'We didn't notice the heat getting to us' - Newlyweds miss reception due to heatstroke after ceremony in Portugal
A dream wedding in the sun ended in disaster for a couple when the scorching weather forced them to miss their own party after they both suffered heatstroke.
Claire and Christopher McCann had spent months planning their romantic ceremony, which saw them exchange vows under a flower-strewn pergola in the beautiful gardens of a restaurant in Portugal.
However, like the rest of Europe, the Algarve was sizzling in record temperatures, with the mercury on their big day hitting over 40 degrees.
Christopher (28), from Craigavon, who runs his own online company Pitch Booking, was so ill he couldn't enjoy any of the wedding feast.
Claire (29), who runs the pre-school nursery We Care in east Belfast, struggled after dinner and had to take off her heavy wedding dress, while family tried to cool her with wet towels.
The couple mustered the strength for the traditional bride and groom first dance at their party, but were so sick they had to go to bed immediately after it.
They spent their wedding night and the first few days as newlyweds in bed ill, and Claire eventually had to seek medical help when she was still no better three days later.
The couple were thrilled when guests agreed to enjoy the celebrations they had laid on, and the party continued until 2am.
Friends and family involved the ill bride and groom by sending them videos of the festivities throughout the night.
Memories of their unlucky wedding day were soon forgotten when the couple became the unexpected stars of a viral video during a second party at home just over a week ago.
Wearing their wedding clothes, the couple were cheered by hundreds when they were given an impromptu serenade by a busker who was performing in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter.
The video has now been viewed more than 8,000 times on Viral Belfast's Facebook page.
A surprisingly cheerful Claire said that even though her special day didn't turn out as expected, she was grateful that her guests managed to make the most of it.
She said: "We really liked the idea of going away to get married as we didn't want a big extravagant wedding and we knew the weather would be guaranteed.
"It was my dream wedding and we spent months researching it and flew over to Portugal last October to check out the restaurant where our ceremony was being held in the gardens, followed by a reception indoors.
"Coming up to the wedding day, locals in Portugal were warning us about the heat and how hot it was expected to get. That week was the hottest in Portugal for 100 years."
In total, 55 friends and family flew out to celebrate with the couple. On their big day on August 4 their photographer expressed his concerns when temperatures hit 35C at 9am. Claire added: "Part of the reason we wanted to get married away was because we knew the sun would shine, and it definitely did that.
"Everything was perfect up until the evening. Outside was decorated with beautiful floral arrangements and we married under a pergola covered with flowers.
"I think with all the nerves and adrenalin we didn't notice just how much the heat was getting to us.
"Christopher started to feel ill as our meal was served. He couldn't eat it. After dinner I started to feel so light-headed I thought I was going to faint.
"Our friend's apartment was beside the restaurant and we asked if we could borrow their keys. Family members came with me and tried to cool me down with towels while Chris started to throw up everywhere.
"Luckily I had a back-up dress as my wedding dress was really heavy and tight and I changed into that and took two paracetamol, which seemed to help."
Despite feeling ill the couple rallied and returned to their reception, where they struggled through the first dance.
But by that stage they had no choice but to go to bed in their friends' apartment, where Claire also started vomiting.
Claire said: "We made everyone promise to stay and enjoy the party and that made it easier, knowing that we hadn't ruined it for everyone. I would have been so disappointed if people had left because we had to.
"They sent videos of everyone dancing and the party didn't end until 2am. It was a consolation that everything else was perfect and we got our first dance."
Claire and Christopher spent the next three days in bed being attended to by family and friends. By day three she was still so ill she was taken to a clinic to be treated with an intravenous drip for severe dehydration.
The couple had planned a second party at home in Belfast on August 25 for friends and family who didn't make it to Portugal.
That too turned out to be memorable, but for very different reasons.
Claire explained: "We had a party in the Dark Horse in the Cathedral Quarter and stayed at Malmaison, and my sister-in-law surprised us by hiring a Bentley for us for three days.
"As we were going down Commercial Court there were hundreds of people listening to singer Eddie Booth and when they saw us in our wedding clothes they started cheering and got us up to the front, where the singer serenaded us while we danced.
"Everyone had their phones out videoing us and it was on Viral Belfast. That more than made up for us not getting a party in Portugal.
"We ended up with the best of both - the perfect ceremony in Portugal and the perfect party in Belfast."