On the morning of their wedding day, Max and Charles were up early. They had a light breakfast on their terrace and spent the rest of the morning checking their clothes, ensuring the rings were in a safe place and went over their vows. They each wanted to memorise their vows and not use prompt cards. To help with this they had written the vows themselves and kept them short and simple.
They had chosen matching light grey suits and plum coloured shirts that they would wear open necked. Neither of them had worn ties for many years and would not have felt comfortable wearing them.
Craig and Justin were also up early to prepare for the wedding. They were excited about catering for their first wedding for two older men, they had quickly grown fond of.
“Yeah, they are a really great couple and I’m so happy for them. I want them to have a special day, I hope they like the surprises we have planned for them.”
“I think they will, now let’s get this stuff over to the reception venue early, so we can get to the park in time for the ceremony.”
“Yeah, as ring bearer, I can’t be late, and it wouldn’t be a good look for a wedding planner.”
The wedding ceremony was scheduled to commence at 3.00pm in Queens Park, on the Bondi side. The spot had been booked with the local council and Craig had arranged for a small marquee to be erected one hour before starting time. There were chairs for the less able and decorations in a red and white theme, the colour of the boys AFL team, the Sydney Swans.
It was only a short drive to the park from their home but they had decided to treat themselves to a limo ride for their once in a lifetime day. The chauffer had them at the marquee at exactly 2.45pm so they could have a brief chat with Paul, the marriage celebrant and hand over the rings to Justin for his role as ring bearer in the ceremony. About 50 guests had been invited to the ceremony and Max and Charles were delighted to see them all chatting happily when they arrived. They dispensed with many of the traditions of marriage ceremonies. There were to be no best man, groomsmen or other attendants. As Max put it when they were discussing who would be best man “You are the best man I know Charles. So it is only you I want by my side.”
They had opted for just a ring bearer and of course required two witnesses. One was Max’s brother, the other Charles’ sister.
At exactly 3.00 pm, Paul asked the assembled guests for their attention and the ceremony began. The boys did not march down the aisle but instead stood to one side of the celebrant and Justin on the other side.
“Family and friends you have come here today to join Max and Charles in a celebration of their wedding. But today is as much about celebrating the many years they have already spent together, as it is about the rest of their lives together. Most couples that I marry are usually setting out on a new life together, but today Max and Charles are not only marrying but also observing their 50th anniversary together.”
Paul paused for the guests to indicate their joy with applause. Then looking at the boys said, “I am duly authorised by law to solemnise marriages according to law. Before you are joined in marriage in my presence and in the presence of these witnesses, I am to remind you of the solemn and binding nature of the relationship into which you are now about to enter. Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of two people, to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.”
Paul then looked to the guests and continued, “In their hearts Max and Charles are already committed to each other. They’ve had fifty years to get that right. This ceremony gives formal recognition to that commitment.”
Charles and Max smiled at each other and looked at Paul as he asked, “Max, would you please make your commitment to Charles?”
As planned they then turned to face each other, held hands and Max started. “Charles, I love you secure in the knowledge that you are my best friend, my dearest, my lover and my kind and adoring partner. We were each given two hands and two eyes, but only one heart - to share with another - I vow to continue to share my heart with you. Hold my hand as we continue through life together.”
“Max you are my best friend, my beloved and my true soul’s companion. I know you as my love, who has always been and always will be there for me. I stand here as your loving partner and proclaim my love in order to share with you, but also to share our love with our community of friends and family.”
They then turned towards their guests and said together. “Today is the culmination of a dream, come true. We stand before you today about to continue our lives together and take the opportunity to reaffirm our love in front you our closest family and friends. All are welcome to witness, all are welcome to love, all are welcome to our home, built on a foundation of kindness our love."
“Thank you gentlemen, now dear guests it is time for Max and Charles to exchange rings. Rings as a symbol of marriage are thought to have originated in Ancient Egypt. The ring finger on the left hand is believed to have been chosen at that time as there is a vein in that finger that runs directly to the heart. The circle of a ring represents eternal love as it has neither a beginning nor an end.”
As Paul told the brief history of wedding rings, Justin stepped forward dressed in white trousers and a red jacket, in accordance with the colour code of the day. He began to search the pockets of his jacket, but could find no rings. He looked blankly at the guests and paused... Then with a hand gesture and a facial expression indicating a ‘light bulb moment’, he paused again for a few seconds. Then he removed his jacket to reveal his almost bare chest. The sight of his well developed pecs, pierced nipples and rippling abs had more than a few of the guests goggle-eyed. He was wearing stainless steel nipple hooks and on each hook hung a gold ring. The guests laughed as Max and Charles reached forward and each took their ring from Justin’s chest.
Paul then continued, “Friends, Max and Charles will now exchange rings to symbolise their eternal love for each other. However, this is not the first time these rings have been exchanged. Charles will explain.”
“Thank you Paul. Exactly forty years ago, which was the tenth anniversary of our life together we gave each other these rings to celebrate that milestone. We had to purchase them separately because the first jeweller we went to would not sell us matching rings as he felt such a thing was inappropriate for his business and his beliefs. Needless to say he did not get a sale and we purchased two rings from another store on two separate occasions.”
As Max took Charles’ hand he said, “This ring is a promise that you will never be alone, while I still breathe.” Then he placed the ring back on his partner’s finger.”
Charles did the same as he made the following promise, “I give you this ring with my pledge to be the best partner I can be, with trust, love and devotion.”
The guests then broke into spontaneous applause. Still standing nearby, Justin thought he could see a tear flowing from Max’s eye and heard a sniffle from Charles. Paul then said, “As you have promised before us to love each other and to share your lives together, both in good times and in not so good times, I now declare that you are married and wish you every happiness.” The beaming couple smiled at Peter and thanked him.
“Friends and family it is now time for Charles and Max to sign the Certificates of Marriage.” The celebrant, the couple and their siblings went to a table at the side for the official signing. After completing this Paul presented the certificate and said, “It is now all official.” As the boys took their certificate they kissed to the sounds of oohs and aahs from the guests.