Benn and Bobby: Two inspiring men and one joyous day
Benn & Bobby, well where do we begin. Right from the beginning, their love story pulled at our heartstrings and continued to right through to the details of their wedding day. We know you'll shed a little tear through it all too. We’re so honoured to bring you Benn & Bobby’s wedding, two courageous gents beaming with joy.
Tell us about how you met? I met Bobby at what was probably the darkest time in my life. We originally ‘met’ on Gaydar (vintage Grindr) but it was several months before our first date when we met for dinner at the Rose Hotel in Erskineville. In the months before our first date I had opened up to Bobby about suffering from depression, and the loss of my business along with a considerable amount of money. Later I found out that many of Bobby’s friends had cautioned him not to meet me given my various ‘issues’. Obviously, we did meet, and not long after sitting down to dinner Bobby had spilled red wine all over me, and that as they say was that, we have been quite inseparable since.
How long ago was this? That first date was September 15th, 2005.
Tell us a little about your relationship... In many ways we were, and still are, the most opposite of personality types, our entire relationship is the definition of contradictory. We both provide a subtle balance to each other, which for anyone who knows us well would understand, has played a noticeable role in defining who we are now as individuals. I often wonder how different we each of us would be if we hadn’t met.
Give us a rundown of the proposal… We were staying at the spectacular Pangulasian Island Resort while on holidays in the Philippines. We arrived on, of all days, Valentine’s Day 2015. That evening the Resort was hosting a Valentine's day dinner by the pool, and not being a huge fan of Valentine’s Day, it took Bobby some convincing to talk me into it. Actually, that’s a lie, I’m obsessed with food and music, so he just showed me the menu and said there would be a Jazz band.
At some point Bobby had said he was going to the bathroom; however, I began to become suspicious after he had been away for an unusual amount of time. My suspicions were confirmed when I saw him returning to the pool area from the opposite direction to that of the bathroom. The only thing I could imagine was that he had snuck quickly back to the bungalow for a cheeky tipple, and in my usual effervescent manner, I accused him of such immediately upon his return. Without allowing him to get a word in, I continued until he finally threw a little box across the table and said ‘here’s ya bloody ring… I was actually planning to say something a lot more romantic, but… will you marry me?’. Curiously I was completely lost for words, the fool knew I hated Valentine’s day. At the very moment of the ceremonial tossing of the ring, the Jazz band started playing Fallen by Lauren Wood, my favourite song from my all-time favourite movie, Pretty Woman. He later tried convincing me he had organised the song, which of course was total and utter rubbish.
It may not sound terribly romantic, but it really was kind of perfect.
When was the wedding? The big day was 30 June 2018.
Benn & Bobby’s story continues below >
How long did you give yourself to plan your wedding? Before same-sex marriage was legalised, we had already been planning our wedding for 2020 in Queenstown. While in New Zealand for Christmas, and after some family health issues, we decided ‘why wait?’, now that Australia had finally legalised same-sex marriages. We decided on June the next year, which didn’t really give us that long.
What was the main influence behind your wedding day? ‘No Grey’! That’s pretty much it. We were lucky enough to have some incredible people who we placed our complete faith in. When you empower the right people, amazingly talented and creative people, and just get out of the way and let them do their thing, magic happens.
What was the 1 thing of major importance that you just had to include in your wedding? One of the most important things in my life is music. Having suffered from Depression for many years, music has been the constant in my life that has always provided support. I often describe the Concert Hall as my ‘happy place’, the simple sound of the orchestra tuning is enough to completely alter my mood. The Queensland Symphony Orchestra is like my second family, and it was my honour to have QSO musicians perform at our ceremony, among them my friend, Associate Principal Cellist Hyung Suk Bae.
Tell us a little about your overall wedding planning experience in regards to being a same-sex couple in a predominantly ‘Bride & Groom’ saturated industry? In all my life I can’t say that I have ever had a negative experience in relation to being gay, and I do feel incredibly fortunate for this as I know this is far from the experience of many LGBT people. From coming out, to my first job, throughout all my personal and professional relationships, until now, I have always felt an overwhelming sense of support. I have never made any apologies for who I am so perhaps it's more related to the fact that I treat any kind of small-mindedness with such triviality that I’ve just become completely oblivious to this kind of negativity.
Our wedding planning experience really was no exception to this. As I write this now and think of the people who contributed to our day, I could honestly now call most of them friends, if they weren’t already.
Where did you find the bulk of your inspiration? Bobby and I both had complete trust in the people around us, we really just wanted to get out of the way and let things happen. Over several months we had a number of on-site meetings at the venue, and many casual conversations which covered various elements such as a colour palette of blush, champagne, and pinks, through to linens, and candle holders. Ultimately, we were after a classic and elegant feel but still relaxed.
How did you choose your suppliers? Xavier (Xavier Nicolle Flowers) was always going to do our florals, I wouldn’t have trusted anyone else. As for the remaining suppliers, it all happened quite organically. Once the ball started rolling, the perfect suppliers seemed to present themselves, mainly through referrals from friends.
Stand out suppliers…
Xavier - Xavier Nicolle Flowers
Xavier… what can I say? There is no comparison. I have never seen anything quite like the florals that she produced for our wedding. I did, in fact, shed a tear when I saw the reception venue for the first time. This was the sentiment echoed by guests and venue staff. Xavier not only took care of the floral design, but she was also responsible absolutely every other detail of the Event Design & Co-ordination from the French linen, handmade candle holders, through to the hand-drawn calligraphy on signage, menus, and place cards.
Alicia - Sandstone Point Weddings
Alicia and the staff at Sandstone Point were without fault. They were extremely accommodating regarding the many requests, the food and wait staff were impeccable, and logistically the day could not have run any smoother.
Katie Takes a Picture
Neither Bobby and I are terribly comfortable in front of the lens, but Katie has an incredible knack of making you feel very relaxed. Bobby and I weren't after the ‘posed’ style of wedding photography, we wanted the essence of the day captured in a more candid way. We couldn’t be happier with the photos that Katie as produced, there is a gorgeous quirkiness to the photography that is just perfect.
Daniel Bentley Jewellery
Because Bobby and I only wanted quite simple wedding bands we were initially just going to buy something off the shelf. I remembered, however, a friend had said her brother was a jeweller which started us thinking it would be nice to have something custom made. I first met with Daniel over coffee to discuss our ideas. We later learned his jewellery has been worn by European aristocracy, national leaders and media personalities, so despite being in total awe, we were a little unsure if he would be particularly interested in making a couple of plain wedding bands. The opposite, of course, was true. We met with Daniel several times, and each time was an absolute pleasure. It was like catching up with an old friend, and he made a point of getting to know Bobby and I as individuals which suggested this was just as important in designing a piece of jewellery for someone as the aesthetics. Daniel is an immensely talented and experienced jeweller, but more importantly, he is also incredibly genuine, warm and kind. At all times Daniel made us feel like his most important clients, and as a result, we each have a unique wedding band, made with such devotion and care, that is so much more than anything we could have purchased off the shelf.
Did you find it difficult to translate more common traditions into a ‘same-sex’ wedding? I wouldn’t say difficult as I doubt, regardless of our sexual orientation, that we would have followed convention in any case. I walked down the aisle with my mum, which was actually dad’s suggestion as he had walked my sister down the aisle. Bobby, who’s mum had sadly passed away, walked down the aisle with our Aunty Maureen, who he always said was like his second mum. I had three ‘henchwomen’ after all vigorously objected to being called bridesmaids or matrons of honour. Bobby had two groomsmen and a grooms-woman.
What was the most challenging thing about planning your wedding? From my perspective, I couldn’t say that anything was difficult, which I am sure is not the case in relation to the planning of the wedding in general. I know Bobby was quite involved with planning the seating arrangements which was a military exercise unto itself.
What is your piece of advice for other couples planning their wedding? If I could offer one main suggestion it would be to surround yourself with a team of people you trust and let them do their job. Both Bobby and I are quite laid back and were adamant about not wanting to get involved. Not only did this equate to almost zero stress, but the whole day was also such a complete surprise, in many cases, we had no idea what to expect.
Any advice for other same-sex couples planning their day and finding it difficult to navigate the journey? Whether it’s your wedding day, or just trying to navigate life, the best advice I could possibly give is to be true to yourself. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel like you need to apologise for who you are.
“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. To be your own man is a hard business. If you try it, you’ll be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.” (Rudyard Kipling in 1935).
Photographer Katie Takes a Picture
Videographer GM Films
Ceremony/Reception Venue Sandstone Point
Celebrant Janette Hunter
Suits George and King Brisbane
Event Design + Floral Design + Co-ordination Xavier Nicolle
Cake Norman Harvey
Stationery White lettering
Vows & Signage KB Lettering
Hire Ivy & Bleu
Ceramic Candle Holders Grit Ceramics
Ceremony Entertainment Members of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra
Reception Entertainment Daryl Murphy Entertainment
Rings Daniel Bentley Jewellery
MUA Subiaco Hair (Elle Zoppi and Team)
Hair and Makeup