Ceremony Stories - Alex and Albert

Standing upon a granite boulder atop kunanyi / Mt Wellington, taking photos for this very website, my phone started buzzing. I smiled when I saw it was a call from Jill Harper. Jill is a friend and a mentor and she was also the celebrant for my own wedding back in 2012. Of course I took the call!

Jill had been contacted by a couple from Dover, who were planning a Confirmation of Wedding Vow ceremony. She was unavailable on the date of their ceremony and was contacting me to see if I was available.  I jumped at the opportunity (not literally, as I was still perched on the boulder!!) and numbers were exchanged.

This is how I came to meet Alex and Albert.

Alex and Albert on the day of their Confirmation of Wedding Vows. Photo credit - Tim Grimsey

Having been married in the United States, prior to same-sex marriage being recognised in Australia, Alex and Albert were looking for a celebrant to help them plan an extravagant ceremony on the beachfront in Dover. Many of Alex’s family would be travelling from the Philippines for their special day, so it had to be a spectacle!

The ceremony created included elements of traditional Filipino rituals and new ideas. It included a rose giving ceremony, a champagne toast, a candle and cord ceremony and an exchange of rings. They had also organised a wonderful singer to perform songs of love throughout the ceremony, and involved many friends.

The set up plan was immaculately detailed; with a seating chart, specially constructed decorations and an amazing view. They put so much work into the setting. It was like a classic movie.

Everyone came together the day before the ceremony for the rehearsal. It was a perfect March day.  Sunshine, light breezes. Perfect.

And then the wind and the rain came...

The night before the ceremony saw huge gusts of wind and torrents of rain. Big rain! The following morning was just as blustery and damp. I was driving from Hobart to Dover, wondering the whole way “what are we going to do?”

When I arrived, I saw a sight that brought a smile to my face. It looked as though the entire Dover community, and Alex's visiting family and friends, had come together to set up a marquee and decorations in a more sheltered spot. It was a real working bee.  To make sure everything would be ready, we pushed back the ceremony start time and the community created something wonderful.

About 15 minutes prior to the re-scheduled beginning, the sun came out! We knew it would only be for a brief time so we needed to think fast. We decided that we were going to move outside of the marquee and have the ceremony in the sunshine. There was no time to move all of the chairs that had been set up, but the beautiful archway that had been built was cut free from its anchor points and carried outside. A tag team of guests held it in place throughout the ceremony.

What followed was a beautiful and personal ceremony that had a genuine and authentic feel to it. Rather than standing in front of Alex and Albert, to watch the ceremony, everyone decided to stand around and beside them. It was such a supportive gesture and a beautiful sight!

Although we needed to move through the ceremony quickly, to beat the weather, there were moments of laughter, reflection and absolute happiness.

It was an absolute honour to work with Alex and Albert as they confirmed the wedding vows they had taken in 2014. When the Australian Marriage Act was improved to recognise same-sex marriage, those who had already been married overseas found they were now legally wed in Australia. This means those couples cannot have another wedding ceremony. With the Confirmation of Vows, we removed all of the legal aspects of a wedding, and made the meaningful parts of the ceremony all the more special.

Thank you Alex and Albert for letting me be a part of your special day.

Photo credits - many wedding guests and Tim Grimsey.