Grandmothers step in to walk bride down aisle as pandemic scuppers plans for seven bridesmaids

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It’s not every day you watch your new bride walked down the aisle by her two elderly grandmothers – but that’s exactly what happened to one groom.

ewtownards man Tom Cahoon had spent months planning his dream wedding to Megan Kennedy on March 28, 2020.

But then, with just two weeks to go before the big day, Covid-19 struck.

Tom (35) and Megan (34), who live in London, met on the Match.com dating website in the summer of 2017 and got engaged in late 2018.

The pandemic forced the couple to make the difficult decision to postpone their wedding to October 3 last year.

As the new date drew closer and more coronavirus restrictions came their way, they feared their nuptials would have to be put on hold a second time.

Determined to say “I do”, they decided on a small ceremony at their local church, St Stephen’s in Dulwich, followed by a reception at the Corinthia Hotel in Whitehall with 30 guests, in line with the guidelines at that point. Two weeks before the big day, new rules meant the guest list had to be cut again to 15.

“It was all so incredibly stressful as we were so disappointed when we couldn’t get married in March. With the rules changing so quickly we really didn’t believe the wedding was going to happen until the actual day,” Megan told the Belfast Telegraph.

“We couldn’t even let ourselves get excited until the very last minute as we knew there was always a risk it would all get cancelled again.”

In order to accommodate close family only in their 15, Megan’s original bridal party of 10, including seven bridesmaids, had to be rearranged.

Instead, she turned to “the strongest and bravest women” she knows – her two grans, Mary Kennedy (90) and Gillian Holloway (80), who gladly stepped in.

“I’m very close to my two grandmothers. They were always going to be my VIP guests on the day so that was a big factor in our decision to go ahead in October just to make sure they could be there with us,” she added.

“I ruined all my walking down the aisle photographs, because I was just crying with relief.”

Both bridesmaids had been shielding since March and were only able to attend for a short time, while also staying well away from other guests.

Megan admits that when she first told them of her plan, they both laughed, but soon got into the spirit of it.

“They thought it was ridiculous at first and that we should give their places to others, as our numbers were so limited,” she said.

“When I explained how important it was to me to have them there by my side on the most important day of my life, they both agreed and then got so excited.”

Tom said: “I thought it was a great idea, and what Megan should have done from the very beginning, as I felt her bridal party of 10 seemed a bit excessive!”

The couple are hoping to have a bigger wedding celebration this September, using as many of their original plans as possible.

Two of the original bridesmaids, Megan’s sister and her cousin, were able to be in the church last October, and happily stood aside in favour of Mary and Gillian, while some others turned up outside afterwards as a surprise.

“They were totally understanding about the fact that we had to make some cutthroat decisions,” Megan added.

“They thought it was a really nice idea to ask my grandmothers instead. All being well they’ll still get to step into the roles and wear their bridesmaid dresses as planned this September.

Tom explained that many of his family and friends had also been due to fly over to join the celebrations.

“In the end it was just my parents Jill and Ernie, who travelled over from Ards along with my brother John from Belfast, while my sister Naomi came from Dublin. My other two sisters, Sarah and Hannah, live in London, but my brother Nathan, who is in Edinburgh, missed the wedding as he developed Covid symptoms and had to self-isolate,” he said.

“Thankfully, he tested negative in the end, but my best friend had to step in and act as best man instead.

“Hopefully, Nathan will be able to make it in September along with a lot of my dad’s side of the family from Cookstown.”

Megan added: “There’s still a lot of uncertainty over whether our venue and vendors will all still be in business by then, but if the reception goes ahead without any restrictions it’ll be a very much-needed reunion and party for everyone after all this time.”

Source: Irish News