There is no Certificate IV in Marriage

Photo of Josh Withers and Brittany Withers' vow renewal in Queenstown, New Zealand, photographed by Heart & Colour
Photo from our vow renewal in Queenstown, New Zealand, photographed by Heart & Colour

Britt doesn’t know this, but I married her the first day I met her for a coffee in Broadbeach, Queensland. The whole commitment played out in my head, and our coffee would have been super awkward if I had said anything publicly, but in my mind I believed that my life could be better if I spent it with her. As I heard her share her opinions, ideas, thoughts and beliefs, I knew that she was the girl I would want to tackle life with.

That’s all marriage is, you see. Not that marriage should be dismissed as being too simple or relaxed, but it’s not a complex deal. You don’t need to complete a “Diploma of Advanced Marriage” to enter into one. You just need a belief and a commitment to that belief that your life spent with theirs will result in a better one.

After five years, I gathered the courage to tell my friend that I actually was not satisfied with only having an amazing friendship. Instead, I was hoping we could kiss at some point. Skip forward a few weeks and it’s an unbearably humid January evening in Cairns when Britt surprised me with a visit to Far North Queensland where I was stationed on breakfast radio. Only a few hours later I found myself down on one knee, asking her to spend the rest of her life with me. It all happened rather organically despite outsiders thinking it was hurried. The truth is that nothing had ever happened slower in my life. I was genuinely excited about sharing my one true possession with her for the rest of our lives: my time.

So apparently once you ask someone to marry you, you’re also concurrently planning a wedding. The phone calls from family started. Deposits of cash were being made and there was a guest list that resembled something between our general Facebook friends list and our close friends list, all the while with a pocket calculator nearby ready to solve the latest iteration of the mathematical puzzle, “number of guests” x “cost per head”. And then we’d look back and reconsider the last time someone had liked one of our jokes online.

Creating a wedding is so, so, very weird. In my mind, it’s like professional op-shopping for the soul. You’re creating an event that’s meaningful and purposeful, and you’re paying professional prices, but all of the things that you curate to create your event with seemingly have to come from someone else’s wardrobe. You’d be forgiven for even thinking that it was legally allowed for you to break away from the “cookie-cutter” and host an intimately personal event.

All I wanted to do was marry Britt. And this was the weird situation we found ourselves in: we just wanted to enjoy life together, forever, but like any amazing adventure it needs a beginning, and the start of a marriage normally involves a wedding. The questions of, “How do we celebrate our love and our commitment?” through to, “How do we actually love each other and how does our commitment manifest itself in real life?”, barely scrape the surface of our eight-month-long journey to the end of that aisle in the Benowa Parklands.

We loved everything that happened. We had a fiscally and socially achievable event that resulted in a marriage and a lot of memories, which is all we could have hoped for. But there was a reason that earlier this year we snuck away to Wanaka on New Zealand’s South Island and exchanged some vows again, with no crowds or mason jars.

Because despite the event, we just really like each other and our hope is that our marriage would leave a legacy larger than the two of us, and that requires a husband and wife that are committed to one thing: tomorrow, together.

Josh Withers

Josh Withers

The original rebel, husband, father, nerd and also a marriage celebrant for the world's most adventurous couple getting married today.
Baja California Sur, Mexico