A Magical Day in Brisbane

There wasn’t a dry eye in Customs House last Saturday when Professor Alan McKee and Anthony Spinaze were married. Following four years of courtship, the couple declared their love and commitment to a hall packed with close friends, relatives and chosen family.

After an exceptionally wet and gloomy week in south east Queensland, the clouds parted and sunshine gave its heavenly blessing to the gathering crowd.

Brisbane‘s high society, in all it’s diversity, glittering in their finest finery, fronted the paparazzi to gather in a courtyard beside the tranquil, shimmering Brisbane River. Champagne flowed, the sun set as the pianist took his seat, and from a balcony high above the gathering, the grooms greeted their glittering guests.

In an occasion described as setting a new benchmark for 21st century matrimonial celebrations, the grooms and bridal group made their entrance to the accompaniment of The Cure’s ‘Love Song’. Mr Grant Power, the ‘celebrant’ reassuringly guided the elegant couple through their uniquely crafted ceremony, uniting them for life.

Only four years ago, Alan and Anthony were different people.

Alan lived an ordered and meticulous life, focussed largely on his academic career.

Anthony didn’t live an ordered or meticulous life. And then four years ago they met and fell in love. Each has grown because of the other. Even more importantly, they have grown as a couple, drawing strength from the other’s companionship.

In many ways they are the perfect pin-up couple. Marriage comes naturally“, said Power.

The grooms exchanged vows, and kissed tenderly as husband and husband, to a rapturous standing ovation.

The spellbinding event had been so thoroughly and thoughtfully organised by the grooms that nothing went awry. No lugubrious hymns and interminable speeches here, the brief ceremony was a touching demonstration of the potency and transformational power of love.

A lavish meal followed, and speeches by the best man, best lady and Mr McKee’s new ‘mother in law’ were presented before dessert.

As the best man, this was my contribution:

Good evening.

Well, this is it, this is Alan and Anthony’s day of celebration.

When Alan first asked me to be a best man, this gardener’s career hopes for being a flower girl turned to ashes.

Life is random. I’ll never forget how astounded Alan was that Anthony, his perfect match, could just turn up out of the blue.

Could it be true love? Gradually learning to understand and accept each other, was a long and searching process. Every tradition starts somewhere, and celebrating the loving commitment between Alan and Anthony, is part of our ever evolving society.

Despite Australia being relatively accepting of same sex relationships, even here the simple act of bonding will, I suspect, remain controversial throughout their lifetime.

In some countries, even gathering to celebrate love like this risks everything. Let’s celebrate our gathering!

Now bear with me, I’ve only been given three minutes to speak and I’m going out on a limb here – every relationship – even between people of the opposite sex – looks to a better, shared future.

“Yes, I’ll marry you, my dear, and here’s the reason why;
So I can push you out of bed when the parrot starts to cry;
And if we hear a knocking and it’s creepy and it’s late,
I hand you the torch you see, and you investigate.

Yes, I’ll marry you, my dear, you may not apprehend it,
But when the tumble-drier goes, it’s you that has to mend it;
You have to face the neighbour, should our parrot attack him,
And if a drunkard fondles me, it’s you that has to whack him.

Yes, I’ll marry you, you’re virile and you’re lean,
My house is like a pigsty, you can help to keep it clean.
That sexy little dinner which you served by candlelight,
As I do takeaway, you can cook on every night!

It’s you who has to work the drill and put up roller blinds,
And when I’ve got the flu, it’s you who gets the flak.
I do see great advantages, but none of them for you,
And so before you see the light, I DO, I DO, I DO!”

‘Yes, I’ll Marry You’ (slightly amended)
Pam Ayres

Warm, kind, generous, thoughtful, a good listener, productive, creative, diligent, respected, loved. These important human qualities reflect both Alan and Anthony as individuals, but they also reflect some of the nurturing they received from their respective parents.

Were it not for Alan’s mum, Betty, this gathering would never have been so thoroughly organised and, I suspect, Alan might not have had such a prolific, internationally acclaimed, academic career.

Alan, you put so much effort in to breathing life into the early stages of your relationship, you really should write a book on it. This is how traditional wisdom grows.

I’m certain that the combined talents of these fine young lads won’t merely break taboos, through their work and their mutual commitment they’ll contribute to a better life for our society, and for us all.

Today we salute the joining of two special people: Alan and Anthony, two young people in full bloom with the prospect of a unique and brilliant partnership together.

Anthony, in closing, I have this to say – knowing Alan as I do – that I can guarantee you that over the coming years he will provide you with absolutely nothing…

(turns page) … except love, commitment, happiness, and the dedication of his brilliant and fun loving mind!”

A complex macaroon tower replaced the tribulations of cake cutting, and as coffee was served, the newly weds took the first dance.

An after party, at Sean Young’s SYC Studios, completed the joyous celebration.

Jerry Coleby-Williams

16th July 2012


10 Comments Add yours

  1. Diana Mathews says:

    Jerry, darling,
    A wonderful presentation that will cause me to watch Gardening Australia more closely to look for the flower girl.
    lots of love,

  2. Cathryn says:

    Sounds like a wonderful occasion. Alan must be proud to have you as his friend, just as you are so obviously proud of him. C X

  3. Katy says:

    Nice post! It warmed the cockles of my heart!

  4. Brook says:

    Wow thanks Jerry,
    That was so lovely I teared up again. Was gr8 2 catch up with u briefly. Xox
    Love & Light,

    1. Where/ when did we meet? Apologies for my bad memory and thanks for your kind words 🙂

  5. Lelia says:

    Dear Jerry
    Thanks so much for summarising an amazing evening which was as full of joie de vivre as the French champagne that flowed all night. From the welcome on the River Terrace to the departure of the bus for the after party it could not have been more perfect. I was pleased to learn that Betty had a hand in it all since I’m not sure that even Alan would have been able to pull off an event so splendid and live an effective professional life for the past few months. And the place names and macaroon boxes made their way safely back to Western Australia to be enjoyed as props in the retelling. It was a magical night and even now, with my eyes intermittently dry over the past week or so, the sentiments of Alan’s and Anthony’s vows are enough to spring the tears again. It is wonderful to know that they have found each other and to have been part of the commitment they made to a shared life together. Linda and I worked with Alan for about seven years from the time he first came to Western Australia, until he left for Queensland. I’m sure we have never seen him look so happy, or so content and at peace. Both of us wish Alan and Anthony many many decades of happiness together.
    Thanks again for your great post and for the lovely photos. They capture the spirit of the event beautifully.
    Best wishes

    1. You’re most welcome. I’m very glad Alan left WA as he’s become my best friend since we met some 7 years ago. I don’t think Betty had a hand in any of it – it was 100% Alan & Anthony. TTFN Jerry

      1. Lelia says:

        Dear Jerry

        Maybe I got the wrong end of the stick … I can be a very literal person 😉 “Were it not for Alan’s mum, Betty, this gathering would never have been so thoroughly organised and, I suspect, Alan might not have had such a prolific, internationally acclaimed, academic career.”

        But certainly everything seemed to say ‘Alan and Anthony’. And wasn’t the red carpet fun! And the pictures!!!

        thanks again


  6. I am thankful for the blog article.Much thanks again. Really Great.

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