Elaine Buckley, who on August 24 married Leanne Harte says she was was “adamant” that she didn’t want a civil partnership. It’s no wonder the pair waited until we had full marriage before making their vows – they actually met at a March for Marriage seven years ago, in August 2011.
“Elaine says that’s fake news,” Leanne laughs, “that we actually met afterwards in a pub.”
“It was in Pantibar,” Elaine confirms. “We were out with our respective friends and were introduced. We got chatting outside.”
“I guessed her star sign on the spot,” says Leanne, who used to write a horoscopes column for GCN. “I like to guess people’s star signs, particularly when I’m locked!”
“It’s a really good way to chat up women,” Elaine laughs. “We went on a few dates from there, over a few months. Then asked Leanne to be my girlfriend, by text and fell asleep before she texted back. But it worked!” Indeed it did because the two have been inseparable ever since.
Marriage didn’t come up as a concept in the first few years “because thought I’d never be able to get married, didn’t sit down to think about it, really,” Leanne says.
It wasn’t until 2013, when the Constitutional Convention backed the extension of marriage for same-sex couples, that the pair really put into words their thoughts around marrying each other.
“It became tangible then,” Leanne explains. “The fight for marriage equality was integral to our relationship. We marched for marriage every year after the year we met, and during the referendum we canvassed, going door to door and literally asking people to let us get married, which was an interesting thing to do as a couple.“
“Just from the response at the doors, knew we would win,” says Elaine. “But at the same time, when we were being bombarded with polarised debates in the media, and religious opinions, it really put it into perspective what would happen if it didn’t go through.
“We actually booked a flight to Lisbon for the Monday after the referendum. We’d be either going away really happy, with hangovers from celebrating, or we’d not want to be in the country for a while, to let a No vote settle in.”
Thankfully the pair celebrated in Lisbon, but it wasn’t until eight months afterwards that they got engaged, and another two and half years before the big day took place.
After a lot of research, Elaine and Leanne chose The Angler’s Rest for the celebrations, which is located at The Strawberry Beds, just outside the perimeter of the Phoenix Park.
Sometime after booking the venue, they realised it was a choice that could have brought their wedding to a standstill.
“We realised it was the same weekend as the Pope’s visit,” says Leanne. “We’re very lucky that the wedding was the Friday because they closed the gates of the park that evening. If it had been the Saturday, nobody would have been able to get to the wedding, not even us. It would have been a total disaster!”
Both the ceremony and the reception took place at the venue. “We had a celebrant from the Humanist Association of Ireland,” says Elaine. “The whole thing was so personal to us because we wrote a lot of the ceremony. She really put a lot of work into getting to know us too.”
When it came to vows, the guests might have expected Leanne to be the tearful one, but it was Elaine who couldn’t stop crying.
“We had friends of ours doing the music, so it was a bit of a love-in,” says Leanne. “I have not seen Elaine cry that much at a non-sporting event.”
“I couldn’t stop,” says Elaine, who looks as if she might burst into tears at the memory. “I’d just calmed down after the ceremony and then it was time to do the speeches, and was off crying again. I’m still taking a lot of stick for it!”
The rings the two women exchanged were made for each other, by each other. “I saw this thing online where you go down to Eva Lynch’s workshop in Kilkenny for a day and she teaches you basic jewellery craft to make each other’s rings,” says Elaine. “There’s so much involved in it. We put a lot of work in, and it makes the rings mean an awful lot.”
After the ceremony, there were canapés and Prosecco for everyone. “That’s usually my favourite part of a wedding,” Leanne says, “but we missed it because we were out doing photographs. The whole thing is a whirlwind. You really want to be there for the whole party and to speak to everyone.”
“It’s like speed dating!” Elaine laughs. “But we took advice from people to try and really take it in while it was happening, to be as present as possible.”
Leanne is a foodie, so it was really important to her that the menu was up to scratch. Luckily, The Angler’s Rest did not disappoint.
“I couldn’t recommend them more highly,” says Elaine. “They are so easy to deal with, and so helpful. It’s really good value too. They want to help you get the most for your money.”
An unexpected bonus for both Elaine and Leanne has been the new friendships and strengthened relationships which came from the day.
“A great thing afterwards was hearing about friends who met other friends, who didn’t know each other before and are now meeting up,” Leanne says. “And our families on both sides getting to know each other. You realise it’s much more than what you do on the day, it’s everything that’s going on around you.”
The two are just back from their honeymoon in Italy, where, in between doing the activities on sports presenter Elaine’s itinerary, the two got the chance to take a breather and re-live the big day itself.
“There was just so much feedback from everyone, it was nice to have time to sit with it and remember, and take it all in,” says Elaine, getting teary again. “I know it’s a cliché, but it was genuinely the best day of my life.”
“As a very young child thought I’d get married one day,” says Leanne. “But when was seven or eight and realised was gay, thought it would never happen. It meant everything to us to have all the people we love at our wedding, that parents on both sides were there.”
“We had a band after the meal, again old friends of ours, Old Hannah, and then we had a DJ and we were dancing ’til stupid o’clock,” adds Elaine. “We had so much fun.”
“That’s exactly what we wanted,” says Leanne, “for everyone to have fun. And it couldn’t have gone any better.
“It was just the best day ever. I’m still on a high, I’m still processing it.”