Same-sex couples take the serious leap into married life

By Vaimoana Tapaleao

Thirty-one couples were married around the country yesterday. Herald reporters were there for some of the ceremonies.

Ponsonby wives

It could have been any other wedding, except for a few variations such as, "I now pronounce you wife and wife", and cheers of "hip-hip, gay" at the reception.

Tash Vitali and Mel Ray's marriage licence was picked up from the Department of Internal Affairs the minute it opened at 8.30am and was whisked up to the Auckland Unitarian Church in Ponsonby by motorbike.

The congregation cheered as it was brought into the church as the Rev Dr Matt Tittle conducted the ceremony.

Tash Vitali said she was "so excited" and proud to be among the first gay couples to marry in New Zealand. The couple won ZM's Fabulous Gay Wedding competition.

Labour MP Louisa Wall, whose bill to legalise same-sex marriage was passed into law in April, said the ceremony was what all her hard work had been about.

- Matthew Theunissen of APNZ

Historic Rotorua

Not only was their ceremony one of the first same-sex weddings in New Zealand, but it took place in one of the most photographed buildings - the Rotorua Museum.

There was little ordinary about the joint wedding of Jess Ivess and Rachel Briscoe, of Paihia, and Christchurch couple Richard Rawstorn and Richard Andrew, yesterday morning.

The registry office even opened half an hour early for the 8.30am ceremony, held before 100 people in the museum's grand foyer and broadcast live by The Edge FM.

In a symbolic touch, the outside of the building was lit in rainbow colours, before the couples arrived by limousine.

Mr Andrew and Mr Rawstorn had formally ended their civil union so they could tie the knot.

- Jamie Morton

Love in the air

Lynley Bendall and Ally Wanikau pledged their love for each other thousands of feet up in the air.

The Auckland couple exchanged pounamu necklaces instead of rings in front of their family, friends and international media on board an Air New Zealand flight from Queenstown.

Cheers, applause and whistles erupted as celebrant Kim Jewel Elliot proclaimed: "You are married!"

Modern Family star and marriage equality advocate Jesse Tyler Fergusson, who was recently married himself, was a guest at the ceremony and toasted the newlyweds at the reception in a hangar at Auckland Airport.

Ms Bendall said the whole morning had been "overwhelming" but she was clearly thrilled to finally be able to marry her partner of 13 years.

Yesterday was the third time the couple had publicly committed themselves to each other. In 2001, they had a commitment ceremony and in 2009, they had a civil union.

The couple won the Love is in the Air competition after their three children, Javarn, 9, Maycee, 7, and Mikaere, 6, made a video about how much they wanted their mothers to be married.

- Amelia Wade

Aussies say I do

Paul McCarthy and Trent Kandler yesterday became the first Australian gay couple married in NZ.

The Newcastle couple won a Tourism New Zealand competition to be flown to Wellington for the ceremony at Te Papa, with a reception at Martin Bosley's restaurant.

Watched by about 20 friends and relatives - eight paid for by Tourism NZ - they exchanged vows after 11 years together.

NZ Tourism Board chairwoman and former Wellington mayor Kerry Prendergast was the celebrant.

The couple's first holiday overseas together was in the South Island, so NZ has a special meaning for them.

Change of status

Whitney Keller and Mara Milani donned white shirts with the words "I do" written across them for their special day.

The couple - originally from Australia and Italy, respectively - live in Auckland and have been in a civil union for almost two years.

They turned up to the Internal Affairs Department in downtown Auckland yesterday to marry before the registrar.

The women smiled at one another as they were given the formal papers to fill out to make it all official.

- NZ Herald

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