Jay & Mark: After 21 years, this couple could legally say 'I Do'
After meeting in Dubai over 21 years ago, Jay and Mark celebrated their big day with their nearest and dearest on a stunning autumn day in the heart of Melbourne.
Wedding Date Friday, March 9th, 2018 | Photographer Corey Wright
Jay and Mark chose inner city Melbourne for the Autumn wedding which was held on Friday, March 9th, 2018, not long after the Australian marriage laws changed, allowing same-sex couples to finally marry.
Meeting in Dubai meant that Jay and Mark had to hide the relationship from the public eye for numerous years, living in a country where same-sex relationships aren't recognised, and more so, where their love was considered an offence against the law. Move forward 21 years, the couple were able to say their marriage vows with the support of their family and friends in an intimate and emotional ceremony, celebrating not only their love but the development of LGBT+ rights in Australia.
Capturing Jay and Mark's special day was photographer Corey Wright, a favourite on the Mr Theodore directory, known for his known for his fun and relaxed photography.
Jay and Mark share with us the joy of their relationship, the story from when they met, to who popped the question and all the details of their wedding day.
How and when did you meet?
We met over 21 years ago in Dubai. We had several mutual friends and socialised in the same circles In Dubai for a year or so before we actually met - friends knew friends, friends dated friends, we went to a lot of the same parties. It was Mark that took the initiative and approached (not spoke to) Jay first, even though he is the shyer of the two. It was in a seedy little bar at the Maredias Hotel, in Deira, and the place was packed when Mark pushed his way through the crowd and pinched Jay's bottom... And then ran off!
Tell us a little about your relationship; were there any hurdles in terms of acceptance?
Living in Dubai, a country which not only didn't recognise our relationship but which actually considered our love an offence against the law, meant that we couldn't do the things other couples may normally do: hold hands in public, go on romantic dinner dates... But we are so good at reading each other's feelings that this only brought us closer and made us more attuned to each other.
Moving to Australia was also a hurdle to overcome - Mark's dual residency between Britain and Australia could have proven difficult, however, we explored various options with persistence until we found a solution which enabled us to be together (Mark sponsored Jay as his de facto and we moved to Sydney together in 1999).
Tell us about the proposal?
Jay and Mark were in Sri Lanka, following Jay’s dad’s sudden death when the whole situation with marriage equality in Australia was coming to a head. Mark had to fly back to Melbourne early for work, while Jay stayed on in Sri Lanka with his mum for an extra week. It was during this week apart that same-sex marriage was legalised.
Mark picked Jay up from the airport and had dusted and vacuumed the entire apartment.
While Jay was upstairs unpacking and showering, Mark was downstairs lighting candles, placing flowers and waiting nervously for Jay to come downstairs. After waiting patiently for two hours, while Jay obliviously continued to unpack and take a long shower, Mark eventually called Jay downstairs. It was then that Mark went down on one knee and proposed to Jay, and of course, the answer was yes.
When did you get married?
March 9th, 2018 – a beautiful sunny Friday afternoon in Melbourne.
Jay and Mark's story continues below gallery >
What was the main influence behind your wedding day?
The day was about our love for each other, and a recognition and acceptance of a long and happy relationship which has already lasted over 20 years. We wanted to share our love with our closest family and friends, and also to remember the people we had lost, who we still carry in our hearts.
Where did you find the bulk of your inspiration?
We are both very creative people, and Mark did a lot of internet-based research to make sure we had a centrally-based Melbourne wedding so that all our family and friends from overseas and interstate could get a taste of the city we love and now call home.
How did you choose your suppliers?
We chose Melbourne Town Hall as our venue because it is central, iconic and simply beautiful. It was also ideal because we could hold both the ceremony and reception there, taking advantage of the glorious autumn weather and give our guests a true taste of Melbourne on the Town Hall Balcony.
The function team at the venue were also able to cater to all our needs with an excellent food and beverage selection and they also worked closely with us to ensure the venue was decorated and looked exactly how we wanted.
We also wanted beautiful, local flowers in our colours, and found a florist who worked with us to bring our ideas to life.
Mark did a lot of research on the internet to find a photographer who would bring something different to our day, and who would capture who we are as a couple and would also capture the joy and celebration of the day.
We also found a wonderful string duo with a wide repertoire, and we were able to select a range of music we liked.
We are lucky enough to have a celebrant in the family, and she was extremely supportive and worked to make the entire process as easy for us as possible and was thrilled to conduct her first same-sex marriage.
Where there any challenges from suppliers?
We contacted several photo booth suppliers, most of whom either didn’t respond to our enquiries or simply didn’t appear interested in providing their advertised service. This was more than made up for by the fantastic and supportive photographer we chose to capture our preparation, the ceremony and reception.
Did you find it difficult to translate more common traditions into a ‘same-sex’ wedding? i.e Walking down the aisle, choosing a wedding party…
Jay’s mum, as our only living parent, walked Jay and Mark down the aisle together, with one of the boys on each side of her.
Jay and Mark each chose a female 'best man', and our ring bearer was also a female friend.
Our marvellous celebrant also worked closely with us to make sure the wording of the ceremony was appropriate to not only the occasion but to us as a couple.
What was the most difficult thing about planning your wedding?
Getting the right location, and all the other things we wanted to get right, within a reasonable budget.
It was also difficult to plan such a celebratory, momentous occasion shortly after Jay had lost his dad, which is why Jay and Mark consciously chose to have pictures of the people they loved and had lost in pride of place at their wedding.
Any advice for other same-sex couples planning their day and finding it difficult to navigate the journey?
Be patient. Don’t give up – do your research and keep searching until you find what it right for you. Have a clear idea of what you want and be prepared to do plenty of research.
Remain true to yourselves as a couple and make sure that you imbue the day with your own personality.
Corey Wright can be found on the Mr Theodore directory by clicking HERE