Like many Manx love stories, ours began one Saturday night on the Courthouse dance floor. Impressed with each other’s dance moves and after a few cheeky Facebook messages the following week, my fiancé Jon and I had our first date at Niarbyl back in summer 2013. That’s where we were planning on having our wedding reception later this month until the uninvited curveball COVID-19 came along.
We got engaged on holiday in Dubai in November 2018.
Jon popped the question in the Miracle Garden where we were surrounded by millions of flowers. Brilliant place for it; well done, Jon. I said yes, we had lots of champers, FaceTimed our families and WhatsApped our friends to tell them the good news (Zoom wasn’t really a thing back then). We arrived backhome in Port Erin to balloons, more fizz, cards and gifts from our legendary family and friends.
Anyone that knows me will tell you I love planning/ organising, so the wedding thing was right up my street. I quickly got to work contacting suppliers, sending invites and setting up Pinterest boards. Next, the wedding craft began and with the help of our families we painted pallets, made big J & G initials out of corks, spray painted shells and wrapped twine around lots of little jars. The Church Order of Services are printed, table place names are written out and RSVPs are in. Even the toiletry baskets for the loos are ready and we’ve bought all the pick & mix sweets. Time to relax and enjoy the countdown to our big day, 23.05.20.
Mid-March, I had a brilliant hen weekend in Edinburgh featuring a spa day, Highland Games, a cocktail class dressed as Elton John, karaoke, then some hungover sightseeing and my #1 hangover cure lunch at Wagamamas. It wasn’t until we got back home to reality that we all realised how lucky we were to have snuck a girls weekend like that in pre-lockdown! Things seemed pretty normal in Edinburgh, other than the William Wallace street performer giving out hand gel after you had your photo taken with him and my hens from London buying toilet roll to take home as the panic-buying had already started down there.
We got back to what felt like a different isle just before the 14-day post-travel self-isolation rule kicked in. The next week I was told to work from home, which I thought was ideal for recovery as it meant an extra hour in bed every morning.
Sadly, the same week my brother and his fiancée announced they would be postponing their April wedding and it was a week later that we realised we’d need to do the same with ours. It wasn’t an easy decision due to all the uncertainty and unknowns – “maybe everything will be okay by the end of May” etc – but in hindsight the decision would have been taken out of our hands anyway.
After phoning around all our wedding suppliers and wedding party three times to find a date that worked for everyone, we’ve rearranged for 24.10.20. While still uncertain, it’s just nice to have a new date to look forward to and keep our fingers crossed for.
With our wedding plans on hold, after a meal and party on Zoom for my brother’s wedding date mid-April, I needed something else to organise, and that’s when Jon and the lads called off his Dublin stag do for the first weekend of May. I’m not one to let an occasion pass me by, so despite Jon’s request not to make a big deal of it (sorry Jon, but you know me better than that), I invested in about £100 worth of Irish decorations from Amazon and the cogs started turning about how I could re-create the weekend the guys had planned for him.
First, I needed to turn our house into Dublin. I quietly got up at 5am to blow up fifty green, white and orange balloons, hang up my DIY Temple Bar sign over the kitchen door, and fill the house with Irish flags and bunting. I prepared a full Irish breakfast (mostly sourced from Shoprite) of potato scones, Irish soda bread and Lucky Charms cereal (I know they aren’t Irish but they have a Leprechaun on the front so it seemed like a good excuse to eat them) and laid on Whiskey, Bailey’s and Guinness.
Then it was time to turn up the Irish pub music I had been listening to all morning and wake up the Stag! Jon loves an Irish tune and thought that was the extent of my efforts, so he was pretty overwhelmed when he got downstairs…
A day at Punchestown Racecourse had been on the cards for the boys, so another essential Amazon purchase I made for the weekend was an inflatable horse/ jockey costume for Jon to wear. I think he quite enjoyed this even though he refused to wear it out of the house, so I’ve told the lads they can borrow it for his ‘real’ stag do. I printed racecards for some past events, which we watched on Youtube with bets against each other for forfeits like getting the drinks in at Temple Bar and collecting our pizzas from La Gusto.
As they say in Ireland, ‘the craic was ninety’, and when we’d had enough Irish drinks for one weekend, we cured our hangovers watching Normal People to keep the Irish theme alive.
Although he says it was “nothing like a stag do” (maybe I let him off too lightly?), Jon says it was great fun to make the most of the situation and pretend we were in Dublin.
We will definitely continue making a big deal of occasions in spite of COVID-19. We were meant to be getting married on Saturday and although that’s not happening until October now, we still plan to celebrating lockdown style; it’ll still be one to remember. We don’t have much choice about that with that date already engraved on our wedding rings!