A care assistant had the tables turned on her by her bosses after her big day was postponed by Covid, when they held a fabulous wedding blessing for her at the home where she works – to show how much they care.
Katie Pickering, 34, was delighted when the residents she says are her “second family” at The Manor House, an Anchor care home in her home town of Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, joined her and new husband Phil, 35, for the ceremony on September 11.
Katie – mum to Bella, 12, from a previous relationship and Aria, five, her daughter with Phil, an IT service desk analyst, who she met online in September 2013 – said: “I call the residents my uncles and aunties and we’re all like a big second family.
She added: “We really wanted them at the wedding, so having a blessing at the care home, where I have worked for over three years, was a great way to let them be part of the day while keeping them safe.
“One of the residents even said, ‘I hope Phil realises he’s got all these extra aunties!’”
Katie had been devastated when she and Phil had to call off their dream wedding, planned for August 2020, because of the pandemic.
While they rebooked the event at their dream venue, Skipbridge Farm, which has a beautiful rural setting in nearby Green Hamerton, North Yorkshire, for August 7 this year, where they tied the knot in front of 75 guests, her bosses had another treat in store for her.
And on September 11, Reverend Garry Hinchcliffe from Knaresborough’s St John’s Church performed a blessing for the couple beneath an arch constructed specially for the occasion, as they were cheered on by staff and residents, who turned out in all their finery.
Katie said: “It gave everyone a reason to dress up, wear a fancy hat and have a good time.”
Katie says she knew immediately that Phil was The One, when they enjoyed their first date – a simple coffee at a local Starbucks – back in 2013.
“I wasn’t really looking for love at the time,” she said.
“But when I met Phil and we started talking, I just knew he was different. I guess I just knew he was the one.”
Moving in together exactly a year later in September 2014 and buying their first home in September 2015, they then had their daughter, Aria, four months later in February 2015.
“September is a really special time for us,” said Katie.
“We moved in together and bought our first home almost a year apart in September. I was pregnant with Aria at the time and everything worked out so well.”
Yet she laughs when she recalls how unromantic Phil’s proposal was, back in November 2018.
“It wasn’t very romantic at all,” she laughed.
“He was given an engagement ring by a relative. It was my birthday and after spotting it in the cupboard I joked that maybe he had another present for me.”
She added: “He took the ring out and just dropped it in my lap and said, ‘I’m off to the loo.’
“We’ve been engaged ever since!”
Setting their wedding date for August 2020, the couple planned a rustic country wedding with 75 guests.
But while the pandemic meant they had to postpone it, the silver lining was having the blessing and a second extremely romantic proposal that she had never expected.
“As soon as we saw how bad Covid was getting we knew we had to postpone our wedding,” Katie said.
“But, on our original wedding date, August 2 2020, Phil got down on one knee to propose again!”
She added: “I couldn’t find my engagement ring all morning and thought Aria had hidden it, but we went for a walk with both the girls and turned down this really romantic path. only for Phil to drop to one knee.
“He had my engagement ring and it was really lovely.
“So, while we weren’t tying the knot as planned, at least I had my romantic proposal.”
Putting their wedding plans on hold as the country was forced into lockdown, Katie still went to work and enjoyed seeing the care home residents every day.
“It was hard for everyone,” she said.
“But in a way, the residents kept us strong. We couldn’t see our families, but we’re all a big second family anyway, so it made it so much easier.”
The one sad thing for Katie was knowing that her favourite residents would not be coming to her big day due to their concern over catching Covid.
“I started as a carer three years ago,” she said. “I woke up one day thinking I wanted to work in care. and landed my job at The Manor House.
“After just two weeks, I came home to Phil and said, ‘This is definitely my vocation. This is what I’m meant to do.’”
Hearts and crafts! Feeling the love with our craft morning, hearts aren’t just for Valentine’s Day after all ☺️💜
Our residents enjoyed decorating heart decorations to hang in their bedrooms on our Chester’s floor today. pic.twitter.com/1Qqq25m86K
— The Manor House, Knaresborough (@ManorHouseKnare) September 16, 2021
She added: “He is so supportive of my work. We really wanted the residents I work with to attend our wedding, but Covid meant it just wouldn’t be possible, as I was concerned about them catching the virus.”
Despite not being invited to her actual wedding on August 7, Katie’s surrogate “aunties and uncles” loved sharing in her excitement as she discussed her plans.
She said: “The wedding was such a source of excitement for everyone – especially during lockdown.”
She added: “We joked about having a ceremony at the care home and arranging flowers one day – then it quickly became real.”
To Katie’s delight, in August her senior managers suggested she had a second bash at the home, where they would arrange for her and Phil to have a blessing – inviting her favourite residents along to celebrate with her.
“The residents were so excited,” she said.
She added: “After the invites went out everyone was talking about what they were going to wear and really threw themselves into preparations.”
So, she donned her wedding dress for the blessing, before tucking into a delicious buffet, based on the couple’s original wedding breakfast – all courtesy of the home.
But the real showstopper was the recreation of Katie’s three tier wedding cake, lovingly made by the home’s head chef, Tom Ferrol.
We love a theme day Friday , our chef Tom made these amazing beach themed cupcakes for us and they tasted as good as they looked! pic.twitter.com/1vHYi8hLjp
— The Manor House, Knaresborough (@ManorHouseKnare) September 3, 2021
“It was really amazing,” said Katie.
“We tried to keep it as similar to the original day as we could – keeping the food similar for the buffet and the chef, who had made my original wedding cake, recreated it for the residents.
“It was stunning, I couldn’t believe he’d made it again!”
Overwhelmed by her second big day, Katie is so grateful that she was able to celebrate with the residents who mean so much to her.
“They really are like my aunts and uncles, we’re all so close and have really bonded.
“Phil and I are part of a whole other family thanks to them and it’s so lovely.”
And one of her biggest fans, Jean Drivers, 88, who lives at The Manor House, enjoyed every second of the special day.
She said: “Katie is a wonderful carer, and it was such a great fun celebrating her and Phil. Congratulations to them both, here’s to many more happy years!”
For more information Anchor Hanover care homes visit www.anchorhanover.org.uk