Jo and Jill

Jo and Jill

On 9th December 2017 it became law in Australia that two people could marry regardless of gender. Love and equality finally prevailed.

On Friday 15th of December something truly beautiful and poignant happened; two people fulfilled a wish of a long time.  A community of strangers; family, friends, photographer, celebrant, magistrate, clerks and registrar pulled together to make this marriage happen in time. It would not be the first same sex ceremony I or others had witnessed in Australia, but possibly the first I had seen recognised by Australian law. It was an emotional moment when I read out the words of the new act; a privilege, an honour, and about time. A sacred moment on a sacred day.

Two words had changed in the Marriage Act, substituting “man a woman”, for “two people”, and for Jo and Jill that changed everything.

The first I knew of their love was a phone call on Thursday from Cittamani palliative care telling me a tale of Jo, a woman with a rare cancer, who wished to finally legally marry her beloved Jill.  It was Jo’s persistence that had kept the idea alive. Jill was unsure how it could be achieved. She had read about the one month waiting period. But how could it happen in their own home at short notice? Cittamani nurses decided to ring me and pose the question. As a celebrant I am aware that under exceptional circumstances a shortening of time can be granted by the Registrar.

I met with Jill Thursday afternoon at the courthouse. She had tried to get all the paperwork sorted, signed, witnessed and lodged with the Magistrate. It just wasn’t possible that afternoon, we needed Jo’s signature, and it was 4.30pm.

I met Jo Thursday evening. Evenings are good for her. She had energy. And her bright blue eyes and delightful smile told me all I needed to know about their resolve to be married. Witnessing Jill and Jo together was a love story, quite convincingly profound. I was taken with the dozens of photos on the wall from their 2013 commitment ceremony – a day of promise, filled with family and friends. A true wedding day. I realised I had met two amazingly beautiful women, with a deep connection and strong commitment to each other.

Jill was firm in her wish that the marriage happen, but was feeling torn. Going back to the courthouse the next day was tricky.  She wanted to stay and care for Jo.  This marriage was important. So I offered to go instead. At 8.30 am the next day, Friday, I was outside the Nambour Courthouse at opening time. The local magistrate understood immediately and faxed the application direct to Brisbane, following it up with a phone call to convey the urgency.

On the other end, the Queensland Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages recognised the importance of this request, and sped through the process.

Within the half hour, the stamped approval came back. I could prepare the marriage papers right away: new formats, fresh from the Attorney General, and those important new words, “two people”. I was ecstatic. Jo and Jill were going to be married that afternoon! They were ecstatic.

Several more emails arrived from Births, Deaths and Marriages. They wished to offer a free registered marriage certificate and what’s more they would do it immediately. This is a process that usually takes weeks. I was so delighted by their care and understanding that I offered to hand deliver the papers to the Brisbane office first thing Monday morning, to help out the process. They made a better suggestion, and we made a plan.

I phoned a colleague and asked if she’d be willing to be photographer at this special event in a couple of hours. I knew she’d say yes.  Thanks to Marion Jonkers for the professional photos of this auspicious day.

A garden lovingly created by Jo and Jill as a shared passion, provided the perfect setting for a wedding; beds of herbs, flowers, rock seats and wooden doorways.  Jo’s namesake rose was in bloom. The herbs were fragrant. Everything looked divine for their wedding.

Jo’s friend cancelled all her clients, and turned up with her hair and makeup skills.  “Do what you can!” said Jo, always in good humour. Jo’s Mum and husband were there. Jill’s sister too.  They had come at a moment’s notice.

We sat in the cool of the garden.  I read from Leunig, and spoke of ceremony, love and choosing. With profound tears in my eyes I proudly read the new marriage statement.  They reiterated their vows from years ago, adding the sentence from the new marriage act.  They exchanged wedding rings, held hands and gaze. Their broad smiles were all that was needed to express a deep and sincere joy at finally being married, wife and wife.  “Hey Mrs”.

We embrace ceremony and ritual when something truly profound is happening in our lives. We do this because we need to make a space, in time and place, to honour the unseen world that we carry within us. Ceremony takes a moment away from the usual hum of life, to contemplate and warmly acknowledge an emotional world. Inner feelings become front and centre for the day. A marriage acknowledges this. It is always a special ceremony. This wedding was extremely special and sacred.

After the vows, I enacted the plan to deliver the certificates immediately.  Births Deaths and Marriages Queensland wished to honour this special occasion by delivering the registered marriage certificate that very day. The Principal Project Officer drove north from the Brisbane office.  And I drove south from the northern beaches.  We met at a roadside station, sat at a truckies’ table and exchanged the precious paperwork.

I then drove back to join the reception and hand deliver their certificate.  Jo and Jill had been approved, married and registered within one day!

When Jill was asked how long have you and Jo been together she responded, “a lifetime; and yet not long enough.”

Jo’s Mum told me, “Today is the happiest day of my life.  On the day I married my own true love, I thought that was the happiest day of my life, and I thought I couldn’t get any happier.  But actually today, I am happier, witnessing my daughter able to fulfil her wish to marry her own beloved.”

Jo’s touching speech recognised a day of love and compassion from a community made up of people she had just met, or had never met, and may never get to meet at all. The day was made possible by the goodwill of a community of all kinds of people with different roles and different commitments and different lives, wanting these two to be married in time.

Endings depend on where one leaves the story.  The tale always continues. We rest here with the newly weds, Jill and Jo, for marriage according to the law of Australia is the full commitment or union of two people.

Kari

Friday 15th December 2017

(with editing assistance by Glenda and Jessi)

Photos by Marion Jonkers Photographer 

Thanks to Cittamani Hospice, Nambour Courthouse, Queensland Births, Deaths and Marriages, Russell, Marion, Tracey and Emily.

Jo & Jill -5same sex celebrant Kari Marion Jonkers Photographer

Jo & Jill -34same sex celebrant Kari Marion Jonkers Photographer

Jo & Jill -48same sex celebrant Kari Marion Jonkers Photographer

Jo & Jill -208same sex celebrant Kari Marion Jonkers Photographer

A winning wedding in Maleny

A winning wedding in Maleny

Maleny Wedding

Congratulations to Karla and Matt. Theirs was a winning Maleny wedding.
This wedding was nominated as one of only five weddings shortlisted for “Wedding of the Year” by Junebug Weddings.

A story

Most importantly, their day appeared as if out of a storybook. It was a fairytale come true at Maleny Retreat, which is one of Australia’s most breath taking wedding locations. Maleny Retreat offers you freedom. That is to say, you get to design your own wedding.  You are free to create your own style on a blank canvas. For a wedding in Maleny area, it is delightful choice.

Maleny Retreat is a sumptuous canvas to which you can add your detailing and style.

Looking out over the Glass House Mountains, Karla and Matt’s wedding ceremony looked picture perfect. The vista takes in the serene Tibrogargan, and his family of mountain peeks. Guests arrived to drop their gear in luxury tent style accommodation. The party began before the wedding even started!

A sultry sky provided an awesome and dreamy backdrop for the photos taken by the awesome Bec of Ash and Stone Photography.

Take a peek at the storyboard of their ceremony:

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Married on Mapleton ridge

Married on Mapleton ridge

Married on Mapleton Ridge

Seeking a Mapleton celebrant

Rebecca and Justin didn’t actively look for a celebrant.

They simply picked up a flyer one day and intuitively knew Kari was the right celebrant for them.  They were looking for a  non-traditional, creative, free-thinking, down to earth, grounded but a lively person for their wedding at Coolabine Ridge Estate.

Couple have a cosy laugh while Kari celebrant looks on

Coolabine Ridge Estate in Mapleton

This property is magnificent, looking down towards the Kenilworth plateau and the Conondale Mountain Range beyond.  And for a wedding it is the perfect outdoor setting.

In fact Coolabine RIdge has many settings. Bec and Justin chose the secluded view peeping through the forest, the outdoor glade, with the trees all around.

Peeping out from the treeline towards Conondale ranges
Guest wait at the wedding at Coolabine Ridge Estate

But who is getting married?

Guests gathered near the spectacular view at this ridge top retreat.  However there was no sight of either bride or groom!

The guests asked me……vintage sweets bike

….but I didn’t let on.

Instead, I encouraged everyone to have a guess.

There were suggestions of a vintage car or horse drawn cart…..perhaps a vintage bicycle.

Arriving to the wedding by Helicopter

No-one guessed they would arrive by helicopter, especially given the tree cover.  An expert pilot, manoeuvred his giant chopper in through a gap in the trees and settled on the grass.

And the harp started to play…. Kim Kirkman strummed his strings and the ceremony began.

Harpist plays for the wedding on Sunshine Coast Hinterland

Coolabine Ridge Estate

This estate on Mapleton ridge seemed perfect for Bec and Justin, with the relaxed outdoors feel, the incredible bushland surrounding them, and the availability of cabins for guests to stay, a pavilion for a reception dance floor, and plenty of grassy areas for marquees and partying.

A love story for a wedding

We celebrated a unique love story that day.  Justin told their story.

When some people meet there are instant sparks, but for Rebecca and Justin, it took 5 years of friendship before the romance was set ablaze.

It begs the question, Is it fate that brings two people together?  Do their stars align in such a way that Universal Forces draw one person to another, like a magnet?

Well, one thing is for sure, nothing was going to stop Rebecca and Justin from forming a union, as one. Not even they could stop it!!!

You see, Rebecca and Justin were friends for years before something clicked and the romance began.  They met in a meditation class in 2002. A group of friends from the class would regularly meet for brunch and a friendship between the two grew from this.

As fate would have it, sometimes the brunches would end up just being the two of them together, as friends.  They found they had much in common and their bond grew strong and heartfelt. It was a close connection that resembled being with your life partner, except….not.  Everyone else could see the writing on the wall but them.

Then one night the winds of fate took over. Destiny was knocking at the door, acting very impatiently “if these two can’t wake up and see they are meant to be together, then we will have to wake them up and knock some sense into them!!

Justin took a brave plunge, bringing us eventually to this happy wedding day.

Thanks to AA Photography for these images.  (Sadly AA Photography have closed their doors)

making poetry of legal wedding vow

When I begin planning a unique ceremony with couples, they often ask what they must do, and what they can do.

Well the answer is that the Australian marriage law is very flexible.  There is no compulsion to be in a registered marriage office, as in Europe, nor to mention God in a civil ceremony. There is so much leeway to have the wedding ceremony of your own style and tone.  

There are however a set of words that must be said.  Some by the celebrant and a sentence by the couple.  The marriage vows must include a set of words that could be considered a little dry.  Of course you can add any other words of your choice.  Have a peek at David and Amber’s Day at Maleny Manor then read on to see how he managed with those words.

Thanks to LM Images for the amazing photos.

Amber and David’s is a love that grew over time, having begun when they first met on the hospital touch football team. As they got to know each other, through social outings with mutual friends and through their work at the hospital, Amber and Dave discovered that touch was just one of the many passions that they had in common.  Both being doctors, they have a wealth of education to draw inspiration from.  

David is an especially creative soul with words.  He managed to take the legal sentence from the marriage vows and turn it into poetry. David promised ……

I call upon the people here today,

To witness these words I’m about to say: 

I, David Liu

Take Amber Peckston – you

To be my lawful wedded wife 

Starting today for the rest of my life

I will be your partner in all things

No matter what challenges life will bring

I promise to help you cook and clean,

And try my best to stay reasonably lean

I promise I’ll try to stay alive 

When I’m hanging out with these 2 guys 

(at this point he gestured towards the groomsmen, his partners on adventures of the extreme kind!)

I promise to amend and shake my fist

When people call you a psychologist 

You’ll never fight your fights alone 

I’ll share your dreams like they are my own 

I promise in 50 years I will still say

I love you, as strongly as I did today.

It was a delight to work with Amber and David, in creating their wedding ceremony

What they said of Kari:

David and I would like to sincerely thank you for all of the hard work you put into creating a beautiful ceremony for us. You were always there when we had questions and so prompt with your replies. Your interactions with our guests and your delivery of our ceremony was flawless.

Amber & Dave

Together at last – wedding organised by email

Together at last – wedding organised by email

Together at last

Congratulations Linda & Rob, married at last at House of Laurels in Maleny, after months working overseas.  It was so exciting when we finally met in person just before the wedding.  The entire ceremony had been organised over the internet.  Via censored army email and registered post, and via a combined willingness to embrace the online medium and go with it.  We found common evenings when we could chat via email. Zapping emails back and forth, we nutted out the ceremony and all the logistics.  Voila!

Organised via email

Linda first contacted me via email …  from ..wait for it… Afghanistan, where Rob and herself were deployed at the time.  “Could we organise the wedding over the net?” she asked, as she and Rob would not get back to Australia until just before the wedding.  Of course, it is all possible.

Linda and I shared many an email conversation.  Despite the time differences we seemed to be on our computers at the same moment, and organised everything via the typed word.  Worked a treat.  They may have been deployed in the same country but it was rare they were in the same base, and due to army censorship and safety protocols, they did not even know where each other was at any moment.  It was a risky time.  They just crossed their fingers they would both make it back to Australia safely.

And they did!

A Joyous wedding

Their wedding was joyous yet meaningful.  A true celebration of their loving union.  No one knew we had never met until the days before the wedding.  Most thought e had been pals for ages.  Well we had indeed been wedding pen pals.

He loves her smile; she has taught him how to open up and share his thoughts.  She loves his patience, his sense of humour.  He knows how to make her laugh.  Yet she says he has taught her how to love and how to be loved.  They know how to laugh. And when asked what is their favourite colour, they both replied without hesitation – black!  But Linda wore white for the day, and a huge smile! 

They said

“From the very first email, Kari was helpful, warm and kind. We knew instantly from her response that she would be the one. We were struggling with writing our own vows but Kari gave us the tools to find our own words. She was with us every step of the way and went above and beyond in arranging our ceremony. We planned 90% of it from a computer in Afghanistan! How impressive is that!

The ceremony was better than we could have hoped for. Kari’s delivery was perfect. She helped create a relaxed and loving atmosphere. All my guests had commented that they had never been to such a loving ceremony and I know Kari had a lot to do with that.

We highly recommend Kari for anyone who is looking for a dedicated, professional, warm and kind celebrant who takes all stress away!!! She is a master at her craft,”
Linda & Rob

Wedding Photos

Thanks for photos by Calli B Photography

A Scotsman and a forest nymph marry

A Scotsman and a forest nymph marry

A Mc and a Mac

When McNamara married MacKinnon, there was bound to be somescotsman around somewhere!!!  And what a lovely use of tartan.  And what a choice of place!  Congratulations Sandra and Jason, married at Gardeners Falls, Maleny.  Unique, different, touching, romantic and down to earth, their DIY wedding was simply perfect.

A Scotsman and a Nymph

When Sandra and Jason first met in Canada they recall talking about travelling Australia and the food they both missed.  Jason proceeded to load up the juke box while Sandra picked most of the songs and introduced him to her love for disco.  Not less than two days later Jason had to leave Canada!!  Mere hours before his flight took off they were enjoying their first “date”.  The conversation flowed easily and touched on so many subjects that they would have forgot to order food, if the waitress hadn’t kept reappearing to ask if they were ready to order. Jason’s friends were worried he was cutting it close for time to catch his flight.  There was really no time for eating!

It was not long before they were together again, in Australia.

Sandra describes Jason as her calm in the storm.  Jason describes Sandra as his down to earth rock.  No wonder it threatened to storm on their wedding day.  But come the right time, they stood on a rock mid stream, with not a drop of rain.

They relish each other’s company, laugh at each other’s jokes and make fun happen every day.  These are qualities that will sustain a relationship.  They are also great qualities for planning an extraordinary wedding.

Dressed in wedding Tartan

They turned up to their wedding dressed as Scotsman in family tartan (complete with sporan I may add) and forest nymph.  They wanted something quite unique and intimate for their ceremony, and yet grand in meaning.  Choosing Gardeners Falls, a small out of the way place, with running creek and rainforest all around, they created a wonderland.

Wed Over Water

Sandra and Jason asked if they could be wed on the water.  We took off our shoes and stepped onto a rock in the stream.  Guests gathered on a larger rock close by.  They chose a hand binding ceremony to seal their vows.  In this way drawing on Celtic traditions from ancient times, bringing the ceremony into modern day with our own twist on the promises and bindings.  Jason had prepared a strip of tartan for the bindings.  For wedding rings they had special rings created, each a combination of an Australian saphire and two Canadian diamonds.

Tartan sash

At the conclusion of the service,  Jason draped a MacKinnon tartan sash over his new Mrs MacKinnon, and had photos taken in the middle of the running creek.  He carried her across the water.  Later that weekend they continued the fun by taking their own wedding photos, with just tripod and themselves.

Here is a glimpse of their DIY wedding day:

A Mc and a MAC marry
bride lies on her grooms lap, dressed in tartanhe lies with his head in his brides lapWhat they said:

 

Kari was an amazing celebrant.  She was just what we were looking for, she listened to our suggestions, went with our ideas adding her own input when we knew what we wanted but weren’t sure how to do it.

Kari got a good feel for how we were as a couple and what we liked.  She even offered us choices to choose her dress colour for the ceremony and was even willing to go barefoot.

Kari helped a lot making our ceremony just what we wanted and we had an amazing day.  Sandra and Jason MacKinnon