St Albans couple’s ‘wedding from God’

MOST weddings take many months if not years to plan, but one love-struck couple from St Albans have managed to organise their big day in a matter of weeks – and barely parted with a penny.

In what they have hailed a “miracle”, Emma Wimalasundera and Andy Baddaley will tie the knot on August 21 and in doing so will become the first newly-weds to hold their wedding reception in Highfield Park.

The couple, who are both members of the Vineyard Church, have been together since December and knew they were destined for marriage straight away but when Emma’s brother Martin, who lives in New Zealand, was given the money to fly home out of the blue in June, it proved to be the catalyst for their last-minute wedding preparations.

Emma, 38, who has a seven-year-old son called Sebby from her previous marriage, explained that Martin had been given the money in a Christian donation from a couple who said they received a message during prayer that he needed to return home this summer.

She continued: “We were always getting married but we thought we would have to wait until next year.

“But Martin was here so we thought we would push some doors and if it is meant to be everything will flow for us. We hadn’t got any money saved for a wedding and we hadn’t got anything planned so just went to the church and when we found out it was free everything just fell into place in the most miraculous way.”

With the church sorted, Emma and Hatfield Road music teacher Andy had to find a venue for their wedding reception at short notice and, as Emma lives next to Highfield Park, they thought the open space would be an ideal and fitting location.

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Park manager Anna Cohen agreed and has let them hire the cricket pitch for the occasion.

Through the incredible generosity and help of friends and family, the couple have just about everything they need for the big day, from a wedding dress and photographer to food and entertainment.

Their friend Jass Pate, owner of Mokoko in St Albans, is even providing the mobile bar for the occasion and a friend has given them his villa in Crete to use for 10 days on their honeymoon.

A marquee and generator are the missing pieces of the puzzle and Emma is hoping that the generosity will continue and a local company may be able to help.

She said: “We’ve just been so lucky with everything coming together and by hook or by crook it’s going to happen with or without a marquee. God clearly wants this to happen as he has provided everything.”

But, in all the madness of organising the wedding, the couple forgot that they weren’t even engaged.

Emma, who gave up a high-flying career in the City three years ago and is now waiting to secure a role in the care sector, said: “He hadn’t actually asked me to marry him, we’d just said let’s get married and had to very quickly book the date, so he had to really ramp up his efforts in his plan to propose.

“It was a wonderful proposal in the park, I was invited by love letter and there was Shakespeare poetry on the trees, all the words from the love declaration. And there were petals on the floor. But he had to propose without the ring. It will be ready next week.

“We’ve done everything back to front, we booked the church and then we had the proposal. But people have just stepped up to help. We really have been so blessed.

“Our faith tells us that we are always provided for if you put your trust in the right place and the community spirit has been a really important part of this. At the Vineyard there are 1,000 or so people so we have lots of friends.

Emma added: “It will be beautiful, even though we won’t have spent lots of money.”

Highfield Park is available for various charity and community events. For more information about hiring the space, call Anna on 01727 847242.