Maree and Rachel overcame a few speed bumps involving Maree discovering her sexuality and coming out… but in the end love concurred. They both found their person, got married and share a family with their beautiful baby girl Ayla.
Let’s hear a little about yourselves and what you do for work and fun?
Both Rachael and I are senior high school teachers – Rachael teaches Chemistry and Sports Science, and I teach Psychology.
We both love sport and have had competitive sporting careers before injury and age happened upon us. We now live a short walk from the beach where we married, and the beach is one of our bliss places. Neither of us is that comfortable with attention – so a small, intimate, but relaxed wedding was perfect for us.
When and how did your love story begin?
Teaching is actually how we met. It’s all very serendipitous, to be fair. I had moved up to QLD for a chance to teach at a tiny, high-achieving school with an international curriculum. Rachael had decided to emigrate and somehow landed at the same school. Rachael will swear black and blue that she knew she loved me as soon as she saw me, but there were a few speed bumps!
The most significant bump being that I had never been in a romantic relationship with a woman before (nor considered it). We became the closest of friends. Sharing all of the things we’d never shared with other people – a genuine connection of souls. One day, Rachael asked me, “why do I have to be a woman asking you on a date? Why can’t I be a person, a human you have connected with, asking you on a date?”…to which I had no rebuttal and agreed.
Once I changed my preconceptions of what I was expecting to find with love and broke through that box we and society place around ourselves, I very quickly realised – I found my human.
After that, we never looked back! We were engaged and married within about two years. Fell pregnant immediately after the wedding, and now have the most incredible baby girl, Ayla.
Tell us about the proposal.
Actually, this is quite an anticlimax or very romantic. I guess it depends on your perspective. We were in bed, moments away from sleep, when Rachael used my full name to address me. I naturally thought I was in trouble– but what followed was a simple and definitive “Will you marry me? After a silent few seconds and palpable heartbeats, I said yes with my entire heart and soul. No more words were spoken, and we fell quietly to sleep.
Because we had shocked the people in our lives (well, I certainly had) quite abruptly, we actually kept our engagement to ourselves for a couple of months. Found the perfect rings for each other – went to one of our favourite beaches at Fingal Head in Northern NSW with a platter and some prosecco, and had a more “formal engagement experience.” We then shared the news with our family and friends and were married almost exactly one year later.
Any stories from the lead-up to the wedding, stressful or funny?
My parents found it a little tricky to navigate the idea of planning a wedding for two women. From googling ‘Same-sex beach weddings’ and asking questions like “Are you both wearing a dress or would Rachael feel better in a suit?” We simply had to laugh along the way!
Rachael’s amazing family (her mother, brother, sister, and best friend) all travelled from England for the wedding. And it was actually the first time I met them! Unsurprisingly, we instantly felt like family. I was so grateful to how genuinely they opened their arms and family up to me.
What lead you to the destination?
We knew we wanted a beach wedding and that we didn’t want anything too extravagant with around 50 guests, so a surf club just made sense. North Burleigh Surf Club is right on the sand, with the most exceptional views. We knew we loved it and it was the perfect venue for us!
Talk to us about your experience finding the perfect outfits.
I had fallen in love with Galia Lahav as a designer. The weekend my Mum was coming up from Sydney to start dress shopping, there just happened to be a Galia Lahav Trunk Show at The Versace on the Gold Coast. You had to apply to view the show – and I won!!!
Again, thinking we were going there for fun and to pretend we were incredibly wealthy, we went along and tried on some EPIC gowns. The woman who was working with me asked me to try one last dress on, and I fell completely in love with it. The only one in the country and heavily discounted!
Still, way out of our budget, I walked away from it feeling a little heartbroken. It wasn’t until Rachael insisted that I get it, that we bit the bullet and made the investment.
Similarly, Rachael found her dress in the first store she tried anything on. Not typically one for clothes shopping, she was dreading the entire process. Still, the salesperson at Bohemian Brides was perfectly patient, kind, and hones. Finding something that she felt beautiful in, and still felt like “her” in, was really important, and I’m so glad she found Bohemian Brides.
Talk to us through your big day!
Being the socially anxious and semi-awkward people we are, we had decided to meet each other for a “reveal” before heading to the ceremony. We knew we would calm each other and make us feel more at home. This was such a special moment, being together was instantly calming, and Rachael took my breath away.
As neither Rachael nor I had lived in QLD long, our closest people hadn’t been around to witness how close we grew and how in love we fell. So, while all the important people in our lives were happy for us. I can’t say that they all understood it or didn’t question our choice to be married as quickly as we did. Except for one dear friend who we would definitely class as our family.
Jordan has been one of my closest friends for years and happened to move to QLD from Melbourne mere days after Rachael kissed me for the first time. She has been there since the very beginning. She saw the changes in both of us, watched me let down my guard, and Rachael’s devotion – all of it. So, we thought that if she were the one to share our story, then maybe she could offer the rest of our tribe some more insight.
The ceremony was personal, and the incredible Annie bounced of Jordan beautifully and authentically. People were in tears, and stitches – and then you could see it, everyone just got it. They could understand. We felt the response in everyone, and it was wonderful.
We transitioned to the reception, where we decided that we would do speeches immediately! After that – we ate, drank, danced, had many a photo against the flower wall, and quite simply enjoyed spending such wonderful time with our nearest and dearest.
Do you have a stand-out vendor?
In all honesty, having a genuine connection and feeling comfortable with your photographer is crucial – and Morgan is one of a kind. Annie, our celebrant, is also out of this world WONDERFUL! She genuinely came along on the ride with us, openly and lovingly.
What does marriage mean to you?
R: It means, I’ll always choose you.
Advice for other couples planning a wedding?
You do you! The family is tricky, friends can be tricky, and money is even trickier. It can seem easier to appease people, and yes – sometimes it is! But, it’s your day and whatever the day looks like- if it reflects you and your partner, it’s perfect.
Photography by Morgan Roberts
Balloons Lou’s Balloons
Bridal Boutiques Eternal Bridal, Bohemian Brides
Catering & Venue North Burleigh Surf Club
Celebrant Celebrant Lady Love
Entertainment Jesse Emanuel Entertainment
Flower Wall Next Event Party Hire
Gown Designers Galia Lahav, Bohemian Brides
H&MU Varsity’s Secret
Hair Piece Ulyana Aster
Photo Booth Botanical Booths
Planner & Stylist Down the Aisle
Rings Brilliant Earth, Minimal VS
Sandles Forever Soles