A happy couple were finally given the chance to have their love recognised under Australian law on Saturday.
Leanne Benson married Cathryn Meagher at the same-sex wedding many believe has been a long time coming.
The two brides said ‘I do’ during a garden ceremony on the Bloomfield Hospital Grounds, in an open invitation event attended by friends, family and many well wishing members of the community.
Leanne said she’s been calling Cathryn ‘wife’ for years now and was relieved that now it is finally real.
“Cath and I shared an emotional moment this morning before the ceremony,” she said.
“We knew today was going to be a lot, so we took some time together before hand.”
Cath arrived at the altar on the back of a motorbike, to the welcoming chants and cheers of guests.
“Relief. Relief is what we both feel today,” said Leanne.
“Relief that it was a yes from Australia after what was an awful and very painful plebiscite.
“Relief that we didn’t have to go to New Zealand to get married, which we were thinking we’d have to do.”
Leanne said her father and brother, as well as cousins and friends travelled from Sydney, Tamworth and the Central Coast to see them exchange their vows.
“We had a commitment ceremony in front of family in 2010 and now this is the real deal.”
In addition to a celebration of love, the wedding acted as a fundraiser for the Orange Hospital Auxiliary, Headspace and the Housing Plus Women and Children Crisis Accommodation fund.
Eight local businesses and organisations supported the wedding through a range of donations and services.
Cake, barbeque food and drink sales were made possible through the work of many volunteers.
Leeanne Wright is the celebrant who spoke the official words to join the two women together.
“The feeling is fantastic,” said Mrs Wright.
“To know that the couple has waited 17 years to share this day and now it’s finally happened.”
Mrs Wright said it truly was a community ceremony.
“The community here today is family,” said Mrs Wright.
“They’re passionate about this cause and I think it’s brought everyone together.
“I’m very passionate about equality too – why shouldn’t two women that truly love each other be given the same equal rights as a man and woman?”
The newlyweds said they were looking forward to some quiet time off after what has been a very busy week.
Mrs Wright said it was an honour to be part of such an important event.
“Today Orange has truly celebrated,” she said.