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Aisle-do Irish brides-to-be stressed out as wedding restrictions relaxed

Matrimony is back on the cards but couples have already lost a packet and still worry as the Government sends out mixed messages

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Brides-to-be across the country are scrambling to prepare for their big day after the Government rowed back on draconian restrictions and doubled the number of guests allowed at weddings.

For the first time in 18 months brides and grooms will be allowed 100 guests at their wedding, from August 5th.

The good news comes just a week after ­Tánaiste Leo Varadkar advised couples to plan for 50 guests in August.

That comment didn't impress the furious brides-to-be, dressed in all white, who protested outside Government Buildings on Tuesday, demanding that the 50-person limit be lifted.

But now the easings of restrictions, while welcome, has added more stress to couples who are planning on getting hitched in the coming weeks.

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It is less than two weeks away from Laura Larkin's wedding. The doting mum has said her journey towards wedded bliss has been an emotional rollercoaster.

The 29-year-old and her partner Johnny from Citywest, Dublin, plan to tie the knot on August 14th and can hardly believe they are about to walk down the aisle together.

"It has been a very, very stressful journey. The numbers have gone from six, to 25 to 50. At one point I didn't think it would happen.

"When I felt like it was safe to send out my invites to 100 guests I did, but then I was told there was a strong possibility it would be cut back to 50. I rang my hotel sobbing, asking them how I was going to cut 50 people?

"We've had to cancel our wedding band and cancel the photobooth because we were told that would gather crowds. Even simple things, like buying the Yankee candles for the table favours, and now organising new table plans.

"I was worried that the venue might struggle to accommodate an extra 50 people in such a short space of time but they have been brilliant and have everything in hand."

While hopeful that guest numbers will remain the same, the Dubliner has prepared herself for the worst.

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Laura and Johnny

Laura and Johnny

Laura and Johnny

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"The wedding has been paid in full but God forbid it changes, if it does we are back down to six people.

"We have two boys, and we are saving for a mortgage and if that happens, we will just make it work - it will still go ahead regardless." Calling for more transparency from the Government, Laura said: "A lot of people have gone down to €250 for the PUP payment and they don't know what numbers are going to be at their wedding so how can you budget? The whole situation could have been handled so much better."

Brides aren't the only ones who are scrambling to prepare for the big day, wedding vendors are also feeling the pressure.

Ciara who runs stationary company Hello Snowflake Designs said: "This week has been incredibly stressful.

"From designing last minute invitations for a couple with 'fingers crossed for 100 in August' to hearing Leo say 'prepare for 50' after the invitations were sent. I had another couple who had planned for 50 after postponing from 200 last year and then the news of 100 broke.

"Trying to turnaround more menus, ceremony books, table numbers and changes to the table plan in one day has been hectic. I am definitely feeling the stress this week. To give couples one week notice of numbers had everyone on tenterhooks."

Danni, 35, and her partner Kev, 36, who live in Newbridge, Co Kildare, were just six weeks out from their dream day when Covid hit last year.

"The doting parents have locked in a third date for September but are prepared to pull the plug on their dream day if ­'bizarre' restrictions are imposed.

"We were at the final hurdle last year, we had everything planned and then Covid hit," said the HSE worker who also runs the hugely popular lifestyle and parenting account @dannithemammy.

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Danni is still waiting for her dream wedding

Danni is still waiting for her dream wedding

Danni is still waiting for her dream wedding

"We changed it to October 2020 thinking we would just close for two weeks to flatten the curve and then we were forced to change the date again to September 2021," she said.

"At that point we thought that in 16 months everything should be fine. I am just waiting for the rug to be pulled from under me again, it has just been a nightmare. We don't want to go ahead with any less than one hundred. We originally wanted to 230.

"Kev wants me to pull the plug on the whole wedding altogether because he wants us to have the wedding that we truly want. Why do we have to have a curfew at 11.30pm and have no live music? It's ridiculous.

"I have my dress since 2017. I have boxes of all my wedding stuff ready to go. The flower girl dresses are now too small and we have lost €2,000 on deposits, not to mention the money lost on personalised items we have bought."

The couple got engaged in April 2018 in Rome and within three weeks had placed a deposit on their dream venue. As the pandemic took hold, they were forced to downsize their wedding day.

"We sent out 230 invitations originally and then obviously that was a no-go. I am still afraid to send out the 100 invitations yet, just in case it won't go ahead.

"If there is no live music then that will be a deal breaker, you can't have a band, but you can have a Spotify playlist and you can't dance. It's bizarre. The majority of my guests are vaccinated; I respect the guidelines, but some regulations just do not make sense.

"Everything has just been downgraded, it went from a hen in Spain and a big ­wedding with a Day Two and a cruise and now it feels like we are just settling.

"I would lose all interest in getting married if it doesn't go ahead at this stage, we want to buy a house, we have our children and we want to move on to that next stage."

Hitting back at critics who are labelling pandemic brides as entitled Bridezillas, she said: "A lot of people might say 'she obviously wants the big day but she should just get on with it.' Some people might not like the idea of walking up the aisle or having the attention on them or they may want a small do but that couldn't be further from what I want. I organised a celebration for our initial wedding day and we had a party to celebrate the date last year. I want to celebrate big occasions.

"Of course I want to marry him but if we are going to be spending all the money, we want to enjoy it and have the day we always dreamed of,"she said.

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