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Cat’s Non-Legal But Magical Australian Wedding

I’m thrilled to bring you Cat, with her amazing cocktail party Australian wedding. She writes so eloquently about what really matters in the wedding planning/ wedding doing process, and about how and why marriage is important – for ALL of us. So with that, I bring you Cat:
Dani and I were married in a non-legal ceremony on October 9th of last year, in North Adelaide. Our venue was the historic wine cellar turned function space of our favourite hotel. We knew from the outset that ‘traditional’ didn’t suit us, and after talking it through, realised that all we really wanted was a big cocktail party with all our favourite people. So that’s what we did. We booked a Friday night, planned a pre-wedding dinner and photos with our bridal party to make the most of having our nearest and dearest all in the one place, and organised a ceremony on the dance floor, followed by finger food, drinks and dancing.I went into it very much of the mentality that it IS just one day and it is the marriage that matters, not the wedding. That is something I still believe, but having come out the other side I have a new appreciation of why, without losing perspective, it is worth going all out on the areas that matter to you and making the absolute most of the resources you have. I’m not much of a romantic, so I never saw myself being swept away in the emotion of it all. While I knew it was going to be fun, I though that most of the gushing about weddings was hype. I was literally dreading standing there with everyone looking at me during the ultimate PDA, but it is actually true that you forget that there is anyone else in the room.Obviously it didn’t go perfectly. Not something I was ever hung up on, but I could have stood a few less hurdles! We were already planning on a tight budget, but the drama really came to a head when Dani was made redundant a couple of months before the wedding. We had to seriously look at our plans and decide what our priorities were and what could be let go. In a way, I’m glad it happened when it did. We sat down and decided what was REALLY important to us; dinner and quality time with the bridal party beforehand, hair and make up -vain, I know, but I wanted to feel special for a day and I’m SO glad I ignored the ‘waste of money’ voice in the back of my head- and wedding rings. Everything else was up for negotiation and ways of reducing cost.And of course there were the usual wedding hiccups; decorations that dont come out quite right, vendors who lose any record of you paying them. And a mother who moved the ceremony location from one end of the venue to the other without telling anyone. We made out grand entrance, walked to the designated spot… and realised we were standing amongst the guests. Mass confusion, but we got there in the end. During our re-prioritising we had also made a list of things that we were doing because we ‘should’, or ideas that were cool but we could live without., and unceremoniously ditched the lot. My wedding was full of the awesom-est crafty ideas never to make it to the day. I know it gets repeated again and again but none of it mattered. None of it. As soon as the ceremony started, every stressful detail ceased to be of any importance what so ever.The overwhelming thing that stands out when I look back is the love that went into it. Our wedding took a village and as a result we were able to do so much we otherwise wouldn’t have. Both sets of parents stepped up and volunteered enough money to pay for the entire reception between them. Dani’s artist brother designed our gorgeous invitations and his friend professionally printed them in exchange for a carton of beer. My brother, a DJ and blues guitarist, played during the reception and MC-ed. My Maid of Honour and her partner are wedding photographers and they donated their services as a wedding gift. Dani’s cousin wrote and officiated a beautiful ceremony that was everything we wanted and then some. Looking around during a quiet moment during the reception at all the work people had put in, totally unasked, was the most incredible feeling. There would have been less work if we had just paid someone to decorate the tables for us, but the one thing I will always remember from the night was the sense of community, family and love. I wouldn’t change that for anything.Obviously a non-legal gay wedding comes with its own set of challenges, and there were moments of hurt at the reactions of a very small number of people. Looking around after the ceremony at the teary eyes and giant smiles was more than enough to make up for the small amount of negativity though. That so many people would be so supportive and so happy to be there had us both floored and incredibly grateful for the people we have in our lives.I couldn’t pick a favourite memory. Some of the small things that went wrong have become highlights, and funny stories. I remember saying my vows to Dan and the look on her face, not waiting for our celebrant to say the ‘you may now kiss’ part before we did, dancing with my new family and laughing all night. Mostly I remember the overwhelming sense of love and happiness in the room, I couldn’t compare it to anything else.The most important things I learnt throughout the process:

  • Prioritise. Your wedding probably wont look like the ones in the magazines and it will still be amazing. Focus on the things that are most important to you, those will be the memorable things. And it will be more fun to plan!
  • Let people help you. If you have talented people who offer to help, let them! Not only will it take the pressure off you, but you will end up with a hugely personal and love filled day.
  • Most importantly, take a moment to just stand back and absorb as much as you can. It will be over before you know it.

In most practical ways, being married hasn’t changed anything, though in some way that I’m not eloquent enough to explain it does feel different to say ‘wife’ instead of ‘partner’ or ‘girlfriend’. I’m so glad we decided to do it, legally recognised or not. Dani has changed my life for the better and having our favourite people together to celebrate our commitment to each other was incredible. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.Photos: Joel Rusa Photography

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