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Sunday 09 April 2017


Tahlia and Phillippa's Civil Union

Posted in: Weddings & Civil Unions
By Jacqui Stanford - 20th April 2011

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Tahlia and Phillippa, both 30, celebrated their Civil Union in front of 50 of their closest friends and family on 11 March, 2011. They share their love story with GayNZ.com.

It was an across the dancefloor sighting that sparked the romance between the two women. Tahlia spied Phillippa at the last Hero Party, and though they didn't speak, Phillippa clearly made an impression. “I was living in Whangarei at the time and came back to Auckland two weeks later, and saw her again on the dancefloor at Family,” Tahlia says. “I was trying to work up the nerve to talk to her and got as close as dancing my way next to her when the girl she was with put her hand on her butt and it turned out she was on a date.”

Did that stop Tahlia? Hell no. She tracked Phillippa down on a social networking site and emailed her: "I don't want to sound like a stalker but were you the girl at Hero with the guy from the Burlesque troop and were you at Family a week ago in a striped shirt?"

She was that person indeed and the pair started emailing and talking to each other. “It was a great way to start out,” Tahlia says. “I was in Whangarei, she was in Auckland and it gave us the time to get to really know each other.”

And get to know each other they did. Sure they are a little different; Tahlia works with Tertiary students and loves dance parties and electro, whereas Phillippa works for the Government, plays soccer and is a huge gym bunny … and learning about each other, they gradually fell in love. “We both realised that we were in love the same night,” Tahlia says. “We were watching a friend DJ and there was real symmetry in the fact that we both had the 'I love you' moment watching the other dance.”

The romantic couple got engaged on a pier in Waitangi in January 2010. They had both been in serious long-term relationships before that hadn't worked out. “Being together we realised that we had met the person we were always meant to be with,” Tahlia says. “Things make sense when we are together. We have similar values and beliefs, we want similar things from life, we laugh and have fun, we are going in the same direction.”

They decided to get married to formalise their relationship and share their love for each other with family and friends. “Being together feels like coming home and what better way to celebrate that then with all the people we love and a party,” Tahlia explains.

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The women held their Civil Union at Stonewillow Cafe in Pukekohe:

We were the first Civil Union to be held there and they were really wonderful. We held the ceremony in the cafe grounds and then had the reception at the cafe. The setting for our ceremony was a shaded grove in the garden - it was really magical. The whole affair was relaxed and intimate. The staff at the venue were amazing and made the whole day completely stress free.

Our ceremony was really special and unique. A close friend sang Halo by Beyonce as we walked in together. It was really important to us that we start the journey together. Our ceremony was officiated by Peta Hardley. She was really fantastic and really took the time to get to know us and our story, which she shared with all of our guests. As part of the ceremony we asked our friends and family to pledge their commitment to supporting our relationship now and in the future and also passed our rings amongst the guests so that they could infuse our rings with their love and good wishes. We wanted everyone to really feel like they were part of our day. It was all captured by our photographer, Justin Aitken, who did an amazing job of finding the essence of our day and translating it into film.

We were joined by 50 of our closest friends and family from Australia and all over New Zealand. For many of our guests it was their first Civil Union. One of the funniest comments came from a close family friend, and Civil Union virgin, who was overwhelmed by the love, symbolism and thought that had gone into ceremony. She was so moved that she had to ask Tahlia's Mum "is the ceremony so lovely because they are gay?" That was priceless.

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One of the most memorable moments was our sand blending ceremony - to symbolise our coming together. Phillippa had black sand from Port Waikato near where she grew up and Tahlia had white sand from Rarawa beach in the Far North. The blending of the sand signified not only the union of our lives, cultures and families, but also that to separate us would be as difficult as separating each grain of sand from the other. It was a really touching moment. We have the sand in our lounge as a reminder of our day and the commitment we have made to each other.”

Looking forward to the future, Tahlia and Phillippa believe it will be and adventure. They are looking forward to travelling, supporting each other's careers and taking things as they come. “The only thing that is a definite is that we both want a dog - it's a terrible cliché but it's the truth. Beyond that we are looking forward to tackling whatever life throws at us together.”


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Jacqui Stanford - 20th April 2011