Northern Ireland

Coronavirus: Brother and sister hold outdoor weddings on same day

Helen Dawson and Stephen Shanks; Michael Dawson and Alison McLean

Weddings are always special occasions, but it was a double celebration for the Dawson family in Magherafelt on Monday.

There were not one, but two happy couples.

First, Helen Dawson got married to Stephen Shanks in her parents' garden.

A few hours later, brother Michael Dawson had his turn, marrying Alison McLean at her home in Armagh.

The couples had already chosen dates for their weddings, but decided to bring them forward because of the uncertainty caused by coronavirus.

It was made possible by the relaxation of lockdown rules which allows for small ceremonies, but limits the number of guests to 10.

Helen said she wanted to "go ahead as soon as we could, because we wanted to get married".

Image copyright Stephen and Helen Dawson
Image caption Helen Dawson said her parents "had a very busy day" as they travelled from the marriage of one child to another

"Not all family obviously could come, but we had both sets of parents and then my sister was bridesmaid and Stephen's brother was best man and then the pastor," she told BBC News NI.

"So it was lovely just out in the garden, it was all very relaxed, it was great."

Other guests were able to join the ceremony remotely as a camera streamed footage online.

Husband Stephen said a lot of preparation had already been under way as the couple waited for the "go-ahead" on when ceremonies could resume.

"It went really really well, the sun even came out, so it was perfect," he said.

Image copyright Matthew Allen
Image caption Michael Dawson married Alison McLean in the garden of her parents' home in Armagh

Helen added that it was a "very busy day" for her mum and dad as they prepared for the day's second marriage.

Neither sibling could attend the other's vows in person, however, they did meet later for a socially-distanced group photo.


Considering the current travel restrictions, the next hurdle is finding a place to visit on honeymoon.

"What honeymoon?" Stephen said.

"We've both got two weeks off work so we're pretty much going to try a bit of peace and quiet for ourselves.

"We'll see what happens next year whether we can get away somewhere.

"There's no panic."