Kate Toone and Rachel Hosking have had to postpone their wedding – twice. It's an all-too-familiar story of love in the time of Covid.
Now the pair, who own Flinders Street bar My Lover Cindi, has teamed up with their would-be celebrant Claire Parsons to host Vegas-inspired ceremonies under the name 1800 Not Shit Weddings.
“The idea of Vegas-style weddings outside of Vegas isn’t at all a unique idea; we have a huge history of it all over the world. It just hadn’t made it to little old Adelaide yet,” Parsons tells Broadsheet.
“Even before I started this, I was generally marrying 60 per cent overgrown emos like me and 40 per cent gays – that is very much what I love to do and what my target demographic is. But they’d still be in a traditional wedding environment, whether that’s a winery or a function centre, because obviously we work with the options that are available.”
Enter My Lover Cindi, Adelaide’s new LGBTQI+ bar that opened in the old German Club in April.
“They have the same intersection of a diverse clientele that is queer, that’s alternative, that’s inclusive and it’s accessible, which is something that is still very slowly working its way into the wedding industry,” says Parsons.
“When Claire approached us, it ticked all our boxes for our venue’s values,” says Hosking.
“And Claire’s just super fun to work with,” adds Toone. “She’s like, ‘I’m gonna bring an eight-foot heart into your venue’ and we were like, ‘okay!’”
The unconventional ceremonies will be accessible, inclusive and – judging from Parsons' mash-up of pop culture inspo – super fun.
“I’m very inspired by that Baz Luhrman Romeo and Juliet aesthetic,” says Parsons. “I wanted that intersection of glittery and grimy, still having that dive bar feel [plus] a '90s Vegas aesthetic – like a Dolly Parton fever dream. Rhinestones and sequins.”
The shotgun-wedding concept is particularly befitting at a time when so many couples are forced to change plans to keep up with restrictions and/or reassess their finances because of the pandemic. “It’s a shorter turnaround than that traditional 18 months of planning,” says Parsons. (In Australia you’re legally required to give a celebrant at least one month’s notice.)
“That suits couples really well at the moment because we don’t have that certainty of being able to plan. A lot of couples I’m marrying in my normal role – after postponing and postponing – finally get to a point where they’re like, ‘Fuck it, we need to strike while the iron’s hot’.
Parsons also wanted to ensure the ceremonies are financially accessible. “There’s no top limit in the wedding industry of what you could spend, but there aren’t many accessible options … so hopefully we can fill a void there,” she says.
Packages start at $2,995, which includes two hours of private venue hire for 120 guests, a personalised ceremony with “all the legal trimmings”, photography with one of two resident photographers, and a $500 bar tab. And 10 per-cent of proceeds is donated to the Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement.
“I think a lot of people want to acknowledge their event will be taking place on unceded Kaurna land and this is a small part of ‘paying the rent’ – making steps towards making that commitment tangible,” says Parsons.
The ethos of inclusivity is at the forefront of 1800 Not Shit Weddings. For Parsons, she’s particularly excited to celebrate “love that isn’t celebrated in the mainstream so much.”
“When you look at weddings, or what the Adelaide wedding … establishment puts out it is still very white, it is still very cis, het, or like very traditionally attractive queer presences. It’s non-disabled, it’s not accessible and if we can make a little baby step into having a more holistic, inclusive representation of what love is, that would be a cool aside. That would feel very satisfying to me personally.”