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Queer non-binary couples Covid lockdown wedding in Red Hill Victoria captured by Lulu & Lime photography

Redefining Jewish Traditions as a Non-Binary Couple

VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA

 

We are Mental Health Workers living in Melbourne’s Inner North with our spoiled cat Angus. Jess is an artist and poet, and Jac loves games and movies. We always have so much fun together, no matter what we’re doing, and we love getting into philosophical debates about nothing in particular. We are very different people but also very the same. We connect on core values but are also different enough to keep the other on their toes and learn so much from each other daily.

 

How long have you been together, and how did you meet?

Jac- We went to the same high school but never met because Jess was in the gifted kid program, instead we met on an MSN webcam when Jess was at a mutual friend’s house (whom they’d known forever) for her birthday, and we got online to talk to all this “boy” from her class that she liked. Well, suffice to say, the friend became a third wheel quickly as we cracked each other up all night. We fell in love that night but wouldn’t become a couple for a year until we had been best friends for a while. 

 

Jac asked Jess out by making Jess ridiculously jealous. Jac got this idea that because they were so no nervous about asking Jess out and Jess was their best friend, they would go to for advice, to ask Jess for advice on asking Jess out! So Jac told Jess they would ask this ‘girl’ out and needed advice on how to do it perfectly. Jess was heartbroken. But Jac was Jess’ best friend, and Jess wanted them to be happy. So Jess gave the advice. On the day Jac was due to ask Jess out, Jess and Jac hung out in the morning before school, and Jess dared to dream they may actually be the mystery girl, but alas, the question never came. 

 

Later, Jess would ask Jac how it went, and Jac would say they weren’t brave enough. There was still hope. A few days later, Jac texted Jess “you’re the girl,” and the rest is history. Less than a week later, we had already told each other we loved each other. That was over 12 and a half years ago. Jac now occasionally likes to surprise Jess with texts and declarations of “you’re the enbie/person” haha! 

 

Tell us about the proposal.

We had talked about getting engaged when we had been together for ten years/when we had our shit together, so we planned a trip to New Zealand for our tenth anniversary. Even though the engagement was spoken about for a while, the proposal was still very spontaneous and magical. Well, for starters: there were two of them! 

 

We are both huge Lord of the Rings fans, so Jac proposed the Lord of the Rings set at Hobbiton. It wasn’t planned. Jess remembers sitting out front waiting for a tour to start on a picnic table and Jac saying, ‘I’m gonna check the car is locked,’ which was when they went and grabbed the ring. Even then, they wanted it just in case. Well, the right moment ended up happening as Jess posed for a photo outside Samwise Gamgee’s house. Jess offered to take a picture of Jac, and Jac said, ‘I have something different in mind,’ and then got down on one knee. It was very smooth! It caught Jess entirely off guard and was very romantic because Sam is Jess’ favourite character in the Lord of the Rings, and the film ends with him out the front of the hobbit hole with the woman he loves and his family. 

 

Jess’ proposal was much more planned but still caught Jac off guard. Jess writes poetry, and for our tenth anniversary, Jess compiled almost all of the poetry they had written about Jac (including some very embarrassing stuff predating their relationship!) and presented it to Jac. Jess said, ‘You don’t have to read it all right now. We have the rest of our lives for that, but read the one on the last page. It’s my favourite and perfect for this moment.’ The poem referenced a memory they shared of seeing a small sapling growing inside a cave in Fiji. The impossibility of the plant growing in darkness reminded Jess of their love’s uniqueness. So the final line of the poem read, ‘Flowers will sprout in caves if you say “yes” And bam! Jess was down on one knee! 

 

Both proposals really represent the differences in our personalities, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Jess’ poetry reading- Frida Kahlo

 

You deserve a lover who wants you disheveled
With everything and all the reasons that wake you up in a haste
And the demons that won’t let you sleep
You deserve a lover who makes you feel safe
Able to take on the world when it walks beside you
That feels your embraces are perfect for its skin
You deserve a lover who wants to dance with you
That goes to paradise every time it looks into your eyes
And never gets tired of studying your expressions
You deserve a lover that listens when you sing
And supports you when you act like a fool
That respects your freedom
That accompanies you when you fly and isn’t afraid to fall
You deserve a lover that takes away the lies
And brings you hope, coffee and poetry

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

We had to postpone our original date and lost our venue in the process. We were devastated, but it made the most sense, and we postponed pretty early. But we had planned on starting married lives by moving house the following year. Well, it ended up being that we moved house, started new jobs, and got married within a few months of each other. Jess started their master’s degree at the start of the year too, so 2021 ended up being a HUGE year for us. 

 

The day before we were due to get married, there were three new Covid cases that didn’t seem like much but were concerned they were super spreaders. At around 11:30 am, Jess was in another meeting and heard Jac’s phone ring in the background, and then Jac said, “oh fuck’’. It was our wedding planner who had been tipped off that a “snap lockdown” (it ended up lasting three months) was going to happen that night at either 8 pm or 12 am. We had to make a decision. Postpone again or get our shit together right that second. We called our nearest and dearest and figured out who could make it to Red Hill by 7 pm that night for a quiet ceremony. Thank god we acted based on our wedding planner’s tip-off because lockdown wasn’t confirmed until about 4 pm. Within a few hours, we were off and had to pick up our, still getting finishing touches, wedding outfits on the way. 

 

The entire time we were on the way to the venue, our phones were ringing and getting a constant flurry of messages. People’s apologies, well-wishes, coordinating who was picking up who, it was chaos! As soon as we got to the venue, we just decided to turn our phones off and surrender to the process. What would be would be. We decided to enjoy the venue by day as no one else would get to see it this way. It felt secret and just for us. We frolicked. We screamed. We kissed. We screamed some more in frustration. But we just went for it and accepted this was not the wedding we planned, but it was happening, and we were going to make it happen. 

 

Talk to us about your experience finding the perfect outfits.

Jess designed our outfits on their iPad. We worked with local seamstress Linda Doble (recommended by Jess’ hairdresser) to bring them to life. Our florist Gerry was inspired by the designs to do something really creative for us. Funnily enough, Jess brought the fabric for Jess’ outfit and couldn’t touch it for over a year during lockdowns and completely forgot how beautiful it was! But we truly didn’t know how well all of the styling and outfits would come together until the day. Our Doc Martens certainly complete the look perfectly. 

 

What are your favorite moments?

The moment Jess’ best mate rocked up at the venue, suit slung over the shoulder, and suavely said, ‘Hey babs’ brought Jess a great deal of relief. 

 

There were lots of little moments like watching each other get ready. Jess’ favourite was Jac’s face when they saw the flower clip in their hair. Getting our make-up done together was the best decision!

 

There was also a cute moment where we did hammers, scissors, and paper, and the winner got to marry the other one. There was also a nice little moment the next day. After the dust had settled where we went to the ceremony spot and read together the parts of the ceremony we cut out to make sure we got out by curfew. 

 

Our vowels were also really special. Like our proposals, they highlighted how different we are but how in love we are. 

No one wanted to leave! We had our first dance, and everyone just hung around. Jess actually shouted at them all as a joke, calling them criminals and outlaws, but everyone really just wanted to relish in the moment with us. 

 

Do you have a standout vendor?

So many! Anna, our photographer, for basically being a stand-in best man when Jac’s couldn’t make it from NSW due to Covid. Claire, our venue owner, for being so committed to making the day special and even singing the song for our first dance when our band couldn’t make it on short notice. Catie and her team at Here Comes the Truck for pulling it all together so seamlessly at a moment’s notice. Gerry, the florist, and stylist, for working collaboratively with us and really vibing our genderless styling. And Inez, our make-up artist, for being THE calming force who really helped us settle into the day and enjoy it when we were absolutely at our wit’s end. 

 

Did you incorporate any family or religious traditions into the day?

Jess comes from a Jewish background but isn’t super traditional. We did, however, want to keep one Jewish tradition which is circling. When Jewish cis-het couples get married, the bride walks around the groom seven times before they start the ceremony. This represents the seven days of creation and the bond and life the couple is creating together. It also represents the way the bride will protect the groom. We took this and made it work for us. Jess walked around Jac three times. Jac walked around Jess three times, and then we did one final circle around each other together. It was a really beautiful and reflective moment. 

 

What does marriage mean to you?

We have known each other for a long time and have always known we were meant for each other and would be together for a long, long time. So getting married was the perfect opportunity to celebrate this and make it official. The rings, the dancing, and the proclamations of love were all perfect ways of committing to each other for life!

 

Advice for other couples planning a wedding?

Do whatever you want! Fuck tradition and gender roles. You are you in the moment right now, not the thousands of people who got married before you.

Jess’ poetry reading-  J R R Tolkien

 

Lo! Young we are and yet have stood
Like painted hearts in the great sun
Of love so long
As two fair trees in woodland
Or in open dale
Stand utterly entwined and breathe
The air and suck the very light
Together
That we have become as one
Deep-rooted in the soil
Of life and tangled in the sweet growth