Nearing the 6 month anniversary of their beautiful December wedding in the Adelaide Hills, Henry Gower and John Tillett reminisce on their extraordinary day.
Following the historic postal survey where Australia voted yes to making same-sex marriage legal, there was some speculation to whether the bill would be passing House of Representatives in any hurry. Painfully overdue, but timely in a way that politics never typically is, Federal parliament passed the bill on December 8th where the definition of marriage was changed to ‘the union of two people’. Just 8 days later, Henry Gower and John Tillett were the first same-sex male couple to marry in Australia, and the first same-sex couple to marry in South Australia.
Looking back on the ‘Yes’ vote, Henry and John celebrated by enjoying dinner with a few of their closest friends. ‘It felt like a little bit of justice for the LGBTIQ community after the public vote.’ John says.
After the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Australia, selected same-sex couples were exempt from the 30-day cooling off period. The two had planned to have a larger commitment ceremony in Australia in December, back home, before officially marrying in a smaller ceremony in New Zealand. But just two days prior to their commitment ceremony, Henry received a call. ‘[It was] from the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Office SA confirming that we fulfilled the criteria for a shortening of the application period for a licence to marry.’ Henry says. ‘I burst into tears, thanking her for the amazing news. We added John into the call and he also burst into tears!’ The pair celebrated with their family and grooms party that night at their rehearsal at their home in North Adelaide.
Learning that their paperwork for their marriage had been successfully fast-tracked was a total shock for the pair. ‘Even after the law changed we didn’t think it would be possible to arrange a license.’ Henry and John had only formally applied for a shortening of the application period on Thursday December 14, two days before the wedding. ‘The next day it was granted! It was surreal finding out we were to be legally married just 36 hours prior to our wedding.’
With the complete surprise that came with the news just hours before the wedding, the couple decided to keep their news a secret, to be revealed on the big day. ‘Our grooms party and each of our families knew we had been granted the license, which made it easier to keep the secret.’ the couple says. But at the ceremony, with a room full of blissfully unaware guests, the two were tight-lipped up until the moment that Marina, their celebrant announced that the two were about to be legally wed. ‘When Marina announced it, there was a lot of emotion! It was such an amazing surprise to share with our friends and family.’ Henry’s favourite moment of the wedding was surprising everyone and celebrating together with huge and emotional toast, and John’s was celebrating the day with each other and their nearest and dearest.
The meet-cute | Henry hosted an open inspection for a house in Kent Town in August 2015. We ended up chatting the whole time!
The lead-up | We’ve been together for 2 years!
The proposal | I (Henry) surprised John after picking him up from work. We got home and I ran inside from the garage and quickly got down on one knee and proposed with a pair of personalised cuff-links! We then had a beautiful dinner with champagne together in our courtyard.
The planning | We found working with our vendors an absolute pleasure. We were lucky, as we already knew a number of our suppliers socially, from previous events. They held our hand through the process. The businesses we worked with seemed to understand the mandate for the day.
The date | 16 December 2017
The venue | Mandalay House & Garden, Adelaide Hills
The guest list | 230 guests
The honeymoon | We decided to stay in Australia. We went up to a resort in Hamilton Island which was so very relaxing. We then finished the honeymoon off in Wolgan Valley in the Blue Mountains! Beach and country! It was perfect.
Married life | We are having a ball. It’s a really nice feeling to know that we have each other till the end. Through thick and thin. Commitment is really important thing to both of us. Our parents both have strong marriages and we really value that.
Wedding bands Bell & Brunt
Suits P. Johnson Tailors
Photography Two Tell a Tale
Flowers Tynte Flowers
Styling one Rundle Trading Co.
Cake Sugar and Spice Cakes
Graphic design Milly Howell
Words by Megan Voo
Megan is a content writer, producer and graphic designer based out of Melbourne.