Our wedding story: ‘A mutual love of running and burgers’

Jessica House and Gareth Syms met on PlentyOfFish but found they were birds of a feather

Gareth, a Dublin-born architect, met Jess, an accountant from Hampshire, on PlentyOfFish.com in 2014 and, having bonded online over "a mutual love of running and burgers", they met for their first date last year in a London pub.

A few dates later, they realised they had a mutual friend.

“One of Jess’s close friends, who she’d met through a running club when she moved to London, was a close childhood friend of Gareth’s, who he’d lost contact with a few years earlier.”

A year and a half later, Gareth arranged a surprise weekend away at Burgh Island Hotel – off the coast of Devon and only accessible by sea tractor when the tide is in – where he proposed.

"We decided to have the wedding in Ireland as Jess's parents and sister emigrated to New Zealand a few years ago so we wanted to have it close to one set of parents – and also make sure our guests didn't have to travel too far," says Gareth. "Unfortunately, the date we chose coincided with a particularly important Ireland v New Zealand rugby match, much to the annoyance of half of our guests."


Nevertheless, on November 19th, Jess and Gareth were married in Rathsallagh House by humanist celebrant Billy Hutchinson.

“We wanted the ceremony to be personal to us and also respectful to the various beliefs of our guests. We wrote the script ourselves, with some help from Billy, and had readings from three of Jess’s close friends.”

The readings included an adaptation of A Lovely Love Story, tailored for Jess's love of food and spreadsheets and Gareth's love of chocolate and red leather sofas, and an extract from Captain Corelli's Mandolin read by Gareth's brother Glynn.

“Proceedings also included a hand-fasting, co-ordinated by our mums, Marianne and Jenny.”

Pine cones

Marianne collected more than 1,200 pine cones for table decorations and, with the help of both families, assembled centrepieces using hazel twigs from her garden.

“The families had never met before the week running up to the wedding, so that was a great bonding experience.”

The father of the bride is Richard and the groom’s father is Henry.

Gareth’s favourite part of the day? “Seeing Jess come down the aisle.”

And Jess’s? “Seeing Gareth at the end of the aisle.”

Anything else they both agree on?

“We’re delighted to have our lives back now that we aren’t organising a wedding. Although we’re about to do some serious renovation work to our house, so that will be our next project. Other than that, not much has changed. Just feels like we are starting a new chapter.”