It is not every day that you get to rub shoulders with the biggest names in the entertainment industry — let alone on what is probably the biggest day of your life.
For one Irish couple, that dream turned into a reality during their wedding.
Teacher Mark Flynn from Co Wicklow and his bride, Jennifer Logan, who is an actor and originally from Northern Ireland, got hitched in south Belfast at St Bernadette’s in Rosetta followed by a socially-distanced reception at the Malone Lodge Hotel.
Although numbers were limited to 50 due to current Covid-19 restrictions, that didn’t stop over 100 people taking part – virtually.
More than 200 people also watched across the world via a webcam in the church.
Messages were sent by video from across the world by Hollywood A-listers including Dame Judi Dench and American actor John Lithgow. British-TV stalwart Kathy Burke also sent a personal message.
Meanwhile, celebrities including Rocketman star Taron Egerton who was in Jennifer’s year at drama school in London, the long-suffering Mary in Derry Girls Tara Lynn O’Neill and many more friends and family members all took part in the tribute which included a rendition of S Club 7’s hit, Reach for the Stars.
The couple, who first met in Chester, were kept completely in the dark about the seven-minute video thanks to careful and secretive planning by Jennifer’s brother, Christopher.
“They’re both very popular people, so loved, and with so many friends in London” he told the Belfast Telegraph.
“I just thought, wouldn’t it be great to bring them, so to speak, to the party. So I started messaging around different people and thought a little bit of showbiz royalty wouldn’t go amiss.”
He added that it took around three months of organising to get all of the clips.
Actor Christopher has worked on stage with some of those who shared their tributes, so knew he could have a stab at getting big names on board.
“I got in touch with John Lithgow and Judi Dench first and they said they would of course get involved,” said Christopher.
“Kathy Burke gave Jennifer and me our first big roles. She’s one of our biggest supporters and a great lady.”
Multi-award winning actor Lithgow sent his message from California. He said, “I’m so happy that I can send you happy wedding wishes in an American accent, all the way from Los Angeles.
English actress and author Celia Imrie, sent her message from a beach-front location. She wished the couple ‘a sea of happiness’.
And Dame Judi Dench said, “Molly and Mark, have a wonderful, wonderful wedding day. We’ll be cheering from afar and we all send love.”
Jennifer often goes by her stage-name Molly, which she uses in tribute to her late mother who died when Jennifer was young. Her mum Molly died on the same date as last week’s ceremony over 20 years ago.
In a poignant touch, the video ends with a picture of her mother and father, Liam, on their own wedding day, leaving the same church that Jennifer and Mark got married in.
Speaking to this newspaper, Jennifer said it was a beautiful touch to the end of a surreal moment for both her and Mark.
“It was lovely and I’m sure my Dad would have been over the moon,” she said.
“A sad day 23 years ago – and to make a joyful one [on our wedding day] was just the best thing in the world.
“We’ll always remember her anniversary and our anniversary together.”
On the numerous messages from Hollywood and afar, Jennifer said those involved are some of the nicest people in the industry.
“John Lithgow is such a gentleman, so lovely and I couldn’t believe he took the time and effort. It was so lovely that Kathy [Burke] took part in it too.”
Mark added his thanks to all the family and friends who contributed saying, “It was very emotional and meant so much to us.”
Close friend and the video’s skilled editor Gareth McGreevy paid tribute to the couple and said it was great to work on something ‘personal’.
Jennifer and Mark say they hope to get away on honeymoon at the end of the month but for now are happy at home in Greystones at the foot of the Wicklow mountains.