Words by Tenille
Our tale is one of two women, two weddings and one marriage.
Sian and I met through a mutual friend in a nightclub, usually, the last place I’ll be found is out late in a nightclub. But as fate would have it, I met my wife in a nightclub after midnight.
It became very clear early on that we had to decide if what we had was worth it and both of us signed up with no hesitation. We became engaged on our one-year anniversary, with Sian proposing at a sweet picnic with a ring she had chosen and gotten made on her own. I had spent months joking to everyone I was going to propose and watch for the horror on Sian’s face, which I thought was because she wasn’t ready to get engaged (turns out it was because she was nervous I would pip her at the post).
We had the most perfect engagement party surrounded by everyone we loved and we dived into planning a wedding. At this point, marriage equality was not on the agenda. My response to anyone that asked was that it wouldn’t be until at least the next election. Marriage to me always represented more than a piece of paper or a government’s approval so it never crossed my mind to wait until it was legal. I wanted to stand in front of my loved ones and tell them about the love I had for this person and make a public commitment to her for my life. That was the important part for me and thankfully Sian agreed.
When planning the wedding, it came as a complete surprise that Sian held far more traditional ideas than me, considering I had spent much of my childhood and young adult life dreaming up my perfect wedding.
After overcoming some differing ideas, wedding planning came fairly easily for us. We agreed on most things. We had planned on getting married in a park nearby, lined with beautiful pine trees, and party on in the night at a cafe we frequented far too often. We are very lucky to have the family and friends we have, and as such, really wanted the day to be an affirmation of their support as much as it was about us committing; we wanted their involvement and their love and their accountability as we entered in to this commitment.
Unfortunately, a couple months out from the wedding our party venue fell through, so we ended up having our party in a local community hall, which ended up being perfect. Other than that, there were no major hiccups.
Oh, other than the plebsicite.
The postal marriage equality vote happened right in the middle of our wedding planning. Ironically, friends reported posting their RSVPs along with their response envelopes. I never would have imagined what an impact the plebsicite would have on me. It really made me feel less equal, less human, less worthy. I really struggled and ended up choosing to disengage from media as it was starting to affect how I approached wedding planning. Should I tell vendors I was marrying a female? What if they denied me service because they felt empowered to vocalise their no vote? It was horrible.
Thankfully we didn’t meet any prejudice from vendors, but it did produce more anxiety than I’m ashamed to admit. In the end, we married on a beautiful, unseasonably cool, slightly drizzly, Brisbane day in November, with a circle of loved ones and a lot of food and dancing. I know why people call it the best day of your life. There you are, with the person you love most in the world, surrounded by those that love you, and that love you unconditionally. It is truly magical.
Then the postal vote results came in whilst we were honeymooning in the UK. Australia voted yes! As we returned to Australia, on my first day back at work, the parliament decided to legalise gay marriage in Australia.
We went to the registry to file our Notice of Intention to marry on my next day off.
In February, one day shy of our three-month anniversary, Sian and I were legally married in the Brisbane Registry in front of three witnesses.
Aimee, our wonderful photographer, suggested we walk in before our guests so she could take photos of just us walking in together. This then meant we waited at the front for our three loved ones to walk in, and that was emotional. To know that these people support you, support this crazy thing you’re undertaking, means everything. It was a standout moment for me of that day.
Hearing the celebrant say the words ‘Marriage in Australia is the union of two people to the exclusion of anyone else’, and both columns on the marriage certificate saying ‘Bride’, brought more tears. To know our love was considered equal meant more to me than I ever knew.
Getting to separate the legal commitment and the “wedding” allowed us to really appreciate what this meant, the gravity of the equality and the enormity of the commitment. Sure, it may have been easier to do it all at once, but I’m not sure I’d go back and do it differently.
Afterwards, we had lunch and champagne with our witnesses and then partied into the night with friends. It was perfect.
Photography Aimee Catt