunning country house in Chelmsford, Essex, via video link.

Roma said: ‘Both of us had the most amazing day and we have since had so many calls and messages from guests saying how much they enjoyed the experience and felt part of it.

‘It literally meant everything to us to have everyone there, albeit in a slightly different way to the one we envisaged. It’s a day we’ll never forget.’  

Roma Popat and groom Vinal Patel, both 30,  held a drive-in wedding at Braxted Park in Essex. The ceremony way shown on a bid screen before the toured the grounds in a golf buggy (pictured)

Roma Popat and groom Vinal Patel, both 30,  held a drive-in wedding at Braxted Park in Essex. The ceremony way shown on a bid screen before the toured the grounds in a golf buggy (pictured) 

Guests were welcomed to the unique event with a hamper containing tasty snacks - as well as safety instructions, anti-bacterial hand gel and bin liners for their rubbish

Guests were welcomed to the unique event with a hamper containing tasty snacks – as well as safety instructions, anti-bacterial hand gel and bin liners for their rubbish

Weddings in England are currently restricted to 15 people, but the couple managed to get around this by holding a cinema-style event

Weddings in England are currently restricted to 15 people, but the couple managed to get around this by holding a cinema-style event

Roma - pictured touring the grounds with her new husband - said: 'Both of us had the most amazing day and we have since had so many calls and messages from guests saying how much they enjoyed the experience and felt part of it'

Roma – pictured touring the grounds with her new husband – said: ‘Both of us had the most amazing day and we have since had so many calls and messages from guests saying how much they enjoyed the experience and felt part of it’

How the wedding got around Covid guidelines  

Weddings in England are currently restricted to 15 people, but the couple managed to get around this by holding a cinema-style event. 

Outdoor screenings are allowed to host larger numbers, provided they are taking place at a venue with an outdoor events licence that is following Covid guidelines.  

At this particular event, guests stayed in their cars so did not come into contact with each other. The venue would have also been required to keep guests’ details for track and trace. 

Alex Rayner CEO of Braxted Park said: ‘It was a magical day and we’re delighted the bride and groom were able to celebrate their wedding with so many friends and family. Safety of all guests was paramount and stringent measures were in place, including track and trace.

‘This is yet more proof that despite Government’s refusal to listen to the wedding sector they have crippled, ceremonies can be held responsibly and safely as long as social distancing is in place. The capacity limits need to be based on the size of the venue, not fixed at an arbitrary number. It is common sense. Unfortunately the Prime Minister is listening to pseudo science and as a result, many venues are closing down.’ 

The property was listed as a manor in the Domesday Book, although most of the Queen Anne-style current house dates to 1760. 

Weddings at the venue cost up to £15,000, although this includes catering and use of the house. 

Marketing executive Roma, of Southgate, north London, said that she and IT consultant Vinal were originally due to marry in April.

During lockdown, they took the difficult decision to postpone their wedding until October.

Roma said: ‘At the time, we did not understand the severity of the situation and were still holding out hope that we could have a re-arranged wedding for 700 guests, as originally planned.’

When wedding ceremonies and sit-down receptions were limited to 30 people because of the pandemic, the couple hit upon the idea of a unique drive-in cinema-style event.

The bride explained: ‘A lot of our family and friends were saying they would like to watch coverage of our ceremony in small groups in their gardens.

‘We then thought, why not have a mass screening instead in a Covid-compliant way?’

The north Londoners, who got engaged in December 2018, went to watch the movie Bad Boys at a local drive-in cinema for research purposes.

Roma said: ‘We saw how people were parked and how the technology and food ordering worked.

‘We spent more time looking around us than watching the movie and thought the whole thing was amazing.’

By the time of Friday’s wedding, the wedding gathering limit had been further reduced to 15 by the government.

Marketing executive Roma, of Southgate, north London, said that she and IT consultant Vinal were originally due to marry in April. They are seen at their marriage ceremony

Marketing executive Roma, of Southgate, north London, said that she and IT consultant Vinal were originally due to marry in April. They are seen at their marriage ceremony 

During the four-hour Hindu wedding, they could order food from a dedicated website to be delivered by waiters, but were only allowed to leave their vehicles only to use toilet cabins. Pictured are guests driving around with flares

During the four-hour Hindu wedding, they could order food from a dedicated website to be delivered by waiters, but were only allowed to leave their vehicles only to use toilet cabins. Pictured are guests driving around with flares 

Guests take photos and wave as the couple pass their car during the event, where drizzly rain failed to dampen the happy atmosphere

Guests take photos and wave as the couple pass their car during the event, where drizzly rain failed to dampen the happy atmosphere 

Another 300 guests from all over the world also watched the live footage of the couple saying their vows at Braxted Park, a stunning country house in Chelmsford, Essex, via video link

Another 300 guests from all over the world also watched the live footage of the couple saying their vows at Braxted Park, a stunning country house in Chelmsford, Essex, via video link

Roma said: ‘We both come from big families. It meant we each had only our parents, siblings and a set of grandparents able to attend the ceremony in person.

‘It did not sit right with us that so many other friends and family were not able to be there and we wanted them to be part of our celebration. Our guests all dressed up still even though they were only in their cars.

‘We had two big screens showing the ceremony and it was surreal when we then processed through the middle of the field on the back of a golf buggy to give our guests a wave.

‘They went crazy. Everyone was honking their horns and cheering us. It was incredible. We had a live Zoom feed for everyone else all over the world, as far away as India, America and Canada. 

Vinal said: ‘We did not want to let Covid stop us marrying.

‘We were determined to get on with our lives and soldier on and make the best of our wedding and Roma did an incredible job of re-arranging it over the past few weeks.’

The couple had help from specialist luxury wedding planner Saheli Mirpuri, of London-based firm Saheli Events.

She said: ‘This year has been so difficult for couples wanting to wed. Celebrations don’t come much bigger than traditional Asian weddings and so it was a challenge to help make Roma and Vinal’s big day so special.

‘We’re delighted with the success of the drive-in, which was a creative way to ensure that guests felt they were with the couple on the day, and to have worked with so many amazing suppliers to bring everything together.’ 

The north Londoners, who got engaged in December 2018, went to watch the movie Bad Boys at a local drive-in cinema for research purposes (pictured are guests in their car)

The north Londoners, who got engaged in December 2018, went to watch the movie Bad Boys at a local drive-in cinema for research purposes (pictured are guests in their car) 

Photos show the huge number of cars that parked up to witness the ceremony in the grounds of the historic stately home

Photos show the huge number of cars that parked up to witness the ceremony in the grounds of the historic stately home 

Drummers - wearing facemasks - perform in a tent in front of the DJ during the lively event, which took place on Friday

Drummers – wearing facemasks – perform in a tent in front of the DJ during the lively event, which took place on Friday 

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