Covid 19 Omicron outbreak: Couple vow to go ahead with wedding after delay during Delta outbreak

It’s not the usual assertion from a bride-to-be, but Alyssa Cox can’t wait for her wedding to be over.

Not that she isn’t looking forward to marrying beau Kent Donald – the North Shore couple have been together more than eight years after all, and this is their second attempt at tying the knot.

But Covid-19 has not been kind to anyone over the past two years, including lovebirds who just want to share a few vows, exchange a couple of rings and do it all in front of the most important people in their lives.

This Thursday, at last, “it’s all go”, Cox said of the couple’s planned wedding at The Boat House in Riverhead.

“We’re looking forward to it. I’m almost at the point where I just will be happy when it’s all kind of over and done with because it’s been so all-consuming the past six months or so with, ‘Oh, is it gonna go ahead? What if? What if?’

“I will be very happy when it’s done.”

It’s been a bit of a journey.

The worst of it came in September last year, when the couple had to call off their big day after the Delta variant outbreak sparked a nationwide level 4 lockdown, which then continued in Auckland for five weeks.

The pandemic had already cost Cox her job as an international flight attendant for Air New Zealand, something she’d been doing since leaving school, as well as temporarily disrupting her next venture – baked goods business Whipped Cakery, which she opened with her sister-in-law 18 months ago.

Even the 27-year-old’s engagement was affected by the virus, although she was initially unaware.

Donald, 31, originally planned to propose while they were on holiday in Fiji, and then in Queenstown, but both trips were cancelled amid the growing Covid-19 crisis in March 2020.

Heading to Coromandel Peninsula for a week instead, they were away one night before Donald’s mother called to alert them to the looming level 4 lockdown – forcing Donald to pop the question in the rain to his bemused fiancee-to-be after insisting on stopping at Hot Water Beach as they rushed back to Auckland.

Despite the challenges of the past two years, Cox still has a smile on her face – although if Covid-19 was a person she’d have two choice words for it.

“P*** off. I’m just super over it. We’ve all kind of put our last two years of life on hold, and we get our vaccination targets and it just kind of feels like, at the moment, that’s all been for nothing considering we’re right back in restrictions again.

“But what can you do, I suppose.”

Last year’s transtasman bubble closure forced about a dozen of Donald’s Australia-based relatives to abandon plans to cross the ditch for the original September 18 wedding.

With New Zealand’s borders still closed to quarantine-free travel they won’t be able to make Thursday’s nuptials either, Cox said.

“It is what it is. Regardless of how long we kept postponing it there was always gonna be someone who couldn’t make it. It will still be fun and nice, and lots of people will be there to celebrate with.”

Their 55 New Zealand-based guests are able to attend despite last Sunday’s move to the red traffic light setting, after cases of the highly infectious Omicron variant were discovered in the community.

Under the red light, up to 100 double-vaccinated people can gather at a venue as long as the space is big enough for there to be one-metre social distancing overall.

New mask mandates announced on Thursday prompted the couple to bring their wedding date forward a day, a switch made in just two hours, Cox said.

Under the new rules, masks must be worn at all gatherings, including when photos are being taken, from Friday this week. The only exception is when people are eating and drinking.

Because of the lack of information initially released by officials, many believed the rules would prevent grooms from kissing brides and force newlywed couples to remain masked during wedding photos.

But officials have since reassured people their nuptials will still be a day to remember, as the changes will not apply to gatherings that have exclusive use of a venue, including weddings.

Cox had spoken to the venue about other aspects of the big day and everything else planned could go ahead.

“From what [the venue] said everything is pretty much normal. So we can dance, we can party, we can hug, we can have fun.”

Cox had heard about Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s decision to postpone her own nuptials after putting the country under the red traffic light.

About 180 people were invited to Ardern’s wedding to longtime partner Clarke Gayford, which had been expected to take place this weekend.

“I empathise,” Cox said of her fellow bride-to-be’s tough decision.

“[My advice would be] just don’t stress about what you can’t change. And when you have your day it’ll be even more perfect, because you’ve had so much longer to plan it.”


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