Couple says their 'I dos' during wedding at ChillOut

NO JITTERS: Jessica Reed and Jacqui McDonald at Holyrood House prior to the wedding ceremony. Photo: Jeremy Bannister
NO JITTERS: Jessica Reed and Jacqui McDonald at Holyrood House prior to the wedding ceremony. Photo: Jeremy Bannister

One lucky couple married on stage at the first ChillOut Festival in Daylesford since last year’s resounding “yes” vote in the same-sex marriage plebiscite.

Jessica Reed and Jacqui McDonald took the plunge and said “I do” in front of a massive crowd at Victoria Park after a parade through town celebrating all things LGBTIQ+ on Sunday morning.

The couple won a competition that included accommodation at Holyrood House, wedding photography from Love is Love Photography and dinner at Mercato restaurant.

Ms Reed said it was a “big shock” to win the competition, which was held to celebrate the historic changes to Australia’s same-sex marriage laws.

“We were plucked out of a hat, we only found out about a month ago. We planned on getting married later in the year, but we found out literally a month ago,” she said.

“I’ve been thinking about it ever since the laws changed, I remember when Howard and Ruddock changed them in 2004, it’s fantastic the change.”

It comes after the Ballarat region, including Hepburn Shire, recorded the second highest “yes” vote of all non-metro Victorian electorates, with 70.5 per cent of survey respondents voting to change to the Marriage Act. 

Ms McDonald said it was a thrill to take part in the Queer Country Pride ChillOut Festival.

“Everyone is so supportive and it’s positive vibes.”

The women were walked on stage by their fathers and were married by celebrant Beverly Risstrom on the main stage at the ChillOut Carnival Day event, which takes place just after the Pride Parade.

Ms Risstrom said the wedding was wonderful. 

“Jacqui and Jessica are such beautiful women and the vibe at the wedding is a credit to them. They really got into the ChillOut spirit,” Ms Risstrom said.

“It was a beautiful ceremony. The feeling in the crowd was great.

“The crowd was very supportive,” she said.

Ms Risstrom said the stage set-up was a credit to the event’s organisers and volunteers, who laid out a red carpet for the couple to be married on.

She said the speakers were also clear enough for everybody in the crowd to hear what was going on on stage. 

The wedding was the first to be held at ChillOut Festival, which celebrated its coming of age this year. 

“ChillOut has grown up. The festival turns 21 this year so it was nice to hold the first wedding in celebration of the milestone.

Ms Risstrom said she was “pretty chuffed” to have been the celebrant to officiate the festival’s inaugural wedding. 

“It was nice to do it in my home town, where I have lived for the past 30 years,” she said. 

LOVED UP: Jessica Reed and Jacqui McDonald in the Pride Parade. Photo: Jeremy Bannister

LOVED UP: Jessica Reed and Jacqui McDonald in the Pride Parade. Photo: Jeremy Bannister