Stephen & Brendan’s Wedding in Ballymagarvey Village

Stephen & Brendan’s Wedding in Ballymagarvey Village with Ruth Foran Photography

Myself and Brendan’s wedding journey began in August 2013 in California on America’s west coast. Down at the end of a vintage wine train, slowly trundling along the dusty vineyards of Napa Valley, after four very happy years together, I proposed, Brendan said yes and our wedding ship set sail!

We had no date or even year in mind at that stage but decided we would check out some places in January. The year before, friends of ours had got married in Ballymagarvey Village. We had both loved the place as it was so intimate and ticked the box of us wanting a closed venue just for us and our guests. It was one of the first venues we investigated but unfortunately almost all of the weekend dates for 2014 were already gone. No other venue had really grabbed us so we resigned ourselves to just waiting it out until after the marriage equality referendum the following Spring.

Then out of the blue, a few months later, in May, we received a phone-call from Ballymagarvey to let us know they’d had a cancellation in September and would we be interested in taking it? We thought about it for a millisecond before calling straight back with a resounding YES! The beauty of this “Whirlwind Romance” package was that they provided us with a list of approved vendors to choose from to include everything from the photographer and florist to the band and cake baker. For us, this was the dream scenario as it just made our lives so much easier. We went to one of Ballymagarvey open nights in June where we were able to meet up and chat with many of the vendors. From then on it was just a rush of excitement towards the finish line as we finalised  invitations (Lots of Love Invitations were a great Irish company to deal with), table plans,  room allocations etc. Of course, this all meant we would now have to settle for a Civil Partnership but we were both ok with this as a means to an end. We were pretty confident that the referendum would eventually pass and  we both agreed we would simply amend our partnership to marriage status as soon as we could.

After four very happy years together, I proposed, Brendan said yes  & our wedding ship set sail!

We decided to go with a spiritualist ceremony but unfortunately as our wedding was on a Sunday our celebrant was unable to legally solemnise our vows. As things stood, our celebrant could only do that for civil marriages at weekends but civil partnerships were restricted to weekdays. Thankfully we were able to get the Louth Registrar to come onsite early the following Monday morning and Ballymagarvey very kindly allowed us to reuse the ceremony room again to legalise our union and sign the register.

Ballymagarvey-Real-Wedding-photo0056The next 48 hours would prove to be the best days of our lives. We started with an early morning jog on the beach to clear our heads, focus our minds and to give just the two of us a little time out before the full madness of the day descended upon us! Miraculously, the beautiful weather we dared not even hope for showed up in spades from early morning and stuck around for the whole weekend.

We wanted to spend as much time as possible with our guests during the cocktails and canapés reception so we organised with Ruth to get the majority of the photos shot before the ceremony itself. By getting both families onsite for 1pm,  we were  done and dusted in just under two hours! Our ceremony started at 3pm to the strains of Seal’s “Kiss From A Rose”.  Brendan walked up the aisle accompanied by his aunty Bridget and I followed behind with my sister Breda. Our ceremony consisted of a selection of readings and poems by family members and friends including a “sand” ceremony which symbolised the two sands of our lives mingling together. We also included a hand-binding ceremony with ribbons which allowed participation in the ceremony from some of our younger guests, namely my nephew Jonathan and Brendan’s sister, Charlotte. Finally Kylies “All The Lovers” wrapped up events and led us back down the aisle to where we greeted our guests on their way out.

Brendan walked up the aisle accompanied by his aunty Bridget and I followed behind with my sister Breda

Then it was up to the manor house and surrounding beautiful gardens for the drinks reception with a three-piece group from our evening band providing the musical background.

Just after 5pm, our 100-plus guests crowded  into the conservatory to hear myself & Brendan’s speeches. We decided to be very uncharitable and hold back our Best Persons speeches until after the meal, both of which were amazing, hats off to both Damian and Lisa!

We kept one last little surprise for our guests by disappearing off just before meal-call where we dispensed of our matching baby blue Paul Costello suits, and quickly changed into complimentary alternative evening outfits which we unveiled to the crowd as we entered the banquet hall just before 7pm to the sound of Alexandra Burke’s “Bad Boys”!

Ballymagarvey-Real-Wedding-photo0437The rest of the evening was a complete dance fest thanks to our absolutely amazing nine-piece band Electric Avenue, and we had pre-armed the DJ with loads of nineties classics to finish the night on a high!

Two days later we jetted out to Taormina in Sicily for our mini-moon where coincidentally we bumped into the couple who got married the very day before us in the very same venue so we were able to swop Ballymagarvey stories!

We are now so very much looking forward to re-registering our civil partnership as a marriage; hopefully in time for our one year anniversary so that we can finally proudly tell everyone “we got married!” on that beautiful September afternoon last year.

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