PLANNING a wedding can be stressful at the best of times, but when the big day you’d be planning for years is decimated by multiple surges of a global pandemic, it’s enough to send even the calmest of brides over the edge.
Not so for Lisbellaw woman Eilish Gibney (nee McPhillips), who was a beacon of calm when she finally walked down the aisle of St Mary’s Church in Lisbellaw on New Year’s Eve to marry husband Patrick, despite the many set backs and challenges Covid had thrown at the couple on their journey to the alter.
Having first got engaged on Christmas week five years ago Eilish and Dublin man Patrick had initially planned their wedding for December 2020, but like countless other local couples postponed it with the outbreak of the pandemic.
“At first we thought, ‘that’s not going to affect us in December.’ Everybody was told to work from home for three weeks, and that was fine,” said Eilish, who hails from Lisbellaw but now lives in Dublin.
“Come June we realised things were really bad and we made the call just to postpone it there and then.”
The solicitor continued,“So we postponed it for a year, everything was grand, a few mini lockdowns here and there, but come September just past we thought, we’re fine, everything is going great.”
Then Omicron hit. Having finished work on December 22nd, Eilish said they were praying no more restrictions would be introduced.
“Our thoughts and prayers were answered because no restrictions were introduced,” she said. “However, our numbers dropped dramatically because people all started catching it. Everything was just thrown up in the air.”
Then, on the Tuesday after Christmas, just days before the wedding, Eilish got a phonecall from their venue – the Lough Erne Resort – that it was to close for a circuit breaker. She said the hotel was “amazing”, though, and was assured the closure would not affect the wedding.
After a little stress about where the many visiting guests would stay, she said that was all sorted in the end too.
Next on the list of things to go wrong was their photographer, with one cancelling due to health concerns, and another showing symptoms in the days leading up to the wedding, meaning a third replacement had to be found. That too was sorted in time for the wedding.
Probably the biggest impact was on the guests themselves. Having initially hoped for over 200, before the pandemic hit, the couple reduced their numbers to 140 then 120. In the end, they barely had half, all because of Omicron.
“The week before, or I would actually the 72 hours before we got down to 67 adults and five kids,” said Eilish.
Despite everything, though, Eilish said they had the best day, and was philosophical about the challenges.
“When it’s beyond your control and it’s nobody’s fault, there’s no point in wasting negative energy being angry you can’t control,” she said, urging other brides to “keep things in perspective.”
“Take everything in your stride, and at the end of the day remember the reason you’re getting married in the first place.”
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