It’s no surprise that 2FM DJ Jenny Greene and Kelly Keogh’s wedding had a music festival theme, after all it’s been a year in which a certain gig at Electric Picnic, featuring the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, turned Jenny into a stadium star.
They talk to Brian Finnegan about their friendship, which began at Irish college when they were just 14, coming out in the spotlight, and the huge reaction public reaction to their marriage. It’s been a big year for 2fm DJ, Jenny Greene. Not only did she hit the zeitgeist with her Electric Picnic ’90s dance set, featuring the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, which was so hugely successful it transferred to the 3Arena, but she married the love of her life, and one of her oldest friends, Kelly Keogh.
The two met when they were both 14 years old at Irish college in Galway, and began a platonic friendship.
“I don’t think we spoke much when we were down there, because I didn’t know any Irish,” Jenny says, to which Kelly adds with a laugh: “Every time you saw Jenny, she’d whisper to you in English.”
The two remained friends throughout their teens, Jenny DJ’ing at Kelly’s 17th birthday, Jenny going to Kelly’s 21st, but during their 20s, they drifted apart. Then one night four years ago, Jenny spotted Kelly on Twitter. She sent a message and Kelly replied, saying they should go out for a drink. Their romance began there, although it took a while to surface.
“Neither of us knew each other was gay,” Kelly says. “When she contacted me, I was hoping and wishing she was, though.”
Although Kelly was at the end of her first relationship with a woman, it was a different story for Jenny, who wasn’t out to anyone in her life at the time.
“There was a lot going on in my head,” she says. “It seems laughable now but I was worried that people would be talking about me. Because I’d started doing the daily show with Nicky (Byrne), I knew there would be a lot of interest. I was worried that I’d be identified as ‘the gay DJ’, and that would be the main thing about me, when it isn’t. I’ve been doing this for a long time.”
The two met up for a couple of ‘just good friends’ dates. “I was trying to force her to say tell me she was gay,” Kelly laughs. “She kept alluding to it without saying the words, so it was like getting blood from a stone.”
Eventually Jenny spilled the beans and the two met up for a proper date, and it all began for the couple from there. Within a month, Jenny had come out to her parents, who were hugely supportive. Then, after a three-week tour in Australia, which gave her some time to get her head around coming out publically, she came home and took the plunge.
“It’s funny, it feels like a different life now,” she says of her days before coming out. “It’s important to remember that time, though. Sometimes I might look at other people and be like, ‘its not that big a deal, just deal with it’, but when you are going through it, you can’t see outside of yourself.”
Jenny and Kelly were together for just over a year before they moved in together, a fact they’re both proud of. “It’s normally two weeks for lesbians, isn’t it?” Jenny laughs. Their engagement came after a tragic event in Kelly’s life, when she suddenly lost a beloved uncle. The two had postponed a holiday to attend his funeral, and when Jenny was rearranging flights, she decided to pop the question while they were away.
“The day she did decided to do it, she turned into a mute, Kelly says. “We were lying on the beach and I was like, ‘are you annoyed with me about something? You haven’t spoken to me in three hours’.
Jenny proposed on the roof terrace of their apartment, where Kelly was soaking up some sunshine, accompanied by some music on her phone, Kodaline’s ‘All I Want’, which has a special meaning to the pair.
“It was not how I imagined it would be, half asleep in the sun in my bikini,” Kelly laughs. “She got down on one knee, and God love her, she couldn’t get the words out.”
“I started crying with the emotion of it,” adds Jenny. “I’d been thinking about nothing else for three days and now I was at the moment.”
With Jenny choking up, Kelly answered, ‘Yes, I will’. “We had champagne, and we didn’t call anyone for two hours, so we could just soak it up,” she remembers. “The sun was going down, the beach was below us, and it was beautiful.”
After telling friends and family, the women came home and made their engagement public. “We got thousands of messages on Facebook and every single one of them was positive,” says Jenny. “I got a few emails when we got engaged from people who said it helped them, or it helped their friends, and made it a bit more acceptable.”
The couple got married ten months later at Wineport Lodge in Glasson, County Westmeath. “It’s not a typical hotel, and it was just us there, so that was perfect,” says Jenny. “We just had close family and friends; 100 guests in total.”
“Most of all we wanted it to be fun,” says Kelly. “We decided on a music festival theme and because the venue is in Glasson, we called it ‘Glassonbury’ on the invitations. It was a coincidence that Glastonbury was on the same day.”
Live music was the order of the day, with a post-ceremony set from Filipino band, Manilla Strings, and Spring Break and Le Galaxie providing the main stage act and DJ set respectively. But first there were the vows for both women to get through.
They did the legal bit in the hotel on the Friday, with a registrar and just their parents and sisters as witnesses, then on Saturday they exchanged vows in front of all their friends and extended family. “On the Friday, I got so emotional I could hardly get the words out,” says Jenny, admitting that she’s easily brought to blubbering. “My father was worse! All I could hear behind me was him crying his eyes out.”
Kelly says she was fine at the civil ceremony, but the next day admits to being “a mess”. “We had planned to get married outside, where wanted to hang photographs of our parents and grandparents getting married on a tree rather than have them on the top table at the reception, like you see sometimes. But on the day it pissed down, so we had to take everything inside. They had put all our family photographs just inside in the room, so on my way in I saw my Dad, who has passed away, and my uncle who died, and I just broke down.”
Luckily for their entrance Jenny and Kelly had picked a six-minute song, ‘Two Men in Love’ from gay band called The Irrepressibles, arranged and sung with slightly different lyrics by their friend, Joseph Yanaku.
“Everybody else started crying when they heard him singing it, so it kind of took the heat off us,” says Jenny. “Our parents went in front of us, and the two of us walked up the aisle at the same time. The highlight was walking into that room. Everyone stood up and cheered. It set the tone for the day.
“A friend of ours, Lucia Gavin was our celebrant. It was so lovely to have a friend marry us, because we were instantly relaxed.”
The pair exchanged vows they’d written themselves, and prone as Jenny is to breaking down, she had a strategy. “I was worried about getting too emotional, that it would make it boring for everyone with me not able to say the vows, so I gave vows a funny line at the end, so I wouldn’t be a mess.”
Lucia declared Kelly and Jenny married, and from there on in the party immediately got into full swing. For their first song, the couple went for an uncharacteristically cheesy choice.
“Logistically, dancing in two wedding dresses is a nightmare, so we needed to pick something that was fun. We chose a guilty pleasure: Michael Bolton’s ‘Steel Bars’.
“Anyone who says they don’t love Michael Bolton is lying,” says Jenny, who didn’t really rate him until true fan, Kelly introduced her to his dulcet tones.
According to Kelly, “Spring Break were brilliant. I was sweating on the dancefloor. on my knees in my wedding dress, doing Bonnie Tyler’s ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’.”
“Le Galaxie did a powerballads set at four in the morning,” adds Jenny. “We kept going all night.” “I know everyone loves their own wedding,” says Kelly. “I know it’s a total cliché, but I absolutely loved our wedding.”
Because of Jenny’s profile, there was huge media interest in the event, with newspapers and magazines all talking about it. Although Jenny is somewhat used to the attention, it’s all new for Kelly, who is a social worker out of the public eye.
“I’ve had people coming up to me looking to have their photograph taken with me,” she laughs. “At the 3 Arena gig in November, there was this swarm of lesbians. The word had gotten around, and I didn’t know what was going on. It’s mad, but all positive and all lovely.”
With the success of Jenny’s Electric Picnic and 3 Arena gigs there’s talk of her doing more events with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra next year. “I don’t know much about the plans at the moment, but even if I never got to do it again, I’d still be lucky,” she says. “There was something about the atmosphere in the tent that night at the Electric Picnic. I was standing up there, thinking, how did this happen to me? My Dad called me the next day and said, ‘they’re talking about it on Marian Finucan, and they’re comparing it to Riverdance’. I was like, ‘It’s definitely not Riverdance, but I’ll take it’.”
It’s a far cry from the 14 year-old Jenny with her own set of decks, who Kelly tells me she looked up to when they met at Irish college. “I remember thinking she was really cool,” she says. “I think I had a jacket she liked,” Jenny adds, and the two enjoy a burst of shared laughter, something I’d say that’s at the foundation of their long friendship, and which will at the heart of their life as a married couple. At GCN, we wish them long life and happiness.
This piece first appeared in GCN 325. You can read it here.
© 2016 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.