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Coronavirus weddings New TV doc captures the couples saying 'I do' in the face of Covid-19 restrictions

The world may be battling a global pandemic but not even Covid can stop an Irish wedding

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Aysha Akbar Khan and her husband Kieran O’Leary

Aysha Akbar Khan and her husband Kieran O’Leary

Ciara Boyle and Brendan Patterson on their wedding day

Ciara Boyle and Brendan Patterson on their wedding day

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Aysha Akbar Khan and her husband Kieran O’Leary

Brides and grooms have revealed the heartfelt reasons why they decided to say 'I do' in the midst of a pandemic in a new feelgood documentary on their nuptials.

The emotional RTÉ documentary captures tears and tiaras in the weddings where love won through for six couples walking up the aisle.

Absent guests watched via Zoom from halfway across the world in some cases, with some missing due to serious illness.

The father of beautiful bride Aysha Akbar Khan is captured wiping away tears as he watched her marry her Irish husband Kieran O'Leary in Cork from thousands of miles away in his home in Malaysia.

Donegal couple Ciara Boyle (28) and Brendan Patterson (32) originally planned a big white wedding for 200 people for June 2021, but they moved it forward because of her grandfather's illness.

Dani Wrafter(35) and Jo Murphy(33) shed tears of joy as they became wife and wife in a ceremony in Dublin's City Hall in November watched by Dani's two children.

For the couple, Dani's Lupus condition was the reason why they didn't want to postpone saying 'I do'.

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Ciara Boyle and Brendan Patterson on their wedding day

Ciara Boyle and Brendan Patterson on their wedding day

Ciara Boyle and Brendan Patterson on their wedding day

The pair, who hooked up on the dating app, Bumble, walked down the aisle with Dani dressed in a net skirted black lace wedding dress while Jo wore a matching black suit.

"Within two weeks of meeting each other we just knew and we decided that 'yeah', we're going to get married", said Jo, who works in LGBTQ+ support centre Outhouse - but this has been closed since the beginning of the pandemic.

Dani, who works for LinkedIn, who had two daughters from an earlier marriage, said her kids gave the union her blessing.

"I was married before and my ex-husband is one of my best mates. During the marriage referendum, I had a seven-year-old and a five-year-old. I was in front of my TV balling my eyes out for that.

"My kids come first. We asked the kids if it was OK with them because if it wasn't OK with them we wouldn't have done it."

Jo added: "I have always wanted to settle down and get married and possibly have the kids, the dog, the cat, the house and as wife and wife to be able to walk down the street."

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As a same-sex couple having the recognition of being legally married was particularly important because Dani had Lupus, which is a debilitating disease.

"She could end up in hospital at any time and we want to have those legal protections behind us", said Jo, "I want to able to walk into a hospital or up to a doctor and say, 'that's my wife'. It's really, really important and we don't want to wait."

Both brides shed tears as they swapped vows in Dublin's City Hall in November 2020 with 18 guests.

"The main thing I take that I've gotten from this pandemic is yes, a big wedding would be amazing, but would it change our marriage? No, it completes us as a family", said Dani.

The heart-warming documentary also follows the rocky road to matrimony for Ciara Boyle and Brendan Patterson, who live with their three children - Shay (eight), Fiachra (three) and Faolán (seven months) - at their Roscommon home.

Cancer

Two hundred people were set to watch them walk down the aisle in June 2021, but everything changed in July 2020, when Ciara's Grandad, Packie, was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

"With my grandad being sick we brought our wedding forward. To be honest we were scratching our heads as to how we were going to do it and if it was feasible to have a wedding that quick, we actually entered a wedding competition."

The couple won the competition to have their ceremony at the Cliffs of Moher but about a week before the wedding, Ciara's grandfather became too ill to attend the windswept ceremony.

Insisting the wedding go ahead, he dressed in a suit, he gave the couple his blessing via Zoom while watching the ceremony on Livestream.

"I wish you all the best in the future and happiness in your new life of marriage", said Packie.

One of the most moving weddings was the marriage of Aysha Akbar Khan (29) and Kieran O'Leary (30).

Her parents were due to fly in from Malaysia for the marriage of their daughter, who won a scholarship to study dentistry in Cork a number of years ago.

"I'm the first in the family to get married," Aysha said, "so there's been a few emotional moments like your mother seeing you in your wedding dress and things like that.

Milestones

"It might seem trivial or frivolous, but it is really important landmarks and milestones in a parent's life, unfortunately, my parents haven't been able to be physically present," she added.

The couple's wedding in the Honan Chapel in UCC in Cork on December 29 happened just as the number of Covid cases started to spike and several guests couldn't make the ceremony including, her bridesmaid and best friend.

Aysha's Irish husband said they decided against cancelling their wedding because of the uncertainty around the pandemic.

"We decided not to let this control our lives but rather take control of our lives and move on," Aysha said.

  • My Little Big Day is on RTÉ One tomorrow, at 9.35pm.

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