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Coronavirus: Northern Ireland couple's delight at whirlwind wedding after they thought virus would force them to cancel

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Sean and Rosemarie Lynn from Magherafelt

Sean and Rosemarie Lynn from Magherafelt

Sean and Rosemarie Lynn from Magherafelt

It was a wedding day they won't forget in a hurry - and it all happened in double quick fashion for one Co Londonderry couple.

Sean Lynn and Rosemarie McNicholl from Dungiven woke up on Wednesday morning as husband and wife, just when it looked like their wedding plans would have to be put on hold until the coronavirus restrictions had been lifted.

They had been due to be married on April 20, but with all weddings being cancelled, it looked like their plans for a big day were in ruins.

Last week freelance photographer Rosemarie got the news that her wedding reception, booked for The Belfray on the Glenshane Road just outside Derry, had been called off by the hotel on March 19.

All their plans unravelling, the couple tried to bring their marriage forward to this Saturday, but again looked to be thwarted as Rosemarie received a phone call from the registrar to apologise, but following the Prime Minister's lockdown, all weddings had been cancelled.

Sean went to work with the Ambulance Service as usual on Tuesday, starting his shift at 7.30am in Magherafelt, unaware of the drama about to unfold.

"It felt like I was on a movie set," Rosemarie said, still a little shocked at the speed of events on Tuesday. "Chaos, drama, excitement, panic and a few laughs all rolled into one.

"The whole disappointment of not being able to hold the wedding in April and the failed attempts to move the date forward made it look like it wasn't supposed to happen for us right now.

"We wanted a church wedding. The vows before God were the most important thing for both of us. In the end, had it not been for the advice of our limo driver, Brian McCauley from First Choice Limousine and Wedding Hire, none of this would have happened.

"He had 32 bookings cancelled in a single day and called me on Tuesday morning to see if we'd got any new arrangements. He told us to call the local council and see if they could do anything and he'd be ready. That kick started everything into gear.

"The lady I was speaking to at the council to was very sympathetic and said her own daughter had also cancelled her wedding, but when I said we had all the papers we needed to get married in church next Saturday, only for that to have been cancelled, she told me she'd phone me back. I told her 'no bother' and said a little prayer. Whatever happened would be meant to happen and I would accept that.

"She called back a few minutes later and said all we needed was the go-ahead from the council office. And we now had it. The only problem was we only had until midnight to do it!

"That's when we had to spring into action. I had a dress that hadn't actually been bought for the wedding but it looked right.

"There was a rush to get suits collected as the shops were closing and didn't know when they'd be open again. One shop had to re-open quickly to get my shoes sorted. It was a mad day and by 7.30pm I was on my way to St Columba's Church, Long Tower in Derry in the back of Brian's wedding car!"

As Rosemarie rushed around in Dungiven, emergency medical technician Sean had issues of his own to deal with.

"I was on a 999 call when Rosemarie tried to phone me. I saw three missed calls and though it might be a bit urgent.

"It was. She told me we were getting married that night!"

Still in the middle of his working day, he contacted Ambulance Control and spoke to duty manager Alan McAuley, who's romantic side got the better of him as he immediately agreed to Sean finishing his shift early.

"They let me home at 4pm," said Sean. "There was a bit of a cheer from the ones I work with when they knew what was happening. I dashed off home, got showered, got my son Sean Og ready and flew up to Glenshane to the chapel."

There was no walking down the aisle for Rosemarie though.

"We all had to go in separately," she said. "Just a few of us, one by one, then we stood apart as the social distancing advice tells us. But we did move closer together to exchange rings, and Sean did kiss the bride.

"It was important to us as a couple to have a church wedding. As practising Catholics it's what we wanted, and we have to thank everyone who helped on Tuesday in such a mad rush."

The couple's 'reception' was back on her parents' farm near Dungiven, where they were treated to a fry-up.

"We couldn't have wished for anything better as a first meal as a married couple," said Rosemarie.

"I'm from a big family," said Sean. "Rosemarie's an only child but there are 11 of us Lynns, so we'll look at having a big party when all this coronavirus business is over."

Rosemarie will have a few days to get used to being Mrs Lynn and having a husband around the house. Sean reports back for duty with the NI Ambulance Service on Monday.

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