Joey Kavanagh met Liam Karma in the queue for GAY in London’s Soho back in 2015. Joey had come to the club straight from work, on a mission to cheer a friend of his up, when he got chatting to Liam on the way in. That night they danced to Clean Bandit’s ‘Rather Be’. Fast-forward three years and their friend Susan sang that very same song as they entered the Civil Registry Office for their wedding. Their big day marked the start of a new adventure, and an end to a bureaucratic nightmare that had threatened their relationship from the start.
Both Joey and Liam were somewhat in transit when they started dating and their future together seemed hazy. For Liam, it looked like he would soon have to return to his home in Melbourne, Australia, while Joey found himself choosing between life in Ireland, the UK or Australia. Three years later they’ve navigated long-distance romance and a litany of visa issues, and their future together has never been clearer. Now happily settled in Dublin, administrative hassle seems like a distant memory, and their prom-themed wedding proved to be the perfect way to shake it all off, and to celebrate the beginning of the rest of their lives together.
The guys toyed with the idea of an exotic wedding in Bali, as Liam is half-Balinese, half-Australian, but Joey’s sister had planned to fly here from Canada, and with Liam’s Mum dead set on visting Ireland from Australia, a Dublin wedding day felt like the best option.
Liam and Joey were happy to veer away from tradition for their three-parter celebration last June. “I think a lot of people are moving away from these traditional church-type weddings,’ says Liam. “However you like it, it’s cool.”
Family and close friends joined the couple at the registry office before they headed off to a private dining room in Locks Restaurant on the canal. The guys then swapped their tuxes for plastic crowns and matching ‘Prom King’ varsity jackets, as their friends joined them for their reception at the Commercial Rowing Club, overlooking the Liffey.
Guests were rocking their best ’80s get-up, in keeping with the party’s prom theme for a night of dancing. Not interested in a formal sit-down meal, the guys opted for a buffet. While a mix-up at the bakery robbed them of their dream cake, they were delighted with their peace offering – a simple but delicious strawberry cake given to them for free. Liam and Joey hooked up their own playlist to the venue’s sound-system for a massive dance party, and Aoife McElwain hosted a pop-up Sing Along Social.
It was a total fluke that Joey and Liam’s wedding coincided with both one of the hottest days of the year and Dublin Pride, but in retrospect Joey found it ‘very symbolic’. They even managed to nab a coveted spot on one of the Dublin Bus ‘Proudest Busses’ before ending the night at the Mother Bloc Party.
Reflecting on what their wedding meant to them, the men agree that it was a really happy day, as well as an end to the back and forth that had threatened to derail their relationship.
Having their family close to them was very special. “Just to have everyone there, it was really emotional,” Liam says. It was his mother’s first time in Ireland, and her first time meeting Joey’s relatives. Liam himself spent a large part of the night being introduced to Joey’s extended family.
For Joey, he was delighted to invite many of his relatives to their first gay wedding.
“It was kind of nice to have my aunts and uncles there, suppose. People in my youth who didn’t necessarily think would be super accepting of my sexuality, they came and it was really sweet.”
Both men were touched by how “normalised” the idea of a gay wedding has become in Irish society, noting that no-one they had met, from staff at the registry office, to their taxi driver batted an eyelid at the idea of two men marrying each other.
One drawback however was that a lot of Liam’s family members could not be there for the day. “We do hope to celebrate at some point in Australia, or Bali. Or both maybe!” Joey laughs.
It seems likely that their Australasian wedding tour is within the realm of possibility, considering how much they love to travel. Liam took his Mum to Scotland in the week following the wedding. Joey didn’t join them, saying, “I thought it might be a bit strange to go on honeymoon with my mother-in-law”.
That honeymoon will come in November, when the pair jet off to Iceland, and as a married couple they can look forward to a lot less red tape when it comes to travel.
“It was resolved really easily after all the headaches over applications. The process became suspiciously straightforward.” says Joey. They advise other couples in similar situations to be patient and prepared, that the paperwork will pay off, and their union will be, as their taxi driver put it, “the best thing ever”.
Venue: The Commercial Rowing Club
Photographer: Eoin O’Neill
Suits: Primark / ASOS
Ceremony music: Susan Hurley
Wedding Band: Attention Bébé
Other entertainment: Sing-Along Social