"We knew this moment was more than just about us and our love."
Interviewing Aritha & Dave
As Pride celebrations eclipsed the month of June, we at LOVI Grooms doubled down on our core mission––making the perfect wedding outfit for people of all ethnicities, religions, sexualities, and gender. We were honoured to dress friends of LOVI, Aritha Wickramasinghe and Dave Hunter for their wedding ceremony in London. As a landmark moment for the Sri Lankan queer community, we wanted to hear the grooms' reflections on their special day.
First things first, how did you two meet?
A: Outside a bar in Soho, London. I was waiting for a friend to finish his cigarette, when Dave came over and said he thought I looked very handsome. We had spoken for not more than five minutes when he asked if he could add me on Facebook. I couldn’t say no to all that Irish charm but I was also conscious that he wouldn’t be able to spell my very long surname. So, I asked for his phone and sent myself a friend request!
Dave, were you nervous to pop the question?
D: Yes, I was nervous as I didn’t know what the right time should be. I did want to make sure all of Ari’s best friends were around so it happened in Australia under a big Christmas tree (Ari loves Christmas). I totally blindsided his friends who burst out cheering and clapping when it happened, and the look of shock on Ari’s face was priceless! He was speechless for quite a while after, which is unusual for him.
Getting married in St. George’s Church must have been a significant moment. How important was it to mark your partnership with a religious ceremony?
A: We were both raised Catholic (although I also grew up with a strong Buddhist influence) and for us, having our marriage consecrated at Church was very important. We are conscious of the Church’s evolving position on LGBT+ rights and same-sex marriage.
A & D: St George’s is a beautiful and special church with so much history around it, so it was very significant not only for us, but for the entire LGBT+ community. It was also surreal in some ways. We have grown up and continue to live in environments that are constantly debating our right to exist. Love and marriage were not given as options to us––we were told we had to live a life of loneliness and in hiding. But we were lucky to have a priest and community in the parish that was not only supportive, but willing to push boundaries to ensure that Christ’s message of love was the ultimate winner. At that altar, we knew that we were accepted and times had changed.
What was the wedding celebration like?
A & D: It was really magical, to be honest. In the early afternoon, we (along with close family and the wedding party) headed to Chelsea Old Town Hall for the civil ceremony and registration of our marriage. It's a historic London institution where many famous couples and royals have got married so it was special becoming part of that history. We were both tearing up when sharing our vows and when the registrar announced that we were finally legally married, we both cried and just hugged each other deeply. Even the registrar was in tears. We knew this moment was more than just about us and our love.
Arriving at Church was pretty spectacular as they had laid the red carpet all the way down to the street. Our entrance anthem was Vivaldi’s “Gloria” sung by an incredible 10-person choir who had spent the last few weeks practicing for the day.
After church our close friend Niroch Fernando through his company, Ammi’s Serendips, went the extra mile and organized a special drinks and canapes reception on the verandah of the Church. Representing both the union of Sri Lanka and Ireland, the menu included steak and Guinness chinese rolls, jackfruit cutlets, and fish patties. The perfect Sri Lankan short eat special with an Irish touch.
Both of you chose LOVI for your attire, the groomsmen's, and pageboy outfits. Was there a particular reason you chose LOVI? How did the designs reflect both your cultures?
A: We had never had any doubt that LOVI would be doing our wedding attire. We wanted our clothing to reflect our culture and heritage––including adopted heritage. Dave’s jacket had an Irish Celtic design sewn into it whereas mine was a modern Nilame jacket. Both showcased Sri Lankan handcraft at its finest.
A & D: We have both been huge fans of the brand since the day we discovered it. Not only has LOVI revolutionised the sarong, but it has shown the world that Sri Lankan fashion can sit comfortably in all other capitals of the world.
How did you both feel that day?
A & D: Really emotional. We both cried, a lot. In a way, we were also relieved––we finally got married, our relationship was now legally recognized, and we were protected under the law. There was also a strength in being married in church in front of our family and friends, letting the whole world know that we loved each other and that love has won.
As pillars of the LGBT+ community in Sri Lanka, do you hope your marriage inspires other queer people to embrace their sexuality and the people they love more openly?
A& D: Yes we do. I hope we can show people, especially members of the LGBT+ community, that love is universal and everyone is deserving of it. We didn’t expect our marriage to have received the publicity and public acceptance that it did. We were both overwhelmed by the love we got from everyone, across Sri Lanka and the world.
Love really does win!
From everyone at LOVI Grooms, we wish you both a lifetime of love!