Wedding bells rang out over a sunny Londonderry, on Saturday afternoon, to herald the arrival of the ‘bridal party’ at St Columb’s Cathedral for the first wedding re-enactment of ‘The Big Day’ Wedding Dress Festival.
Glorious sunshine greeted the ‘bride’, Hollie Olphert, and the bride’s ‘father’, Graham Hunter’, as they emerged from the Deanery in St Columb Court, preceded by a piper and around a dozen flowergirls. The ‘groom’ for the occasion, Damien O’Hara, was already seated in the front pew of the Cathedral, awaiting Hollie’s arrival.
Several hundred people were in church for the special ‘wedding service’, which was narrated throughout by the Dean of Derry, Very Rev Raymond Stewart. Dean Stewart explained to the congregation the significance of the various elements of a traditional wedding – including the rings worn by the happy couple, to symbolise eternal love, and the presence of flowergirls to represent hopes for a fruitful union.
Members of the Templemore Parish mingled with visitors and curious tourists who couldn’t believe that they could join in the celebration. Parishioners and Mothers’ Union members got into the spirit of the occasion, dressing in formal wedding attire for the ceremony.
After the service, the ‘happy couple’ posed for photographs outside the Cathedral, beside the ‘bridal car’ – a stunning, red Morgan Roadster.
The Wedding Dress Festival, which will run until June 30th, includes around 70 wedding dresses loaned for the duration by parishioners, clergywomen and clergy wives, among them Lady Christine Eames.
The Cathedral has been given a make-over for the 10 days of the event, with its aisles taken over by mannequins, the chancel turned into the reception area for a wedding breakfast and the gallery transformed into a tableau of the Wedding Feast at Cana.