Colleagues and pupils rally round so 'Miss' can become Mrs

7th August 2009 at 01:00
Bride-to-be's big day goes ahead despite threat of cancellation after fiance and father lose their jobs

Their school may not be the wedding venue most teachers dream of, but for Emma Pritchard the unusual setting meant that her big day was salvaged after family misfortune struck.

Ms Pritchard, now Mrs Partridge, feared she would have to cancel her wedding after her husband-to-be, Dan, and her father were both made redundant just before Christmas.

But the occasion was rescued thanks to the hard work and generosity of her colleagues, parents and children, who rallied round at the last minute to provide food, drink, music, and even a honeymoon.

Mr and Mrs Partridge had booked a local hotel for the celebrations, but the wedding ended up taking place in a marquee pitched in the playground of Ashton under Hill First School in Worcestershire.

One of the classrooms was turned into a bar and guests danced the night away at a disco held in the school hall.

Generous colleagues even contributed towards the couple's honeymoon by donating their Tesco Clubcard points, which paid for a stay in a London hotel.

Bryony Baynes, Mrs Partridge's headteacher, said: "They were going to have the traditional big wedding in a posh hotel and everyone at school had been invited.

"Then Dan was made redundant along with Emma's dad. Emma was very upset and said she thought she would have to cancel the wedding and put it on hold because they couldn't afford it. I said, 'Why cancel it? We'll do it for you'."

The wedding ceremony, which took place on August 1, was conducted by Mrs Baynes' husband, the Reverend Matthew Baynes of St Barbara's Church.

Mrs Baynes said: "It was a real community event. Everyone at the school pitched in.

"I did the catering with one of the teaching assistants, who used to be a chef. The administrative assistant did the wedding invitations, my secretary grew the vegetables in the garden for the salads, someone else organised a choir of schoolchildren to sing, and one of our PGCE students took the photographs.

"It was a huge amount of work for everyone, but it was worth it. It was a lovely day."

Mrs Partridge's class and the rest of the school formed a choir to sing in the church and had been practising since Easter, and parents sent in donations for a wedding gift.

The newlywed Mrs Partridge said: "The children made me cry. I see them every day, but to see them do this was lovely."

VIRTUAL VOWS

Hundreds of pupils were in the audience when teacher Paul Smallbones wed school volunteer Donna Davis - thanks to a web link set up in the school hall.

Pupils at Penllergaer Primary School in Swansea donned their best outfits for the big day last October, when they watched the happy couple exchange vows at Swansea Register Office.

Paul, 39, from Cockett, said: "We were really keen to share our special day with everyone at the school, including the pupils. Unfortunately, the venue doesn't hold 400, so we were delighted to find out that the registrars provided a web link."

It is thought to be the biggest audience ever for a wedding held at the venue.

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