With the impact of COVID on the wedding industry, many LGBTQ+ couples have seen plans for their big day changed completely. When lesbian couple Sinead Huggins and Esther Young’s wedding plans were scuppered due to COVID, it was the community at LINC who stepped in to show support.
It’s very clear to anyone looking on that Esther and Sinead are smitten, so it was perhaps only a matter of time before marriage was on the cards. The couple were so determined to tie the knot that they had a double proposal – Sinead surprising Esther first and then Esther returning the favour.
In the early days of their engagement, Esther and Sinead admitted they weren’t too surprised when they couldn’t find a church in their area in which they could be married, but they hadn’t thought they’d struggle with their reception venue too.
The couple had previously booked and paid for their reception, and then the venue changed ownership. They were recommended to get a refund and then contact the new owners – who were happy to accept the booking and all seemed set. Then, in a further confirmation email, the couple signed off as “Esther and Sinead”. And the venue mailed back to say the price had tripled.
Sinead explained, “They didn’t give any explanation other than ‘Oh, we’re doing up the venue, so we need to charge more’, even though they were perfectly happy to do it the first time around… we were like 99% sure that it’s because we’re the same sex.” The couple changed venue in the end and were delighted with their choice – but difficulties didn’t end there. Sinead explained how an online wedding fair also didn’t seem to be inclusive of lesbian couples.
As the wedding fair recommended things like dresses and rings, Sinead contacted them online, praising them for their content and asked if they had anything that catered to lesbian couples – women’s suits for instance. While the fair didn’t have content for same sex couples, they asked if Sinead and Esther were aware of any queer friendly wedding-related suppliers, to send on a list. The pair happily sent the list along. And then all of their comments were deleted online.
The couple were taken aback and mentioned it to some friends, who quickly rallied and posted questions and comments on the fair’s social media pages – which were in turn deleted. While that experience left a sour taste in their mouths, something great did come from it. As Sinead explains, “It was really nice to see the LINC community (a Cork-based group for all women who identify as lesbian and bisexual) support us and have our back. Esther has been a community liaison there, so it’s usually her job to support people. But it’s nice to turn around and see them supporting you.”
And then, of course, COVID happened. The couple were originally planning to be married on the 13th of June. “But at that point, only five people were allowed at the wedding, which included us, the celebrant and our two witnesses. So we decided we postpone it.”
Once again, LINC stepped up. “We had a zoom on the actual wedding day. So everyone came on, and we played games. It just took our mind off not being able to get married that day. They really rallied round, they sent us flowers and they sent gift cards.”
So what’s the situation right now for wedding plans? Other potential arrangements have been made, but to be on the safe side, a few guests lists have had to be planned out. As they explained, “Our numbers have massively dropped. From over 100 people coming to the afters of the ceremony – then down to 50. And then we have our list of 25 in case it goes down again. It’s all still a bit up in the air, it’s hard to have a concrete plan when you don’t know where we’re going to be in a month’s time.”
While the duo shared that it’s been a stressful journey, they know that when it eventually comes it will all have been worth it. Esther explained, “We know we’re going to have a good day. It might not be the exact day we want it but as long as we’re going to be marrying each other.” Sinead agreed with Esther, saying, “I just want to be your wife.”
With that outlook, when the long awaited big day finally happens, it’s guaranteed to be a good one.
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