THE Covid-19 pandemic has put our lives on hold indefinitely — holidays have been cancelled, concerts postponed, children have had to attend schools virtually, and important life events have been abandoned.
But coronavirus didn’t put a stop to many people’s wedding plans. In fact, many who went ahead and tied the knot say a small intimate weddings was the best thing they ever did.
With a little bit of imagination, they found ways to rework their celebration to make it both safe and sentimental with a far smaller number of guests.
Whether it was 25 guests at the wedding or just six, these Cork couples explain why they have no regrets about tying the knot in the middle of a global pandemic, and tell us how they’ve gotten on in their first few months of marriage during lockdown.
Siobhan and Shane Lynch: Married in Whitechurch, March 26, 2020
Having met on Tinder five years ago, Whitechurch couple Siobhan and Shane Lynch finally said “I do” just as the first lockdown began.
They had originally planned to get married on that Thursday with a big celebration attended by more than 100 people. However, Siobhan got a call on March 19 to say the registry office would be closed on their big day, but they had a time free for the following day;
“Of course I said yes. I wanted to marry my best friend,” Siobhan said.
“I was in such a panic as it was so unorganised. I’d nowhere to get my hair, make-up or nails done. Shane needed a haircut and, oh god — I’d to tell him about the date change!
“I actually rang his supervisor at work, explained the situation and he of course got the following day off.
“It was a lovely day regardless, but an extremely emotional one as the only family I had there was my dad, my witness.
“Shane had his parents and we had our beautiful daughter Pippa,” added Siobhan.
The newlyweds then went on to the Silver Springs Hotel where they reserved a table and had a mini get-together with their nearest and dearest.
There was no wedding or presidential suite for the lovebirds as they went home that night, changed into a pair of jeans and carried on as if it was a normal day.
Looking back on their first year of marriage, Siobhan said: “By no means was our first year married as expected. Covid has really had an impact on us mentally, especially the 5km restrictions and not being able to travel to see family.
“All of my family are at least a 30-minute drive from us. It has been lonely.
“Shane has a brother in Sydney with an almost nine-month-old little boy we haven’t met, so that’s hard too.
“But of course, everyone is in the same position as we are.”
Siobhan continued: “Our small one Pippa is what keeps us sane. She’s growing into such an independent, loving and happy little girl who loves to wave at people when we’re out.
“She truly makes every day a special one.”
Luisa Toselli Manley and Shane Manley: Married in Registry Office, Cork on March 10, 2020
Luisa and Shane’s legal ceremony was set for March 30 and the celebration, ceremony and party was set for April 12 in the Clayton Hotel in Cork for 180 friends and family.
However, the couple quickly brought it forward as the pandemic approached,
Luisa said: “My parents live in Italy and I could see things were escalating.
"Thousands of Italians were dying, and we feared that my mom Costanza, 68, and Giuseppe, 71, would not be safe travelling.
“Also, my sister, Maria, and her family live in Italy, my brother, Alex, lives in Spain with his wife and kids, and my brother Giovanni and sister Caterina live in Mullingar with their families.
“We felt that their safety, and the safety of our friends and family in Ireland, would be jeopardized if we went ahead with the original date.”
At the end of February, 2020, they made the decision to postpone everything.
Looking back, Luisa says: “Devastated was an understatement. Our children Sofie (aged eight, from Luisa’s previous relationship) and Joey, (aged two), were so excited for the party it was difficult trying to explain why we couldn’t go ahead.
“We still very much wanted to be married —the party was just a bonus.
"I called the registry office on Monday, March 9 and asked them if there was an early date to marry before the 30th. They had a cancellation for the next day at 3pm.
“We took it and scrambled to find some witnesses. Shane’s parents, John and Nuala who both live in Dripsey, were able to take the day off the following day to accompany us and be our witnesses,” Luisa added.
They then went on to hold a small outdoor gathering at the end of July under Level 3 restrictions for selected friends and family to celebrate their marriage at the Anglers Rest.
A couple known for their unpredictability, there was another surprise in store: “Four days after we had sent out the invites through text and calls, we discovered I was pregnant, you couldn’t make this up,” Luisa said.
“My parents and sister, Maria, flew into Ireland to quarantine for the big day and on August 29, in front of some of our closest friends and family, we said our ‘I Do’s’ again. During the speeches, we announced that we were expecting. It was just a perfect day.”
Reflecting on the rollercoaster year, the couple say they are stronger than ever and revealed that drinking wine in the sunshine ws one of their secrets to a happy marriage during lockdown.
“We’ve had ups and downs — it’s been quite a year. Our baby girl will be here soon — a month after our year anniversary.
“We’re much stronger than we ever thought we could be. We know each other’s breaking points now and recognise when the other person is struggling. We were always very supportive of one another, but our bond is a lot deeper now. And I have to add that drinking some wine in the sunshine helped us to survive some days!
“Now we know when to give the other space and a free pass for bad behaviour and to laugh.
“We’re grateful that, through all this crap, we can still laugh. The silly kind of laughing that you can only do with your best friend.”
Yvonne and Damien O’Sullivan: Married on March 27, 2020
Sadly, Mallow-based Yvonne and Damien O’Sullivan also had to cancel their wedding, like thousands of others — however, their story has a bit of a twist.
The big day had been planned for March 27, but Whitechurch native Yvonne had decided to cancel it two weeks beforehand. Fast forward to the morning of the wedding, and the sun was shining.
Yvonne recalled: “I cried and cried after waking. So many people were ringing us as it was meant to be the big day we had all been waiting for.
“The sun shining made it worse, so I said feck this. I rang the priest and asked could he do it?
“So... our local priest in Whitechurch, Fr Fitzgerald, got a surprise call at 11.30am and he married us at 1pm.”
Yvonne continued: “I had no wedding dress, Damien had no suit. We just wanted to be married. After seven years and a child later, it’s all we wanted and when the priest agreed to marry us we were delighted.
“We were snuck in the back door of the church, just us, our son, parents, my sister and his best man. We just wanted to get married regardless of a party or not.
“Our ceremony was 15 minutes long and we all went our separate ways back home.”
While Yvonne admits that the first year of marriage has been somewhat tough, she says they wouldn’t have gotten through the it without one another.
“The first year of marriage has pretty much been the same for us but a bit tougher though because of lockdown.
“I was lucky as I could still work but Damien was off for 12 weeks and had our son at home so he was pretty much looking after the house and child while trying to keep him entertained.
“Thankfully, he’s pretty easy-going so took it in his stride.”
Yvonne added: “To survive the last year we just learned communication is key. We talk about everything and keep nothing between us.
“It was a tough year for us both personally, but without each other we wouldn’t have gotten through it,” she said.