J – I had the ring made in April 2021 and was planning to propose on a trip we were taking to Hahndorf in SA, but when the ring arrived, the stone was a different color than I imagined, and I had to work with the incredible jewelers at Windfall Jewellery to source a new stone and re-set the ring. This meant that the timing was changed, and I missed the proposal window of our trip to SA.
So, from then on, once I got the ring, I was basically carrying it around with me, waiting for the perfect moment. Then we decided to buy a 30-acre property in Nowra Hill. We settled on the property on the 11th of June, and then NSW went into lockdown again.
At this point, the ring was burning a hole in my pocket and I just wanted to ask her!
S – I had no idea about any of this at the time! Blissfully unaware of their poor, tortured soul. Jules and I happen to share a birthday, the 5th of July, and we were in a 20km radius lockdown but were allowed to go to local restaurants so on our birthday, we went to Bangalay Dining in Shoalhaven for lunch. We had the entire restaurant to ourselves and as we finished dessert, Jules started saying lovely things, and I specifically remember the way their eyes welled up, and then I knew, as they reached into their pocket, that they were proposing. They said, “Can we get married?” and I was crying so much that I forgot to say yes.
J – All the staff were watching and whispering in the background. It was such a sweet moment. Sommer cried way more than I expected!
WEDDING PLANNING STRESSES
It was stressful… La Nina!! Who would have thought that after the bushfires and then the pandemic that our biggest problem would be torrential rain for months straight? But we got lucky on the day. Our tents were not washed away.
Jules underwent gender-affirming top surgery in December last year. One of the things that we spoke about was that they did not want to get married without having that done because they wanted to love the way they looked on the day, and their chest was a major point of gender dysphoria for them.
Amazingly the surgery was booked for December, and they would have plenty of time to heal before the wedding the following September. Unfortunately, there were some complications following the surgery, and Jules very nearly died. We spent most of December in the hospital, and they were recovering for months afterward. Incredibly by the time our day came around, they were flat-chested and alive! So that was a relief.
We had three words we wanted to make the day feel like, “romantic, community, warm.”
We wanted it to feel like when someone walks into a big friend and chosen family dinner, and everyone cheers and hugs hello when you walk in. We wanted every single person to feel like our inner circle, our closest friends, the people who feed our souls. We wanted the wedding to be a celebration of our love, but also a thank you to all of the people who love us too.
We also had the theme of a honeybee running through the day, Jules has two tattooed on their body, and we wanted to have subtle hints of the bee throughout. Bees for us, symbolize rebirth, renewal, community, and life, all things we wanted to celebrate on our wedding after the few years we had had.
We turned our entire shed into a secret nightclub which was days of work, rigging lights, a disco ball, rainbow flags, and curtains, creating a DJ booth. It was monumental.
Sommer’s dad and sister helped us build our own honeycomb-shaped arbor, which I decorated with wildflowers from around the property.
Sommer’s mum helped us make our confetti which we made by hole-punching gum leaves from the property.
Sommer’s sister Chelsea made beautiful dried citrus for the gin and tonics.
Our nephew made the honeycomb candles that we used as centerpieces on the tables. We used honeycomb-shaped fence bolts spray painted gold, as the tapered candle holders.
We made all our invitations, menus, the “gay agenda” timeline sign, name cards and thank you cards.
Sommer also made her own bouquet out of flowers that friends sent mixed in with some from our gardens.
THE WEDDING DAY
S – I woke up at 4 am and just sat on the couch for an hour with a coffee thinking about the day ahead, and then went for a walk around the land as the sun came up. The minute everyone else started to stir, it would be game on! We had the help of our best friends on the day, which was incredible, and so we all spent the morning getting every final touch done, signs put out on the road, the tables all needed to be set, and the ceremony area readied. We did a run-through with our incredible celebrant Jonny Swift, and then we went our separate ways to get ready.
J – When she walked down the aisle, I cried. It was just one of those take your breath away moments. I didn’t expect to feel so nervous all day, but there was so much energy and emotion in the air.
The ceremony was spectacular, the words, the tears, the way it made us feel. I don’t think we expected it to be quite so moving.
We had the guest do a ring blessing, passing the rings from the back of the aisle to each other, warming the ring with their hands, and blessing the rings before passing them on. That was such a beautiful moment, and the photos of people holding the rings to their hearts, blessing them with their eyes closed, just wow.
Jules’ biological mother said a Māori proverb to honour Jules’ heritage, and we had two of our closest friends read our favorite poems.
We asked our celebrant Jonnie to include some words about the radical nature of Queer marriage and the people who came before us to pave the way so that we could get married. It was powerful, moving, and humbling. Then, we gave out our flags to the guests to wave as we walked down the aisle. We love seeing the progressive pride flag and the trans and pansexual flags all waving in the photos.
After the ceremony, we had everyone gather in a cocktail area set with wine barrels and hay bales to mingle and enjoy the incredible grazing table and oyster bar from Clockwork Catering. Finally, we ducked off for photos with the fabulous Erica and Erin Margan in the sunset, which was a fun little hour of laughter and peaceful connection.
It was a small wedding, about 50 people, and so we got to really enjoy everyone’s company. It was a long table sit down, middle of the table feast style dinner. We wanted to create a moment where everyone would share the plates around, chat about the food and get to know each other. We mixed up family and friends to make sure everyone got a chance to mingle.
We did an open mic instead of formal speeches, so Jules and I said a few words, and then we opened it up for anyone to speak who wanted to. That was quite incredible. We didn’t expect to love that moment as much as we did.
Then, we snuck away while everyone was having desert and did a costume change, and we went into the shed, which we had converted into a night club (and named The Rainbow Room), and chatted to the DJs – the incredible Dollar Bin Darlings from Marrickville in Sydney. Then the MC, our friend Pete, guided everyone in to see a little surprise…the music was pumping, the lights and smoke machines were going, and a bubble machine showered all the guests with bubbles as they walked in. It was incredible. We danced long into the morning, with Last Dance by Donna Summer closing us out at 2 am.
QUEER WEDDING PLANNING ADVICE
Do it your way. Find rituals that mean something to you. Don’t be afraid to remove things that you don’t want. We didn’t do a cake cutting, bouquet toss, first dance, or basically anything that didn’t feel true to us.
Think of not only what you want to do but how you want people to feel on the day and when they talk about it later. It helps you define the vibe and what will and won’t matter.
Photography by Margan Photography
Accessories Kate Spade
Bar The Frisky Filly
Cake Looma’s Cakes Sydney
Catering Clockwork Catering
Celebrant Suitcase Celebrant
Engagement Rings Merchants Of The Sun, Windfall Jewellery
Entertainment Dollar Bin Darlings
Glamping Tents Shoalhaven Party
Gown Boutique Jenny Yoo NY
Lighting / Sound Hire South Coast Audio
Prop / Furniture Hire & Sperry Tent South Coast Party Hire
Shoes Nina NY, Aquila
Suit Designer Politix
Wedding Rings Chaumet