Many couples have had their wedding plans disrupted this year, but rather than postponing their celebrations, Carla Crerar and Hugh Higgins adapted their day, which turned out to be better than they could have ever hoped for.
Carla Crerar and Hugh Higgins had an important date in their diaries this year: they were getting married on the August bank holiday weekend, and were excited to tie the knot after being together for 11 years.
Hugh is the head chef in Allta, in Dublin 2, and the couple had planned to have their reception in the restaurant, with around 50 guests, then moving on to a few bars in the city. However as the pandemic progressed, it soon became obvious that this wasn’t going to be possible.
“It slowly became clear that the restaurant wouldn't even be open,” Carla says, “and we definitely couldn't have that many people there. We just realised that it was completely cancelled. In the midst of that, with Hugh being a head chef, his whole livelihood was under threat too, so we just kind of ignored the wedding for a while.”
However, when restrictions began to lift slightly, the couple saw the potential to have their wedding in some form, if not the one they originally planned.
“I just thought, I can't let this go, I can't cancel this whole day,” Carla explains. “So when the restrictions were slightly lifted, we were like, ‘Okay, what if we just do my parents and your parents?’ And then restrictions slowly lifted again. So then Hugh could invite his three brothers, but not their wives, and I could invite my best friend Grainne, who's a photographer, which ticks loads of boxes. And then the restrictions lifted ever so slightly, again, so we thought, excellent, now the wives can come and Hugh's granny. So we said, right, why don't we just do it in the house?”
Their Dublin 12 home felt like a special place to say their vows, as they had bought it just a year before, completing an extensive renovation by themselves. “To get to get married in a home that you both have saved years for, put blood, sweat and tears into, it’s one of the most special moments you could ever have.”
Carla explains that there was no time spent mourning the original day, and it gave them something to look forward to in those difficult months. “There were so many dark days from March to July, what was the point in putting it off? It was going to make the two of us super happy, we were going to have a great time, and it was the one thing that we were going to get excited for.”
The couple began figuring out how their original plans could be adapted to their home. Flowers were particularly important to Carla, as she used to work as a florist in New York, and she enlisted Dublin company Patsie & Co. “Patsie came over to the house and I showed her the Fermoyle pottery plates we were going to use from the restaurant, and I had pre-ordered the linen so she could see colours.
“One thing that Hugh and I are very connected to is where things are from. I didn't want the flowers to be forced, or fake, or out of season.” Patise certainly delivered, with a gorgeous array of Irish-grown, relaxed arrangements that set the tone for the day beautifully.
The team at Allta had immediately volunteered to provide the food when they learned the couple wanted to move the wedding to their home. However, it wasn’t immediately clear how this would work, as having them in the house would have tipped the gathering over the limit for the number of people allowed in one space.
A laneway at the back of the house turned out to be a perfect cooking area. The Allta team set up barbecues and cooked lobsters, langoustines and other seafood. “It was the most amazing hospitality experience you could ever have,” Carla says, “and it was in our own home”.
She does point out that lobster is a particularly messy food to eat in a wedding dress, “But it was just such good craic. The whole formality was just gone. It broke down all these barriers and everyone was so relaxed. It was bliss, absolute bliss.”
Carla’s best friend Gráinne Flanagan has a photography business, House of Grá, and her double role on the day also helped to keep their numbers at a minimum. Hugh and Carla went to Grey Square in Dublin 8 where they used to live, to have some photos taken. “We basically had the best time of our life there, just loads of parties and friends around us,” Carla explains. Hugh also proposed in the square, making it even more poignant.
Other guests played double roles, such as Carla’s aunt Jackie, who is a celebrant, while Hugh’s granny, Sissy, who is 94, was an honoured guest. “Trying to tell her she was not coming to our wedding day - she would not have been impressed,” Carla laughs. “We sat her at the end of the table looking up at us, and sure she was happy out.”
Carla’s brother, who lives in Canada, was sadly not able to attend, but Gráinne organised a video message from the couple’s friends and family who couldn’t be there. “I bawled”, Carla laughs, “I haven’t been able to watch it since. That's something we wouldn’t have got if we’d had our original wedding.”
She says the day turned out so much better than their original plan, “It really does become about the two of you, because you have to think, if everything is cancelled again, what are we both happy doing? And what can no one take away from us, whether restrictions are lifted or not.”
She says it was a really intimate day, as your attention isn’t constantly being pulled away by different people and tasks, you can simply enjoy it. “You're just sitting there with your best pal, having a few drinks and going, ‘great, we did this, this is super’, and then dancing around your house in your bare feet. I wouldn't change it for anything”.
Photos:House of Grá
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