The blushing bride wore a beautiful white ballgown silhouette dress, shimmering tiara and… hiking boots.
ot the usual footwear for the big day, admittedly.
But then, not every bride-to-be is going to be trekking around the rugged north Antrim coast like Chelsea Collins was on her wedding day.
And it is not every newly-married couple either that end up dining at a drive-thru McDonald’s, rather than at a lavish reception in a plush hotel.
But last month, 32-year-old Chelsea, a doctor, pulled on a pair of brown boots (£59 from Marks and Spencer) to tie the knot with Maghera native Seamus Collins, an English teacher and playwright.
With pandemic restrictions still in place, the Lisburn-based pair decided to ‘elope’ to Dunseverick Castle for a private ceremony involving just the two of them – and have no regrets about the highly unusual nuptials.
“We got married on my parents’ 34th wedding anniversary, which must be a good omen,” said Chelsea, whose maiden name is Wee and who is originally from Singapore.
Her new husband added: “We both love the north coast, and Dunseverick turned out to be the perfect location.
“It was just us, two photographers and our celebrant. We said our vows on a little mound, right beside the castle, then did all the legal stuff in a field near Dunluce, having obtained permission from the farmer.”
But by the time the couple had finished the ceremony and posed for photoshoots at three different locations – Dunseverick, Dunluce and Whiterocks Beach – it was nearly 10pm.
“There was nowhere open – not even a chippie – so we drove to Coleraine, where there was a McDonald’s drive thru,” said Seamus.
“I think they were too busy to notice that the couple munching burgers in the car were in wedding clothes.”
It was late by the time the newly-weds returned to their base – an old converted barn in Armoy village near Ballycastle.
Seamus (32) revealed that although his family were sad at missing out on the wedding, they were more than happy for the pair of them.
“When my mother gave us her blessing, the one thing she made us promise was to get good photographs,” he said.
“Of course they would have preferred a traditional wedding but they were just happy that we were able to get married, despite the pandemic.”
Chelsea, a Belfast Trust medic now working mostly in the Mater and Royal Victoria hospitals, left Singapore when she was 18 and subsequently lived in Thailand, Malaysia and the US before reaching these shores three years ago.
Mum Lina (60), who works in education, dad Jimmy (65), a teacher, and sister Cherylin (30), a stenographer, still live in the Southeast Asian city-state.
Seamus is the eldest of three children to James, a retired teacher in his late sixties, and childminder Caroline (60). He has a sister Mairin, who’s also an English teacher, and two brothers Niall (31), a software developer, and maths teacher Fearghal (28).
Although they got the better of Covid courtesy of having their wedding during the pandemic, they both contracted the virus last year. when Chelsea was working at Down Hospital in Downpatrick.
“I got it in March or April; we had our first Covid positive patient, I’d been looking after him, so I was the first to fall,” said Chelsea.
Meanwhile, Seamus succumbed just in time for Christmas.
The couple have been together for 19 months, having met on the popular dating site Bumble.
They got engaged a year later – after a rocky start to the romance.
“He was very late for our first date, but I was very gracious about it,” recalled Chelsea, with Seamus sticking to his story that he had been “stuck behind two tractors”.
If she could forgive that, he could hardly have any complaints about a bride in hiking boots.