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Hylton & Mel – A Wedding With Their Baby

Hylton & Mel – A Wedding With Their Baby

Gold and Grit wedding photography lesbian gay LGBTQIA+ love elopement Fitzroy Melbourne city Dancing With Her magazine

Covid meant wedding delays, but it worked out perfectly – they could celebrate with their eight-month-old son.

How did you love story begin?

We have been together for eight years, and we met online through the online dating app, Ok Cupid! Funnily enough, though, we both are from Brisbane but met in Melbourne after both moving down here for work. When we met online, Mel was traveling solo through South East Asia, and I was working in the TV industry. We messaged a few times when Mel was traveling and I think I suggested getting a drink once she was back from her travels. So we did, and the rest is history.

Tell us about the proposal.

We had just attended Mel’s brother’s wedding in Brittany and afterward had been traveling around Switzerland and France for two weeks. Finally, we arrived back in Paris for the last three days of the trip before we flew back to Melbourne, and Mel told me she had planned an afternoon and evening for us that involved going to the Eiffel Tower. We lived overseas in the UK and Ireland over the years and traveled quite extensively throughout Europe. But somehow, I had never visited the Eiffel Tower.  

To start the afternoon off, Mel took me to a beautiful bistro near our hotel. Our good luck first started. Our waiter accidentally opened the most glorious bottle of champagne as a mistake (we ordered a pretty standard glass). Of course, we savored every mouthful and thanked him for such a delicious mistake! We, of course, then ordered more champagne and delicious cheese, and after feeling delightfully boozed, we headed off towards the Eiffel Tower. Mel made us get out of the Uber at a Bottle Shop near the Eiffel Tower. Where she bought another bottle of champagne. I was thinking by this point that we may be heading for a slight hangover the next day. But nonetheless, I let Mel lead the way, and I happily followed, for we were in PARIS! 

As we sat down in front of the Eiffel Tower and darkness started to fall, we spoke of how amazing the last two weeks had been, traveling and attending the beautiful nuptials of Mel’s brother up in Brittany and then our travels down to the South of France and over to Switzerland. Then, as the lights of the Eiffel Tower started to really twinkle, Mel foraged into her bag and dug out a box from a hiking sock. She had hidden it the whole three weeks we were away and hadn’t told anyone of her plans. As she got the ring out and held my hands, we both cried, and of course, I accepted her proposal. 

There were loads of Uni Students and dodgy tourist tout’s everywhere, and we told anyone who would listen we just got engaged. It was surreal and joyful, and I was so amazed. We always knew once marriage became legalized in Australia, we would want to do it. But I had no idea Mel was planning on doing it in Paris. 

The following day, we woke up very hungover and were so glad we had drunkenly pre-ordered croissants and coffee and orange juice for room service delivery at 8 am!  

Any stories from the lead-up to the wedding, stressful or funny?

Both being from Brisbane, we were pretty anxious leading up to the wedding that our Brisbane guests may not be able to travel once again to Melbourne due to Covid. Fortunately, Melbourne had about a two-month spot where we weren’t in any type of lockdown from late February to late April. So thankfully, most of our guests could travel down! But it was an anxious time and in the end, we just said, what will be will be, we will just get married, the two of us if we have to. We weren’t going to delay it any further. 

I was also thrilled that I wasn’t pregnant for the wedding as it meant two things. One – I could drink all the excellent wine at Noisy Ritual, but more importantly, our son Marlon, who I gave birth to eight months prior, could be the star of the show! With his gold-embossed tan leather boots, he, like everyone else, got drenched in Edinburgh Gardens as the rains fell on us. But like most things in life, we really didn’t mind that it rained, we embraced it, and honestly, it wouldn’t have been as magical if it didn’t rain in the end. It strangely made our day! Rain makes things grow, and we saw it as a good omen!

There were also some very impromptu funny get-togethers in the lead-up to the wedding.

We had booked to go to the local Irish pub for dinner on the Wednesday night before the wedding, but once we arrived, we had no idea that on the third Wednesday of every month, they hold an Irish Singers Club eve with fiddles and choir books! My brother-in-law is Irish, so not only did he savour the chicken curry served Irish style in the pub, but he also then got to listen to all his fave Irish songs played as we all danced and got merry. My sister and I danced with our babies, and then the organisers of the club did a special song for Mel and me as a tribute to us getting married that weekend! It was a fantastic night and considering my sister got married in Ireland, it felt strangely like history repeating itself but in Melbourne ten years later!

We also had a very impromptu get-together the night before the wedding. We told anyone and everyone to drop in and say hi – it ended up with cats and children running amok through our house and about 25 adults all milling about and popping champagne like no one’s business. Marlon got passed from human to human all afternoon and evening and was exhausted but happy as a clam. It was the perfect way to kick off the festivities despite it being so impromptu, and the following day we really needed to focus and work out what we needed to do before the day kicked off, as we realized the night before had gotten a little out of hand!  

What was the inspiration behind the vibe of your wedding?

I can’t say we had a theme. But a definite vibe of the reception was pom-pom shaking, dancing and tambourine playing. Very sporadically, a few weeks before the wedding, we decided to buy 60 rainbow-colored tinsel pom poms to put on everyone’s seat at the reception. People shook them, threw them, waved them, and generally became obsessed with them at any given opportunity. It was truly magic and such a last-minute edition that made the evening colorful and fun for anyone to shake a pom-pom! I also was adamant I wanted to go down the aisle after we were hitched. Shaking my tambourine that Mel gave me for my fortieth birthday! Jac, our Celebrant, hid the tambourine throughout the ceremony.

In our nuptials, I planted the seed to our guests by telling Mel that wherever we went in life. I would lead her with a tambourine and a song and Marlon on my hip, and we would shimmy her through the good times and the bad. So once we were hitched, Mel grabbed Marlon, I grabbed my tambourine, and we walked down the aisle dancing as the rain fell and confetti cannons exploded. It was crazy and happy and joyous.

Talk to us about your experience finding the perfect outfits.

Mel knew exactly what she wanted from the beginning – a classic style with lace and sleeves. Courtney Mason, a beautiful dressmaker, made it for Mel and our dear friend Margot gifted us the lace as a wedding present! It was fun having fittings at home with cheese and wine! The fitting nights turned into conversations about everything – not just the dress! Where can I find the PERFECT Glomesh bag? Are open-toed shoes a bad idea? What hair accessories won’t we regret in ten years? It was an excellent excuse to talk about all things wedding!

I found my dress when I was about 14 weeks pregnant. I had always loved Zimmerman and actually suggested my dress as an option for Mel, but she quickly pointed out it was perfect for me . Flowy and roomy and perfect as I would be six months pregnant at the time of the wedding. As it turned out, Covid delayed our wedding by a year. So I held on to my dress and hoped by the time we were to get married. I would still love it just as much as I did when I first tried it on. As it turns out, I loved it even more. 

We both wore gold shoes from Funkis and Naturalizer. And I found the perfect Gold Glomesh bag on eBay that was in mint condition that Mel and I just shared on the day! We also found the most excellent jackets both on eBay a few weeks before the wedding. Mel’s was a Life with Bird Leather Jacket and mine a vintage style green faux fur. Once we had the jackets, we felt like whatever the weather was, and we would be ready to roll!  

Talk to us about the big day! 

We woke up realizing the night before had gotten a bit out of hand with our ‘drop-in visitors,’ so we made a mad dash around trying to clean the place up! After that, though, we relaxed and our makeup artists Megan and Ebony arrived. We put some tunes on, and all just got down to business. Megan and Ebony are both makeup artists that I work with in film and television, so we were all relaxed, and we had sent them some inspo images prior, so we all knew what was happening. Finally, Megan and Ebony finished our makeup and hair, and we were so happy. They are amazing artists, and we are happy we had them to weave their magic. 

Stina, our photographer, came to the house a few hours before leaving, so we went off with her and had some portraits around Kensington. She also enjoyed photographing our cats Cookie and Momo! There were slight drops of rain when we headed outside, but we tried to block it out and chant our mantra – what will be, will be!  

We then caught a Shebah to our ceremony at Edinburgh Gardens, and as we pulled up, the rains started coming down. It didn’t matter, though. By this time, people had bought us umbrellas (we didn’t bring any) and reassured us all the guests were happily enjoying beer and champagne in the park and listening to the musicians. Then, as we started walking down the aisle to ‘Islands in the Stream,’ we saw everyone’s beautiful faces looking back at us. We squeezed hands, knowing what a wonderful thing we were about to do. Finally, the rain eased up, so we threw the umbrellas in the air, which Stina captured beautifully on camera. 

Jac the Hitcher then told the story of us, which had everyone laughing, crying and cheering. As we went to read our vows to each other, the rains started again and proceeded to get heavier. We soldiered on, lead by Jac, and it just seemed to make the moment even more special and emotional than it already was. Finally, someone passed us two purple umbrellas. Sealing the union with a kiss clutching on to the umbrellas for dear life. We then walked back down our aisle to ‘Signed Sealed Delivered.’ Mel holding Marlon and me shaking my tambourine. It was a surreal and joyous moment! We had planned to kick on in the park for an hour with drinks and music before the reception started, but due to the rain, everyone hightailed it to The Alderman. A very cozy bar in Lygon Street. 

While the guests dried out their coats and hair by the roaring fire drinking red wine, Mel and I adventured around Melbourne. Getting photos with Stina also trying to dry our hair in front of Stina’s car heater. It was a pretty funny sight. But the drier worked, and although we looked pretty saturated, it added to the uniqueness of the photos! 

Mel and I entered the reception venue at Noisy Ritual to B52’s ‘Roam’ and headed straight to the dancefloor to have a little shimmy and no sooner had we been given a drink and the party had started. Marlon fell asleep in the first half-hour of the reception (with a full live band going) and didn’t wake up until half an hour before the end of the reception! He was like the dream baby! 

The rest of the night is history! Beautiful food by The Farm Café. Speeches that had people laughing one minute and crying the next, and lots of dancing. Our band Phoebe and The Night Creatures just had everyone up there going for it. It truly made the night so fun. The staff at Noisy Ritual were so accommodating and fantastic. The venue looked simply gorgeous with its greenery, low lighting, and rustic charm. We walked in and fell in love once again with the venue. It’s just a great space with an excellent feeling to it. The reception finished at 11 pm, and Mel and I headed home with baby Marlon and an Uber full of rainbow pom poms.  

I woke the following day, remembering it was Anzac Day, and hot-footed to meet my Dad and his mate. Both Vietnam Veterans for a Dawn Service at 5 am. I think I had my t-shirt on backward and lipstick still on, but I made it. We finished the morning off with a cooked breakfast all before 8 am. We then headed for a late lunch and recovery party to The Union Pub in Brunswick, where we celebrated ANZAC day and round two of the wedding. It was a fabulous afternoon. And we are so glad so many people came along to have celebrated again in a relaxed pub setting with beer and parma’s!

What are your favorite moments?

My favourite moment was Mel’s vows to me. Public speaking is, for most people, a very daunting experience, and for Mel, it’s like her worst nightmare. For her to get up and read such beautiful vows. I was just so proud of her and, of course, so touched by what she said. She told me I was her rainbow, and I just think that is the sweetest thing she’s ever said to me. It made me so happy at that moment. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. 

Other beautiful moments include all the speeches, especially from our wonderful parents and siblings and close friends. How excellent it was to have all these amazing people in the same room at the same time, partying for us!

Also, running down the street in North Fitzroy with Stina, our photographer, was pretty bloody great too. We were like drowned rats, but it was liberating to run down the road at dusk with no care in the world. It was surreally beautiful, and Stina captured it so well.  

Do you have a stand-out vendor?

Everyone we engaged for the wedding were excellent and fun humans that we felt so lucky to have with us sharing in our day. But by far, our two favourite humans that made our day were our Celebrant Jac and our photographer Stina. So many people asked us whether Jac was a close friend of ours. They didn’t believe she could deliver such a great ceremony without spending hours hanging out with us. But she’s just that good. And anyone who wears a cowboy hat to officiate a marriage is, to us, a complete dreamboat. 

We first met Stina at a mutual friend’s dress-up party, where the theme was Cruise Ship Kitsch. She completely embraced the theme, and we thought she was such a fun person. We learned that night that she was a wedding photographer, so we looked at her work online after the party and were blown away. She was so talented.

We felt so lucky to have her by our side as the rain started tumbling down at our ceremony in Edinburgh Gardens. She kept us calm and reassured us that everything was going to be a-okay – and of course, it was. She captured the craziness, the rain, love, the pom-poms and everything in between. The portraits that she captured before the nuptials in the surrounding streets of our house are so gorgeous and natural. We feel so lucky to have had Stina capture that time with just us and our son Marlon.

What does marriage mean to you?

It’s just nice that our love is recognized legally. We are genuinely thankful to the LGBTIQA+ community who came before us and fought for so many years to legalize same-sex marriage. It’s also great to be able to call each other wives! It’s such a little thing, but we both feel proud to be able to do it.  

Marriage means supporting and respecting each other and doing our best to create a fun and happy life for ourselves until we are really old and sitting on a porch somewhere drinking wine and laughing. We want the best for each other. And we want to teach our son to be a kind and respectful human being and embrace everyone and treat everyone equally.

Advice for other couples planning a wedding?

Make it unique! Try not to follow trends that you’ll look back on and think, how did that represent us? Put the money into the things you value the most. For us, that was excellent food and wine, music every which way you turned, and an excellent celebrant and photographer. People won’t talk about the linen napkins or the type of chairs you hired ten years later. They will talk about the moments, the laughs, and the feelings of love in the room. Create an environment unique to you as a couple – make it real life, not Instagrammable! Make it you.

Anything you are glad you did? Or wish you didn’t do?  

We are glad we proceeded with getting married in Edinburgh Gardens despite knowing it was predicted to rain. We could have opted to have the nuptials at our Reception venue, but we threw caution to the wind and went with the gardens. Outside in the Circle of Elms was such a beautiful spot. We always saw ourselves getting married outside amongst trees, so we are so glad we proceeded. I do wish we had a few more umbrellas for our guests but alas, people made do!  

Also, we were so glad we had a recovery party the next day for lunch at the pub! It meant that all the people who had traveled down could enjoy another party. Albeit a bit more relaxed and with less dancing.  

Tell us about your wedding day music.

Our ceremony and reception were full of the most joyous music thanks to a few different reasons. Firstly, we had Francesca Li Donni at Edinburgh Gardens. She sang throughout the ceremony. But three songs of note she did were – ‘Islands in the Stream’ by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers walking down the aisle. Then, in the middle of the ceremony, she sang ‘We are Fine’ by Sharon Van Etten. One of our absolute favorites and makes us both tear up every time we listen to it. And lastly, as we walked down the aisle, Fran sang ‘Signed Sealed Delivered by Stevie Wonder. Which had everyone basically dancing in the rain in the park.  

At the reception, we walked into the room to ‘ROAM’ by the B52’s and our first dance to open up the dancefloor for everyone was sung by our incredible band at the reception Phoebe and the Night Creatures. Phoebe did a cracking rendition of ‘Best Friend’ by QUEEN. 

Other notable singing performances and tambourine shaking happened to ‘Edge of Seventeen’ by Stevie Knicks and ‘Galileo’ by Indigo Girls. 

The sort of music that was featured at our wedding allowed people to let loose and relax. It allowed people to eat ice cream cones on the dancefloor while simultaneously drinking wine. There was group dancing, group singing, and very late into the evening, I did the splits. Which was no surprise to anyone in the room considering I have done the splits at pretty much every wedding I’ve attended since I was 18. It’s a party trick that has gone both horribly wrong and brilliantly. And often in the same night. All the while, Mel cheered me on and most often than not, held my wine glass. She’s my hero.

Photography by Gold and Grit

Catering The Farm Cafe
Celebrant Jac the Hitcher
Ceremony Venue Edinburgh Gardens, North Fitzroy
Dress Boutique Zimmermann
Dress Designer Courtney Mason
Entertainment Ceremony- Francesca Li Donni, Reception- Phoebe and The Night Creatures
Hair & Makeup Megan Tiltman, Ebony Kay
Reception Venue Noisy Ritual
Shoes Naturalizer, Funkis
Wedding Rings Jenna Love

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