For Andrew Southwell and Mark Arnott January 26 won’t just be a celebration of being Australian, it will be a celebration of their love.
The Camden residents tied the knot at Benwerrin Estate this morning before heading into Argyle Street to celebrate their nuptials at Upstairs at Fred’s.
Choosing to get married on Australia Day was a no-brainer for the happy couple.
“Australia made a decision in 2017 that legitimised our love,” Mr Southwell said.
“They gave us a chance to not just share our love with each other, our families and friends but everyone.
“We don't have to feel as though our relationship is less than any other or less entitled than any other.
“Mark and I chose Australia Day because to be in our home, in our community on Australia Day amidst celebrations of national significance, we will be saying ‘I do’ standing proud as one in Australia feeling the love and support of our community.”
Upstairs owner and friend of the grooms Steve Wisbey told The Advertiser last week that he was proud to host the celebrations – he even created a rainbow ‘chapel’ for the special day.
“Steve Robinson from Prestige Decks and Carpentry put in the effort to help me create the magic,” he said.
“We’ve had a couple of weddings before but this is the first same-sex marriage reception we have done.
“Andrew and Mark love Camden and they love Australia so they wanted to celebrate their wedding on Australia Day in their hometown.”
Mr Southwell and Mr Arnott said they loved the ‘chapel’ and couldn’t wait to have pictures taken in front of it.
Approximately 130 guests helped Mr Southwell and Mr Arnott celebrate.
Their wedding party included some of their closest friends who wore bright colours in different shades to represent a rainbow.
“The rainbow certainly has a significant presence [on our wedding day], because we are proud to be gay men,” Mr Southwell said.
“The rainbow recognises not just our sexuality but our passion, the challenges and healing we have experienced and looking towards the sunshine of tomorrow.”
The happy couple met by chance 18 years ago – they both said they couldn’t imagine life without each other.
“We have waited for two decades for this day,” Mr Southwell said.
“Of course the yes vote was a major contributor – finally we could be married legally, I say legally because we have regarded our union as a marriage for many, many years.
“To think that after two decades we will be like any other married couple is mind-blowing, we are truly grateful to all the yes voters and want the no voters to know we respect their vote, we value their opinion, we don't judge, we simply appreciate that our love can be recognised legally.”
Mr Southwell said he and Mr Arnott loved creating their perfect wedding.
“We have embraced our wonderful network of family and friends to bring it together and we are having the wedding we have dreamed of plus a whole lot more,” he said
“The only thing that could make it better would be to have John (Andrew’s dad) and Maureen (Mark’s mum) there with us but...we know they will be watching over us.”