Tony & Nic's Civil Union
By Matt Akersten
1st July 2008 - 04:19 pm
Christchurch couple Tony Milne and Nicolas Smith were united in the Botanic Gardens earlier this year, on a special day which included a picnic under the trees with family and friends. Tony answered our questions.
|Nicolas Smith & Tony Milne|
How old are the both of you and where are you both from?
I recently turned 27 and am from Invercargill and Nic recently turned 30 and is from Kaikoura.
Where and when was your civil union?
Our Civil Union was 2 February 2008. We had a morning ceremony outside in the Botanic Gardens in Christchurch, and then a brunch in the Botanic Gardens café. Later we had a picnic for family and friends in the Botanic gardens (which included cricket, frisbee and rugby.)
How did you and your partner meet?
Nic and I first met at a Christchurch gay youth group called Icebreakers. We were later involved in this organisation combing with a few other queer youth groups into an umbrella organisation called Q-topia (Nic has been co-chair of the Q-topia board for 2 years, and I (reluctantly!) became a board member this year).
How long have you been together as a couple?
Since the day after Nic's 22nd birthday in 2000, so we've been together for eight years.
Did either of you propose? Where and how?
A few times after the Civil Union Bill passed Nic casually said "so, should we get a Civil Union?", to which I replied that if he thought that was a proposal he'd better do a better job of it. Late 2004 Nic took me up to a hill overlooking Kaikoura Peninsula, had picked some wild flowers, and proposed to me. I said yes, of course.
How did your families react to the announcement of your Civil Union?
Mostly very good. Some were more excited about it than we were, and there was a bit of a battle for roles in the service! One of Nic's family members didn't come because he doesn't support gay relationships. And a few other family members who came along were unsure about it, but found that the service changed their views for the better. The ceremony and speeches at the brunch were very moving to our families and it opened some of their eyes. Quite a few of our relations said it was the best wedding service they had ever been to.
What kind of ceremony was it? Religious or non-religious?
|The Wedding Party|
Neither Nic nor I are particularly religious, so religion didn't feature strongly in our ceremony. But we did have Rev Margaret Mayman, from Wellington, conduct the service. We got to know Margaret through the Civil Union Campaign (she formed Christians for Civil Union) and is someone that we greatly admire and respect. So it meant a lot to have Margaret officiate.
Did you write your own vows? We'd love to hear them...
We wrote our own vows...
I, Nicolas Jon Smith, freely enter into a Civil Union with you, Tony Robert Milne to be my husband, my constant friend, my faithful partner and my love from this day on. I value the strength, commitment, and passion that you bring to our relationship. I love your shinning eyes, stormy expressions, and strong embrace. I will trust you and respect you, laugh with you and cry with you, loving you through good times and bad, regardless of the challenges we may face together. I give you my hand, my heart, and my love, from this day forward for as long as we both shall live.
I, Tony Robert Milne, freely enter into a Civil Union with you, Nicolas Jon Smith, secure in the knowledge that you will be my one true love. I affirm to you in the presence of all those in attendance my pledge to stay by your side through the good times and the bad.
I affirm that I will tolerate the apple cores you leave lying around and the clothes you leave on the floor.
I promise to share in your passions and in return, you will take my mobile phone off me when I've had too much to drink.
I promise to be your best friend – enjoying movies together, reading good books together, gym buddies together, enjoying good food and friends and time with family together, travelling together, looking after Mischief together, buying a home and paying off a mortgage together.
I will always think I'm right – and you'll agree even when I'm clearly wrong. You'll allow me to dream, but keep my feet on the ground.
We'll be old nana's together in the weekends, and grow old together in our little corner of the world.
I promise to love you without reservation, respect you, comfort you in times of distress, laugh with you and cry with you, always be open and honest with you, and cherish you for as long as we both shall live.
What was the best part of your civil union day?
|The happy couple|
There were so many good bits it is hard to know where to start. The day was in our style – relaxed, family friendly and a morning/afternoon thing. It was wonderful to have our friends and family there to acknowledge our relationships and share the day with us. Two friends, Akira and Aaron, did a lot of the decorating of the Botanic Gardens café and creating the outside space for the ceremony and did a superb job. Our mums walked us up the isle. Our brothers were ring bearers. My younger sister was one of our best women, and our older sisters were ushers and in charge of ensuring the kids all had bubbles. Our dads spoke at the ceremony (as did our best man (Jordan Carter) and best woman (Des Heather), and Tim Barnett MP). The Botanic Gardens café staff was friendly and went out of their way to be helpful (it was their first Civil Union, and I think they were as excited as anyone else!). A friend, Pericles, did the photography and did a fantastic job. And we have nine young nephews and nieces (and other young relatives), so we made the day as child friendly as possible with balloons, and bubbles, and games during the picnic. Nic's brother and sister-in-law from Norway presented us with a special Norwegian gift. The whole day was special.
Was there a worst part of the day? Any stress?
We planned for our Civil Union to be relaxed and laid back, so everything was kept simple and adaptable. Our biggest worry was forecasted rain, so we were a little worried about that, given most of the day was outside! The day was a little cooler than we hoped for, but it was still a nice day.
Did you have a Honeymoon?
We were lucky that Nic's work offered to send him over to New York to work for two months recently, and they sent me over to. So we used that as our opportunity for a holiday and honeymoon.
Do you guys feel any differently now you're Civil Unioned?
Not much different! We feel more secure in that we know the law is on our side if one of us gets ill or dies. And we're currently saving to purchase our first home, which is exciting. But otherwise, our relationship is the same as before.
Are you coupled up? GayNZ.com would love to share your special Civil Union day with our readers. Contact us at: email@example.com.
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