MOST great courtships culminate in someone getting down on one knee and popping that all-important question, sparkly ring in hand.
Not so for Gary and Zakki, who were so sure they’d be together for a lifetime that they discussed marriage as soon into the relationship as their fourth date. So, while neither of the two proposed in a traditional sense, Gary says ‘they just knew’ they’d tie the knot.
Gary (right) & Zakki (left) Photos: Neli Garnet
Having met in 2017 in Leeds (Yorkshireman Gary was working as a freelance IT consultant and Indonesia-born Zak was completing his master’s degree), the couple began following each other on Instagram.
As all modern love stories go, Gary was soon ‘sliding into Zak’s DMs’ [sending him a Direct Message] and the pair have been smitten since. You only have to listen to the couple talk about one another to understand they’re the real deal.
“I think that, very occasionally, you meet someone, and you just know that they’re the right fit and that they balance you.” says Gary, who believes Zakki complements him perfectly.
Solidifying Their Bond
“I’m quite untidy and he’s very organised. I’m quite reserved and he’s outgoing. He’s a homebody and I like to be out and about. He can be quite emotional and I’m quite stable. He’s incredibly fun and, being a dour Yorkshireman, that was very attractive to me. It sounds like it shouldn’t work, but it really does. We’re probably the living definition of opposites attract.”
But sure enough, this was a couple that were meant to be – and after casually talking about marriage last December, the pair decided they couldn’t wait any longer.
Contacting us here at Jacqueline and Edward, they were on the quest for a pair of rings that would solidify their bond further still.
“From the start we knew that we wanted gold rings.” says Gary: “Like most people, the first thing we did was go to some high street jewellers and try on some rings, but what we found was quite disappointing; mass produced rings, a very small selection of designs, and high prices.”
In Europe, where the pair now live, Gary says it’s usual for jewellers to offer ‘buy one get one free’ deals on wedding rings. “This made us question that, if a jeweller could offer the second ring for free and still make a profit, just how overpriced are the rings?”
Gold Wedding Rings, Panned in Yorkshire
This led them to search for artisan goldsmiths, with the aim of finding a better value, more bespoke pair of rings. Of course, that’s exactly what they found here at Jacqueline and Edward, and we were all too keen to restore their faith in gold wedding rings and the people who make them.
“The first thing that attracted us to Jacqueline and Edward was the designs.” says Gary, “On top of that, it was great that some of the gold for the rings would be panned from Yorkshire. As we live abroad, it’s nice for us to be walking around wearing something that connects us back to ‘home’.
“Also, we thought it was great that the rings would be made from panned and recycled gold, meaning that no mining was needed to produce the rings. The last thing this world needs is unnecessary damage to the environment. In the end we had a pair of rings made just how we wanted, in a sustainable and ethical way, and at a great price.”
The wedding itself was all the couple could have hoped for. “It was a great day” says Gary, “We’d chosen to get married in Ærøskøbing in Denmark, which is a beautiful small town on a remote island.
An Intimate Ceremony
“We just had a few guests join us; my immediate family and a few of our friends, some of who we flew in from Indonesia to be there. It was a very intimate ceremony in a beautiful setting.”
Buying their gold wedding rings was Gary and Zakki’s first, exciting step to marital bliss and the pair said they had a great experience dealing with us.
“Communication was always good. As we don’t live in the UK, we had the finished rings sent over to us by courier. Unfortunately, the courier managed to lose the rings, but Jacqueline and Edward really stepped up and made us replacement rings within a couple of weeks, which they even delivered to me by hand when I happened to be in the UK for my bachelor party.”
Marking LGBT Pride Month (June 2019) as a married couple helped reaffirm Gary and Zakki’s commitment to one another.
“I know that, for some people, Pride events can just look like parties, and of course there’s some partying going on at them. But actually, they’re still really important. They’re one of the few chances that many people get, including some LGBT people who otherwise are pretty much cut off from the LGBT community, such as some LGBT people from religious backgrounds, to be visible and to have their very existence, and their right to exist, acknowledged.”
“It’s easy to think that Pride events aren’t really relevant anymore. That all the battles for equality have been won. But unfortunately, that’s not the case, and whilst ever LGBT people are harassed and criminalised in many countries in the world, then we should and need to loudly celebrate our right to exist.”
For Gary and Zakki, their beautiful wedding was just the start of proudly confirming their love for one another.
“I was born in a traditional coal mining town during the repressive Thatcher era, when the newspapers regularly attacked gay people, equality seemed like an impossible dream and the Government actively discriminated against anyone LGBT.” continues Gary, “Growing up as a teenager in that environment was very difficult. I, and many others who grew up in that period, felt deep shame about who we were and our sexuality. The media and politicians claimed that people like me were incapable of ‘real’ love and, like a fool, for a while I believed them.
But that feeling didn’t stick around too long – and it was all thanks to Pride, says Gary.
“In my later teenage years, I discovered Pride events and the small LGBT communities near me, and finally worked out that I wasn’t alone.” he says.
Worthy of Love
“That realisation helped me believe that I was worthy of love. That I could find someone who was a perfect fit for me and, although it took many years, I did. And then I married him. Now I get to call that amazing person, who’s had his own struggles far more difficult than my own, my husband.”
Want us to retell your love story, too? If you’re a customer, past or present, do get in touch with our team. We’d be keen to hear from you to turn your romance into your own mini Mills & Boon novel.