David Babington and PJ Foley

The Vow

Here come the grooms: Three gay couples talk marriage

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something powder blue... Carrie McKeown meets three gay couples who have taken a trip down the aisle

When the Civil Partnership Act came into effect at the beginning of 2011, it offered gay and lesbian couples the chance to make their commitment official, giving them many of the same statutory rights as heterosexual married couples in the process.

Now, with the marriage equality referendum scheduled for 2015, the legalisation of same-sex marriage is finally on the cards.

If passed, it will offer gay couples in this country the opportunity to publicly and legally profess their love without judgement or restriction.

Advertisement

These three Irish couples have emphasised the poignancy of such social change by sharing with us their love stories and revealing exactly what saying ‘I do’ has meant to them.

Sean and Mark

Events producer and digital media PR Sean Montague (38) and stylist and choreographer Brendan Marc Scully (37) have enjoyed a successful professional relationship for many years. The power couple proved that mixing business with pleasure isn’t always a recipe for disaster when they entered into a civil partnership in December 2012.

The Dublin-based pair are well-known in media circles as the driving force behind the annual Miss Ireland pageant, so it is no surprise that planning a once-in-a-lifetime event like their wedding day was a challenge they welcomed with open arms.

“We both shared the workload, the same way we do if we are working together on an event,” explains Sean.

“We didn’t let it stress us out as what’s the point? Why ruin that day and the enjoyment of it all worrying about small things?”

Wise words indeed, as on the day of the wedding all of the little issues melted away into nothingness as the importance of the occasion shone through.

“I think for both of us, walking into our ceremony room and just feeling the genuine love from our family and friends was the biggest highlight of the day,” says Brendan.

“People stood up smiling and you could feel the love coming from them, wishing us both the best.”

The big day itself is an occasion both men reminisce about with fondness and joy, but it is the reality of their life now, as husband and husband, that has become the focal point of their existence. Sean says: “We feel even stronger than before. It’s more than a feeling of just having a partner, it’s a solid bond. Brendan is my rock in this world and always will be. Being married just strengthened that.”

However, in spite of such beautiful words, Sean’s other half is quick to clarify that, like every other couple on the planet, petty squabbles are very much a part of marital bliss.

Describing his husband as “super tidy”, Brendan reveals one of the most important lessons he has learned since getting hitched.

“Never leave your clothes on the floor,” he says, “although I still do!”

David and PJ

As a blogger and the proprietor of a successful hair salon, making a statement comes naturally to David Babington (34), who married fellow salon-owner PJ Foley (31) during a fabulously extravagant ceremony in June of 2013.

After deciding to get engaged in front of gay icon Cher when they attended her concert in Las Vegas, the couple, who have been together for 14 years, chose the resort of Sitges in Barcelona as the location for the big event.

“In Sitges, you see guys walking down the street holding hands all the time,” David says. “It’s almost like you’re the odd one out if you’re straight. It was very important to us that it is a very openly gay town. There was a sense of freedom with that.”

The couple took two years to plan the fabulous affair, which featured a Madonna impersonator. They were each other’s ‘something blue’ on the day, with contrasting powder and royal blue suits. “At one stage I think we wanted unicorns,” says David, remembering the detailed planning process.

Despite enjoying their dream wedding abroad, the pair made things official upon their return to Cork during a very intimate ceremony at Hayfield Manor.

“It was important for us to make that ceremony happen, because that’s what we’re allowed to call ‘marriage’,” explains PJ. “It’s kind of sad because it makes us unequal to a straight couple that gets married, but for us, that was our commitment to each other.”

Both men’s passion on the subject of affirming their promise to each other in the face of the law emerges in force when the subject of the 2015 referendum arises.

“I feel like we’re coming up to the last hurdle,” says PJ. “It would be nice to have the same rights as everybody else.

“It’s so important that people realise it’s not about gay people getting married; it’s about equality for all.”

“We feel even stronger than before. It’s more than a feeling of just having a partner; it’s a solid bond.”

Colum and Alex

Despite recently celebrating their second wedding anniversary, editor of Hi! magazine, Colum McCormack-Crowe (36), and his French husband Alex (29) seem to have remained firmly in the honeymoon period. Married life most certainly appears to suit this pair.

Although Alex admits he was entirely opposed to the idea of marriage early in their relationship, the change in civil partnership laws along with a spur-of-the-moment engagement in Nice led the couple to their wedding day in sunny Kinsale, in September of 2012.

"I never thought I would have the feelings I had," says Alex.

"It was the day I married Colum and I knew I wouldn't love him any more or less, but seeing all our friends and family there was amazing."

Colum and Alex's description of the special occasion is nothing short of dreamy, from their tears of joy at the ceremony to a champagne reception on board a boat. However, it was not all plain sailing ahead of the big day.

While self-confessed 'groomzilla' Colum had taken control of every aspect of the planning process, he did not account for Alex's mother booking the flights for the entire French contingent for the week after their selected date, forcing the panicked grooms-to-be to reschedule the big event just one month before the wedding.

"I said, 'If it rains on the day of our wedding, it will be 'la guillotine' for your mother!'" Colum exclaims. "But lo and behold, on the day we were supposed to get married, it pissed out of the heavens and on the day we actually got married, the sun was splitting the stones."

Memories and mishaps aside, both men take a moment to sum up exactly how that important day has changed their relationship.

Has it made them happier as a couple? Cue a resounding 'yes'.

"Having a simple piece of paper to say something doesn't really mean anything, but you do know it's a hell of a lot harder to walk away," says Colum.

"Alex is now my family and the most important thing in my life."

Alex is quick to agree. "Without the civil partnership I'm sure we'd still be together and in love, but this piece of paper establishes us as a family. Everything we do is for 'us' now."

When the Civil Partnership Act came into effect at the beginning of 2011, it offered gay and lesbian couples the chance to make their commitment official, giving them many of the same statutory rights as heterosexual married couples in the process. Now, with the marriage equality referendum scheduled for 2015, the legalisation of same-sex marriage is finally on the cards.

If passed, it will offer gay couples in this country the opportunity to publicly and legally profess their love without judgement or restriction.

These three Irish couples have emphasised the poignancy of such social change by sharing with us their love stories and revealing exactly what saying 'I do' has meant to them.