Let me introduce the bride and groom… or should that be the groom and bride?
Ciara O’Donnell had always fancied getting married in a suit and she certainly wasn’t going to walk down the aisle.
So she and fiancé Bobby Cook – whose romance blossomed despite an awkward first meeting – decided to swap roles.
Ciara donned a tux alongside her three bridesmaids, while strapping 6ft 4in Bobby put on a £45 frock and tiara and got his two groomsmen to wear dresses, too.
Bobby said: “We always joked Ciara wears the trousers in the relationship, so it made sense for her to wear them at the wedding.
“Ciara said she wouldn’t be walking down the aisle for me, so I walked down the aisle for her. So we decided to do everything backwards.
"I took her family name. It was so relaxed and everyone had a great laugh. There were a few gobsmacked faces.”
Ciara said the idea kicked off when they visited the wedding venue and she joked that he should walk down the aisle instead of her.
“We decided it would be so funny. Me and Bobby can be a bit wacky and we thought if we did it, it would really break the ice and give everyone good form at the start of the day.
“We wrote the ceremony as well.”
They kept their plans a secret from nearly all the guests until the big day.
The bridesmaids knew they would be wearing tuxedos, but the groomsmen had no idea they’d be in frocks.
Bobby, 35, said: “I wouldn’t let them try the outfits on before in case they backed out, but on the day, they loved it. They cried tears of bemusement when they saw the dresses.
“We were all in hysterics. I was a size 18 and they were all 14s.
“Ciara and the girls had no problem buying their tuxes, but we had a lot of trouble.
“A lot of places didn’t want me to try stuff on. The bridal places we tried were reluctant, so I ended up buying online.”
Ciara, 35, added: “The bridesmaids were fine with the suits – girls can look really good in suits.
“But my brother was one of Bobby’s groomsmen and he kept texting me, ‘when are we getting our suits?’. I had to say, ‘you aren’t getting one’.
“Because they are all hairy and tattooed, it was funnier.”
Bobby, an HR executive from Swansea, South Wales, even persuaded his dad Linton to walk him down the aisle.
“When I told my dad what we were doing he shook his head, looked at the ground and said, ‘What are you like?’
“He didn’t give me a pep talk – just said, ‘let’s get this done’.
Bobby admitted he was a bag of nerves before his appearance in front of their 70 guests in Belfast last month.
“When the door opened, everyone there erupted in applause and laughter. It really carried me down the aisle,” he said.
The couple wrote most of their own vows – and exchanged balls and chains, as well as rings.
Bobby said: “Although the service was quite funny and shocking – we weren’t doing it to make a mockery of marriage.
“It was a big thing for both of us, all the words in the service were so personal.”
The couple hooked up three years ago – despite a cringe-making first meeting. Bobby was on holiday in Barcelona when he and a mate popped into a pub, where he spotted Ciara serving behind the bar.
Assuming she was Spanish and couldn’t understand English, he started telling his friend how much he fancied her.
“I thought she was a sexy Spanish girl, with beautiful eyes, with a proper naughty glint in them,” he said.
“I was chatting to my mate saying, ‘oh, she’s stunning’ and it turned out she was Irish and understood everything I was saying.” Bobby and his pal had only gone into the bar for one drink, but he ended up staying there all day and he and Ciara shared a kiss later that night.
“I fell in love with her the
moment she opened her mouth. She’s got the most savage personality,” he said.
Ciara said Bobby’s infectious laugh was the main source of attraction. She said: “We just clicked straight away, we laughed so much.
“To meet a partner you can laugh with all the time – I’ve never been with a guy before who’d wear a dress for me. He just doesn’t care.”
The pair spent thousands flying backwards and forwards between Wales and Barcelona every few weeks to see each other. They moved to Ciara’s home in Donegal town, Ireland, last year and she is now eight months’ pregnant.
Bobby proposed during a death-defying drive in the mountains with Ciara at the wheel during a Christmas visit to her family in 2017.
“I managed to ask her dad for her hand and he laughed and told me, ‘good luck’,” he said. “I carried the ring about with me every day for the best part of a week, waiting for the right time.
“At one point on that trip, she nearly killed us. We went for a drive on New Year’s Eve and the snow on the road was getting thicker and thicker.
“We ended up at the top of a steep mountain road. Ciara said the only way to get off was to drive straight down the pass.
“I thought we were going to die and that this was my last chance to propose and tell her how much I love her, so I whipped the ring out and asked. She laughed and said, ‘of course I’ll marry you’.
“Then she skidded her old Corolla from the top of the pass to the bottom like a pro. I was screaming all the way.”
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