The whole nation is preparing for the Euro 2020 final at 8 p.m. on Sunday, when England will face Italy in a thrilling battle for the trophy that the team has not seen since the tournament began. But while millions frantically make last minute bookings or organize sightseeing parties, some people have found that the finale falls on one of the most important days of their lives – their wedding anniversary.
It comes after an estimated 320,000 weddings have been postponed since March 2020, with tons of changes to the rules regarding guest numbers, face masks, social distancing, and even dancing. The wedding industry, worth nearly £ 15 billion a year before the pandemic, has been brought to its knees. Weddings are of tremendous importance as it stands, a commitment that couples make to one another so that everyone can see their loved ones. But when sacred marriage clashes for the first time in 55 years, did England make it to a major tournament final? It becomes, in the words of a bridegroom, “immense”.
For John Clarke, 42, it was inconceivable that his marriage to fiancée Helen Clarke would coincide with such a momentous period in English football history. Not only was their wedding rehearsal planned for the same day as the semi-finals, in which the English secured a place in the final against Italy, but their wedding day also falls on the same day.
John from Worksop in Nottinghamshire tells The Independent that he didn’t believe it when his brother-in-law told him two weeks before the tournament started that his wedding would take place during the 2020 European Championship finals.
“We absolutely didn’t think about it or even knew it until he contacted me,” he said. “And then this week when we realized England was going to make it to the final, it was just crazy. Everyone went nuts. “
Some may have been deterred by this clash of momentous events. But tying the knot on the same day as the European Championship finals is a perfect marriage of John’s best interests: a celebration of his relationship with fiancée Helen Clarke and nearly 40 years of passion for football.
The couple will be married in a church ceremony on Sunday afternoon and then leave for the reception at the Van Dyk Hotel, ten kilometers from Worksop. Helen, 40, who is not usually a football fan, called the hotel after the semi-finals on Wednesday to ask if there would be a TV to broadcast the game.
“Helen is a huge tennis fanatic and usually doesn’t bother to watch football, but even she’s in the right mood now,” said John. “She has seen almost every single game, it became a joke among the wedding guests that she now has to see the final as well.”
The hotel was able to reserve a room with a television for the couple and their guests to watch the game during the reception. John said that the room happens to be called “Southgate”, which he was very pleased about as he appreciates the English team manager very much.
“[Southgate] really surprised me, he wasn’t influenced by anyone else and did his own thing making the team a real team, ”said John. “You can see what a great team they are and every decision he makes is for the team, not something else.”
John and Helen met in February 2020 and got engaged in October. Unlike so many couples in the past year, they didn’t have to postpone their wedding date due to the pandemic – they still have to adhere to coronavirus wedding venue restrictions, which John describes as “frustrating.”
Although the maximum number of guests for weddings has been lifted from June 21, restrictions on social distancing and wearing masks remain. Wedding venues need to conduct risk assessments and determine how many guests they can accommodate with social distancing measures.
All the fans that go to the stadium to watch the game can stand up and cheer and cheer for the team, but since we are having a wedding we are supposed to sit down and wear masks all the time
Participants and staff are required by law to wear face masks at the ceremony and reception. Venues must also provide table service that serves alcohol and ensure that guests eat and drink while seated.
In contrast, around 60,000 fans are expected at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, with no restrictions on singing, singing, shouting or dancing.
“All the fans who go to the stadium to watch the game can stand up and cheer and cheer for the team, but since we are having a wedding we should sit down and wear masks all the time,” he said.
“It’s frustrating, especially when it comes to the wedding… But I’m glad we can see it anyway. Some of our guests plan to bring English flags and will dress the tables and put on their shirts during the game.
“A lot of people who don’t even like soccer take it, like Helen and my mother-in-law. I think the country needs it, it needs a boost, and this is the ideal time. It’s something to look forward to after the last 18 months of constant doom and darkness. “
When we realized England was going to make it to the final, it was just crazy. Everyone went nuts
There is no question what the root of Doom and Gloom was. The coronavirus pandemic has cast a dark shadow across the globe since it arrived in early 2020. Unfortunately for John’s family, his mother fell victim to the virus last May.
Now he says that both his wedding and the Euro 2020 final are much-needed events to lift the spirits of his family, especially his father. His parents both contracted the virus and were hospitalized around the same time, but his mother did not survive.
“My father is also a big football fan. Mom died of Covid last year, so he really needs the boost, “said John.” When they were both in the hospital, at one point it looked like we were going to lose them both. “
In the midst of all the excitement about the game, there was a moment when Helen wondered if John was using the tournament to forget about the wedding. However, he assured her that he only used it to “get off the nerve.”
“I get nervous when I’m in the spotlight, I know everyone is going to be watching Helen and me and that’s pretty nerve-wracking,” he said. “Helen thought I was going to use soccer to forget about the wedding, but it wasn’t at all.
“She picked up her dress today and got the nails done and everything, so it all feels very real. I’m very nervous, but I’m also really looking forward to the wedding day, it will be unforgettable in many ways. “
Whatever the outcome, John and Helen’s wedding is sure to be one for the books. If England wins, John said it would be “immense”. “I’ve never seen England reach the final … It’s a hopeful feeling,” he said. “People will definitely be talking about our wedding day for the next few years.”