WITH consistent changes to Covid-19 restrictions, uncertainty surrounding guest lists, indoor dining and gatherings, many 2020 brides and grooms opted to postpone their day until 2021.
For Fiona O’Connor from Douglas and her husband PJ from Charleville, a big wedding was never on the cards and so, the pair decided to keep their August wedding date, with some minor adjustments to suit public health guidelines.
“I never wanted the big ‘hoo-ha’ of a wedding — it was always going to be relaxed,” said Fiona, who had her reception at the Cork International Hotel.
Fiona and her husband, luckily, married just before stricter restrictions were placed on Weddings and they were allowed to have 50 guests in the ballroom of the hotel.
“We had to ring a few people obviously and say that they couldn’t go which was horrible, but we just didn’t want to cancel so we went ahead, but on the day, it was actually ok.
“We had a lot of family coming in from England and America so obviously, they weren’t able to come, but even at that, we still had to ring about 20 other people who couldn’t come.”
The pair had been planning the wedding since Christmas and after a lot of back-and-forths, they decided to celebrate the occasion with whatever capacity was allowed.
“Once you got into the ballroom, it just wasn’t about Covid anymore. People obviously had to stay in their own pod, and you couldn’t go to the bar, it was all table service. Normally at Irish weddings, people gather around the bar, but there was none of that.
“We did have a band, but we didn’t have a dance floor or anything. We, of course, did our first dance because it was just the two of us, but it was on carpet,” she laughed.
As conference and events sales manager at the Cork International Hotel, Emma Moriarty was involved in the planning, rearranging, and postponing of many of the weddings that were booked for this year.
Ms Moriarty said that the constant changes to plans over the past few months has caused a lot of added stress to some brides and grooms, but the introduction of Levels 1-5 will benefit future planning.
“Most of the weddings that we have between now and the end of April are going ahead even with reduced numbers if needs be, and they are kind of making a decision based on 25 people, based on 100 people — so they all have a back-up plan and another back-up plan.
“It’s such a difficult decision and it’s such a hard time for them [brides and grooms] and I think in the grand scheme of things — some people say it’s only a wedding — but it’s their special day, it’s their big day,” she said.
One bride who opted to postpone her wedding was Noelle Leahy from Watergrasshill, who was due to be married on May 30 at the Cork International Hotel.
When Ireland first went into lockdown, Noelle and her fiancé Eoin decided to postpone the wedding until August 1.
“We thought that would be more than enough time for it all to blow over. It wasn’t too long after that, maybe another three weeks, when we realised it probably wasn’t going to be a runner either.
“So, then we made the decision to push it next year altogether, so we pushed it to June 5, 2021,” said Noelle, who has been with fiancé Eoin Hogan for eight years.
However, the stress of planning for a wedding that may not happen soon began to take its toll on Noelle and her fiancé.
“It was really hard, and we were beginning to get very stressed over it and very worried.
“The more we were pushing it, the more we were kind of putting parts of our lives on hold. So, we just decided to go for it,” she said.
Over the past few weeks, Noelle and Eoin have decided to end 2020 on a positive note, with an intimate ceremony in their local church followed by a reception at their home.
“While we’re trying to plan an entirely new wedding in a very short space of time, it seems like a huge weight has been lifted and we just know that it’s right for us.
2020 has been such a horrible, horrible year and we’re going to end it as a married couple and that’s all we really wanted.
“What Covid has shown us is life is short. Might as well do what you can and there is no point in waiting to just hopefully have a massive party with a couple of hundred people there.
“We can have that when this is over and we can celebrate more than just the two of us, we can celebrate everyone’s freedom.”