Christening turns into a long-delayed wedding

A LOCAL couple pulled off the surprise of a lifetime on Saturday as a baptism for five-month-old daughter Amelie Faith turned into a long-delayed wedding ceremony for parents Nikki and Rob Palmer.

Family and friends of the couple gathered at St Joseph’s Church over the weekend to celebrate her baptism.

Father Christopher Rutledge called the couple into the sacristy after the christening.

Mrs Palmer changed into her wedding dress in five minutes, then re-entered the church through the front doors.

‘It was a total surprise. When the music changed and we turned around to see Nikki in her dress, it was amazing – I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand up,’ said friend Jacques Vermeulen.

‘There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. It felt like one of those special moments in life that you’re grateful to be a part of.’

The Palmers planned and pulled off their surprise wedding in three weeks. The couple created cover stories, and fibbed their way through October until the day arrived.

‘We had to think carefully every time we spoke,’ said Mr Palmer.

‘Because Guernsey is so small, we created cover stories for the vendors we booked as well, just in case they knew someone who was coming. I think we told the florist that we were booking flowers for a friend’s wedding because they couldn’t afford it.’

Although Mrs Palmer’s mother was in on the secret and played a crucial role in setting everything up, her father was left in the dark until moments before he walked his daughter down the aisle.

‘He was in shock when we told him. He was absolutely delighted, and a few tears were shed,’ said Mr Palmer.

After the baptism, Father Rutledge led the audience in a hymn before the organist transitioned into the Wedding March.

‘When the organist started playing the Wedding March in the middle of a hymn, I thought he’d accidentally got his pages stuck together, and I turned round to give the poor man a disapproving look. That’s when I saw Nikki in her stunning wedding dress walking down the aisle with her dad,’ said friend Katie Sebire.

‘There was a mixture of confusion, stunned silence, gasps, squeals and of course tears. Next thing I knew, flower head pieces were being handed out to the girls, a little waistcoat was given to the pageboy, and we all got handed the order of service. It was a total surprise followed by the most intimate, beautiful ceremony.

‘Nikki and Rob were beaming, they knew they’d pulled it off. It’s a wedding we’ll never forget.’

Mr and Mrs Palmer were meant to have a destination wedding in 2020, but Covid-19 had other plans. In the interim, daughter Amelie came along, and restrictions still limited travel for family and friends in the UK and abroad.

When the baptism was scheduled for 23 October, the thought occurred to Mrs Palmer that it would be the perfect opportunity to hold a wedding ceremony with both families gathered together in Guernsey.

‘They were so keen to get married. They didn’t need the big party and wedding,’ said Father Rutledge.

‘They were focused on wanting to be married to one another.’

They are a lovely couple, and they are so suited to each other. I had no qualms about marrying them. It was a privilege to be a part of their day, and I wish them every blessing.’

Mr Palmer works in finance systems at SpecSavers, and Mrs Palmer works for the Covid-19 vaccination team. The pair met through work just under three years ago. The rest, they say, is history.

The couple wished to thank makeup artist Joanna Mourant, videographer Elliott from The Drone Ranger GSY, organist Luke O’Donnell, Mrs Palmer’s brother and photographer Sim Bradley, and most of all, Father Rutledge for their help pulling off the big surprise.

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