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Coronavirus shattered my wedding but taught me a valuable lesson

Newlywed Melanie tells her story

Bridie Wilkins

Melanie Murphy is just one of thousands of brides-to-be whose weddings have been upended by the coronavirus pandemic. Between wedding dress shortages, flight cancellations and the ongoing UK lockdown, what is supposed to be the happiest day of their lives is turning out to be one of the most stressful. Melanie experienced it first-hand. 

SEE: Coronavirus ruined my wedding and I lost all of my money

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Melanie and Thomas tied the knot at a registry office

"Our wedding was due to be a four-day celebration in Ireland, with family and friends coming from all over the country and in the UK," she told HELLO!. "We'd planned to do the official bit in a registry office on the Monday, before heading down to the venue on the Thursday. Then, the Irish government called upon us all to avoid social gatherings with alcohol and we decided we just couldn't, in good conscience, go ahead with the big day. We didn't want to be those people who cared more about a big, flashy day than the health of our nearest and dearest." Melanie felt responsible for her guests and her and her now-husband Thomas agreed that cancelling celebrations and sticking to only a preliminary registry office ceremony was the right thing to do. 

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Melanie and Thomas had a simple ceremony

"I was utterly devastated," said Melanie. "With so much on the line it sparked a big anxiety attack. We'd been trying to juggle all of the planning with work and the stress really got to me." 

And there really was a lot on the line. Melanie and Thomas lost the deposits to everything they had paid for (though some offered to transfer to a future date), while the rest was non-refundable. "I bought my dress in a closing down sale from a shop that no longer exists, the suit shop refused to offer refunds to anyone affected by coronavirus, and I'd already paid for my hair, manicure, pedicure, alcohol, videographer and more. Our honeymoon was booked but the hotel has voluntarily closed so that's off the cards now, too." she said. "We might get money back from the venue and videographer, but it could take months as they are looking to claim on their insurance in order to pay us back." 

SEE: How the coronavirus could affect your wedding day

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Melanie and Thomas exchanged rings at a registry office

Footing the bill for thousands of pounds worth of products the couple won't even experience is understandably upsetting, but Melanie adopted a humbling approach to her news: neither her nor her family is infected by the coronavirus, and it's our loved ones that are most important.

"My now-husband reassured me that we'd make the most of the registry office nuptials," she said. "And we ended up having such a lovely day. I wore a dress I'd ordered as a backup because my actual dress didn't fit me on the day (I'm not one to diet!), my dad walked me down the aisle to music from Braveheart and we exchanged our rings. It was simple but so beautiful, I was delighted - even more so with our Chinese takeaway wedding dinner. My husband is all that really matters to me." 

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Melanie's father and Thomas' mother were witness to the couple's ceremony

As for rescheduling, Melanie says, "It took so much out of us that we're not keen to take the planning on again straight away, and I feel like the virus has tainted the excitement." 

Her advice for any impending brides-to-be? Melanie previously advised others to postpone, but the UK lockdown looks like there isn't much of a choice now. "I'd hate for anyone to experience the stress and disappointment of having to cancel last minute," Melanie added. 

Photos: Simon Davis

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