Alee had actually tattooed one of my friends, who told me to add her on Facebook and check out her work. It was months and months of her ignoring my comments on her posts, until one day she posted about being so excited for Shark Week and I commented asking why anyone would be keen for that. I didn't have pay TV, so it turned out that her definition and my definition of shark week was totally different. That was when she finally realised I was alive, and also how lame I was!
It was a while before we met in person. I forced her to come to a small gathering of my friends to meet me, and she had to walk out and introduce herself to me knowing absolutely no one. She says my voice was nothing like what she had expected, and she was a lot less confident in person than what she portrays online, but we have been inseparable from that moment.
We've not had an easy road, with 4 IVF cycles and 3 miscarriages over the past 5 years, but together we have the most beautiful little boy who was able to stand with us while we were the first to take The Evermore Pledge together. It is difficult in Australia, with same-sex marriage still not being legal, but we have taken every step we can to afford us the same legal rights as a married couple to secure our future and that of our son. After going through IVF together and experiencing miscarriages, which is such a make or break type of event in a relationship, we just knew that if we could get through that, we could get through anything together. For us, the engagement was just a natural progression and extension of that.
I knew the proposal was coming, just not when. Two months after our son was born, I celebrated a birthday. Alee dressed Oakland up in a little button up shirt and took us for a drive. We pulled into the botanic gardens at dusk, where I noticed a beautiful candlelit picnic by the water. She had organised her sister and friends to set it up for us, complete with choc dipped strawberries and other yummy treats. She pulled out the laptop to show me a video she had made of our story. It had photos of our time together, of her by my side at each specialist appointment and hospital visit while I underwent IVF, as well as the birth of Oakland. I cried, because we really had been through so much together. She then opened Oakland's shirt, to reveal a little singlet that said "will you marry my other mum?" It was really thoughtful, especially for her! She definitely had some help orchestrating that. She presented me with a stunning black diamond, which hasn't left my finger since.
This is where life got a bit crazy for us! We were approached to be the first couple to take The Evermore Pledge, and it all happened so incredibly fast! We had less than 3 weeks from the time things were confirmed, until the time we wed. We literally threw an entire wedding together in a few weeks!
People were so incredibly supportive of us. Peppers Soul donated the most beautiful venue to us. There Must Be Cake, donated a cake, literally everything was sponsored or donated to us. Make-up, decorations, photography (Kaitlin Maree Photography), everything. People really rallied behind us to make this happen, which shows that so many people are behind marriage equality in this country. The only thing I really had to purchase was the dress and Alee and Oakland's suits, and a handful of platters. People cannot believe that I found brand new dress for $150!
The Wedding Day
The only thing about it being so rushed was that some family and friends from interstate were unable to attend, but the ceremony was streamed live online so they all got to share the moment with us. With the day being so rushed, we were so worried it would be a total disaster and fall to pieces, but it was the exact opposite! The day was relaxed, it all ran smoothly and went perfectly to plan. It was such a casual event, so Alee and I got ready together at home, with mum there to wrangle Oakland and help button up my dress, which was such a surreal moment for us because I never knew if I would experience that, and it seems like such an important albeit cliche moment in a woman's life!
We went together to the ceremony; we just drove our car and it was like a totally normal day, except we were both dressed in these over the top outfits. The worst bit was having to walk out in front of the guests. We don't like being the centre of attention, yet everyone was just staring at us. That was when the anxiety really hit. We decided to all walk out together as a family, rather than have one of us waiting for the other at the altar. It was just really special to do that together and it felt really significant, because people were constantly asking us "who will meet who at the altar?", as though we were a traditional couple holding a traditional wedding. We certainly are not those things, so we did it our own way.
It was such a tiny and intimate ceremony, with 15 of our closest friends and family there to help celebrate. We held it on the rooftop of Peppers Soul, overlooking the beach and the skyline of the Gold Coast. We held it at dusk, watching the sun set and being surrounded by fairy lights. It was truly magical. Seeing the photos afterward even now takes my breath away. It was just perfect. It was like something out of a fairytale.
I think we were also nervous as we felt a lot of pressure on us. The pressure to make sure we portrayed the LGBTQIA community in a positive light was intense. There was a lot of media coverage for our ceremony, so we really wanted to do the community proud and get it right. That really added an extra level of anxiousness and pressure!
Knots of Love decorated, and we stood in front of the most stunning macrame archway while our friends all sat on picnic blankets, eating fruit platters off vintage clothing trunks and just relaxing in the casual atmosphere. Everyone commented how much they loved the idea of just being able to sit on the grass and chat. It was so relaxed and informal, very us.
Alee nearly died when I told her I wanted blue orchids as our flowers. She said no way could they possibly look good for a wedding. I picked the flowers up that morning, and when she saw my bouquet she was blown away. Somehow they just worked. The colour contrast was just amazing.
With music, Alee literally threw together a 'wedding mix' on the iPod a few hours before. It was just a collection of some of our favourite songs. We walked out to cliche couple song, Riptide by Vance Joy.
We didn't have a reception as such, we simply invited everyone to come and enjoy some amazing American cheesy fries with us at Brooklyn Depot afterward!
We did not even get the opportunity to consider a honeymoon as the day itself was so rushed. Instead, we had already booked a cruise to Vanuatu and New Caledonia for a few months after the wedding, so we used that as our honeymoon. It was us and a lot of family, so it was perfect.
Wedding Advice ...
I think you really just need to let your wedding reflect your true self. Don't be pushed into something that isn't you. It is easy to compare your day with others, especially with relation to costs of things, but there is no shame in having your day small and affordable, just as there is no shame in being ridiculous and over the top if that is a reflection of your love. The day will fly by, but the memories will last a lifetime, so make it special. A lot of people ask about my dress. Alee is wanting to do a tattoo fundraiser day for trans awareness at some point in the near future. My hopes are to auction off my dress for this event and give it a new and deserving home.
If I had my time again ...
Surprisingly, I would not change anything. It all just clicked on the day, despite the lack of organisation. Maybe that is the way to do it, wait until the last minute and minimise the amount of things that will end in disaster! I only wish that interstate family had been able to attend.
One of the most memorable moments for me, other than having mum button up my dress, was just seeing the faces of our parents as we walked out. Both of our families cried, because they never knew if they would witness this moment. Having queer children for them meant that it was a very real possibility that they would not get to see their loved ones marry. So this day was not just for us, it was also for our parents and siblings. It was also for the LGBTQIA community, because we all want the chance to have our special day and to be able to pledge our love for one another.