From Erica: When we planned our two weddings in 2010 (see parts 1 & 2), we honestly did not believe that we would see marriage equality in the US or the UK anytime soon, so when SCOTUS overturned California’s Prop 8 in June 2013, we were ecstatic! We went out to celebrate, and started fantasising about flying home and getting LEGALLY married in San Francisco City Hall, in my home state… I may have even gone out and bought a cute, white cotton £20 dress in a moment of excitement! We may have even started talking about updating my engagement ring to include some sparkly stones and talking about what kind of party we would want to throw!
Then, in July 2013, the UK passed the Marriage (Same Sex) Act and suddenly marriage equality was happening in England!* But what did that mean?! We were already civilly partnered here; could we go get a marriage certificate in the US and have it recognised here? Would the UK come up with a way for us to allow those thousands of couples who were civilly partnered to get married (if they wanted to)?? We had to wait until December 2014 for the UK government to get their act together and make it happen. Their solution: we could have the option of a ‘conversion ceremony’ whereby our legal relationship status would change from a ‘civil partnership’ to a ‘marriage’ and we would be issued a new marriage certificate with our original wedding date. Good ol’ bureaucracy….
Eventually, we calmed down from all the excitement and started to get practical. We decided on a small ‘conversion’ ceremony at our local town hall in London whereby we would renew our vows and then throw a party afterward at our favourite local pub. My parents were visiting in July 2015, so after having a spring wedding and an autumn wedding, we figured we should have a summer wedding as well! The day SCOTUS ruled on Obergefell v Hodges in June 2015, we were signing the preliminary paperwork for our conversion ceremony—we took it as a good sign!
The day was joyful and easy. Our closest friends, family, and godchildren joined us at the town hall ceremony. Colleagues of mine were busy decorating our rented brick barn in the beer garden of our local pub with bunting, pink balloons, and strings of hearts and we had jugs of Pimms on arrival. There were three Victoria sponge cakes with strawberries—one for each wedding—and a ton on Tunnock’s Tea Cakes! There was a perfect toast by my friend, Alex gave a speech (finally!), and another friend offered to sing ‘Married’ for us from Caberet! We ate, drank, and hung out with our friends until the evening when we hosted a 5-part pub quiz that’d we’d written! A great day…
Six weeks later, we met up with photographer Albert Palmer to take some loved-up couples photos of us in our adopted city. They were everything we’d hope they would be and perfectly captured us, five years into our version of married bliss.
*As of 2014, marriage equality is a possibility in England, Wales and Scotland. Northern Ireland remains under different laws and they are fighting their own battle there. However, after the Republic of Ireland passed marriage equality in 2015, I have hope for N.I.!
Photos courtesy of Albert Palmer Photography.