Meet Seán and Stephen, two grooms who tied the knot in the Westgrove Hotel. Their black tie wedding is full of stunning personal details, including a nod to the rainbow flag, creative table names, lots of unique ceremony elements and so much more. We love that they made their wedding their own!
Couple: Stephen Pearse and Seán Frayne
Engagement length: 4 years
Wedding date: 2022-05-21
Wedding location: The Westgrove Hotel
Photographer: Fran Byrne
Stephen and Seán met at a pub quiz in Dun Laoghaire! Stephen was with a group of his friends and Seán was with his friend, Andrew. After Seán made a silly joke about a banana, he joined Stephen’s table for the quiz. Seán was asked to go back to a house party Stephen and his friends were having and just as he was about to say no, Andrew gave Seán the push he needed as he could see the connection Seán and Stephen clearly had for one another. They had chats about who their favourite doctor from Doctor Who was (it’s David Tennant by the way) and agreed to go on a proper date the following week which was to see Jason Byrne in the Pavilion Theatre in Dun Laoghaire.
The proposal story from Seán’s perspective is utterly romantic:
“We went on a weekend trip to Waterford back in 2016. When we were in a bar, Stephen picked up a beer mat and made a comment that he would write on it that he loves me and that it was a symbol of us being together forever. I kept the beer mat anyway. In 2018 I asked Stephen’s mam and dad, Elaine and Stephen Snr, for their permission. Being the amazing people that they are, they both said yes. Stephen studied DNA and forensic science in college so, with that in mind, I had my thumb print lasered onto a ring so that he could always have a piece of me with him. I brought the beer mat from Waterford with me and asked him if he remembered it and what he said he would write on it. He didn’t remember but I reminded him. I said “you said this was a symbol of us being together forever” then I got on one knee, took out the ring and said “well this is my symbol of us being together forever.” After what was the probably the longest 30 seconds of silence of my life he said yes. The rest is history and our love is still as strong today.”
The wedding theme was Black Tie. The room was decorated with white table cloths with silver ribbons on the chairs. White flowers and candelabras were the centerpiece of each table. They named each table after places in their favourite TV shows and Movies. The top table was “Pride Rock” and other tables included “Hogwarts”, “The Death Star” and “Halliwell Manor”.
The grooms both wore black tuxedos. Seán’s had a waistcoat and black bowtie, while Stephen opted for no waistcoat and a white bowtie.
The wedding party stuck to the black-tie theme and wore tuxedos. As their little nod to the rainbow flag, each groomsmen and groomswoman wore a bow tie; each representing a colour of the rainbow e.g. the best men wore red bow ties and each was followed by blue, yellow and purple bow ties. Looking at them all in a line showed the full rainbow.
We love it when couples take their ceremony and really make it their own. That’s exactly what Seán and Stephen did!
“The Civil Ceremony room in The Westgrove Hotel, has two aisles which allowed us to walk up with both our parents at our sides. Our celebrant, Rowena Lovett, tailored the ceremony to make it that extra bit special for us. We included a handfasting section of the ceremony where we held hands as different ribbons were wrapped around our hands. As we pulled the ribbons we, quite literally, “tied the knot”. Rowena made us laugh throughout the ceremony which helped ease our nerves and enjoy every special moment. We chose love poems instead of religious readings which were read aloud by family members. The way the room was set up, our guests sat around us rather than in front of us. This made us feel like we were surrounded by love in more ways than one.”
Their wedding venue was the gorgeous Westgrove Hotel! Here’s what they love about it:
“We had gone to wedding fairs and nothing had clicked. Seán’s mam said “You will know the right place for you because you will walk in and just go…. Wow!” After a google search, county by county, we found the Westgrove and, just as Seán’s mam had said, we walked in and had that wow moment. You are greeted by a fantastic red carpeted staircase that is decorated with white lanterns. Our guests were treated to wine, canapés, tea, coffee and treats in the cigar lounge and rooftop terrace which was complete with outdoor gazebo for photos and a pianist who provided music before the reception. The reception room was a very spacious room that allowed our guests to enjoy the meal without feeling overcrowded. The room included a candy cart for the children, cake table, photobooth and LED dancefloor. It was everything we wanted and more. The staff of the hotel went above and beyond to make both the venue and the day as special for us as we imagined.”
Their wedding was captured by the wonderful Fran Byrne!
“We met with him before the wedding and talked through the type of photos we would like to be taken on the day. We loved his work and his friendly personality. Making us laugh at times when we were extremely nervous. He brought along his daughter, Sarah, who was equally professional and fun.”
Their wedding favours were old-fashioned keys that were also bottle openers. These were attached to name tags for each guest’s assigned seat. The wedding band was Uptown Band, who were beyond fantastic. Laura is the lead singer of the band, and she had sent on a setlist before and asked if they wanted to add anything to it or any special songs they would like played. They had everyone on their feet and only added to the amazing atmosphere of the night.
It’s difficult for Seán and Stephen to choose just one favourite memory from the day, but here’s what they loved about their Big Day:
“Stephen’s nanny crocheted two teddy bears of us and somehow managed to get them to match what we were wearing. We had them displayed on our chairs at the top of the aisle.
Seán’s dad (Seán Snr), gave his speech in poem form and managed to memorise a 12-minute poem he had written. Stephen’s Best Man/Brother, Conor, gave a speech that could rival even the best stand-up comics; everyone went from tears of joy to tears of laughter which entertained the wedding party and guests.
Seán’s dad, Uncle Michael and Cousin Stephen provided the guitars and songs in the resident’s bar. Our nephew, Luke, aged 7, who gave a speech during the dinner and a certain pirate hat that appeared throughout the reception that made anyone who wore it dance like a pirate. Overall, we appreciated being able to get married. Growing up in the LGBTQ+ community, it was never a sure thing that we would be allowed to get married so to be able to stand in front of our family and friends and share the love we have with them for one day meant more than words can ever describe.”
Newlyweds give fantastic advice! Here’s what Seán and Stephen had to say:
Seán: “My great aunt told my sisters and myself that, when it comes to planning your wedding, the mammies and daddies already had their day so remember to make choices that are right for the two of you. Don’t try to make everything perfect. If you do then you won’t see the funny little details that can make for special memories. Remember to be kind to the hotel staff, they are the ones who are there to support you and make it less stressful for you so don’t make it more stressful for them by having a bad attitude. You were in love before the wedding and you’ll be in love after the wedding so let your family and friends share in that love on the day.”
Stephen: “If you’re planning a wedding… it’s happening and it’s going to happen fast. Whether it be in 2 years or 2 months it will go by in a flash. You will be stressed and you will be nervous but just go with it. Your friends and family will offer to help in any way that they can so make sure to take them up on that because you will need it. Just remember to make the day full of love; everything else will fall into place.”
Ceremony and reception venue: The Westgrove Hotel, Co. Kildare | Photographer: Fran Byrne | Planner/coordinator: Lorna Mc Keon | Musician/band: Uptown Band | DJ: Keith Shanley | Makeup: SCMakeup | Couple’s outfits and wedding party outfits: Bond Brothers | Cake: Bev at Amazing Cakes Bray | Celebrant/solemniser: Rowena Lovett | Stationery: Precision Print | Flowers: AbFab Flowers
Kelly is a former wedding planner and a lover of anything pink. She believes that any bride can plan her own wedding, with a few tips and helpful tools.