UPDATE – 15 Nov 2017

Australia has voted for Marriage Equality.

It is the Prime Minister’s hope that the parliament passes a bill before Christmas 2018 – recognising the right for people to marry ♥regardless of gender and identity♥ The first (Sen. Dean Smith) bill is likely to be presented today, with debate commencing tomorrow. At this stage the timeframe for enactment is uncertain.

Please note:

  • The form called the ‘Notice of Intended Marriage’ must be lodged with your celebrant one calendar month before your wedding.  Once the marriage equality bill is enacted we will be advised as to availability of the new forms – here is the link to the Marriages section of the Attorney General’s website. Call me if you see the change before I do! Mob.  0400 054 175.
  • If you are in a same-sex marriage and were married in another country, once this legislation is passed it is likely that this marriage will be recognised in Australia and therefore it is unlikely that you will be able to remarry in Australia. I am not a lawyer, but this is my reading of the situation.
  • I am travelling in Ireland from 11 December – 27 January 2018 and will be doing my best to respond to emails and messages. I thought I might try to meet with people who have been married or marrying people under the new marriage equality regime in Ireland, for their insights. So if you don’t hear from me immediately I may be asleep or participating in a little diddly diddly at the local (music!)
  • Oh, happy happy day!

You can’t ask that!

‘Do I even believe in marriage?’

Planning for a wedding can sometimes feel like we’ve stepped into an expensive world of magic or make-believe. The script is helped along by the brainwashing fairytales of our childhoods, where the tortuous challenges of early adulthood give way to the bliss of a wedding – and its promise of happy ever after.

When planning for a wedding, months spent teetering between reality and fantasy, it’s often easier to just suspend belief and go with the flow. But at times uncomfortable thoughts can make the butterflies feel more like bats. Here are two that we sometimes rush to quell:

There really is abundant evidence that people can be in committed and loving relationships and never get married.

And there is also plenty of evidence that many marriages don’t result in a lifetime of commitment, love and support.

In fact, the marriage equality debate has had many asking: in the face of this evidence, why is the right to marry so important? Of course, there are plenty of excellent reasons to change the law to allow marriage equality: the symbolism of the right to marry, as a human right; the need for the law to reflect our changing culture, which increasingly celebrates the diversity of humanity; and to pave a better path to fairer and kinder future.

But how important is the right to actually marry – as opposed to the right to the right to marry? I guess this leads to the almost unutterable question for a celebrant to ask: Does marriage matter?

I am a realist. I don’t mind grappling with difficult questions. And I am in a somewhat privileged position to shed some light on this very good question. I get to stand close to people as they tell each other, in the presence of witnesses, that they take each other as spouse, and what this means to them.

Although each ceremony and each relationship is unique there is something that happens whilst the vows are spoken. There is a palpable but invisible nugget hanging in the air at that time. It is intent. I don’t know of any other life circumstance that produces the same intensity as that moment.

In what can seem like troubling times, week after week I see people generating this incredible moment. The ceremonies I am privileged to be a part of seem to be a powerful force for hope and intent: to be the best interpersonal person I can be; to make mistakes, to stumble – and to try again; and to make with this person a relationship that is good for each of us and that will sustain until one of us dies.

It really feels profound at close range.

At the risk of overusing the term, I think you’d have to call this ‘mindful’ ceremony; and the preparation for this few minutes is the most important preparation in the whole shebang. 

No, we don’t necessarily need a wedding to generate this intent, but the traditions, the institutional context and the symbolism surrounding marriage certainly bring the gravitas needed to inspire deep reflection on self and our significant loving relationship.

Across millennia and cultures, humans have tended towards ceremony to assist in making more tangible those transformative life events. The civil ceremony is unshackled from faith-based institutions, yet even the most personal, idiosyncratic marriage ceremony is part of an ancient ceremonial tradition, tethered by law.  It is cruel and unusual to deny some of us the right to such a universal human tradition.  

Does marriage matter? It certainly can. Thanks for the privilege.


Exquisite Wedding =/= Expensive Wedding

Would love to tie the knot, Anne, but there a few impediments!

When my dear friend Marcus passed on his congratulations about my new career, we both knew that his first challenge was the matter of marriage equality in Australia.  The second was finding a life partner. The third was… a Sydney mortgage.

I referred Marcus to my post Marriage Equality For Dummies. He knows I care and I’m trying! The whole life partner thing is something I can’t do much about… apart from empathising and supporting him through the excruciations of online dating services.

However, I scored with my contention that a Sydney mortgage is not a reason not to have a gorgeous, romantic, intimate, classy, perfectly unique and magical wedding ceremony and reception. What the heck – make it a festival! He promised to file my victory for later use. (Sigh. Go Markus! Go Australia!)

I know it can be done. It will be my mission to prove it.

Plenty of couples have married elsewhere, or have lived lovingly – without a marriage ceremony. Plenty married in a whirlwind of youth or expectations. Plenty of loving couples have lived perfectly happily as families without any ceremony at all. So why consider a relationship ceremony – a commitment or renewal ceremony or for those lucky Australians who qualify(!) an Australian wedding ?

It is my contention that the Blue Mountains is the ideal inspiration for a mindful, inexpensive, exquisite celebration of love.

I contend that the mortgage, the fees, the repayments, the tedium of work or lack of work… the everyday troubles that weigh us down, are the very reason why we need to hop on the train, or hit the M4 and head west. Magical, beautiful places welcome the careful, mindful lover. Pick your own adventure!

Life is short. Things happen. Every day that you can be happy is a day worth trying. In a world that sometimes – lets face it – increasingly perfectly fits the ‘world gone mad’ cliche, I urge you to stop — and cherish and nurture what matters.

And nothing matters more than love.

But we don’t want too much debt, do we? So look out for great ideas on this webpage for keeping the costs down and the experience exquisite.