Coronavirus weddings: Couples share hopes for delayed big day

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Since the coronavirus lockdown began, many couples in Northern Ireland have had the brakes put on their wedding plans.

In the latest changes brought in by the NI Executive, ceremonies are back – but must comply with strict rules and guidelines.

For Krissy McAllister, while she is still getting the wedding venue of her choice, things are not quite as she planned them.

The bride-to-be from Ahoghill, near Ballymena, had originally booked her wedding for 18 July.

When the lockdown was enforced in March, Ms McAllister and her fiancé Peter realised they would have to change the date.

“For it to not be happening on the date I’ve been dreaming of for the past two years was very hard to comprehend,” she said.

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While the situation made her “stressed and sad”, she and her fiancé were determined to celebrate with their friends and family, and did not want “a small, intimate outdoor wedding”.

“Our minister did offer to marry us in his manse’s garden but we refused,” she said.

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Krissy McAllister

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Krissy McAllister and fiancé, Peter, are keen to have a wedding with their friends and family

Ms McAllister said she and her partner were “lucky” their venue was supportive in allowing them to reschedule.

The venue has allowed them to secure a new date in October, but also hold a provisional date for next March – with the couple hoping there may be some easing of the current social distancing guidelines.

They are concerned the October date could mean stricter rules, and potentially having to cut back their guest list of 200.

Ms McAllister says the hotel has told them they would currently have to limit the number of guests to two per table, not serve food from a buffet, have a DJ rather than a band, and no dancing.

What are the rules now?

Since the end of March when lockdown was introduced, weddings across Northern Ireland have been on hold.

While outdoor weddings with 10 guests have been possible in Northern Ireland since 8 June, the first indoor ceremonies in more than three months took place over the weekend.

  • Q&A: What has and has not changed in NI lockdown?

Under the executive’s guidance, the number of people allowed to attend a wedding is a matter of discussion between the venue and the wedding party – although social distancing must be adhered to.

However, specific rules are given for a range of other activities, including a hairdresser visiting a house before a ceremony; different households walking in a procession; and the cleaning of kneeling posts.

‘Everyone has been brilliant’

Ruth McDade from Belfast shares similar frustrations, with her wedding put on hold over the course of lockdown.

She was disappointed to have to postpone her wedding to her partner, David. It was originally booked for a date in May on the tenth anniversary of their first date.

They have now rescheduled for an indoor ceremony in October and, despite worries over changing the date and reducing the guest list, the couple said friends and family have been supportive.

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David Hollywood

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Ruth McDade has said her friends have family have been “brilliant” in accommodating their new wedding plans

“With phones and internet it’s been fairly easy to make everyone aware of the reschedule, and everyone has been brilliant,” said Ms McDade.

“We need to find out how many people we can have and then we may have a difficult decision to make regarding the guest list,” she said.

“But I think friends and family will understand if they can’t all celebrate with us”, she added.

BBC News