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Why cardboard cutouts replaced absent friends for Cambridge Rugby Club captain’s wedding




When a couple’s friends were unable to travel to their wedding from Australia due to Covid restrictions they came up with a novel solution - life-size cardboard cut-outs.

Jess and George Bretag-Norris, who live in Cambridge, had already postponed their ceremony once in August 2020 so they were determined to get married this summer.

But Cambridge Rugby Club captain George, who is from Australia, was disappointed when friends and family were still unable to make the journey from Adelaide.

Lifesize carboard cutouts of absent friends at Jess and George Bretag-Norris' wedding. Pic by Regina Ray
Lifesize carboard cutouts of absent friends at Jess and George Bretag-Norris' wedding. Pic by Regina Ray

To cheer him up, four of his mates from down under had life-sized cardboard models of themselves created so that they could be there on his big day.

Jess says: “We were absolutely gutted not to be able to have George’s friends and family come over for the wedding. But we’d already postponed the ceremony once and it felt nuts to postpone again not knowing if they would be allowed to come in future. Those boys have been through a lot together. And it was really sad that they weren't physically there, especially as one of them was going to be his best man, but they ended up still a big part of the wedding because of the cardboard cut-outs. I can't quite explain it, but everybody really felt their presence.”

Jess was in on the secret of the life-sized replicas being at the reception, but George was completely stunned when he saw them.

Lifesize carboard cutouts of absent friends at Jess and George Bretag-Norris' wedding. Pic by Regina Ray
Lifesize carboard cutouts of absent friends at Jess and George Bretag-Norris' wedding. Pic by Regina Ray

The bride said: “He just found it absolutely hysterical. He was laughing so much when he first saw them, because he had no idea that they were planning something like that. I think he suspected that there would be some sort of video message - which they also did - but this was a whole other thing.

“One of the photos from the day shows George when he turns a corner and first spots them. After the ceremony, we just had a minute and a glass of champagne to ourselves, while everybody else got into the lines for confetti. And then as we came out of that room the first thing we saw was the cardboard cut-outs. And George’s reaction was just wonderful.”

Lifesize carboard cutouts of absent friends at Jess and George Bretag-Norris' wedding. Pic by Regina Ray (51911982)
Lifesize carboard cutouts of absent friends at Jess and George Bretag-Norris' wedding. Pic by Regina Ray (51911982)

The couple met six years ago at Cambridge Rugby Club when Jess was working behind the bar. Now Jess is a learning coach at a Cambridge primary school and George works in recruitment as well as captaining the rugby team. They married in Seckford Hall, Woodbridge, in August.

Lifesize carboard cutouts of absent friends at Jess and George Bretag-Norris' wedding. Pic by Regina Ray
Lifesize carboard cutouts of absent friends at Jess and George Bretag-Norris' wedding. Pic by Regina Ray

“The pictures that our wedding photographer, Regina Ray, took of George and I standing with a line-up of his cardboard cut-out friends were hilarious - especially because you can the bottoms sticking out of people trying to hold the pictures up - it was a very windy day! But I think it made George’s day,” says Jess.

“After that, things got a bit silly. We had a ceilidh because my family is from Scotland and the cut-outs were very prominent on the dance floor - quite a few people took them for a dance and they ended up in lots of the pictures.”

Photographer Regina Ray said: “I thought this was a lovely idea and they certainly got around the wedding!”

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