Happy couple: Sonya Carroll and Jerry Murphy on their wedding day in the Castle Oaks | PICTURE: Janusz Trzesicki
ON MARCH 11, 2020, Sonya Carroll and Jerry Murphy went for a meal in Killarney to celebrate exactly one month to go to their wedding day in Castleconnell.
In the coming days, a new word called coronavirus entered our collective vocabulary and the world as we knew it changed irrevocably.
“Everything just shut down and we were like, ‘What is going to happen?’ We thought it was only going to be for two weeks, but no,” laughed Sonya, at the innocence of it, considering what we all know now.
Like so many couples, Sonya and Jerry cancelled their big day. They were due to celebrate with 150 guests in the Castle Oaks House Hotel on April 11.
Sonya, aged 31, from Kanturk, admitted that it was crushing at the time.
“At the start it kind of was, but then we just kind of learned to deal with whatever restrictions were there. So we brought it down to one hundred, then we brought it down to 50, and then it started going to 25. We said let’s just go with 25, and it actually worked out really well.”
The couple booked December 5 but then coronavirus struck very close to home.
“My sister got Covid so we were stuck at home and couldn’t run around to get the last few bits and things done. We said we would just postpone it as four days is a lot to get everything done,” she said.
Sonya and Jerry, aged 34, from Newmarket, plumped for December 30 and it was third time lucky with 25 of their nearest and dearest in attendance. Only six people can attend weddings from January 3.
“It was the best day of my life. I enjoyed every moment of it,” she smiled.
And Sonya and Jerry are one of many engaged couples putting the Covid uncertainty aside and setting a date.
Rachel Lea Stuart, of the Castle Oaks House Hotel, said they have seen a huge influx of wedding enquiries coming in over the last few weeks.
“Some of them are couples who are just engaged and others are couples who have been engaged a while but were unsure as to whether or not to go ahead and plan weddings during the pandemic. There has been so much more positivity over the last few weeks with regards to weddings.
“Between the start of the vaccine rollout, as well as so many couples who have now gotten married during the pandemic speaking out about their positive experiences, this has given couples the confidence to book weddings again,” said Rachel.
She says it’s a real mix between couples who are happy going ahead with smaller numbers and are looking to get married this year because of that, and then the other half who are hoping for bigger crowds in 2022 or even 2023.
And Sonya wouldn’t put anyone off having a wedding in Covid times.
“We tried not to let it get to us, we were just like, ‘We'll get married soon hopefully and let’s just enjoy the whole process’. Some couples are heartbroken about having to postpone but it’s still their big day with however many people.
“I'd say just relax and enjoy it all and don't let Covid get in the way. The Castle Oaks told us ‘for the day that’s in it forget about Covid, and enjoy yourselves’. And that's what we did. I just felt like a princess, it was just amazing,” said Sonya.
They had the ceremony in the hotel with the stained glass windows adding to the spirituality of the occasion. Sonya had mum and dad Patrick and Ursula and bridesmaids Chelsey Carroll, Jean Linehan, and Karen Wallace. Jerry’s parents are Nora and Jerry and groomsmen Eddie Murphy, Tim O'Grady and Tadhg O'Sullivan.
The complement of 25 was made up of family and close friends with DJ Paudi keeping them all entertained.
“Everyone that was there were the people we would socialise with anyway on a regular basis. I think it's because there wasn't a crowd there you can relax more,” said Sonya.
A fireworks display rounded off a day that Jerry and Sonya Murphy and their friends and family will never forget.