I can’t wait to shoot Alicia’s and Joel’s wedding later next month at the amazing Ravensthorpe at Robertson. Last weekend we got together for their engagement shoot. Alicia chose this particular spot in Bundeena because it is a very special spot for her and Joel – its the very spot where Joel proposed! Awwwwww….
So Australia voted and it came to pass…same sex marriage equality is here! Hurrah! But what does that mean for all couples? How has the legal landscape changed when it comes to the “I do’s”??? I spoke to my good friend and expert celebrant Lillian Lyon to get the low-down on what has changed, what you need to be across and what it all means…
Thanks to industry expert and good friend Lillian Lyon of Lyonheart Celebrations, I can share with you the little-publicised nugget of info that could potentially sway your decision to hire one celebrant over another. As of March 9th 2018 all celebrants without exception must declare whether they are EITHER a “Marriage Celebrant” or “Religious Marriage Celebrant”. If a celebrant defines themselves as a “marriage celebrant” they by law cannot refuse your booking based on gender preference. Only a “religious marriage celebrant” has the right to refuse a same sex couple based on their religious beliefs. All celebrants MUST by law display exactly the words “marriage celebrant” or “religious marriage celebrant” on all business material including business cards, advertising, online and social, letterheads and all correspondence. The terms “celebrant” or “civil celebrant” alone are no longer legally accepted. Same sex couples will be able to identify whether a celebrant supports marriage equality or not based on these definitions.
Shopping for a celebrant is the most important part of planning your wedding and recommendations from friends is a good place to start. Once you’ve got your short list to visit, make sure your celebrant is more than a pretty face with a good PA and is 100% up to date with the latest changes to the marriage legislation. It is their responsibility as part of their professional practice to keep themselves informed, not to wait for a memo from the Attorney General. Ask them to explain these new changes to you and if you’re met with a blank face, that’s your que to exit stage left. Quick.
In nearly 20years shooting weddings, I’ve seen some absolute shockers from celebrants…rings exchange forgotten, an overbooked (and somewhat flustered) celebrant mixing up their couples’ ceremonies and my all time favourite – the marriage certificate with the Groom’s Dad’s name instead of the Groom’s! The calligraphy was gorgeous though. So ask family and friends for their recommendations along with solid opinions from experienced vendors. With such an important change in the marriage laws, I would not hesitate to recommend these two ladies who are not only very pretty and have great PA’s, but are highly experienced, have been celebrants for a long time and are simply wonderful people. Tell them I sent you 😉
Planning a wedding is exciting and terrifying at the same time! For the LGBTI community, it carries even more significance. Many couples have waited, fought and pleaded for their own day in the sun. And now that its here, its real…what the??? Where do you start?!?!?! Just like every couple planning their wedding before them, its impossible not to get caught up in all the excitement and swept along the rapids of other peoples opinions, experiences and hang-ups. You don’t know what you don’t know…right? Right! So asking the RIGHT questions is key when selecting your wedding vendor dream team—not only does it give you an opportunity to negotiate pricing and learn about their process and skills, but it allows them to get to know you better as a couple. I love it when couples come to our initial consultation armed with a list of questions. Mostly they’re the obvious kind of things “how long to I allow for photography?”, “what time is the best light for photos?”…but same sex couples have all these things to consider, PLUS a few more…
I asked a few of my same sex couples about their wedding planning experience, particularly about how they went about choosing their vendors. Michael and Ben said “wedding planning is such a chaotic, stressful and expensive time and come the wedding day, you have put so much time and money to this moment you want to know you have picked the right people for the job. I think with all that in mind we would want nothing more than the support of marriage equality with the vendors that we pick. They are on the magical journey of marriage with you and if we knew the support of equality was not there I think it would affect us mentally and emotionally. You want your vendors to be there celebrating love just as much as you do.”
Traditions of all kind go out the window with same sex weddings (hurrah!) so you’re pioneers in a whole new world! The traditional definitions of bride & groom will be re-written for your wedding. So its 100% up to you what you want to call each other – bride and bride, wife and wife, groom and groom, husband and husband? What will we be called before we’re married vs. after? Forget the “partner” thing. You’ve got a fiance now! Dance a little with it. Who’s name will you take? Will you change your name at all? I never bothered when I married my husband Wayne in 2001 and I copped a HEAP of flack for it. But I just didn’t see the point. I have never been one to jump on a bandwagon just because an antiquated tradition and societal expectations told me I should, so I wasn’t about to start. I spoke to Ben and Michael about how they negotiated the family thing:
“We found that leading up to the wedding you already know what family members are disapproving and would not want to support you. The other family would know as well. Every family is different but for us there was only a few family members that chose not to support our marriage and we did not send them an invitation. At the end of the day it is our wedding and you want to be surrounded by all the love and support in the world when saying your vows to be with the one you love forever.”
Never forget that this is YOUR wedding. You only have one shot at it, so make it whatever YOU want it to be. Don’t make the mistake of generations of heterosexual couples before you and let your wedding day be rail-roaded to suit the agenda of others.
Chat to your celebrant about what are the legal bits of your ceremony and what are the things you have full control over. An industry expert like my good friend Lillian Lyon of Lyonheart Celebrations will guide you through the process and keep you fully informed of your rights and all the details you need to be on top of.
A very important but un-publicised detail that affects you and your ceremony is that from March 9th 2018 all celebrants without exception must declare whether they are a “Marriage Celebrant” or “Religious Marriage Celebrant”. If a celebrant defines themselves as a “marriage celebrant” they by law cannot refuse your booking based on gender preference. Only a religious marriage celebrant can refuse a same sex couple based on their religious beliefs. All celebrants MUST by law display exactly the words “marriage celebrant” or “religious marriage celebrant” on all business material including business cards, advertising, online and social, letterheads and all correspondence. The terms “celebrant” or “civil celebrant” alone are no longer legally accepted. Same sex couples will be able to identify whether a celebrant supports marriage equality or not based on these definitions. Here’s more info about that: http://blog.jettyblue.com.au/2018/03/19/deadline-for-celebrants/
Two dresses? Two suits? One of each? There’s no rules here. If you decide to go with two of something, you could potentially negotiate a better price. But be aware of lead times. Making one gown to a deadline is one thing, preparing two is something else. Work with your dressmaker to set a realistic fitting and delivery schedule. I’ve spoken to brides who have found it almost impossible to find a good fitting tailored suit. I mean just because you don’t want to wear a dress doesn’t mean you have to dress like a man, so definitely don’t think finding a suit will be a breeze compared to finding a bridal gown. I love the work of Shane Ave, “Androgynous formal attire custom made by women for women ~ “Be free to be” ~ Express the inner androgyny in you with attire that makes you feel alive” so check them out.
Having two bouquets? Two button-holes? Many floral packages come with one bouquet and one boutonniere so make sure to ask if their floral packages are flexible and priced accordingly before signing on the dotted line.
Hair and Makeup
Particularly if you identify as female, hairstylists and makeup artists may assume you want a traditional bridal “natural beauty” look. Communicate exactly the style you’re going for (photos help) and ask if they can provide images of similar looks they’ve created in the past, so you can feel assured you’re both on the same page.
DJ or Band
Entertainment pros are terrific resources for day-of music recommendations, but clarify if you’re seeking tunes that aren’t boy-meets-girl ballads.
Kiss and Tell???
We’d all like to think that what goes on in the bedroom is noone else’s business, but we all have to face the harsh reality that life and society isn’t always sunshine and rainbows (pun intended 😉 A few same sex couples found the dilemma of disclosing their sexual preferences to potential vendors a bit of a dilemma – do they tell and risk potential backlash? or keep quiet and risk an awkward conversation when its too late to change vendors??? Sarah and Bec said “We chose vendors who went out of their way to show us their level of support – this was the most important factor for us. We did run into a few issues with some vendors, where some didn’t even respond to our enquiry! We made it a point to advise all vendors that we are enquiring about a same sex wedding to ensure we had that support from day one.”
For me, shooting a same sex wedding is almost identical in format as a hetero wedding. Sometimes both want photos beforehand, some don’t. EVERY wedding is different from the next so its important to find a shooter that has enough experience to be able to be flexible and deal with changes on the fly. If you’re both getting ready in the same place, do you want photos of you getting ready together? Or separately in different rooms? Are you going to go for something more traditional and not see each other for the 24hrs beforehand? For day-of photography, many photographers either jump back and forth between the couple’s rooms if they’re getting ready separately or have a second shooter capture one while they capture the other. If like me, they mostly shoot solo, talk to them about the getting-ready timeline so they can capture key shots with both of you separately (example: make sure you’re not slipping into your outfits at the same time so the photographer is able to photograph both). If you’re having two photographers, make sure that both shooters are well versed in taking bridal detail photos if you’re two brides. “Second shooters” are usually the ones that get sent to shoot the grooms all the time, so you don’t want to be the first bride they shoot.
Michael and Ben’s thoughts on choosing your photographer: “It’s very important to be comfortable with your photographer. For some heterosexuals it can be uncomfortable getting their photos taken. This is the same for a a same-sex couple, except we also believe that there is another layer of intimidation particularly when you are getting your photo taken in public. One thing the photographer should be aware of is the couple being uncomfortable, nervous and uncertain. A same-sex couple might be comfortable showing affection around family and friends but not necessarily in busy public places. There is a possible history of baggage with every same-sex couple and you want to be confident in your photographer that they are capable of looking after you and making you as comfortable as possible on your special day.”
Choosing your perfect shooter is a task all its own and you can read my top shooter picking tips HERE.
Now that you’re all tooled up and ready to get out there into weddingland – why don’t you connect with me and make a booking to come visit the studio? I’d love to chat to you about your wedding dreams and you can pick my brain and my 20years experience in the industry. It may well save you a lot of unnecessary malarkey!
By Samantha Halpern
B. Visual Communications (Photography & Digital Imaging)
Dip. Fine Arts (Photography)
Fully Accredited Member of the AIPP since 2008
Owner and Principle Photographer at JettyBlue Photography