'We weren't prepared to wait': The Irish couple who had a social distancing wedding right before shutdown 4 months ago

'We weren't prepared to wait': The Irish couple who had a social distancing wedding right before shutdown

"Strange, but lovely..."

The Covid-19 outbreak has thrown essentially all plans into disarray.

Holidays, birthdays, celebrations, and weddings; all of them affected by the virus and the restrictions that have been put in place to curb its spread.

Siobhán Daly and her husband Jack got married in Kilkenny just over three weeks ago. Right before the harsher movement restrictions were put in place and the country entered total shutdown, the couple managed to pull together a wedding that was a lot smaller than anticipated, but exactly what they wanted.

One might presume that trying to plan a wedding due to take place in four days instead of two weeks (on the cusp of a total pandemic, nonetheless) might be at least a tad stressful.

According to Siobhán though, it was actually pretty easy.

"We both knew we weren't prepared to wait," she tells Her. "It wasn't an option, especially not knowing how long that would be.

"We were two weeks out from the wedding which was due to be March 27. We felt that if [Covid-19] hadn't escalated by then, we would still have a big day, maybe with a blessing and then the usual afters.

"But we would have been gutted if we had waited until then and been told we couldn't go ahead."

Little did Siobhán know, but days following would mark the beginning of Ireland's total lockdown.

Just a few days after she and Jack decided to bring their big day forward, every pub in the country was ordered to close. Restaurants were still operating at a limited capacity before being eventually shutting too.

Salons, bakeries, and all non-essentials stores closed in the weeks that followed, as people were asked to work exclusively from home unless totally necessary to do otherwise.

Total lockdown came into effect on March 29, just two days after Siobhán and Jack had originally planned to have their big day.

Pulling forward the wedding was the right decision, it seemed. They wouldn't have been able to get married otherwise.

"I rang the parish office in Kilkenny and spoke to Fr Whearty and he said he would marry us," she says.

"Jack's sisters did the flowers and sang. I got in touch with Evelyn McNamara, a photographer, praying she'd be able to help us - and she did."

Siobhán's hair and makeup appointment, understandably, fell through. The restaurant booking she had made for the afters was cancelled.

She managed to get a €70 Zara dress altered in a hurry and resigned herself to doing her own hair and makeup. A Navan bakery were able to make a smaller version of her pre-ordered wedding cake with just four days notice.

Siobhán rushed to registrar's office to ensure that there would be no issue with changing their date of intent to marry. Thankfully there wasn't, and she and Jack were good to go.

The night before the big day, Siobhán stayed in her parents' house in Kilkenny. She stayed up making a headpiece and shoe clips, the next day enjoying a lunch before eventually getting ready for the church.

Despite the glaring obstacles, the cancellations, and the fact that she was left to do some DIY hair and makeup, Siobhán says that the wedding day itself was surprisingly relaxed.

"It was so lovely," she says. "Strange but lovely.

"Jack drove himself to the church and my dad drove me. Afterwards we came back [to the house] and had a bottle of Moët to toast.

"I had been saving it for a special occasion. Mam made dinner and then we cut the cake."

Afterwards, Siobhán shared a photo of herself and Jack on social media. Embracing on the grounds of Kilkenny Castle, she told her followers that they had managed to get married two weeks before their scheduled date; a social distancing wedding that easily could not have happened.

Siobhán says that "spreading joy" wasn't really on her radar, but irrespective of her intention, that's what she did.

Hundreds of people reached out to congratulate the couple on their big day - and for easing some of the uncertainty that had come with the new Covid-19 restrictions and the new normal that Ireland had found itself in.

"So many people said we lifted their spirits, brought a tear to their eye, gave them hope, and made their day," says Siobhán.

"I even had some couples say they were inspired to do the same. I couldn't believe the reaction, just from sharing our bit of news."

Images via Evelyn McNamara.