Tag Archive for civil partnership

Four Years in the Making…

Four years ago today, we put on gorgeous white dresses, walked down the aisle in front of our family and friends, spoke our vows and exchanged rings.  But at that time we were not allowed to use the words “bride” or “wife” in our vows or refer to the commitment we were making as a “marriage”.  Instead, we entered into a civil partnership, something which closely resembled civil marriage in all but name.  Some people might have waited until full equality had been achieved before taking that step, but we were eager to start a family together and wanted to do so from a place of commitment publically declared and legally bound.

On 29th March 2014, the first same sex marriages finally took place in this country and then on 10th December 2014, it became legal to convert a civil partnership into a civil marriage.

We contemplated having a big party to celebrate finally being able to truly say we were married, but priorities change and – as I’m sure those who were there on the day will agree – nothing could ever begin to match the delight of our wedding day.

Instead, today we have visited our local Registry Office to fill out the paperwork and are headed back to our wedding venue for delicious food and relaxing spa treatments.

The four years we have been civil partnered have been amazing.  We have continued to grow and learn about each other and ourselves.  We have been through the struggles of raising newborn twins and enjoyed first steps, first words and watching our children’s personalities blossom.  It hasn’t always been easy and it hasn’t always been sunshine and rainbows but I can definitely say that our relationship is stronger now than it has ever been, even whilst it has changed to accommodate the presence of two other people in our lives.

Marriage isn’t stationary; it’s a constantly moving and growing thing.  It ebbs and flows, reaches pinnacles and nadirs.  It is constantly teaching us more about each other and ourselves and I wouldn’t want it any other way.  We are human, we fall, but I wouldn’t want anyone else there to pick me up again.

So, if you would like to, please raise a glass to us and our marriage – four years in the making!

4 Years in the Making from Becoming Mums on Vimeo.

The Best Best Man’s Speech

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It’s been two years today since L and I tied the knot. The two best years of my life, no question.

As I write this (a couple of days in advance, obvs), she is outside, arranging some kind of surprise for me, whilst I am trying not to eat all of the Marks & Spencer Extremely Chocolatey Chocolate Orange Biscuits (she better hurry up and finish that phone call is all I’m saying).

I know I’ve got all soppy before about how amazing my wife is – and that’s still all true, of course, she’s the best wife and mother I know – but she’s not really one for soppiness. In fact, she would always, ALWAYS, pick a funny card over a soppy one, regardless of the occasion.

And with that in mind, I feel it is only right that I finally share what I truly believe to be the best Best Man’s Speech of all time. I know often at weddings the speeches are hilarious to people who know the bride and groom well, but require a level of insider knowledge in order to really appreciate their humour (indeed, Laura’s dad did a wonderful job with his Father of the Bride speech, but you would have to know a little about Laura to see the immense humour in her joining the Brownies expecting camping and adventure and instead being taught how to make flower arrangements), but somehow my brother managed to turn his Best Man’s Speech into a stand-up routine about lesbian weddings. It had all of our guests absolutely roaring with laughter and people still talk about it today.

So, in the hope that I haven’t built it up too much and left you with a sense of anticlimax, here it is:

The Best Best Man’s Speech (Ever!) from Becoming Mums on Vimeo.

Our wedding in pictures

Our photographer, the wonderfully talented Rich from The Other Day Photography, dropped our wedding album off yesterday evening.  It’s amazing.  I took it into work today and everyone was gushing all over it.  Not only do we have a fabulous album of selected prints, but Rich also brought round a memory stick of all the photos he took of the day, so I can finally post specific pictures and link to vendors with images so that the references make sense.

So, our wedding:

2pm Saturday 13th August, Rowhill Grange Hotel and Spa, Wilmington, Kent


We loved the fact that our ceremony could be outside under a gazebo (although I did have many weather-related panics in the days and weeks leading up to the big day) and the grounds are BEAUTIFUL and made for FABULOUS photographs!


Our music during the ceremony was provided by Stringendo string quartet, who also played whilst our guests arrived and then again during the photographs.  We walked down the aisle to Pachelbel’s Canon in D, signed the register to the Flower Duet (AKA the British Airways music) and walked back up the aisle to All You Need Is Love.

Our flowers were by the amazing Floral Explosion and our bridesmaids’ dresses were Mori Lee.  The colour we chose for the bridesmaids is called ‘Metallic Sage’ and we were so relieved when we managed to find ties that matched for the men in the wedding party!  The maternity bridesmaid dress is by Dessy and is ‘Kiwi” colour.  Flowergirl dresses were from Next (9 year old) and Mamas and Papas (18 month old).  Our flowers were mostly greens, with creams and pinks scattered through, which, amazingly, matched the beautiful gardens and grounds at Rowhill so perfectly.


Floral explosion decorated the gazebo and aisle, and provided our centrepieces and other decoration inside the room where we had the wedding breakfast.  The mosaic vases we found in Selfridges and were one of the first things we bought.  They are made by Indian Ocean and we gave them as gifts to the bridesmaids afterwards.


Our dresses were Pronovias and we bought them in Harrods.  I know.  But we went for a bit of a laugh, thinking we’d get a glass of champagne (we were right) and ended up finding our dresses there.

Our hair and makeup were done by Nicola Beddoes, who was recommended to us by my mother-in-law’s hairdresser and did a brilliant job.  The tiaras were custom made by Beretun Designs.  I’d tried on untold amounts of tiaras, but nothing really made me go wow.  They were all just… tiaras.  But then I saw the asymmetrical starburst design by Beretun and knew I’d found my tiara.

Our seating plan, I mentioned in a previous post, was based on the theme of famous lesbians.  The food for the wedding breakfast was provided in-house at Rowhill and was beautiful, although neither of us ate as much as we would have liked as we were worrying about the speeches.

Our cake was absolutely outstanding.  One of the real indulgences of our wedding was the cake.  We saw it at a wedding fair and after that nothing compared, we had to go for it, despite the cost.  It was made by Linda Fripp and the three layers inside were devil’s food chocolate cake with raspberry and white chocolate ganache, strawberries and champagne, and apple, cinnamon and calvados.  It not only looked stupendous, but tasted absolutely divine!

The DJ was provided as part of the package we booked with Rowhill and he did a great job, keeping everyone dancing all night with a real range of music catering to our taste.  Our first dance was to ‘Parachute’ by Cheryl Cole, which had just been released around the time we got engaged and was very apt as everyone knows we both love Cheryl/Girls Aloud (although let’s not mention Ashley, okay?).

All in an an absolutely perfect day…

Unholy Matrimony

Before we started planning our wedding, I didn’t know much about Civil Partnerships.  I knew that legislation had been passed that afforded gay people the same legal rights as straight people following a ceremony, but I hadn’t given it much thought aside from that.

When we got the first bits of paperwork through from Kent County Council, I went on their website and looked up details about our ceremony.  I was surprised to note that it specified that a Civil Partnership could only be between two people of the same sex.  It hadn’t really occurred to me that this might be something only available to gay couples.  After all, straight friends of mine have had Civil Marriage Ceremonies; what was the difference?

It was my nan who actually asked us that question.  And I didn’t know the answer.  So, like all good 21st Century gals, I turned to Google.

It turned out there wasn’t really a difference.  We could still have a ceremony, although it wasn’t essential, and we would have all the same legal rights as we would if we were a straight, married couple.

But we couldn’t technically, officially say we were married.

When the legislation was introduced, in December 2005, there was still uproar from certain religious circles, despite the fact that the government had specifically avoided referring to this legal recognition of a relationship as a “marriage”.

What it boils down to is that the only significant difference between a Civil Marriage Ceremony and a Civil Partnership is religion.  A Civil Marriage Ceremony may contain religious aspects.  A Civil Partnership may not.

Now this was neither here nor there to us.  We had no desire to include any religious aspects and there are plenty of beautiful secular readings out there to pad out your ceremony and reflect the way the two of you feel about your relationship.

But.

It kind of bothered me.  Bothers me.  The only thing making us have to tick the “Civil Partnered” box, rather than the “Married” box on a form, is religion.

The UK government has announced plans to launch a consultation into gay marriage in March 2012 and this will be the first time any British government has actually considered full marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples.  About bloody time, quite frankly!

I’m incredibly grateful that my wife and I (I’m probably not officially allowed to call her that, but really, “Civil Partner” is a fucking mouthful!) have been able to have a legally recognised partnership, but I do think it’s ridiculous that we’re not allowed to call it a marriage, lest we upset the poor, bigoted religious types*, who preach love and tolerance, but seem to struggle to put any of this into practice.

It’s about time we had real marriage equality in this country.  As far as I’m concerned, I got married to my wife, but I’d quite like the law to recognise that too.

*It’s only fair to say that my ire is directed solely at the self-righteous, prejudice laden religious types, who I know are not representative of all religious people.

Newsworthy

Well, I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who stumbles over referring to my wife when speaking to strangers.  And thanks to everyone who retweeted my last entry.  *waves to new readers*

It’s funny really, because in Marks and Spencer’s the other day, as we placed our items at the till, we were asked if we were paying together.  I didn’t think much of it at the time, but afterwards L said to me, “We get asked that a lot, have you noticed?  It’s because we’re two women.  If we were a man and a woman, they’d assume we were a couple and therefore wouldn’t ask that.”

It hadn’t occurred to me before, but it makes perfect sense and I think she’s right.  Just another example of the assumptions people make over sexual preference, particularly if you don’t meet their expectations of what “gay” looks like.  Again, not an overtly offensive attitude, and to respond with, “ACTUALLY, we’re a couple!” would seem a tad excessive, but a subtle reminder nevertheless that we are still not “the norm”.

In happy contrast to this, we’re officially 100% out at work.  I’d asked the Head on the first day back if he’d mind putting a note in the ‘Welcome Back’ newsletter about our wedding.  He agreed it was a good idea, as gossip and speculation had been on the increase amongst the older children last term; it made sense to be open about it, demonstrate an attitude of acceptance and encourage everyone to be happy for us.

It took a week or so for him to write the newsletter and I started wondering if it was going to materialise at all, but Thursday afternoon we both got an email asking us to read over what he had written and make sure we were happy with the phrasing and the tone.  We were and the letter went to print, to go out at the end of the day on Friday.

Ironically, L actually had my class on Friday afternoon.  For those of you not in the know about teaching, every teacher is entitled to 10% Planning, Preparation and Assessment (PPA) time every week.  This works out as about one morning a week out of class.  Because we have a very big school, not every teacher can have their PPA time in the mornings and so in Years 5 and 6, we have one afternoon each, plus every 4th Friday (Yes, it’s complicated, but it’s our legal entitlement, so that’s how it has to be done).  L has done PPA cover for quite a few years; she’s a PE specialist and that’s what she does with the classes she covers.

So, it happened to be my Friday afternoon and L took my class out for PE.  I’d pointed out that, because I stay in my room to work (mark books etc) we’d probably both be there when the children were given the letters.  Normally, the teacher covering you would take your class out at the end of the day, but I’d offered to go with her and present a “united front” if we’d decided it was necessary.

In fact, most of the children folded up the letters and put them in their book bags, showing about as little interest as is humanly possible.  We’d agreed that if they had twigged and started asking us questions, I’d take them out to the playground with L, but as they hadn’t even read the letter I stayed at my desk, whilst L took them outside.

As they left the room I started to feel anxious.  I’d been so eager for the announcement to go out that I hadn’t really thought about how I’d feel when it finally did.  For the first time I felt thin waves of panic wash over me.  What if we got some bad reactions?

As my class walked down the corridor and crossed paths with the other Year 6 class, I began to hear our names above the buzz of general conversation.  I sat there for a while, suddenly glad I wasn’t out there in the firing line.  But then I started to feel guilty.  I decided I’d walk across the playground to the staff room and get a sense of how L was getting on with the parents.

I needn’t have worried.  She grinned at me as I headed across the playground, so I knew she was ok.  In fact, she’d had parents falling over themselves to pass on their congratulations.  It was lovely.

In other news, I’m hoping to get to the hospital during my PPA time on Tuesday to get some blood tests done.  Unfortunately this relies on my body co-operating as the tests need to be performed on day 2, 3 or 4 of my period, so it has yet to be seen whether or not I will be able to use my PPA time to do this.  If not, I know I’ll have permission to leave school and some kind of cover will be arranged for my class, but I’d rather get it done on Tuesday when I know it won’t cause any extra inconvenience to anyone else.

We have an official appointment at Guy’s a week Monday, which I’m very excited about, because that will be when we really start to get the ball rolling and things start to happen.

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