Bec and Amy were friends before they fell in love, but their journey to become married was harder than most. The newlyweds share their love story with Escape Southern Highlands. Photographer Thomas Stewart was there to capture their joyous wedding day.
IT was The Beatles who sang the words ‘The long and winding road that leads to your door’, and Bec and Amy know better than most that life can be a twisting trail.
Amy, a nurse, and Bec, who works in communications, live in Canberra. First they were friends, then they became lovers, and then came the day that Amy decided they should make their love official.
‘Amy took me on a walk up our favourite hill, which has gorgeous views over the mountains on the outskirts of Canberra,’ recalls Bec. ‘It’s a beautiful, peaceful place and we love walking up there to escape from the world for a few moments. It was the most perfect place to be proposed to, with those beautiful views, and such a lovely moment – I wasn’t expecting it at all!’
Despite the initial surprise, Bec says her answer was a no brainer.
‘I love how caring Amy is, fiercely so. She can’t walk past a person who needs help without offering, and nothing is too big or small for her to help out with.’
The couple immediately looked to Kangaroo Valley, a place on the edge of the Southern Highlands and close to their hearts, to host their special wedding.
‘We spent a year in a long distance relationship when we first became a couple,’ says Amy. ‘During that time we spent a lot of weekends in Kangaroo Valley, which is a perfect halfway point between Canberra and Sydney. There is very little phone reception there, which meant when we were first going there on weekend trips to get to know one another, we were forced to completely switch off from the outside world. So it is a very special place to us and the no phone reception on our wedding day appealed too. We wanted our guests to be able to appreciate being present with us on the day and not worrying about anything else that was going on. It always had to be Kangaroo Valley for us.’
Bec and Amy’s wedding on March 17 felt extra special to them, their family and friends after a long campaign for marriage equality. They were elated when on November 14 last year the Australian public voted to legalise same sex marriage and on December 7 when Australia’s federal parliament legislated to allow two people, regardless of their sex, to marry.
‘Our wedding was a few short months after the marriage equality vote and it ended up being one of the first legal same sex marriages in Australia,’ recalls Bec.
‘We wanted our ceremony to reflect how hard we had fought for equality and to recognise how grateful we were for all of our family and friends who had been by our side every step of the way through the campaign.
‘Our celebrant, Nina, helped us to recognise and acknowledge the LGBTIQ community who had paved the way and fought for our right to marry long before the vote was announced. We included a quote from Penny Wong in our ceremony, talking about the importance of equality and its contribution to the Australian community.’
Amy takes up the story.
‘Ours was the first same sex wedding that many of our guests had been to, and that made it a pretty special event. It brought to light why we had all fought so hard for marriage equality. It was an emotional ceremony, and so personal and special to us. I think it’s fair to say there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.’
The couple held their ceremony on a friend’s property and then moved to the nearby Upper Kangaroo River Community Hall for the reception. Situated next to the historic footbridge that spans the Kangaroo River, the hall is a cultural foundation of the local community.
‘We fell in love with the Upper Kangaroo River Hall. It was exactly our style. We felt so privileged to be able to celebrate our marriage in a venue with such history and importance to the Kangaroo Valley community,’ says Bec.
The couple added lots of DIY elements to personalise the day.
‘We are lucky to have lots of crafty friends who helped us out,’ laughs Bec. ‘One of Amy’s very talented sisters did all of our flowers for us, and another handmade our beautiful arbour. Two of our friends made jams and relishes from produce grown in their own garden for our wedding favours. My nanna altered my wedding dress and made my sash by hand. And we spent months collecting vintage amber glasses and decorations for the tables from op shops all over the ACT and NSW, and combined them on the tables with olive branches from my mum’s garden and eucalypts from my nanna’s garden. We felt incredibly lucky to have so many talented friends and family members willing to help us out, and it made the day feel so much more personal and special.
As the temperate climbed to an unseasonably hot 35 degrees, Bec and Amy walked down the aisle separately, each accompanied by their mum and dad, and surrounded by love. Eighty guests, including an uncle who flew in from Los Angeles the night before and two friends from Cambodia, witnessed them saying their vows to one another.
‘It was important to us to write our own vows, and they were perfectly easy to write, but neither of us had anticipated how terrifying it would be reading them out in front of our family and friends,’ says Bec. ‘In the end, though, it was one of my favourite parts of our day, and I would recommend writing your own vows to anyone. It makes the ceremony so much more meaningful.’
The couple went for a relaxed vibe for the reception, with a taco van, just a few speeches and dancing until late under the stars. They eschewed traditional wedding traditions such as a first dance after they became a source of anxiety during the arrangements.
‘So why do them?’ says Amy. ‘That was one of the best decisions we made.
‘Also, my mum read a beautiful Bible passage that had been read at her own wedding. It was important to us that this little piece of our upbringing and her history was incorporated into the day.’
Bec and Amy said they would relive their wedding day a thousand times over if they could.
‘Seeing the people most important to us all in the one place, all so happy and carefree after what had been such an intense period during the marriage equality vote was incredible,’ says Bec. ‘It really felt like everything we had fought for had finally worked out, and it was our first opportunity to get together with everyone who had campaigned during the vote to really thank them and celebrate with them. There was such a feeling of love in the air the whole day.’
LOCATION: Ceremony at a private property, reception at Upper Kangaroo River Community Hall
BRIDES’ OUTFITS: Maggie May Bridal and BHLDN
CATERING: Cantina Movil Mexican food truck, My Little Peony vintage caravan bar
WEDDING CAKE: Sweet Bones Bakery Café
CELEBRANT: Nina de Borde
PHOTOGRAPHER: Thomas Stewart
VIDEOGRAPHER: La Lune Cinema
MAKE UP & HAIR: Makeup by Megan and Niki Simpson Hair & Makeup