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Love in the air again as NI couples get go-ahead to wed, but ceremonies limited to 10 people

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Aoife Lavery and Damien McCanny

Aoife Lavery and Damien McCanny

Lisa Rea and Josh Williamson

Lisa Rea and Josh Williamson

Aoife Lavery and Damien McCanny

For many weeks, couples in Northern Ireland have been left wondering if wedding bells will ring for them this summer.

Their plans to tie the knot were left up in the air due to the coronavirus lockdown.

But now their shattered dreams have been replaced with renewed anticipation, as from Monday small outdoor weddings can take place in Northern Ireland with up to 10 people present.

Were it not for the current Covid-19 pandemic, Northern Ireland would be at the height of wedding season but the latest easing of restrictions means it could still be a summer of love for many.

Aoife Lavery (30) from Bangor and Damien McCanny (41) from Sion Mills were due to marry on May 9 in Portrush Town Hall in front of 70 family and friends.

Just last Friday they finalised their replacement wedding for this Thursday at Harry's Shack in Portstewart - a humanist ceremony with just Damien's brother Paul and sister-in-law Claire as witnesses.

"We were just so lucky that Harry's offered their outdoor decking area to couples who want to marry post-lockdown so we jumped at the chance straight away," said Aoife.

Now that things are slowly getting back to normal I hope everyone who has missed out also gets their perfect day Aoife Laverty

The couple have been together for three-and-a-half years and got engaged last July.

"At the start of lockdown guests were getting in touch to say their flights were cancelled but then the next thing was the whole wedding was cancelled," Aoife added.

"In fairness we could see what was coming down the line and poor Damien was trying to manage my expectations early on and prepare me for the worst. Like everyone else we were gutted to have our original date cancelled.

"Having a big wedding isn't important to us so we're just doing it with the two of us and our witnesses on the beach. ️

"Now that things are slowly getting back to normal I hope everyone who has missed out also gets their perfect day."

Finnebrogue Woods outside Downpatrick is another venue hoping to make 2020 a year to remember for those still wishing to tie the knot.

They include Lisa Rea (35) from Carryduff and her fiancé Josh Williamson (23) from Glengormley. The couple have been an item for three years and will exchange vows on June 26 having only got engaged on April 8, at the height of the lockdown.

Lisa says the pair had never planned to have a long engagement or a large ceremony so the latest easing of restrictions means their prayers have been answered.

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Lisa Rea and Josh Williamson

Lisa Rea and Josh Williamson

Lisa Rea and Josh Williamson

"The lockdown has turned out to be the perfect time for us to get married because neither of us wanted a big wedding anyway," said Lisa.

"We are bringing technology to the venue and will be livestreaming the ceremony for some family members in Australia and Canada. That means anyone who wants to be part of the day who can't physically be present can still tune in. It will be a very small and intimate day with the people closest to us."

Downing Street announced on Saturday that places of worship in England are to reopen for private prayer from June 15, but worship groups, weddings and other services will still not be permitted.

Belfast Telegraph