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Getting to the church in time

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High school sweethearts Elisa De Angelis and Samuel Murison had been preparing for their marriage for more than a year when their plans were thrown into chaos by the coronavirus crisis.

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Their wedding in St Francis Xavier’s Cathedral was less than a week away when Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Sunday March 22 that places of worship would close at midday the following day.

The St Ignatius’ College old scholars had already started thinking about how they could scale back their wedding from about 150 to 20 guests if restrictions came into effect. But when they heard that churches were closing Elisa said she didn’t think she would be able to have a church wedding at all.

“I started crying and thought ‘it’s over now, we can’t do anything’,” she said.

But Samuel remained calm and said to his fiancee ‘you know what this means, we get married tomorrow morning’.

Elisa said she excitedly ran around the house a couple of times as she thought about everything that needed to be done while Samuel made lots of phone calls.

While interstate siblings were unable to attend, other family members were happy the wedding was going ahead and swung into action. “Dad immediately said ‘what time will I pick you up’,” said Elisa. “He was so excited.”

Bridesmaids and groomsmen had to be cut from the ceremony but Elisa said everyone was very supportive and pleased for them, rather than worrying about themselves.

Her five-year-old brother was a page boy and Samuel’s best man was present but otherwise it was immediate family only.

Elisa said she had always wanted to be married in a church but wasn’t sure which one until she saw the Cathedral which she described as “spectacular”.

She praised the “incredible” Cathedral staff, in particular Kate Hampton and Fr Peter Rozitis, –“we couldn’t have asked for more beautiful people to help us”.

“The special little things that we wanted were all just perfect, even though it was last minute,” said Elisa, who had her heart set on walking down the aisle to Bach’s Ave Maria.

No longer able to have the string quartet they had booked, Cathedral music director Timothy Davey came to the rescue and played the piece from memory, while Samuel’s mum made “really beautiful floral arrangements” from flowers she found that morning.

“Everyone contributed their own special touches that made the wedding even more special,” she said.

The couple has chosen to postpone their reception in McLaren Vale to next year and was lucky to be able to book the same venue on the same weekend as originally planned. However, they won’t be making their wedding vows again.

“It was so special, so meaningful, I wouldn’t want to replicate it,” Elisa said.

“It would feel a bit odd to say our vows again.”

But the bridesmaids will still get to wear their dresses and everything else will be as planned.

“We get to have two brilliant days,” Elisa said.

“The whole point is ‘yes’ it’s a big day with everyone involved but it’s also about the two of us getting married, it was important for us to have this meaningful, symbolic union.”

Rather than put stress on their relationship, Elisa said to have gone through with the marriage was the exact opposite.

“It is such a relief, we have been so relaxed, we went to McLaren Vale for a few days after the wedding and it was the most peaceful time we’ve had. There was nothing on our minds.

“Bringing forward the wedding was the most perfect thing to do, we are so happy and grateful.”

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