A North Devon wedding venue has hosted its first marriage ceremony in more than three months since coronavirus lockdown.

The wedding party at Ash Barton Estate in braunton for its first marriage ceremony after lockdown eased. Picture: FreeformimagesThe wedding party at Ash Barton Estate in braunton for its first marriage ceremony after lockdown eased. Picture: Freeformimages

On Saturday, July 4, Emily Smith and Ben Watts from Topsham, plus a couple of dozen of their closest friends and family, enjoyed a socially distanced wedding in the grounds of Ash Barton at Braunton.

There was a romantic ceremony beside the lake, followed by a picnic and drinks in the old chapel.

That had been the couples’ original wedding date but it had been pushed back until June 2021, but when lockdown eased they decided to go ahead as planned.

Only a handful of people were in attendance but they are planning a big party at Ash Barton in June next year.

Newly weds Emily Smith and Ben Watts at the Ash Barton Estate after their lockdown easing wedding. Picture: FreeformimagesNewly weds Emily Smith and Ben Watts at the Ash Barton Estate after their lockdown easing wedding. Picture: Freeformimages

Venue owner Simon Daukes said: “At the beginning of lockdown, I called all the brides and grooms and said ‘listen, let’s get you booked in for next year wherever possible.

“But, if things start to open up and you want to have some kind of ceremony or celebration on your original day, you can. The choice is yours’.”

Emily said: “We originally planned to have a big wedding at The Ash Barton Estate over several days.

“It was meant to be a big weekend celebration with lots of friends and family. Ben has family from Thailand and the USA who were going to travel to attend our wedding. So when we found out about the Government Covid-19 restrictions, we had to rethink our original wedding plans drastically.

“When Simon said we could have an intimate wedding with a few guests, we just felt sheer joy. Knowing that our original date could happen, and we could make that commitment to one another was an amazing feeling.

“We were only allowed 30 guests, so it was our immediate family attending plus 1-2 guests on either side.

“As we were confined to our homes for so long, it was extra special to see our closest friends and family again. I think being in lockdown has made us really appreciate them.”

The team at Ash Barton worked hard to prepare the venue for the first ceremony after lockdown.