Gay couples’ weddings officially mark dawning of Australian marriage equality

Couples began wedding at midnight on the first day available to most same-sex couples after the occur of Australias legislation

If practice constructs perfect, the wedding of Ron van Houwelingen and Antony McManus on Tuesday should go off without a hitch.

The couple have committed to each other in 16 unofficial wedding ceremonies, but this will be the first legal matrimony, and one of the first in Australia since marriage equality was legalised in December.

Although a few gay weddings have occurred with special dispensation, the 30 -day waiting period to marry after lodging official notification entails most same-sex couples have had to wait until 9 January to tie the knot.

Van Houwelingen and McManus fulfilled 30 years ago while studying performing arts at Prahran Tafe in Melbourne. The bridal ever held where they met, at the David Williamson Theatre , now part of Melbourne Polytechnic.

” Our first wedding was on our sixth anniversary, that was a big deal with family and friends ,” Van Houwelingen said.

” Most of the others have been more protests- we’ve renewed our pledges at rallies, married on TV and on radio. They’ve been a statement in the fight for marriage equality .”

Marriage ” feels very different ” this time round, he said.” We’ve had 16 ceremonies – it’s the first legal one though !”

Both worked with Equal Love, a campaign group that has organised demonstrations in favour of wedding equality, for eight years and always planned to officially marry as soon as it was legal.

The couple have invited 120 guests, but Van Houwelingen won’t give away the secret of their special vows except to say that their celebrant, Coral Teague, has forbade them from recycling lines from the earlier ceremonies.

And how does it feel to be among the first?

” It feels amazing ,” Van Houwelingen said.” We’ve been involved in the fight for so long – it’s an important message that we’ve finally achieved some sort of equality .”

They won’t be the first to marriage on Tuesday.

One of the first ceremonies took place overnight near Tweed Heads, where athletes Craig Burns and Luke Sullivan timed their proceedings so the marriage would become official minutes after midnight.

Three hours behind in Perth, Gillian Brady and Lisa Goldsmith wedded at The Court.

A Melbourne wedding business, the Altar Electric, helped Teegan Daly and Mahatia Minniecon marry at midnight.

They were engaged in 2015 and held a commitment ceremony in 2016. Daly said they already consider themselves wedded, so it’s another case of the law catching up with LGBTI relationships.

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