'We do' at midnight to celebrate new dawn for same-sex marriage

The first same sex weddings on Australian soil have taken place, with Canberra men Joel Player and Alan Wright saying ‘I do’ minutes after midnight in an emotional ceremony at the National Carillon.

In front of 20 guests on the nearby footbridge, the pair promised to be each other's "lawfully wedded husband" and at 12.12am on December 7, 2013, shared their first kiss as a married couple to a chorus of cheers.

Mr Player, 30, and Mr Wright, 34, shared the first marriage honour with at least one other pair, as West Australian state politician Stephen Dawson and Dennis Liddelow were married outside Parliament House at 12.01am.

Mr Player told his partner of seven years that he loved him with all his heart, and could not live without him.

Mr Wright responded by expressing through choked tears his joy at being able to formally call his soulmate, best friend and lover, his husband.

"”Whenever it feels though the world is against me, you are there with a shoulder to cry upon and a smile to make it all not so bad," he said.


Mr Player wore a black checked bow tie and Mr Wright a silk mint tie at the historic ceremony, held in cool eight-degree air beside Lake Burley Griffin.  

The Bruce couple had approached the event as a renewal of their vows, having taken part in commitment ceremony four years ago, the moment they considered themselves married.

Their language at Saturday’s ceremony was largely the same as then, and they exchanged the same rings, with references to partner simply replaced with husband.

Mr Wright shed tears as he took a phone call from his mother immediately after making his vows.  

In a step away from tradition, the "reception" was celebrated first, with guests joining at the couples’ home from 7.30pm for a dinner party.

Mr Player said he had made a rainbow-coloured cake, covered with white icing.

Guests – who had travelled from as far as WA as well as Albury, Sydney and Callala Beach – were then given a card at 9.30pm revealing the ceremony's secret location.

Mr Wright is a public servant with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and Mr Player an events manager at the Mawson Club.

The threat of the High Court striking down the ACT’s same-sex marriage laws next week was set aside as they exchanged vows and rejoiced with friends beneath the 55 bronze bells of the National Carillon overlooking Lake Burley Griffin.

"To have it finally legalized, it’s a big step for us in our relationship, so we’re just wanting to get it done," Mr Player said before the ceremony.

Mr Wright said the decision to get married in the middle of the night was made not for a grab at history, but to fulfill the words of their celebrant Sharyn Gunn - who performed the couple's commitment ceremony.

"She said the minute it becomes legal, you two are going to be the first I marry," he said.

Mr Player, 30, said he viewed each of the couples making their vows under the ACT's landmark marriage equality law this weekend as the first, but the couple had embraced the prominence of being "12.01" to promote the message of acceptance.

"We’re doing it at midnight because that’s what we want to do … but at the same time we sort of took it in our stride to use it as a bit of marriage equality shining at the same time, and helping get the voice out there that we are no different," he said.

"It’s a bloody giant leap forward for Australia."