Same-sex marriage has been legal in Australia for almost five years now, but it’s no less exciting now than it was when the ‘YES’ vote was first passed. We’re not here to say that same-sex weddings are more fun, but there’s definitely less pressure for the happy couple to have a traditional wedding… which means more opportunity to do something different! Same-sex wedding can be as conventional or alternative as the happy couple chooses – there are less expectations and more wiggle room to branch out and get weird.
The history & evolution of same sex marriage in Australia
Before that momentous ‘yes’ vote in 2017, the Australian LGBTQI+ community had been advocating for their rights for decades. When Australia was colonised by the UK in 1788, it took on all of the existing laws of Britain, including a law which punished male homosexuality with death. Lesbianism, which wasn’t illegal in Britain, was never criminalised in Australia. In 1899, the death sentence for homosexuality was reduced to life imprisonment, perhaps less harsh but still painful for many.
LGBTQI+ advocate groups begin to form
This law remained in place until the 1960s, when an organisation in Sydney called the Campaign Against Moral Persecution (CAMP) organised a public LGBTQI+ gathering for the first time. For a year, the group travelled across Australia to university campuses and other spaces with large gay populations, trying to assemble a network to advocate for their rights. They held demonstrations and worked hard to spread awareness and fight for their freedoms. In the ACT, another organisation was established under the name of the Homosexual Reform Society, fighting for equal rights and denouncing violences against LGBTQI+ individuals. This group was ultimately part of the reason that the law for gay marriage was passed in Australia!
Year after year, the movement for equal rights continued to grow, and finally in 1994, the Human Rights (Sexual Conduct) Act legalised all consensual activity between adults. This marked the first time in Australian history that people couldn’t be arrested for their sexual preferences.
Modern gay rights in Australia
For a short period of time, during the Howard government, it seemed as though equal rights were in jeopardy again. In 2004 prime minister John Howard spoke out against laws that allows same-sex couples to adopt children. Despite his grievances, the bill was passed and same-sex couples were allowed to adopt children just as any other couple could. That same year, the Marriage Act of 1961 was amended to define marriage as being solely between a man and a woman. That’s one step forward and two steps back.
But this only led to increased campaigning for equal rights and civil unions, newly legal, started to give LGBTQI+ couples legal recognition and protection. Same-sex couples could now register their relationship with the state and get the same legal recognition as de-facto heterosexual couples. This gave people more confidence to continue advocating for equal rights and more supporters joined the cause. In 2013, an absured law galled ‘gay panic defense’, which gave people the right to assault LGBTQI+ people, was overturned.
And in 2017, as many of the world’s countries were one-by-one recognising same-sex marriage, Australia finally joined in by legalising same-sex marriage with the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey.
Countries that have legalised marriage equality
Today, same-sex marriage is legal in 31 countries around the world: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa RIca, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, the USA, and Uruguay.
How to make your same-sex wedding an affair to remember
Equality means that there’s no right or wrong way to celebrate love. And that means there’s no right or wrong way to have a wedding. Be traditional if you want, do away with traditions if you want! Let’s throw common practice into the air like a bride’s bouquet and look at some ways you can make your same-sex wedding totally different…
Ignore wedding party labels
Bridesmaids, who? What’s a best man? Equality means not letting gender define the role anyone plays in your same-sex wedding – all that matters is that you celebrate your special day with the people you love most. Let the terms best man and maid of honour be mere suggestions, or go for more inclusive terms like ‘wedding attendants’. Or how about the I Do Crew?
One thing to keep in mind if you are doing away with traditional wedding roles is to outline the expectations of each of your attendants or I Do Crew. Things can get vague if not specified… You can even opt for no wedding party at all (let’s face it, you and your partner are definitely the stars of the show).
Personalise your hen’s night & bachelor parties
There’s no need to stick to separate hen’s & bachelor parties if it doesn’t suit you and your partner. Maybe you’d rather have a joint gathering instead, or do away with it altogether and have your own private party! Or maybe you’d prefer to have separate nights with each of your closest friends, regardless of their gender? A joint night out with friends is becoming a more popular option for hen’s nights & bachelor parties, especially if you and your partner share a lot of friends and both like to do similar things.
Reinvent the wedding
There is absolutely no pressure to succumb to the traditions of straight wedding ceremonies. There are no ‘must-haves’ or ‘must-dos’. It’s your day, so turn it into the event your two heart’s desire. Make up your own traditions, or mix up existing traditions to do them differently. Make it cool, crazy, dashing, daring, funny, fabulous, bold, beautiful, or a combination of them all. Seriously, why hold back?
Walk your own walk
It’s customary for the groom to wait at the altar while his bride walks down the aisle. Well, customary shmustomary at your awesome same-sex wedding. With two grooms or two brides, why not try something different? You could walk each other down the aisle, walk one after the other, walk simultaneously down adjacent aisles, or walk backwards waving at your loved ones and see who arrives first!
There are no rules here. Some popular ideas are meeting each other halfway down the aisle, walking down the aisle together, or having a ceremony circle where you’re surrounded by guests instead of directly facing them. Talk to your partner and see what makes you both feel comfortable, excited, and confident on the day. It’s your wedding and you’ll do what you want to!
Wear whatever you want
Since all eyes will be on you gorgeous lovebirds, you’ll probably want to dress to impress. Of course, that doesn’t always mean suits for men and gowns for women. In fact, your fashion options are wide open. Two dresses, two suits, one of each – neither of them – it’s up to you! Throw the rule book out the window and embrace the lack of tradition in your same-sex marriage.
No matter what you both decide to wear, our tip is to stretch the budget just enough for tailored outfits that will fit perfectly on the big day. Try to go for something that represents your own individual style, or go shopping with your partner for matching outfits. When it comes to fabrics, colours, accessories and all that jazz, remember this is your time to shine. Now there’s an idea, fancy something shiny?
Maybe you and your partner will even want to get ready together. If we’re all about throwing traditions out the window then there’s no such thing as it being bad luck to see each other on the day. Own it, enjoy your same-sex wedding day, and do what you want!
Have a symbolic ceremony
If you’re doing away with traditions, you might still like to have a symbolic act to represent your love and union with your partner. Here are some of our favourite ideas…
- Sand ceremony – Each of you can hold a jar of sand in different colours. Pour them together into a vase symbolising your two lives fusing together.
- Handfasting – This is originally a pagan ritual. You and your partner can cross your hands together, and let the celebrant tie coloured ribbons around them.
- Candle ceremony – Light two candles at the start of the ceremony, one representing each of you. Later, you and your partner can hold your candle and use it to light a larger candle together.
- Ring warming – Pass your ring around to your guests and give them the opportunity to send silent wishes for your future, so that when you exchange them they’re filled with love and well wishes from your family and friends.
Speak up your own way
Traditionally, wedding speeches will have the father of the bride speak first, then the groom, and then the best man. But yours isn’t a traditional wedding (unless you want it to be, of course!) Perhaps both parents will give a speech, or maybe you and your partner will give a joint speech instead of the groom’s speech. Maybe your I Do Crew can create a video or a song instead of having a best man’s speech. Or do an open mic and let any of the guests have the chance to say their bit! You can also play around with when the speeches are done – if not during dinner, perhaps during the reception drinks?
Get creative with catering
There’s one thing every wedding needs (apart from two people in love obviously) – and that’s great food! Everybody loves a gourmet three-course sit-down meal, but you might consider getting a little creative with your catering in the form of a buffet, banquet or shared plate extravaganza. What about food in your favourite theme? Here are a few quirky ideas to get you thinking: ‘loud and proud’, ‘tropical island’, or ‘dine in the dark, live in the light’. You name it, talented professional chefs can probably create it.
Planning a same-sex wedding? Talk to CHEFIN about your creative catering with a Private Chef
Since your wedding is all about being memorable, unique, and exciting, your catering should be too. Here’s why you should choose CHEFIN to cater your wedding:
- 250+ professional chefs, each with their own unique craftsmanship and creativity
- Comprehensive platform management – we manage the whole event dining process to guarantee a high quality and amazing experience
- 18 world cuisines, customised menu for every booking
- Recommended by 35,000 sophisticated guests across Australia
Tell us about your event and check out what CHEFIN offers.