Yay! We finally got the whole scoop on this beautiful, two-girl, two-dress wedding in an Australian winery.

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The offbeat bride: Erica, Executive Assistant

Her offbeat partner: Erin, Human Resources Manager

Location & date of wedding: Margan Winery, Broke NSW (Hunter Valley) Australia — 5 December 2009

What made our wedding offbeat: We booked some amazing accommodation for all our guests for the weekend — each room is lavishly decorated with its own fantasy theme (complete with matching lingerie sets!). We stayed in “Casablanca,” others in “Moulin Rouge” and “Out of Africa” to name a few, and is set on acres of rolling vineyards, making for an awesome weekend and some amazing photos.

the ceremonyThe ceremony/reception was held at a nearby winery. At the ceremony, guests formed a spiral which we entered from separate sides and the ceremony took place in the middle. The spiral symbolised the labyrinth of life — whilst we entered through separate sides of the path, it is a shared one, and the centre symbolized oneness.

Our original idea was to bring everyone together for dinner at the one table somewhere magical that would be an experience to remember. We had seventy guests and one large banquet table in the winery's working cask hall.

4257846944 96f44d0286 m alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)The cake was liquid — a chocolate fountain, and we dipped strawberries rather then cut anything! We had two dancers perform our first dance for us in our matching colours — we started the dance and spun off to the side and the dancers came on and did a contemporary piece that reflected our story… it was stunning.

Then there was the bouquet gift giving involving flowers in teeth, napkins on heads, pirouettes and concluded in the newest and oldest couple recieving the bouqets in honour of new and old love.

Our biggest challenge: Marriage between two women isn't currently legalized in Australia, yet we wanted to create a Partnership that had as many rights that would be accorded to a “traditional marriage” and we wanted our family and friends to understand that for us this was real. We wanted to be able to say, “this is my person — its not a phase — this is what we are agreeing to live our lives by.”

4272260381 8646b1521e m alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)It was difficult to actually track down the sorts of legal documents we'd need. And disheartening to finally acknowledge the discrimination in the laws. Coming from accepting families and living in gay friendly areas, you don't have to face it daily.

We researched a lot and spoke to solicitors until we found the sorts of things we'd need — a domestic partnership agreement, medical enduring guardianship forms, registration of the City of Sydney relationships registrar, wills, financial power of attorneys etc., but we worked it out!

We outlined what each of the documents were during the ceremony and what rights they ensured for each other. The signing of documents part took about ten minutes — way way longer then the song we'd picked out (oops). A few guests came up to us afterwards and said they thought the silence after the song had finished was really powerful as we continued to sign documents — a quiet statement of how much extra we had to do then a normal signing… so worked out well!

the girls

My favorite moment: We weren't pronounced wife and wife, in fact there was no pronouncement. Instead my “bride's babe” read Puck's last speech from Shakespeare's a Midsummer nights dream after we had said our vows.

I'd recited the speech to Erin on a picnic early on in our relationship, after she'd told me she'd watched a version of the play in the gardens we were sitting in — a very romantic moment. And ever since we have called utterly romantic experiences “Shakespeare moments.” The speech itself took on a whole new meaning at the wedding, as it was originally written as an apology to the King, it requests those to not be concerned or offended by what has taken place (two girls marrying) and, by giving their applause, Puck would cast a spell to make it all magically wonderful.

a candid moment

She recited ” Give me your hands if we be friends and Robin shall restore amends” and everyone gave us a standing ovation and we kissed.. classic “Shakespeare moment!”

My offbeat advice: It will feel right when it is and when it doesn't let it go! Dont get caught up in making a statement, get caught up in what feels right.

Theres an image in your head of how you'll look, how they'll look, what it will be like — if you look closer theres sounds and smells and feelings too. Share that with your partner, your family and your friends. Think big, get creative, Google everything. A tiny thought can blow into an amazing concept that you'll remember always and collaboration of those ideas. WOW!

Don't freak out about whether your punk butch friends will mix with your Chanel wearing types or your country boy cousins and the eighty-year-old grandma. Create some fun things to get conversation starting. We had trivia cards with multiple choice questions on us e.g. “Whats Erin's Porn star name — (first pet name, first street name)” that were a massive success. And fun Willy Wonka top hats and feather boas for crazy photo taking, guest signing rocks, plus fantastic wine and awesome music! The experiences made people relaxed and with things to do together it was amazing how well everyone mingled — people who would never approach normally acting like they'd been friends for life!

4273029252 291168dd2c m alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)By the end of the night we had our last song — the DJ played “Ice Ice baby” — people charged the dance floor, absolutely everyone! it was amazing!

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Comments on Erica & Erin’s decadent, artistic, feminine, fantasy, winery wedding

  1. I can't stress enough how gorgeous this wedding is, how gorgeous both brides are, and how much it disappoints me that the marriage laws in Australia are still so discriminatory. This has got to be one of the most romantic OBB weddings I've seen – And the Shakespeare love melts my thespian heart 🙂

  2. This is lovely! I directed A Midsummer Night's Dream this summer, and Puck's final speech always got me a bit choked up. It seems a perfect thing to read on this occasion.

  3. Beautiful! I love it. They look so happy! Too bad Australia doesn't recognize it as a legal marriage, that's sad to see. But so glad to see they overcame it and are now happily married!

  4. What a stunning wedding with beautiful brides and gorgeous dresses (I had a quick look at the link for the dresses and loved that they were made by a designer in a district of Sydney that shares its name with one of the first feminists).

    I wish you all the luck and love in the world and I hope that Australia legalises same sex marriage soon.

  5. Wow! I love this wedding! So much creativity and great ideas, very romantic and symbolic. So many emotions shines through the pictures and story. I'm so glad you found a way to go around the laws and still do what your hearts wanted to do. Congrats!

  6. Hands down most gorgeous, romantic, creative, off-beat, personal wedding on OBB. Shows that beauty is truly individual. Thank you so much for sharing.

  7. Absolutely stunning! The brides, the dresses, the location, everything!
    Congratulations Erica & Erin! All the best to you both.

  8. I love the wedding, and i love the brides' dresses, but I am seriously jonesin' on the bridesmaids' dresses. Yummm!!!

  9. Gorgeous – this is one of the most beautiful weddings, and some of the most authentic sentiments I've ever seen. Hopefully soon people will realize how utterly ridiculous it is not to recognize this union as they would any other. Congratulations ladies!

  10. How lovely. This was obviously a beautiful ceremony. I love the "Shakespeare Moment" – that is so sweet. And I, like many others, hope Australia will someday make your ceremony legal some day. Just as I hope that America will do the same.

  11. congrats!! Where did you get the round lights that are hanging above your dinner table? SO cool…..
    I am also getting married in a winery and am looking for ways to lighten up the room!

    • ah lacey the lights are so gorgeous but they are permanent fixtures of the winery we had the wedding at … so no idea sorry!

  12. Wow, what a visually stunning wedding. You both look gorgeous, and the photography is amazing.
    Wow.

  13. Well done for researching all the legal stuff. I HATE that you have to do it, and am campaigning so that everyone will have the right to marry in Australia, in my lifetime. I became a civil celebrant after the laws in Australia were (in the words of the government at the time) "strengthened", and I was sick at at the thought of how I would feel getting married and having to have those words said at my ceremony.

    What a beautiful wedding. I wish you both every happiness.

  14. This is SO BEAUTIFUL. Congratulations to you both, and major kudos for sourcing and researching all those documents. I cannot believe how elegant and dream-like this is: the colours, the Shakespeare, the contemporary dancers, the newest and oldest couple idea. SWOON! 🙂

    • awwww thanks Sabrina! RE: the new and old couple

      we had two bouquets to give away so we got everyone to stand up, then all single people or those without their partners were asked to pirouette and sit down, then those married in the last 8 hrs were asked to take a flower and put in their mouth, then those in the last year ( Erin's sister) were asked to fold napkins 3 times and place them on their head, then it went in iterations of 2- 5, 5 – 10, 15- 20, 20 – 30 and included chicken dances, can can movements and running the length of the table and more pirouettes before guests sat down. we were left with us with the flowers in our mouth, erin's sister and husband of 3 months and my aunt and uncle who have been married for 43 years standing. Our MC asked us to give our flowers to the couples in honour of new and old love and they were all pretty thrilled when we handed over our bouquets not the flowers in our teeth!

  15. This wedding makes me so giddy and drooly that my fiance cant stop laughing. Everything about it is beautiful, the setting, the dresses (omg, i want both!) and the beautiful beautiful brides. Being in Canada were Gay marriage is legal, i often forget how hard it is for other offbeat brides in other countries that cant marry their partner due to discriminatory laws. Way to make it your own and I can only hope Australia and other nations come around. You both are such an inspiration, congrats!

  16. Beautiful! I love the spiral form of the ceremony. I've found that guests are deeply touched to be a part of the ceremony rather than watching from a distance.

    • the spiral was incredible we had so many guests comment on how much they enjoyed it. We found that the spacing that was necessary to create the spiral between guests meant that as we walked the spiral and then looked out towards our guests during the ceremony – it was impossible to look at a crowd of people – instead you found yourself looking at each of your family and friends as individuals. It made it so intimate – it was just us and them one on one.

  17. What a beautiful event!!! Congrats to you both and hopefully Australia will come around and make it legal!

  18. Oh my god, that last picture is SO HOT. the 15% of me that likes women is all worked up. Brings a whole new meaning to wedding porn.

    I'm just sayin' I hope you both know how lucky you are! It looks like you do!

  19. thankyou so much for all your amazing compliments.. Offbeat Bride was such a wonderful inspiration to us when we we're planning our day … its been so great to be able to share it with you all. xx

  20. Your wedding is so inspiring and beautiful. Congratulations!

    I hope some day soon Australia will realise that it is the PEOPLE and the RELATIONSHIP that matters, not what gender they are. You obviously are very much in love and deserve every happiness.

  21. I am completely stunned and speechless. GORGEOUS is all I can say.

    New goal. To find a dress I feel as beautiful as I think they must feel.

    Oh, and I do have one coherent comment. I'm researching non-traditional ceremony setups like the spiral….if you're reading this, can you say more? I can't quite tell from the pictures how you worked it out.

    LOVE LOVE LOVE.

    • Absolutely!
      find a dress that makes you feel amazing and do not comprimise when your dressmaker says that a meter train is just fine (hehehe – mine was a bit over 2 and a bit – i seriously wanted it to look like it was dripping off me – last picture – PERFECT!)

      regarding the spiral – it is an old wiccan tradition I found and we immediately connected to the sentiment of two paths (although shared) meeting together .. ive attached a diagram to flickr – http://www.flickr.com/photos/eteam/4312296776/ that should explain it for you – basically the chairs were set up in the blacked out area. It will look like – to my original dismay – alot of chairs spread out across the area – its only when you start walking it that people can see the spiral effect… so much fun and amazing to watch from a distance each other as you get closer and closer in..

      • OH I'M SO THRILLED!! I've been looking for something like this FOREVER and couldn't quite pull it off in my head. I imagined we would walk in together but I didn't really like that either. Thanks for the picture. That completely pulled it together.

        Did you have any complaints about people being far away? How many guests were there? I'm wondering if there is an optimal size.

        THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SHARING!!!

  22. wowowow that last photo is so amazing! the red dress looks like a waterfall down the rocks!!!

  23. Oh my goodness! Sooo beautiful. And the last picture in the slideshow is one of my favorites. Congrats!

  24. the spacing was no different then those sitting distances in ur traditional wedding at a chapel… We reserved the inner circle for our immediate family…

    There were absolutely no complaints… Everyone adored it… We had a pa system so everyone could hear and we had about 75 guests plus a few extra chairs.. It could have gone bigger if u had more guests just more to walk and would have been fine smaller too Ud just change the spacing of ur chairs…

    Traditional isles… Ud only walk past a few guests at the edge of the isle… with this… U literally walk past everyone… They all see u up close and personal.. We loved how intimate that was and I did reflect as we walked.. On how each of those ppl as I passed them had drew me nearer to the person that I was now and would be marrying erin. It was a joyful experience

  25. Wow! That last pic is so beautiful! It could be hanging in a freakin' museum!!! *stunned*

  26. I was there and it was Fabulous!!! the girls thought of everything! it was such a magical day, Erica should surely be a wedding planner – so creative – so well thought through – so touching, you can image how many tears there were.
    p.s. the spiral was basically like three circles. the brides and 'brides babes' in the center and family/ friends out further. it was lovely to watch them smile at each of us as they walked in and and 'find each other in the middle. also they passed the rings around the spiral so we all put in our blessings…. very beautiful!

  27. Oooh! I've been waiting for this post, but have been away! I am so happy to see this! You two look so marvelous. Congrats to you both!

  28. I just wanted to say something sort of trivial, not because your wedding is trivial, but because I feel that sometimes the effort of doing something as hard as what you've done shades out the facts of life, and the things that really matter beyond time. That is love and happiness. I love the way your pictures had made me feel, because you seem completely commited and in love. You also look beautiful, and your gowns are stunning.
    When time has passed, in the afterlife, you would remember how you were true to yourself, and how much you love each other.

    Congratulations!

    • antonia – thankyou so much for such amazing words.. you've warmed out hearts and made our day .x

  29. i could barely read through the whole story because i was crying…this sounded so amazing and it shows that it doesn't matter, love is love its always pure and always true…oh man seriously i am the most anti-romance person and i don't ever want to get married, but this is making me rethink everything!

  30. Truly enchanting. I love the final photo in the slideshow collection. I hope my girlfriend and I have just as beautiful of a day.

  31. man, I’m no cryer at weddings, and you guys are complete strangers, so like, why the hell am I tearing up over this? 🙂

    Beautiful, absolutely beautiful story. Everything about it, all those pictures are gorgeous.
    The only, ONLY thing wrong with this, is that same-sex marriage is not recognised in Australia. It makes no sense to me, and even less sense when I witness such depth of love like this.

  32. Oh my goodness! I love this! The dress, the brides….everything is beautiful. I wish I could get that red dress in the US…:-P Congrats ladies!

  33. Any transgender couple liking the Shakespeare speech idea could always do Rosalind’s speech at the end of As You Like It

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