FOR nine years Sophie Meredith and Alison Gerard have built a life together, and now they are the first Bathurst couple to say “I do” following recent changes to the Marriage Act.
They have long called each other “wife” and the duo were among those celebrating in November when it was revealed that the country had returned a yes vote in the same-sex marriage postal survey.
Sophie and Alison’s marriage on December 28 was deeply personal and filled with family, friends and loved ones.
The couple became engaged seven years ago after Alison proposed, twice – firstly at the wedding of their friends, and then again on top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Sophie and Alison were give a special dispensation to get married, without the required 30-day waiting period, to allow a gravely ill family member to attend.
“It didn’t just feel like us, it felt like it was a lot bigger than us. We were just at the centre of it all,” Sophie said of their wedding day.
“I still can’t get my head around it that as a gay person I’m able to get married.”
In Alison’s role as the director of the Centre for Law and Justice at Charles Sturt University, she works closely with Bathurst’s Wiradyuri community and the couple wanted them included in their ceremony.
Elders gave permission for use of a sacred celebration site on Wahluu (Mount Panorama) for the ceremony to be conducted.
Alison said: “After a seven-year engagement, it was wonderful to tie the knot legally, and on Wahluu, a site with such deep cultural significance to local Wiradyuri people.”
Sophie said: “For us it was the first time we had experienced a traditional Wiradyuri marriage blessing, and for many of our guests also.”
I still can’t get my head around it that as a gay person I'm able to get married.Sophie Meredith
“We couldn’t have had this wedding without the support of the Australian people in voting ‘yes’.
“We felt like we shared this wedding with more than our fabulous friends and family, who pulled off [helping to organise ] an amazing wedding.”
During the ceremony the 120 guests sat in a circle as the blessing was conducted and the marriage was officiated, while Sophie’s family in the United Kingdom watched on through Skype.
Marriage celebrant Simon Coomans said the ceremony was a special one.
“It was very significant for me to have conducted a same-sex ceremony for the first time,” he said.
“It was a wonderful occasion and demonstrated the huge family and community support for Sophie and Alison’s marriage.”
Aunty Gloria Rogers (Dindima) was one of the Wiradyuri elders who officiated over the blessing at Wahluu.
“It was an absolute privilege to perform a Wiradyuri marriage blessing and to be a part of this very special and historic occasion,” she said.
Sophie and Alison will hold another wedding in the UK later this year and will go on a honeymoon following this ceremony.