Emer O'Callaghan: My pandemic wedding... just perfect in every way

WOW! beauty columnist EMER O’CALLAGHAN talks us through her wedding day last week, explains the rollercoaster of emotions she went through, and also reveals how she did her make-up on her big day
Emer O'Callaghan: My pandemic wedding... just perfect in every way

Emer O'Callaghan and her husband Brendan on the iconic Shakey Bridge Cork. Dress, Memories Bridal Boutique, Suit from Tom Murphy Men's Wear Cork. All pictures by Magda Lukas Photography.

WHEN we are brave and we open our hearts to love, it is amazing what love you can bring into your life.

I know so many reading this today who would love to meet someone and get married, or have a son or daughter and settle down.

I’ve always been a big believer in if you want something, you gotta get up and get it for yourself — in today’s world you need to be proactive if you want something.

I remember a few years ago at a business meeting, a lady asked me was I married with kids. ‘No,’ I said, ‘not yet’. ‘What are you waiting for?’ she said, ‘life moves fast, and business will always be there. If you put a fraction of the energy you put into your business into meeting someone, you will see a very different life’.

That conversation stuck with me. I realised then I had been all work; I used to turn guys down if they asked me out as I thought they would be a distraction from that.

It’s funny when I think back, I was too work-driven, I can see that now.

Emer and husband Brendan who were married in The Church of the Descent of the Holy Spirit in Dennehy's Cross.
Emer and husband Brendan who were married in The Church of the Descent of the Holy Spirit in Dennehy's Cross.

So, Brendan and I got married last week — and in a pandemic, with six guests — after moving our date back almost a year. It’s funny, what would have been a huge wedding turned out to be small — and another reminder to me of how God really does call the shots.

Nonetheless, we had a truly special day that was just perfect.

Post-Covid, we really need to all look at how we do things from now on. For me, I did find the whole wedding planning and preparation very stressful — whether you have six guests or 350, you will still do the same amount of work.

That said, I do feel the Government let so many of us down in keeping the guests to six, as it had been 25 last year and that would have been the perfect number, as we could at least have had all our families there. 

That was very tough and unnecessary, but we were very blessed to have two such supportive families who knew these limited numbers where not our doing.

I wish everyone, particularly women, got to experience being a bride for one day, as it truly is an amazing feeling.

I never had ‘getting married’ as top of my priority list — truth be told I was married to Emerald Beauty Clinic — but life brings special people into our lives and when you do meet the right person you really do just want the rest of your life to start. We are both glad we are now married and, in cutting out all the fuss, hype and drama, a wedding day really is about two people taking a sacrament and a vow to love each other forever. All the rest is just an expensive show!

Fr Bertie O Mahony married us in The Church of the Descent of the Holy Spirit in Dennehy’s Cross. As a proud Bishopstown girl, I can tell ya this church is the pride of our parish and its big dome over the alter is spectacular.

Emer who runs Emerald Beauty Clinic writes a weekly beauty column for WoW! every Wednesday.
Emer who runs Emerald Beauty Clinic writes a weekly beauty column for WoW! every Wednesday.

I was baptised there and I know I was as loved on the day of my wedding as I was the day I was baptised there, I felt that love too.

Of course, it was very emotional not having my dad there, and till the day I die I will never forget how great my eldest brother Eddie was, walking me up the aisle that day — with such love and care, like I was a China doll, which is how I have always been treated in my family as the youngest and only girl.

They really did mind me so well and for that I will always be so grateful, and I know my dad was walking that aisle with us too and would have been very proud of my brother. We are both tall and we had to duck to go through the arch, which was funny!

I was dreading walking up the aisle, to be honest, my veil was two tier and I wore it down over my face. I am old fashioned that way and I was very glad we only had six guests there as, to be honest, I didn’t like the thought of 300 people staring at me.

It was emotional for Brendan’s family too. I had my four older brothers get married before me and I do think weddings are very sexist: everyone fusses about the bride and I feel for the grooms. Our Mass was truly special, it was strange seeing no-one there but then it helped my nerves too and Fr Bertie knows me since I was six and that meant a lot to me. He saw the tears as my brother handed me over to Brendan and knew I was finding it hard, he too had tears in his eyes and told me to take three deep breaths and that helped. It’s funny how people think, ‘Oh, Emer’s very confident’ but we all have our front.

Our Mass was simply beautiful, but I felt for our families — my bridesmaids and flower girls all out in the car park, all dressed up to sit in a car. They could not come in and see us get married, but this was the price we paid for this pandemic, something none of us will ever forget. 

It was so strange to see the tape all around the church and, just as Brendan and I went to walk back down the aisle, I see a big yellow sticker on the ground saying two meters distance and that made me laugh.

It’s true what they say, a good neighbour is a great thing. We had said we would just do the church and have a big party when Covid is gone, but the week before the wedding I thought, God that will be weird, I will be out of me dress by 4pm. I met my old neighbour from Bishopstown, Adrian, who grew up two doors up from me, our families are good friends. He told me he is now head chef in the Cork Vienna Woods and I said, any chance you make a dinner for my six guests on our wedding day? No problem, he said and just like that we had our meal sorted. Brendan and I and our six guests got such royal treatment by Michael Magner, his head chef Adrian and staff in the hotel, they not only obliged us last minute, they made it just like an ordinary wedding reception, just smaller. We had no band but they put music on a speaker, they really did work so hard to make us feel so special on our wedding day.


I got up at 5.30am, I hadn’t slept great that week and there was so much to do. I had 2/3 dress fittings as it had to be taken in so much from last July. I can see it now in the photos, my tired eyes, these are things we beauticians notice ourselves!

I drew the curtains fast to see what sort of a day it was, I had my Child of Prague out and so had lots of friends and clients, there was so much love and goodwill sent our way and I felt it all. The day was sunny and dry. The infant does work.

I saw my eyes were tired so I cleansed my skin and popped on my Dermalogica hydrating mask, €49, all over my face, neck and eyes, this really is a miracle worker, I left it on for a good half hour as I got ready.

I had my makeup lined up on my dressing table, in order of how I’d use it, as I find this is a huge help. No-one needs to be searching mad the morning of their wedding to find an eyebrow pencil or a certain brush.

I used the Dermalogica Tinted Primer, €55, and a mix of Charlotte Tilbury and Rimmel Matte foundation as my foundation, I set it with a light dust of powder and over that I put on my Channel bronzer to match my tan. The correct foundation is vital as no bride wants to be too pale or dark on her big day, and the foundation needs to last and not be to shiny or dry on the skin. I feel for any pandemic bride who has to do her own makeup, it was fine for me as it’s my job but so many really did lose out.


I just adored my dress. I got it in Memories Bridal Boutique in Cork. Karl there was just the most fantastic person from the day I met him. My dress was in a mermaid trumpet style which is the ideal one if you have an hourglass shape like mine. Laima, who does the dress alteration for Memories, did an outstanding job, especially as I dropped two and a half sizes.

She wore a five meter, two tier Cathedral Lace trim veil.
She wore a five meter, two tier Cathedral Lace trim veil.


A 5 meter two tier Cathedral Lace trim veil I also got in Memories Bridal Boutique, it was hand made by Cara veils in Watergrasshill.

The veil was exquisite, flowing so elegantly behind me as I walked up the aisle.

Brendan and I went to the Shakey Bridge fo r a photo after the church as it is where my dad used walk my brothers and I every Sunday morning. At one point the wind caught my veil and we heard a gasp from the crowd under the bridge patiently waiting to pass, all watching, all shouting congratulations. That was one of my highlights, the kindness of strangers.


Tracey of Florists4U did an exceptional job.

I wanted a big, full bouquet. My bridesmaids had stunning blush pink one shoulder full length dresses, and my flowers had this blush pink in the roses. I had big white hydrangeas and eucalyptus, a lovely big jewelled piece, but best of all, Tracey had taken such care to wrap my dad’s blue tie around my bouquet as my something blue and we had a picture of him in a little oval photo locket attached to my bouquet.

This meant so much to me, it was the closest I would get to holding my dad’s hand on the day. 


  Emer O’Callaghan won Irish Beauty Therapist of the year and works at Emerald Organic Beauty Products Ltd, trading as Emerald Beauty Clinic.

A multi award winning 5-star gold standard therapist, 2008-2021, www.emeraldbeautyclinic.ie follow us on Facebook and Instagram. 

  Emer writes a weekly beauty column for WoW! Read more about Emer’s big day in next week’s WoW.

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