Gorgeous Photos Capture The Emotions Of Australia's First Same-Sex Weddings

The love was palpable.

Following years of fighting for marriage equality, same-sex couples in Australia were granted the right to legally wed in December, after legislation allowing such nuptials cleared in parliament in a landslide vote. The legislation was precipitated by a postal vote, which triggered rallies and marches in support across the country and found Australians to be overwhelmingly in favor of marriage equality.

However, despite the December win, Jan. 9 marked the first day same-sex couples down under were permitted to legally marry without a waiver. Not wanting to wait any longer, dozens of pairs tied the knot as the clock struck midnight and in the hours immediately following, and the emotional social media posts that followed indicate how monumental this occasion was for so many.

In Newcastle, for example, The Evening Standard reports Rebecca Hickson, 32, and her partner of nine years, Sarah Turnbull, 34, were one of the first couples to say "I do." Of the occasion, Hickson told the Daily Mail, "We've already had our big hoo-ha ceremony three years ago but now we get to declare our love for each other again and have it recognized as a real union."


The Evening Standard also profiled athletes Craig Burns and Luke Sullivan, who wed at midnight near the east coast city of Tweed Heads. "It's another way to show your love and appreciation of your partner in front of the people in your life," Burns explained.

Perth couple Gillian Brady and Lisa Goldsmith had a similar idea, choosing to walk down the aisle at a local gay venue called The Court Hotel just after midnight. The West Australian reports the typically private couple made their wedding ceremony open to the public because it represents a turning point in their country's history. "For me it is a momentous occasion because from Tuesday I'll be able to call her my wife," Goldsmith said. "Everyone else can and I don't see why I shouldn't be able to."

Also tying the knot early in the day was Brisbane couple Jak Vaessen and Terry O'Hanlon, who celebrated their seven-year relationship by marrying at 12:01 a.m. in front of 130 guests.

Like Goldstein, Vaessen was thrilled he would finally be able to refer to his spouse as such. "For me to be able to say Terry is my husband is so special ... that it is not an embarrassment, it's just a normal part of Australian life now," he told HuffPost. "We were just going to keep it small, I mean, it's in our house, but so many people wanted to be involved which has been so amazing."

Last but certainly not least, Melbourne couple Ron Van Houwelingen, 50, and Antony McManus, 53, were wed on Tuesday at a theater where they first met over 30 years ago. Though the pair found the legal process to get to this point "horrendous," the long-time activists were more than prepared to get married.

The Daily Mail noted the duo have already held more than a dozen commitment ceremonies thus far, including one on their sixth anniversary in 1993 when marriage equality "wasn't on the radar."

"I suppose it's been a wedding planned for 30 years but we've had really a month to get things together," Van Houwelingen said.

See other photos from the day below. Congrats to all of the newlyweds!


Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.