This week I went to my first gay wedding.
It was a smallish affair, midweek, pulled together rather quickly (though you’d never have guessed from the detail) – and it was sublime.
Set high against the magnificent backdrop of Sydney Harbour, even the sky turned on a show, letting light shards through its grey to pinpoint the boats as the sun went down. Even the rain held off.
But beyond the silver skies and the selected strings and sounds of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra (oh yes, indeed!), this wedding felt different.
In place of white roses in vases and lapels, there were bower bird nests and tiny blue feathers instead; there was no overflowing present table (just champagne); and the bride was not five minutes fashionably late. There wasn’t even a bride. There was a dear uncle instead, and then (officially), a second one to boot.
It was more than a wedding: it was the culmination of years of unfairness and impossibility, and the emotion and joy of it pulsed through the evening.
It had been a long wait because – although they’d been together 29 years – of course it wasn’t possible until just months ago when the nation got to vote on a decision that we shouldn’t have had to vote on in the first place. The enormity of that took its toll on voice projection, the words of commitment consumed by emotion and uttered so quietly they had to be repeated to all by the celebrant.
From the wedded, there seemed no bitterness about the wait, but a gratefulness that it was now possible. I didn’t think that this would ever happen to me, said one in the speeches, even though he was okay with that – but it did, and it was very moving. The large number of grown, weeping (and often beaming) men, and women, in attendance was testament to that. How happy we were.
I was privileged to be there as family, part of a very small contingent. Much smaller than it should have been because the wait had been too long – so long that most of the parents had long since departed, to make appearances only in frames; one sister was beyond attendance and true appreciation; another absent as she was reeling from the departure of her own husband just days before on the other side of this big land. Another death on the other side just before left another gaping hole where important people should have been, but we made space for them all and embraced the moment regardless.
In case you were wondering, this wasn’t a Godless affair – a Uniting Church minister joined with a (family-owned) celebrant to celebrate the wedding. People who are concerned with caring and helping, and who understand it’s just about loving other people.
I love weddings – they’re a time of joy and celebration, and I pay them great importance – but rarely do I want to go back again the next day and do it all again. This time I did, to breathe it in a little more slowly, a little more carefully, and safely tuck away the words and the sentiments – and let’s not forget the sounds of the strings and the cor anglais – and the feel of the breeze off the harbour. (And to be completely honest, I’d really like to eat all that food again.)
It shouldn’t have taken this long.