Bhavana Gupta did a double take when she saw her parents at her wedding in Cardiff City Hall on Monday morning.
Her mum and dad live in Italy, and after the country was removed from the UK‘s travel corridors list they had to cancel their flight
However, she quickly realised that her parents had not suddenly decided to breach travel restrictions. Rather, they were cardboard cutouts – hastily ordered by her husband-to-be Jordan Cuff.
Mr Cuff is finishing his PHD, while Ms Gupta is already a post-doctoral researcher. Both are based in Cardiff University.
The pair were set to be married in Preston, but after the pandemic set in in March they decided to take the plunge and get married at Cardiff City Hall.
His parents-in-law were supposed to be flying from Italy, but the country was removed from the UK’s list of travel corridors the day before their flight.
This left Mr Cuff with no choice but to get creative.
“We had just heard about the restrictions coming in – I thought, ‘you can get cardboard cutout of celebrities, I’m sure you can get personalised ones as well’. That started a chain of events that led to me having life-size cardboard cutouts of my in-laws.”
Jordan used photos of Ms Gupta’s parents from another wedding. He added a cutout of her brother who lives with her parents for good measure.
However, he didn’t have time to get his in-laws permission before sending off the photos to be printed.
“I didn’t have time to ask them beforehand, I hope that they liked the pictures, But I think that they were pretty happy in the end”, he said.
“I had to tell them post-hoc: ‘I have these life size cardboard cutouts of you, I hope that is OK’.”
However, Mr Cuff said the cutouts went down well with Mr and Mrs Gupta.
“They were really pleased that their daughter could look out on her wedding day and see them, even if they’re not walking or talking much.”
Ms Gupta also loved the cutouts, although she initially mistook them for her real parents.
“I think initially there was that double take where she thought ‘have my parents turned up?’, but that quickly dissipated and she realised that she was looking at a lump of cardboard. I think she found it simultaneously touching and hilarious.
While the pandemic may have disrupted their celebrations, Mr Cuff said the most important element was still present – love.
“A pandemic stops a wedding from happening the way it would normally, so many things have had to change but at the end of the day with a wedding the only thing that really matters is the two people and their deep love for one another, and obviously one important factor in that is family. Whilst they all couldn’t be there physically at least we could get as close to that as we could.”
That said, the pair will be having two more ceremonies when restrictions allow, one in Preston, and one in India.