Local couple Aisling Neary and Colm McMahon were determined that the Covid-19 restrictions were not going to put a stop to their wedding and the happy duo are set to celebrate their special day this weekend.
The blushing bride and her groom were not going to let the pandemic restrictions prevent them from saying “I Do” as they look to celebrate their intimate wedding with 25 guests in the romantic setting of Darver Castle on Sunday.
Aisling, who is from Dromiskin and Colm, from Ballybay in Monaghan, had vowed from when the pandemic first gripped the country that they would still go ahead with their special day.
The couple, who now live in Annagassan, had originally planned to have around 130 guests at their big day in the exclusive wedding venue of Darver Castle, just outside Dundalk, and had the difficult task of reducing the number of people attending to 50 after stricter coronavirus restrictions were introduced.
And then, just over two weeks before their wedding day, the Government announced that the country was moving into Level 3 of Ireland’s Plan for Living with Covid-19, which meant they had to cut their guest list in half again to just 25 people.
But the loved-up couple were determined that the pandemic would not stop them from exchanging vows and took on the difficult task of reducing the number of family and friends at the celebration and on Sunday.
Aisling, speaking to the Democrat, said: “We most certainly didn’t expect to be faced with a pandemic when we started planning for our wedding.
“When the lockdown first happened in March, we had friends that were meant to be getting married around that time, in March and April, and we felt so sorry for them.
“We really thought that the whole situation would be sorted by October and our wedding wouldn’t be affected by the pandemic, but we were wrong.
“We always said from the start we were going to go ahead with our day and keep our date for our wedding and not postpone it.
“As the situation has been constantly changing and restrictions keep changing, we don’t know when things will get better.
“There were constant ups and down and we just knew we couldn’t keep going through them.
“We were constantly worrying about it and I was losing sleep over it and we didn’t want to do that to either of us, so we made the decision from very early on to go ahead with our wedding day.
“The most important thing is families and friends coming together – even if it is less than we had originally planned – and having a great day and a lovely time celebrating our wedding with us.
“The most important thing is love and family being with us.”
The couple, who got engaged two years ago, admitted they were annoyed when the Level 3 restrictions were introduced meaning they had to reduce their already limited guestlist even further.
“We hadn’t been planning a massive wedding, we originally had around 130 people on our guest list”, Aisling said.
“Then new restrictions were introduced, and we had to reduce our guests to only 50 people.
“It was difficult, but everyone was really understanding and knew it was beyond our control.
“But then when the Level 3 restrictions were introduced it was really tough to have to reduce the amount of family and friends we could have at our wedding by half again.
“All we could do is have direct family and our closest friends – we even had to uninvite our friends’ partners to keep numbers down.
“But everyone understood we had no choice.
“Everyone at Darver Castle was so helpful and supportive through everything, and we were determined to have our special day.
“It put a dampener on the build-up to the wedding, but we really wanted to keep our wedding day and go ahead with it on the day we had planned.”
Aisling and Colm had originally planned to go to Australia for their honeymoon and then made alternative plans to spend time in Ireland instead, which were also scuppered by the Covid-19 restrictions.
“Our original plan was to go to Australia on our honeymoon as we both have family and friends there, but thankfully we hadn’t booked it before the restrictions were introduced”, Aisling said.
“We then booked hotels in different parts of the country, including Wicklow, Galway and Belfast, but we cancelled them also as we are not allowed to leave the county.”
But the couple say they are over the moon to - hopefully - tie the knot at the weekend and are now making plans for their future together – and with the money they saved on a smaller wedding they were able to buy a new car, Aisling joked.