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Saturday 10 October 2009

Grant & Brian's Civil Union

Posted in: Civil Unions
By Matt Akersten - 9th May 2009

Grant & Brian sign the register
Auckland's Urge bear barman Grant Bowyer, 34, and Brian Raymond Smith, 40, from Seattle, Washington, chose a simple union day at the Registar's office "to avoid the stress of a public ceremony - and it was perfect."

They had met at the 'Underbear party' during Sydney Mardi Gras in 2005, after meeting online about a year before that.

Grant and Brian shared two photos from their special day with us, and Grant answered our questions.

Did either of you 'propose'?

We talked about getting married while we were in California last year to lend our support to that state's short-lived marriage law, but abandoned that when it started to look like it would cause problems with immigration. Getting Unioned in NZ was always on the cards, but the talk of marriage in the US just brought it forward.

How did you families react to the announcement of your civil union?

Both our families were very happy, even though Brian's family couldn't be here. But hey, we get to do it all again in the US sometime in the future, and they can come to that one!

Where and when was your civil union?

Sealed with a kiss!
The ceremony was on 20/4/09at the Registrar's office in the city to avoid the stress of a public ceremony, and it was perfect. The reception was at friends' place out in Waimauku a few days later, a barely-organised afternoon party with plenty of food and wine and about 50 guests.

We went for the simple ceremony offered by the Registrar's office. The registrar was friendly and genuinely happy for us, and the ceremony was relaxed and inclusive but very touching. I'd recommend that anyone thinking of becoming unioned in NZ at least take a look at the registrar's ceremony- it's lovely.

Did you write your own vows? We'd love to hear them…

We did, with a little help from the internet. Try not to gag too much...

"I, (person speaking), take you, (person listening and trying not to cry), as my friend and love, beside me and away, in laughter and in tears, through tidiness and disorder, asking that you be no other than yourself, loving what I know of you, trusting what I do not know yet, come what may."

What was the best part of your civil union day?

Apart from getting hitched to the love of my life, you mean? It would have to be swapping places with our best men and witnessing them get unioned straight after us. They've been together 13 years and there wasn't a dry eye in the room.

Was there a worst part of the day? Any stress?

No stress at all on the actual day - the registrar's office ceremony was ridiculously easy. At the reception party the following Sunday though... I'm sure I heard someone refer to me as 'bridezilla'!

Did you have a Honeymoon?

We were going to drive up to the bay of islands the following day, but it was cold and rainy so we stayed in bed. Pathetic, I know, but it was just as much fun. More, perhaps.

Do you guys feel any differently now you're civil unioned?

We're proud of doing our part to advance the cause of same-sex relationships, and of course it's nice to have a symbol of the commitment we had, but our union is still not recognised in so many countries (like the US, Brian's home) that it doesn't change our situation or everyday life. Though I do have to be careful handling the glassware at Urge now- I've already chipped a couple with my wedding band!

Are you coupled up? would love to share your Civil Union day with our readers. Contact:

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Matt Akersten - 9th May 2009