‘Can I get married in your filling station on Sunday?’
Determined: adjective having made a firm decision and being resolved not to change it. Ann Marie and Matthew Redmond could have their picture beside the dictionary definition of the word.
When it looked as if the universe was doing everything possible to prevent their nuptials, the couple were unrelenting in their single-minded drive to get hitched.
The couple tied the knot in the unusual location of the Maxol Service Station, Cullies last Sunday in the most intimate of ceremonies.
“We were determined,” Ann Marie says in an emphatic manner that is certainly a mark of her character. From crying in the ca rpark of Chapter One when Level Five restrictions were announced to saying 'I do' in the petrol station, it’s been an emotional journey for the couple.
“We got engaged in May of last year,” Anne Marie says, “We had 80 to 100 people we were going to invite.”
“...and the venue was picked out,” Matthew adds to the story, “it was the Cavan Crystal Hotel at that point.”
The couple decided on a humanist ceremony in the hotel. In the intervening months the preparations progressed - music, flowers, guest lists - all the normal logistics couples put together to make the special day special.
“When the first lockdown came in March we had quite a lot of things done,” Ann Marie recalls. “We cut the numbers down to 50, we did that thinking that if it jumped back up to 100 we would just stick with the 50, that way we would not have to watch the news everyday to see what way it was going.
“We never considered putting it off at all. I have friends who postponed their weddings, but I was thinking that by October it would be fine,” Ann Marie outlined.
“The longer lockdown went on the more stubborn we got about it,” Matthew stated.
The next announcement on restrictions saw the guest list cut to 25. The photo booth was gone, the band was gone and a lot of the trimmings that have become staples for the wedding party were dispensed with.
“We started to cut things. But then it all unfolded on October 14 when we went to Level Four. We were then down to six, but that was fine, we’re still going. We never though the venue was going to be a problem,” but the then bride-to-be was wrong.
“We found out on the Thursday the Crystal was closing. Irene and Michael in the Crystal were so helpful. We went through a few different options but we were determined to go ahead,” Ann Marie told the Celt.
There are certain legal requirements necessary to be a valid wedding venue. A place ‘open to the public’ is the main criterion to be met. This made the couple consider Garda stations.
“On a Sunday you have no courthouse, no library, nowhere like that, but you do have Garda station,” Ann Marie said.
“This was a matter of keeping everything legal,” Matthew explained, “When a marriage has to be held in a place that is ‘normally opened to the public’, doing so in the middle of a pandemic is a little bit hairy.” The Garda station option was not one they could pursue as the Cavan town HQ is currently undergoing building works.
With time running out Ann Marie said this was the first time she thought the wedding may not happen.
The next venue explored was Chapter One in Cavan Retail Park. A week before the wedding a tearful request was granted, on the proviso that should the country go to Level Five the destination store could not host the couple.
“Then Monday evening came and Level Five was introduced,” the newly wed bride says with the exasperation of someone whose every plan is thwarted, “I spent five hours that day refreshing my phone for that update!”
“9:35 Monday evening, five days to go to the wedding. I turned to himself and said ‘Level Five is in. We have the choice of a filling station or nothing’,” Ann Marie laid out the situation.
The Maxol Filing Station at Cullies was their next option: “Because it was Level Five we knew they would be open as an essential service,” the new groom said.
The owner Jim Burke received a phonecall that Monday evening: “Jim, It’s Ann Marie you know me well. Can I get married in your filing station on Sunday,” Mrs Redmond laughs as she recounts the slightly absurd conversation.
After assuring him of her seriousness Jim thought about it. He offered the party an upstairs training room for the ceremony.
In the next five days the couple worked to comply with restrictions in movement, the difference between a government interpretation of ‘essential service’ and a bride-to-be’s understanding, and being socially responsible.
“So much went against us, but all we could do was laugh,” Ann Marie said, her husband adding, “At that point we could have just turned up in bin bags and we would have been happy.”
“On the day of the wedding my sister, who was my bridesmaid asked me, ‘Are you nervous?’ and I said, ‘No, I’m just ready, we’ve finally got to the day of the wedding, nothing else can go wrong’. Our celebrant Joe Armstrong was just so good. You really could not write the drama that we went through,” she said.
So with just six guests, both sets of parents and witnesses, it was a very intimate wedding.
“We wanted something good to come out of this year. It is what kept us going,” Anne Marie concluded.