An expectant bride who stunned in a €19 wedding dress while walking up the aisle, flanked by her mum and mum-in-law as bridesmaids, said she couldn't have planned a more special day.
Ciara Hennessy walked up the aisle with her two gorgeous daughters and 38-week baby bump to marry her soul mate John Ryan in an intimate wedding. Under strict Covid-19 guidelines, the couple were only allowed six guests — their four parents and two daughters.
However, they 'sneaked' another little guest in who is due on February 19. Although the wedding was arranged last October, the happy duo who live in Cabinteely in Dublin didn't tell many people and only bought the outfits online after Christmas. After the nuptials, the newly-weds had their first dance as a married couple under fairy lights in her parents' back garden and enjoyed a toast with siblings on Zoom.
"We got engaged in 2014 and originally booked Darver Castle to get married but then rescheduled as our second daughter was due," said Ciara.
"After that, we attempted to have little occasions and book something else but life just got busy and it never happened. Anytime I started to plan a wedding, I got a little overwhelmed by the enormity of it."
Ciara explained why they chose to get married now: "When lockdown happened, we just said we would go for it because we wanted our nearest and dearest with us and we didn't know when it would happen again if we postponed. We knew it would either be six or 25 guests and in some ways that was appealing as the numbers were taken out of our hands."
"We got over Christmas and kept it really under our hat because we were three weeks before our due date so were mindful anything could happen and we also wanted to make sure everyone was well due to Covid-19."
Ciara's beautiful dress was actually one of three she bought: "I bought three dresses online and decided on a €19 dress from Boohoo and John got his suit from Next and the girls were dressed by Dunnes Stores."
And Covid restrictions meant the wedding party was a close family affair.
"On the day, I was walked up the aisle by my dad Tom and our two girls Rosie (7) and Phoebe (5) at the Royal in Bray.
"John's dad, Jim, and Rosie read poems and both daughters brought up the rings. Our two mams, Mary and Ann, were the unofficial bridesmaids. We didn't want households mixing so we sent 'occasion boxes' to our siblings."
There wasn't a big party as the couple explain: "John's parents returned to their home in Dundalk, Co. Louth and we went back to my parents where we had our first dance under fairy lights in the back garden. My sister got a cake and used our parents' 25-year-old cake topper for it and we cut it with a zoom call to all our siblings."
Ciara laughs that some of this might seem quite different when compared to huge wedding celebrations.
"The plans seemed so unromantic but it turned out to be the most special and romantic day of our lives," she said.
"I couldn't have planned anything more special and the support we received from everyone, telling us we did the right thing was phenomenal. There are so many couples who are stressed right now and wondering if they should postpone their wedding. It's a different and very much individual decision for everyone but for us, the day worked."
"I'm now Ciara Ryan with a wedding ring on my finger and our third child on the way. I couldn't be happier and I hope we are as happy as my parents and John's parents who will mark their 40th wedding anniversary in March."