TWO theatre lovers made a dramatic start to married life yesterday.
Childhood sweethearts Stephanie Coleman, 25, and Gerard Murphy, 24, took centre stage – literally – in one of the country’s most historic theatres and without a hint of stage fright, tied the knot.
They were watched by a full house of almost 200 close family friends in the auditorium of the 1897-built Everyman Palace Theatre in Cork city.
It was the country’s first civil marriage to be held in a theatre since new rules allowing public buildings to be used as wedding venues were introduced inn 2007.
“I performed on the Everyman stage as a child with the Monforts. We don’t drink and we enjoy ourselves by going to the cinema or the theatre. We’ve always loved the Everyman so we decided we would like to get married there,” Stephanie said, before walking up the aisle.
Everyman spokeswoman Sarah Dee said the theatre has been registered as a wedding venue for some time and said they were delighted to accommodate the happy couple.
Stephanie and Gerard, from Lehanaghmore on Cork’s southside, grew up near each other and started dating when they were 19. Gerard proposed four years ago on a beach in Portugal while on holiday.
Stephanie said yes and the couple stopped traffic on MacCurtain Street from 2.30pm yesterday – the groom arrived in a silver 12 metre long Hummer, the bride in a pink Hummer.
Stephanie, who is doing a business course before setting up her own wedding planning business next year, looked stunning in a classic white strapless A-line wedding dress, which she bought in the United States.
Gerard, who works as an electrician with Odlums, cut a dash in a sharp black suit, with silver waistcoat.
Lone piper Gerard O’Callaghan led Stephanie and her bridal party into the theatre, which was decorated with white balloons, and she walked to the stage where her husband-to-be was waiting.
Their children, Aisling, five, and one-and-a-half year old Cian, played crucial supporting roles – Aisling was a flowergirl alongside her friend, Amy Arrendale, and Stephanie’s sister, Jessica. Cian was a pageboy with Gerard’s godson, Billy Murphy.
But it was little Aisling who stole the show with a beautiful rendition of A Whole New World.
Registrar Rena Noonan read simple vows, and right on cue, the couple placed wedding rings on each others’ fingers.
She declared them husband and wife, and as befits a theatre audience, they gave the happy couple a standing ovation.
She described it as an historic moment and said the venue fitted all criteria for civil ceremonies. It is a fixed structure, open to the public and accessible to all. And she said holding civil marriage ceremonies in such venues is on the increase.
“The more we do them, the more applications we get,” she said.
Guests celebrated in the Montenotte Hotel late in to the night and Stephanie and Gerard are due to honeymoon in Las Vegas next month.
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