Wicklow couple who were left without wedding venue are saved by the bells

Fionn O’Halpin and Enya Özçelik.

Tom GalvinBray People

Despite the sour notes that resounded last week following the news that the much-loved live music and arts venue in Greystones, The Hot Spot, was closing its doors, for the young couple whose marriage plans were dashed having booked the venue for their big day in July, there has been – eventually – a happy ending to their tale.

Fionn O’Halpin and Enya Özçelik, who have been living in Greystones for just over two years and are both involved in the creative arts, had booked The Hot Spot to celebrate their wedding on July 15.

The couple (who are both aged 26) turned to Facebook to express their shock at being suddenly left without a venue for the reception, and their bitter disappointment at the closure of a place which they loved dearly as a live music and performance space.

But with a guest list of up to 70 people, including people travelling from abroad, things were looking grim as the big day loomed.

“Neither of us can drive, neither can we halve our guest list. We are also a young couple so looking to keep it fairly budget friendly. The original plan was to have the Hot Spotand food truck. Does anyone have any recommendations for somewhere affordable and accessible in the following areas?” they pleaded on the Greystones Open Forum, and the well-meaning results came thick and fast.

Some 144 people posted comments, with everywhere from firm favourites, such as the Horse & Hound, in Delgany, and local caterer Andrew Holmes, to the Rugby Club and the Tennis Club.

Someone even suggested “hosting it in your garden” without having done the necessary groundwork, only to be politely informed by Enya: “Sadly we live in a flat.”

The couple had planned a ceremony on the north beach in Greystones on the day but had the Hot Spot booked for over a year.

“But then we got the email last Monday giving us the news,” Fionn said. “It was quite a shock, as you can imagine,” he added.

“We’ve got people coming in from the UK, Belgium, Spain, our lives are spread out across multiple places,” said Enya, who is originally from Turkey, “so it was either we try and plan something abroad, which is an absolute nightmare, or we plan something that is convenient and easy for us.

“Either way, half the list will have to travel. We’ve lived in Greystones now for two years, we’ve grown very sentimental about Greystones. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a place that has felt more like a community. And it kind of reminds me of growing up in Turkey, everyone is there for each other. You know your neighbours, people say ‘Good morning’ to each other, it’s just very homely.

“Also, it’s quite upsetting for us to hear about the Hot Spot closing,” Fionn said, who has been involved in acting since he was four years old.

“We’re both creative,” added Enya, who is a dancer, “and we wanted to find the space that supports arts and supports locals and to have that community space, and the Hot Spot was a real cultural hub.”

Reaching out to the myriad venues suggested by the local Facebook forum users, Enya said that things were not looking good, as businesses were already booked well in advance. But the wedding gods did eventually lead them to a new venue, albeit a little way out of town.

“It was kind of expected that at least half the places would already be booked out,” she said. “It’s on a Saturday in the middle of July. But we got the Lighthouse, in Dun Laoghaire. They got back to us and said they had space, it’s a bit more of a trek but then we’ve got the Dart to Dun Laoghaire, and some guests will drive.

“But it’s also meaningful to us, because it’s the same venue, the entire top deck, where Pandora’s Box cabaret operates, which we’ve performed in. And we’re just so grateful the space is free.”