Wedding Belles

May 22, 2008, 11:23 amnewideanz

When TV3 newsreader Rebecca Singh marries her long-time girlfriend Kelly Rice, there will be two brides but no bridezillas.

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The date has been set, the venue booked and the two bridesmaids - one per bride - chosen for the civil union ceremony in August, which will be formal in tone and followed by a 'wild' party.

'There will probably be a show or two at the reception that is completely over the top knowing some of our wacky friends,' Kelly says. 'It's going to be an interesting bunch of people, quite eclectic. There are the work people, the family, the gay people and the straight people.'

Organising a civil union ceremony for which there are few precedents is an opportunity for the devoted couple to celebrate their relationship in truly individual style. The details of their walk down the aisle are still unknown, and the wedding attire in particular is proving a challenge.

'We don't know what we want to wear yet, we're going to get something made,' says Rebecca, 33. 'It will be something not as traditional as some ceremonies. Like a tailored suit.'

Kelly, 37, adds, 'We're looking for an up-and-coming designer with an edge to create something other than the usual wedding outfits, something that reflects us.'

Although Rebecca and Kelly, who have been together for nearly five years, have vastly different tastes, they agree on the most crucial point - they want to spend the rest of their lives together.

Theirs is a romance which has not gone untested. The pair started dating in 2003 and, knowing intuitively their connection was for keeps, moved in together virtually straight away. Kelly took the plunge and proposed to Rebecca, but wedding plans took a back seat when tragedy struck.

The couple's relationship was tested when Kelly suffered a devastating loss which required unyielding support from her dedicated partner.

'My mother passed away and things got waylaid,' she says.

'My heart was pretty broken because she was such an exceptional woman.

'It took a long time to carry on as normal.

'We were united through that and it proved we were meant to be together.'

With the Civil Union Act of 2004, gay couples such as Rebecca and Kelly now have the opportunity to publicly declare their love and commitment.

'People who knew us treated it exactly as if it was a marriage,' Rebecca says. 'We're asked constantly, "When are you getting married?", which is exactly what we wanted.'

'It will be nice to be completely with someone until I die,' Kelly says. 'We'll go through good times and bad times and I'll have my own personal cheerleader building me up and keeping me strong. She brings a lot of joy to my life.'

Rebecca says she's most excited about the chance to celebrate with friends and family, who are travelling from her native Fiji for the wedding.

'It's one of those days where you really look forward to both families being there together, because my family is in another country,' says Rebecca, who moved to Auckland at the age of 26.

'I'm excited about that more than anything. You sort of underestimate that. The wedding's about love and the couple, but it's more than just two people, it's two whole other histories coming together.'

It was during a break from her employment at TV3 that Kelly met Rebecca, while they were presenting TV2's Queer Nation. Kelly says she sensed immediately Rebecca was her soulmate.

'I remember finding out Rebecca Singh was joining us and immediately I knew we'd be together,' Kelly recalls. 'I had only seen her on TV once before and had never met her, but somehow I knew. I have never had that before with anyone else.'

The attraction was also instant for Rebecca. 'I felt it was a long-term thing from the very start. There's never been a moment when we have thought about splitting.

'There have been extreme ups and downs and we've had our own stuff to deal with in the relationship but there has never been a moment when we've gone, "This was a bad idea."'

The proposal from Kelly took Rebecca by surprise, when an otherwise routine walk on the side of Mt Albert with their Jack Russell terrier Bill suddenly became an emotional milestone.

'We'd been there every day for years and years, it's where we take the dog for a walk,' Rebecca recalls.

'We were sitting on the bench and she was acting very strange but I couldn't put my finger on it. She asked me to marry her and it was so out of the blue. There had been no one on the mountain and then suddenly all these people showed up and there were dogs and babies and families everywhere. We had had this full-on moment of extreme intimacy and then all these people were there.'

The ceremony will be held at a West Auckland vineyard. One of the reasons the couple chose that venue was because some function centres didn't react well to the idea of hosting a lesbian wedding.

'A lot of places had never had a civil union before and were a little bit hesitant,' Kelly says. 'Some people would go inside themselves and not show as much of their personality.'

In general, the couple says they're sheltered from prejudice, but sadly, it still exists in some pockets of society.

'The Civil Union Act made things quite a lot easier but occasionally you do get [prejudice],' Rebecca says. 'We just live our lives around people who love and accept us, and it doesn't affect us.

'TV3 are just remarkable, they take it in their stride. They're a great bunch of people, they've never made it an issue.'

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