We’ve been together 18 years, high school sweethearts, actually, as we met when we were 16. I was the public school kid pining after the private school girl, showing up with flowers and public love songs not long after getting together. But it was Lauren who asked me out initially, over MSN messenger!
I’d been hand-carving our engagement rings out of hardwood and decided it would be about time to propose once I’d finished them. It was a difficult year with grief and stress, so we took a weekend to Brisbane together. I’d booked a fantastic restaurant and got a taxi to take us to a nearby park I’d found for sunset. Lauren was pretty confused as I took her up the hill to a park bench and waited until the jogger had gone by. I sang ‘Corcovado’ in Portuguese and English and proposed there, before we had a beautiful dinner and drinks out to celebrate.
How long was your engagement?
We had spoken about marriage since our early 20’s, got engaged in 2019, and then, of course, everything changed in 2020. I’m glad we waited until we could have the big party that we wanted and that enough of our community could attend in safe enough ways.
What led you to the venue?
Lauren’s folks have a property in Carlsruhe and hosted the recovery breakfast at theirs, and we were keen to have the wedding in the Macedon ranges if we could. Cadella Park by Prunella took our breath away when we visited, a mixture of rustic farm and picturesque barn that really matched our aesthetic. It was so convenient that Prunella is also known for their incredible floristry, and the caterer attached was incredible. The events coordinator and on-the-day staff were simply AMAZING. They really helped us nail the last few details and keep things smooth on the day, full marks.
What was the inspiration behind the theme of your wedding?
We didn’t have a theme so much as “For the queers” and “It’s Autumn!” so people came in various colours and styles, which was amazing for photos! It was chilly and a bit wet outside, but all the foliage in the surrounding areas was gorgeous.
Did you undertake any DIY projects for the big day?
As part of my volunteering with Melbourne Bisexual Network, I had access to a badge maker, so we got our friend to design pronoun pins, which we stamped and gave to guests and staff. I love making cocktails, and Lauren is a tea connoisseur, so for our guests, I made a Cointreau orange liqueur that we gave out in little bottles with gold sparkles, and Lauren made a tea blend for those who are alcohol-free.
Talk to us about your experience finding the perfect outfits.
Both of us struggled with approaching dress shopping, though friends really helped us out. Lauren had to shop around to find places that had her size to try on, though Designer Bridal House was excellent and really looked after her. I emailed them to check they were trans-inclusive, they’d actually served a trans woman the week before, and they were great on the day. We ended up with dresses that complemented each other really well!
Lauren was thinking about a change into a suit from the beginning and went to Anton’s for a tailored suit for the wedding afternoon. We’ve been a fan for years, I’d gotten a vest there for my 21st, so I knew it would be quality. They fitted Lauren so handsomely and met her style and comfort needs.
My mum took us to the venue where we got changed into our dresses in a beautiful bluestone side cottage. It was emotional seeing each other in our dresses for the first time, and we had only a few people drop in to look after us. Nevo, our celebrant, helped ground us and run through things one last time, and we had a few photos to get ourselves settled while waiting for the big start to the day.
Honestly, the entire experience of the wedding was beautiful and emotional. There was so much love in the room, so many special details and everything truly important went off without a hitch. The time flew by, and our faces hurt from smiling by the night’s end!
What are your favorite moments?
It was really moving to go down the aisle, Lauren with her dad, me with my mum. We were so heightened by the emotion of it all from that point it was a happy blur, so I’m grateful for the support of everyone we had involved. We had a few moments through the day just with each other, pretty much saying, “Wow, we’re married,” and “I love you so much.”
Dancing wasn’t the centerpiece of the reception, though we had our first dance together, and it was nice to dance with my mum a bit as I remember she taught me, embarrassingly, when I was a pre-teen! Our DJ Richie1250’s ‘Slow Grind Fever’ wedding mix was perfect for both relaxed dancing and background ambiance for conversations.
Do you have a stand-out vendor?
Our amazing photographers, Laura and Jacinta! Lauren’s not big on photos, so I wanted photographers who’d help her feel comfortable on the day, as well as some who’d celebrate my big Leo vibes. They were both so professional, transparent in communication, great with boundaries and looked after us. We had a lot of fun with them! The photos we have from the preview batch are stunning, and I couldn’t recommend Lavender Haze Photography highly enough.
Did you incorporate any family or religious traditions into the day?
We discussed it all with Nevo, who had ideas and flexibility around our needs and wishes. We have Scottish ancestry, amongst other things, so we decided to drink from a traditional quaich together. I’d made a peated, Scottish-style whiskey, aged in a barrel that Lauren’s Dad had bought with me, which we poured on the day. We also exchanged jeweled rings, both made by William Griffith, who used to work next to our amazing nail artist Clara H. Our rings have different stones with the same design ring molding, which gestured towards combining what’s shared and complimentary in our love.
Lauren and I also wore other family jewellery on the day, and it felt powerful to carry that tradition together. Neither of us is religious, but in our ceremony, we called on philosophies and practices of love, with my mum reading a passage from bell hooks and my friend speaking on it too.
What does marriage mean to you?
We’ve been together 18 years, living together for 13, so day-to-day, it doesn’t change heaps. For us, it was important to celebrate what we’ve built together, making a ritual of love and connection. The wedding was for expressing gratitude for each other and our combined networks of connection. It was a chance to draw on rich symbols and the history of unions to take us into the next part of our lives together. Marriage is also a cementing of a family unit for us, though what family means is expansive, including treasured friends and a broader community. It was also an excuse to put on the best party we’ve ever held and look incredible!
Do you have any advice for other couples planning a wedding?
Try to get vendors who reflect you and your values. This helped us feel like each choice was authentic and “us.” It’s a huge event to plan and will take longer and be more difficult than you think, so budget time regularly to plan and progress things. Equally, for each night to put aside for wedding admin, plan a date night each week just for romance/play so you don’t get overwhelmed with the stress of it all. Start the planning early, and determine which things need to be booked/decided when.
Plan some time on the day itself to take a breath together, otherwise, the event will go by in a flash.
Get ready for some big emotions, be it navigating the guestlist, writing your vows, handling family conflicts, or even coordinating a prenuptial agreement. Weddings can bring a lot of emotions, so we were both grateful for our friends and therapists!
Anything you are glad you did? Or wish you didn’t do?
We wish we’d decided who’d manage which tasks earlier in our planning process. Some things were ‘shared responsibility’ for too long, which increased stress and reduced efficiency overall for getting things done. I’d also get the stationary and printing menus/place settings and table arrangements done sooner than the week before. That was a bit stressful!
I’m glad that through the whole planning process, we spoke directly to each other when things were feeling difficult so that we could navigate it together. We also had amazing close supports who helped us through some of the challenges of it, so I’d recommend looping friends in and accepting offers of support.
We also shared a ‘Double Hen’s’ party, booking out Café Gummo for the night and hiring some of Melbourne’s hottest queer acts; Winter Greene, Frankie Valentine, and Ugliest Hottie. It was an excellent chance for wedding guests our age to meet each other and for us to have a fun time with lower stakes before the Big Day. We had a fantastic time together!
The wedding guest list was only people who we know and like, and who celebrate us as a couple. That meant that we were so happy to see everyone there on the day.
We asked for no wedding gifts but donations to Transgender Victoria instead, as we already have an established home together. Guests wrote in a guestbook instead, with stuck-in polaroids, which has now become a beautiful memories book that made us cry reading it together.
Lastly, is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
It was pretty challenging to be a trans bride in some specifically gendered ways, approaching everything from dress shopping to how I’d sound saying my vows. We didn’t get married as a political act, the day wasn’t about my gender, and yet there’ll be lots of people who see our wedding photos for whom I’m the first trans bride they’ve knowingly seen. I’m so proud to be visible in our community and show trans joy, courage, and love, and I wouldn’t be where I am now without the support of Lauren, my beautiful WIFE! Weddings can absolutely be queer and feminist, and fun. You can do it your own way.
Dancing With Her Partner
Photography & Videography by The Lavender Haze
Caterer, Florist & Reception Venue Prunella
Celebrant Nevo Zisin Civil Celebrant
Ceremony Venue Cadella Park
Dress Boutique Designer Bridal House
H&MU Ethical Makeup Artistry, Tom Zappala, Cherry Bomb Hair
Signage & Stationery Cara Tune
Suit Designer Antons Melbourne
Wedding Rings William Griffiths of Metal Couture