Jack Stenson and Stefaan Verbruggen shared the honour of being the first couple to celebrate their wedding at the Aula Maxima at NUI Galway followed by a magical reception in the spectacular surroundings of Glenlo Abbey Hotel.
Jack proposed on our eighth anniversary. He made an eight minute film and secretly arranged to show it at the Galway Omniplex where we had our first date. Afterwards, a limo took us and our families to Ashford Castle for champagne. Not to be outdone, a year later Stefaan took Jack on a treasure hunt over 12 days in London and Paris which coincided with their ninth anniversary with ‘Marry Me, Jack’ spelt out in football cones in Hyde Park which we saw from the sky! We got two Claddagh rings from Galway as engagement rings.
We’ve never seen ourselves as different from any other couple so we always had plans to publicly formalise our relationship. The referendum just gave us the opportunity to do that the same way as everyone else. Jack proposed 10 months before the referendum and we started paying deposits on venues four months before. The day was always happening! We were at Dublin Castle when the result was announced and then we went to the Yes Equality party at the Burlington Hotel. We then went bar hopping until the sun came up! It was like it was Paddy’s Day and Ireland had just won the Six Nations. The buzz was just mighty!
We had six groomsmen and six groomsbabes so we had a joint stag and rented out a villa in Barcelona for the weekend. It was certainly a trip to remember!
We met at NUI Galway so it’s definitely the place that means the most to us. Unfortunately, they don’t cater for same-sex weddings in the college chapel but the wonderful staff agreed to let us have the first ever wedding in the beautiful Aula Maxima, which is the university’s original great hall. Afterwards, we made the short journey out to Glenlo Abbey. It was a beautiful day and the sun was shining for our guests who enjoyed champagne and canapés outside overlooking the magnificent grounds and Lough Corrib.
We live in London and spent quite a while looking for the ‘right’ colour blue. We finally found them in House of Fraser. They stood out (but not too much!) and didn’t change colour in different lighting – lots of modern suits do this and while they look cool trying them on, they look different in every photo.
Two lads planning a wedding is about as smooth as it sounds! We helped NUIG register the Aula Maxima so it was legally eligible for weddings with the HSE. We almost couldn’t use it because of a funny law regarding the building’s listed status but thankfully we found a loophole!
For Stefaan, the exchanging of vows in our hometown (which he said in his speech was something he thought he’d never get to do) was his highlight. For Jack, it was the wedding party running around the streets of Galway like a bunch of lunatics for the photos. Even the old men sitting outside on Quay Street with their pints of Guinness were clapping! There aren’t many cities in the world where that would happen so it says a lot about how warm Galway really is.
We went cycling around the vineyards of California for a few days before flying to Mexico City. Then we did a crazy week travelling around Cuba before a super relaxing and indulgent week in Cancun.
We really didn’t have a clue how to theme the wedding so choosing good suppliers is so important. Luckily the incredible florists at Yes Flowers saved the day! They advised us to go with a masculine but dramatic presentation and the result just blew us away. We had beautiful bold flowers for the ceremony and dining room and a giant cerise pink poodle made out of carnations to create a very dramatic welcome for the guests at Glenlo Abbey! I think he was the real star of the day!