After initially having a small ceremony restricted to just 20 people in September 2020, Rob Gainey and Jeroen Kooij say the highlight of their Shirrell Heath wedding was ‘seeing the people we love again’.
But the pair were eager to have their ‘big party’ celebration in England, ‘as a balancing act’ of the two most important places in their lives.
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The keen adventurers, who met on a website for people to connect abroad, married at the idyllic New Place in Shirrell Heath with three times the number of guests they had at their ceremony.
‘We were able to see people who we hadn’t seen as a result of coronavirus in a couple of years,’ says Rob, who grew up in Gosport.
‘One of the comments we got was that it was really lovely to have something happy that we can celebrate again after this really difficult period.’
The comical stand out moment though, was when their wedding cake toppled and Rob had to scramble to rescue it alongside his guests.
He explains: ‘We had already made a couple of cuts and went for another cut and threw it off balance. It went flying.
‘Thankfully, by some divine miracle a few of us were a bit faster with our reflexes.
‘The only thing that took a proper tumble were the duckies at the top. Half of the guests reacted in utter horror.
‘The other half responded finding it absolutely hilarious.’
When Jeroen popped the question to Rob after being together for three years in 2018, Rob had also been planning his own proposal to his partner.
But it was on a trip to the place Jeroen was born and raised that he got down on one knee.
Rob explains: ‘We went to the exact same holiday home that we went to the first time and he came back after work holding a rose.
‘We went to the chalet and we had a chilled meal with pizza and ice cream and then he asked me if I wanted to go for a walk along the beach.
‘It was pitch black by this point. We looked out to the water and he got down on one knee. I hugged him for so long before I even gave an answer.’
Jeroen adds: ‘What I admire the most about Rob is his genuine interest in people and the way he’s always there for people.
‘He’s there for me, for friends and family but also for people he doesn’t know.’ The couple are gearing up for a honeymoon to Israel this month after patiently waiting for travel restrictions to ease.