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How a wedding cancelled due to Covid-19 turned into a socially distant celebration

Adam and Rebecca had to postpone their wedding, but took to the back garden to mark the day.

The almost-newlyweds celebrating on Saturday in Dublin.
The almost-newlyweds celebrating on Saturday in Dublin.
Image: Adam O'Connor

WHAT DO YOU do when your wedding day is scheduled in the midst of a pandemic?

This sounds like the set up for a disappointing joke, but is the reality for many couples around the country who had a spring wedding in mind for this year. 

Adam O’Connor and Rebecca O’Reilly from Dublin were set to get married in the Dean Hotel on Harcourt Street on Saturday, but didn’t let the cancellations stop them from marking the occasion. 

Instead, the pair took to a back garden to have some socially distant celebrations.  

“We had been planning for months and months and it was stripped back to basically nothing over the past week,” O’Connor told TheJournal.ie.  

“We didn’t know what to do when it got cancelled… we didn’t want to just spend the day sitting around the house doing nothing for it.”

Instead, they decided to have a small, concise celebration in the back garden of O’Reilly’s parents who live close by. 

“We sat out the back, so it was just kind of strange but what should have been a bad day with everything cancelled turned out quite good,” O’Connor said.  

The wedding ceremony was due to be held in the Dublin hotel with 40 people in attendance. A meal for 80 people was booked for the evening. 

“As things got worse and social distancing came in, we decided we would cut the reception to just the meal,” O’Reilly said.  

“We didn’t want to put people in an awkward position and force them to make a difficult decision.” 

After this, it was reduced down to just close family and friends. In the end, the couple, O’Reilly’s parents and family on video calls gathered to mark the big day. 

“The hardest part was cancelling the likes of our families when we had cut down the ceremony and the meal,” O’Reilly said. “Everybody was absolutely devastated.”

However, after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s announcement on 28 March that people should only leave their homes for essential purposes, this had to be completely scaled back.  

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The big day 

For the day that was in it, O’Reilly woke up to breakfast in bed before cutting her future husband’s hair. 

“We got a little bit dolled up to go out – we walked around the corner to my man and dad’s house nearby,” O’Reilly said. 

Her parents set up chairs for them in the back garden with some bunting, decorations and flowers. 

“We didn’t stay long and brought our own glasses and prosecco and everything… We had a really lovely time anyways yesterday,” she said.  

There wasn’t any contact but it was still so lovely and affectionate even though we didn’t have those hugs and kisses from family.

“In the end, it just wasn’t meant to be. People are losing their jobs, people are losing family members… We will get our wedding day at some point,” O’Reilly said.  

“I think we would like if we could get September, that would be fantastic, but it might be a little naive or overly optimistic to be organising anything sooner.” 

The day also marked the couples’ ninth anniversary, so there will now be another anniversary to contend with. 

“Now we have two anniversaries – the day we were supposed to get married and the day we actually get married,” O’Reilly said. 

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