A Bucks couple managed to beat the odds and tie the knot during the coronavirus pandemic – asking for charity donations instead of wedding gifts in a touching gesture to the groom’s father.

Joy and Mark Bray, from Chesham, got married in a modest ceremony at All Saints and St Margaret Church, Pakefield, Lowestoft on May 22 – just days after lockdown restrictions eased further and on Mark’s father’s 75th birthday.

The couple told the Bucks Free Press they did not know until May 17 whether they would be able to invite more than five people to their wedding and said they were “extremely lucky” lockdown restrictions eased when they did.

They also decided to raise money for Parkinson’s UK in a touching tribute to Mark’s father, who is almost wheelchair-bound from the condition.

Mark, 48, said: “We asked for donations because we’re already set up in our lives and we didn’t need anything.

“My father joined the RAF when he was 16 and left when he was 50. He started getting some peculiar symptoms which turned out to be Parkinson’s symptoms.

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“It was his 75th birthday on the day we got married and it felt proper to collect money for the charity.

Bucks Free Press: The couple signing the register with Mark's father on the rightThe couple signing the register with Mark's father on the right

“He was over the moon when we said we were raising money for the charity.”

In another emotional gesture, Mark asked his father to be his best man, saying: “It was a very proud time for me to have my dad as my best man.

“He made as much effort as he could to stand next to me in the church and managed to for around five minutes before he needed to sit back down in his wheelchair again.

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“It was very emotional for me to have him there by my side.”

They also had Mark’s parents’ dog as the ring bearer.

Mr and Mrs Bray, who both work for Royal Mail and met through work, had a sweet butterfly theme for their wedding, saying it signified “a rebirth of sorts” after both came out of failed relationships and “met their soulmates” in each other.

Bucks Free Press: Mrs and Mrs Bray on their big dayMrs and Mrs Bray on their big day

They had planned their wedding for around the same time last year but were forced, like many others, to postpone after Covid ravaged the country and the UK was plunged into a hard lockdown for several months.

Their wedding date is also significant because Mark proposed to Joy, 47, around that time when they took his father and her step-father – whose birthday is on May 26 – out for a birthday meal a few years ago.

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Speaking about some of the challenges of planning a wedding during a pandemic, Joy, who works as a postwoman in Chesham, said the couple made their own table settings and buttonholes.

Bucks Free Press: Mark's father was also his best man at the weddingMark's father was also his best man at the wedding

She added: “It was also a challenge to find a wedding cake, so I bought one and decorated it myself.”

She said they were planning to go on a cruise for their honeymoon but, given travel restrictions and risks, will now holiday in the Yorkshire Dales instead.

The pair have raised £430 for the charity so far. To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mark-bray10.