Couple have had ‘plan A, B and C’ in place for months for their wedding

‘We almost felt like we had to rank our relationships with friends and family in order to comply with the numbers’

Michelle Cooke and John O’Duffy have faced many challenges when organising their wedding which is set to go ahead on  August 14th, 2021

Michelle Cooke and John O’Duffy have faced many challenges when organising their wedding which is set to go ahead on August 14th, 2021

 

Castlerea-born Michelle Cooke and her husband-to-be John O’Duffy have had “a plan A, B and C” in place for months as they get ready for their wedding on August 14th.

The engagement of the couple, who now live in Glanmire, outside Cork City , has been dominated by Covid-19 since they got engaged in March last year, just a week before the State entered its first lockdown.

In the wake of the Cabinet’s decision on Tuesday to increase the numbers who can go to their wedding in St Patrick’s Church, Castlerea, Co Roscommon, Ms Cooke said she was “surprised, but delighted”.

The invitation list has consumed hours of time, with difficult choices daily. “We almost felt like we had to rank our relationships with friends and family in order to comply with the numbers.

“While most people understand, it was also disappointing and often embarrassing to have to inform people that they were invited but their partner wasn’t.”

She said the number of wedding guests decides everything else. “Until we have certainty as to the size of our guest list, the entire planning process is put on pause.

“For months we have had a plan A, B and C in place. We never thought that less than three weeks away from the wedding we would still not be able to visualise what the day would be like.

“Constantly having to readjust our hopes and expectations has been very stressful, and at this stage we would just like some clarity,” Ms Cooke told The Irish Times.

Guidelines

The guidelines create issues on every front since some venues allow live music and dancing while others will not, said Ms Cooke, who had originally planned a wedding with 250 guests.

“We are slowly beginning to realise that we won’t be allowed a live band, which we had always envisaged being a big part of our day. The 11.30pm curfew also presents a challenge,” she said.

While both she and her Nenagh, Co. Tipperary-born husband are prepared to obey the rules, she questions the logic behind some of the decisions that have been taken.

“We have difficulty processing the concept that hundreds of strangers can pass through the doors of pubs and restaurants around the country from this week on yet we can’t celebrate our wedding with 100 close friends and family in a room that has the capacity for almost 400 people,” said Ms Cooke.

The pandemic has made some elements of the wedding preparation lonely, she admits. “It might seem silly, but every girl, including myself, dreams of saying “yes” to the dress in front of her mother and all of her bridesmaids. This once in a lifetime experience, albeit still very special, was very different to how I imagined it would be.

“When we eventually got the opportunity to plan an engagement party after the first lockdown, the rising case numbers at the end of August meant that we had to cancel the party the week before. By the time we exited the second lockdown, without sounding conceited, we just felt like our engagement was old news!”