Written by Laura Bell, Photography by Becky Spencer.
Proving that love transcends all obstacles, Adrian, the Bermudian lawyer, and Shane, the Irish accountant, rose above the challenges and held a beautiful and meaningful blessing ceremony for their same-sex marriage this past summer. “We would have loved to have been officially married in Bermuda, but as the island does not recognise same-sex marriage, we decided on NYC, where we had spent time together early in our relationship,” said Adrian. They wed at the East Chapel of the New York City Marriage Bureau on Friday, August 21, 2015, with the couple in Bermuda shorts, of course—and their photographer as their only witness.
“There was no way we could have gotten away with just an elopement, too many family and friends wanted to be there to support us,” said Shane. So the couple planned a blessing for their wedding on September 6th at Wesley Methodist Church, where Adrian’s brother, sister and parents had all been married. “We are both Christian and it was important for us to make this commitment to each other before God and in front of our family and friends, and what better place to do that than somewhere that has been a part of Adrian’s family for six generations,” said Shane. “Our Wesley family has really stepped up to the plate and we are thrilled that, even though Bermuda will not yet allow us to officially be married, our Wesley family supported our wish for our overseas marriage to be blessed in the beautiful sanctuary. Nearly 70 years ago, Adrian’s grandmother and grandfather were not allowed to be married at Wesley because he was a divorced Catholic. How things have changed…but they haven’t really changed!”
The couple—Shane in bright green TABS shorts and Adrian in an orange pair—entered the sanctuary, walking with their respective mothers, and joined their groomsparty, minister Rev. Gary Clark and minister-in-training David Atwood (a cousin of Adrian’s) at the front. On Adrian’s side stood his brother Benjamin Beasley, his sister Rachael Rance and Jennifer Haworth; Shane was supported by his brother Paul Hartnett, Aideen Bowling and Dominik Nosalik. Adrian’s childhood friend Roderick Ferguson sang “Something Wonderful” from the Broadway show The King and I, and close friends Christopher Edwards and his husband, Shelby Williams, read “Blessing For A Marriage” by James Freeman.
The couple and their 140 guests then headed to Tom Moore’s Tavern for a stunning reception on the water-side patio. Starla and Chris Williams from Select Sites Group aided the couple in the planning, lighting and décor and recommended all of the other vendors. Suzan Sickling was trusted with the flowers. “We met with Suzan a couple of times early on, let her know generally what we loved and what we didn’t and let her at it,” said Adrian. “We both love cut flowers so we knew they would play an important part in the blessing and the reception. We were both pretty much on the same page to begin with and so working with Suzan was easy; we trusted her to deliver and she really did.”
The couple had a logo created by Wined & Designed of two male figures holding hands in the bright green and orange wedding colours which they used throughout the décor—from the invitations and website to a full-sized cutout for the reception entrance, and finally a bespoke cake topper. And no reception would be complete without great music. Adrian—who at first tried to save money by creating his own playlist and simply renting the equipment—eventually booked Playlist Management to handle the music and the couple danced their first dance to Madonna’s “Ghosttown.”
“We wanted a fun song and having been to other weddings which had used songs we initially wanted to use, we thought why not be stereotypical and choose Madonna,” said Adrian. “This song in particular speaks to me; the lyrics were especially poignant for us that weekend: ‘I know we’re alright ’cause we’ll never be alone in this…mad, mad world.’”
The most important part of the day for both men was family participation. “It was never a question that our parents and our son would be with us during the day and that our siblings would be standing with us,” said Shane. “I stood with my brother when he got married and Adrian stood with both his brother and sister on each of their wedding days. It was only natural that our families were together. Even though my dad passed away earlier in the year, he was supportive of us and would have loved to have been with us.”
When asked what they wished they had known beforehand, Shane admitted the overall planning and lead-up to the big day was far greater than he expected. “There was so much more than perhaps I realised,” he said. And his best advice? “Send out Save the Dates and invites early. We had a number of guests from overseas who could not make the journey across the pond, but might have if we had given more notice.”
But overall, the day turned out perfectly for the family-oriented couple. “We are firm believers that events roll out the way they are supposed to,” said Shane, who was quick to praise his organised partner. “We had done the appropriate planning and preparation and put our trust in all the right people, so the day was beautiful! Adrian was fantastic. He project-planned and in large part his planning and diligence resulted in the right people doing as they did.”