Real Weddings

Victoria and Stephen.

When Victoria and Stephen consulted the Belfast weather forecast for the day of their wedding, they must have rolled their eyes. Admittedly, winter in Northern Ireland is rarely a calm and balmy affair at the best of times; but 15 February 2020 fell right in the middle of Storm Dennis.

What they didn’t realise at the time, of course, was that they’d narrowly dodged an even bigger bullet. If their wedding had been just a few weeks later it might well have been cancelled altogether, due to the coronavirus pandemic. They may have lost the meteorological lottery, but in every other way they’d been steeped in luck.

Fans of Normal People (and romantics everywhere) will be pleased to hear that Victoria and Stephen first met when they were in school, after which they went their separate ways – only to find each other again over two decades later.

“We dated for nine months before I went to university,” says Victoria. “Following graduation, I moved to America and we lost touch. Nineteen years later I was home for an extended period at Christmas to visit my family. Out of the blue I received a Facebook notification from Stephen. He had been out in Belfast, and had run into several of my close friends who had also been at school with us. They had got chatting, and he said, ‘the only person missing is Victoria’. One of my friends told him I was at home, and five minutes later we reconnected on Facebook Messenger. 

“We met up for coffee a couple of times before I headed back to America. A few months later, after many calls and texts, Stephen came out to visit me. We had the best week! It was like those nineteen years had never happened; we were still as connected as ever. When it came time for him to leave, it was hard to say goodbye. Then two months later I was home again, this time for work, and the following month he came out to visit me for a second time – this time to help me pack up and move back to Northern Ireland. He proposed while we were on holiday in New Zealand.”

For their wedding, the couple chose one of the most iconic and glamorous venues in Ireland: The Titanic Hotel in Belfast.

“We chose it because the room in which we held our ceremony and reception had once been the drawing office of Harland and Wolff,” says Stephen. “My father had worked in that room during his time there. Sadly, he died three years ago, so it was our way of having him with us on the day.

“We’d wholeheartedly recommend the Titanic as a wedding venue. It’s unique; sometimes at a wedding you feel you could be in a ballroom in any hotel, but here you truly feel as if you are somewhere special, and it made for some excellent photos. The staff were outstanding, too; they made everything so seamless for us, and took such good care of our guests.”

It was the kind of wedding that’s now almost unimaginable under lockdown. “We had a hundred guests altogether, with many family and friends travelling to be with us. That was the best part of our day – having the people we cared about, helping us to celebrate. Our families were so supportive, and apart from one point where Stephen almost choked to death (!), everything went better than we could have hoped. We had an amazing photographer – not even Storm Dennis could prevent him from getting wonderful shots of us outside. We booked a fantastic band that got everyone up and dancing, and a photo booth that left us with some lasting memories.”

Victoria says that they decided to use a wedding website because they had so many far-flung guests arriving, from all across Ireland, the UK, even from America and Africa.

“I had friends who’d used GettingMarried before, and it came highly recommended. We thought a single website was the best way to provide all our guests with all the information they’d need – travel, accommodation, the schedule for the day, etc – and we loved how easy GettingMarried was to use, update and share information.

“For us, the most useful and time-saving aspect of the website was being able to let people RSVP and choose their menu for the day. There was a choice for each of the courses, so trying to manage all of that manually would have been very cumbersome. We also loved the integration of our registry to the site; it made everything so easy for both us and our guests. And we also really loved the countdown to the wedding!

“The feedback from our guests was all extremely positive, too. They all appreciated how readily available the information was, so they didn’t have to keep reaching out to us with questions, or to get recommendations, and the fact that it was all on one easy-to-navigate site. ‘You’ve thought of everything!’ was a phrase we heard over and over again.

“We would wholeheartedly recommend GettingMarried to anyone planning a wedding.”

Images supplied thanks to Jake Samuels