Gay couples tie the knot on the ABC’s Adam Hills in Gordon Street Tonight. Photo: Joe Armao
Karl Quinn, The Sydney Morning Herald, reports
The brides wore white. Barry Morgan pumped his organ (Hammond, that is). Adam Ant and his band played Prince Charming in place of the bridal waltz. And 41 same-sex couples had a ball as Adam Hills' big fat gay wedding went off without a hitch last night - literally, since none of it is legally binding.
The ABC will broadcast its first foray into the arranged marriage business tomorrow night, and whatever the viewer response it's safe to say it was a hit in Elsternwick with the famous but slightly shabby Melbourne studio taking on a touch of fairytale romance as Adam Hills in Gordon Street Tonight played host to what was billed as Australian television's first mass gay wedding.
"Our thought was we can't give you what you really want - a legal marriage - and a civil ceremony isn't ideal, so let's just do something ridiculous. Lets give you a TV wedding," said Hills from his make-up chair just before the nuptials began. "And we haven't had a big TV wedding for a while."
It's unlikely anything Rafters can conjure this season will be able to top last night's effort for sheer joyous spectacle.
The evening kicked off with the usual round of amiable chat between Hills and his guests - Vue du Monde chef Shannon Bennett, all-round nice guy Hamish Blake, and actress Noni Hazlehurst - before the entire audience upped stumps and relocated to a second studio, decked out as a wedding chapel. There was billowing white fabric and flowers everywhere; at the back of the room there was even a stage for the evening's wedding singer, Adam Ant, to perform on.
As TV stunts go, it was elaborate. The idea for the event was in fact conceived out of wedlock, a couple of weeks before the first show of the season went to air. Prospective audience members are asked to complete a questionnaire, and when they started pouring in for the first show a pattern began to emerge. Asked "what would you change if you were Prime Minister for a day?" an overwhelming majority answered they'd legalise same-sex marriage.
"And when I read one saying, 'I'd change the same sex laws so I could marry my girlfriend', I thought, 'I think I know what I have to do now'," Hills said last night.
The show's producers contacted Rebecca Edwards to ask how she would feel about being "married" - albeit without any legal status - on TV. She said was up for it. But even Hills was surprised by how up for it she was.
"I didn't expect her to pull out a ring and get down on one knee," he said. "That's when I realised this wasn't just a fun thing, there's some meaning behind it."
So much meaning for so many people, in fact, that the day after her proposal went to air 200 other couples contacted the ABC to say they wanted to be involved. In the end, logistics limited the wedding party to 41 couples.
The two women who started it all were unfazed about having their most intimate faux-ment broadcast to hundreds of thousands of people.
"None of us is in this to rattle cages," said Elyse James, 28. "We're all just here to show there's nothing wrong with this, the world won't collapse, there's no fire and brimstone, everything's going to carry on as normal except that a whole group of people who are unequal in society will be able to marry the people they love."
"I'm sort of treating myself as a bit of a pink prop for all this," said 37-year-old Rebecca Edwards. "I stand where the director says, I say what I'm told and then I'm out of it."
Yes, they were off on a honeymoon of sorts - a two-night cruise from Newcastle to Brisbane - but that was booked long before the wedding came into the picture, Edwards said. This occasion was more about a political cause than their personal desires.
"Our personal wedding, that will be our day," she added. "I've got it all planned, but I can't say too much in front of Elyse."
Do you have a date in mind?
"Hopefully when the law is changed."
The wedding will screen on ABC1 at 8.30pm Wednesday