Our Civil Partnership

On Thursday, after fourteen years of being together, Jon and I signed a civil partnership. It was just us and our two beautiful friends Laura and Jim as witnesses.

I awoke at 4.30 with the dawn, went out for a walk above our house, listening to the raucous chatter of the ravens, watching the clouds turn from pink to white. I passed a a foal,  just been born, still in the sac, it’s mother licking their back.

I walked down through the fields and picked a bunch of buttercups for my bouquet. Returned home and made tea. The house still asleep, I took a shower and pinned my hair up with two vintage crescent moons I had forgotten I had until finding them in my jewellery box that morning. I tied the buttercups to my bouquet of peonies, orange tulips and wild daisies.

Jon and the kids slowly descended to make breakfast and prepare fors school. Our neighbour Tess knocked on the door and presented us with a gift of two hand thrown mugs painted with colours of the sea.

At the very last minute, before we left the house, so as to to avoid buttery hands and snotty noses hugging my legs, I pulled my dress on, a £95 linen piece from &OtherStories in a soft fawn colour with a square neckline which I know I will wear many more times.

We walked the boys to school, kissing them goodbye, oblivious to our day ahead or why I had a huge bouquet of flowers in my basket. Mama likes flowers, she often carries them.

At the train station we bump into our dear friend, we will be celebrating with him and his family this weekend. He hugs us and makes a joke about throwing ourselves onto the tracks to avoid having to go through with it.

As we wait on the platform for our train to Halifax we discuss why we’re doing it.

What does it mean to us? Why now? Why a civil partnership and not a wedding?

So, I’ll try and break it down here.

Around eight years ago we started floating the idea of having a party to celebrate our time together. Jon even went to the extent of greeting me in the kitchen one day after work, a table laden with food and candles, Talking Heads playing and presenting me with a simple silver ring. People used the word ‘engaged’ and ‘fiancee’ but it never sat comfortably with either of us.

We knew we wanted to celebrate our story and all the people we love and it seemed like a ‘wedding’ was the way people usually went about it. We decided we would throw a party, but not do the legal bit.

Life happened, we lost our first baby Alma, we had our second child Gryffin, we moved from Manchester to Hebden Bridge. Eventually, we decided to refocus and have a ‘wedding’ party in an old converted chapel nearby. Then I discovered I was pregnant again and the due date was two weeks after the wedding party. So we adjourned.

We set another date, for Summer 2020. And then 2020 happened. But we thought it would be over soon, so we adjourned again for 2021.

2020 turned into 2021 and it just didn’t feel like anything was changing fast. So we canceled. We were exhausted, there didn’t seem much to celebrate as the world burned around us.

During this time, it became legal for heterosexual couples to sign a civil partnership. I have never felt comfortable with the institution of marriage. It is not a judgement on anyone who does choose it, it is an incredibly personal decision and I love that we have options.

My feelings are: I do not want to be someone’s wife, I do not want to be given away, I am no one’s to give in that sense. I do not want to be a Mrs. I do not want a husband. I don’t necessarily believe in forever. Thankfully, Jon feels the same.

Do I sound cynical? Possibly.

But I also believe in love above all else.

And I think love is greater and more nuanced, powerful and complex than what our society has declared marriage to be.



So we chose to have a civil partnership, and we chose to sign it without any vows. We have been together for fourteen years. We have no blind promises to make to each other. 

What we wanted with this was to protect our children and for legal recognition of us as a family. We are now each other’s legal next of kin. If one of us dies, it just makes everything a bit simpler. Whatever happens in our future, we will always be a family. Jon and I have created a family and we wanted to honour that, and this felt like one way to do it.

So we asked our two dear friends to be our witnesses and we had a simple, beautiful, fun, perfect day in Halifax. Signing the contract took about ten minutes, we all laughed at the speed, the registrars were delighted with my bouquet and our choice to have no vows and head straight to the pub.

Laura had brought four miniature bottles of prosecco which we drank out of deep green glazed cups they bought for us in Marrakech as we stood on the stone steps. Two more cups as gifts, filled with love and life and delight. Jim threw confetti over us, petals from Jon’s parent’s garden. Before we left, I collected them all back up and put them back in my basket. The others laughed, but I felt triumphant.

We spent the day pub hopping, eating pizza, talking about how we met, talking about our first born Alma and how she changed our lives forever. And most of all we laughed, and laughed and laughed. And then we all went back to our house and drank gin and pickle juice and danced holes in the kitchen floor until midnight. I wish I had the words to express how deeply we love Laura and Jim. Their generosity, kindness, sense of fun and empathy know no bounds and I feel incredibly lucky to call them friends. Plus, as you can see they’re wizards with a camera.

It was the perfect day.

And we have more perfect days ahead of us. This summer we will celebrate with our friends at the old bowling club down by the river. Just thirty of us, food, wine and croquet. In the evening we’ll all cram into our kitchen and dance until dawn (or until our neighbours have enough of us).

The weekend after, we’ll celebrate with Jon’s family in their back garden. At some point, when my mum is back in the country we will celebrate with my side of the family. 

And what we will be celebrating, and what we celebrated on Thursday, is love, and how it shapes our life.

For each other, for our children, for the magnificent people in our lives. We are celebrating our story and all the people who form part of it, the loves of our lives.


Java x




  • Claire Leach
    Posted at 14:37h, 21 May

    Your photographs are so beautiful! How lovely and refreshing it is to read your reasoning on why civil partnership felt right for you rather than marriage. I’ve been with my partner for over 15 years, we have a 3 year old son and a baby on the way – we get comments all the time about marriage but it just doesn’t feel right for us. Your day seemed so much more honest than a traditional wedding day, more real – all about love but without the bizarre traditions and massive expense. Wishing you both many years of happiness together. 💛

  • Andrea Degg
    Posted at 14:39h, 21 May

    Congratulations! It sounds an absolutely perfect day. A day about the two of you, not other people’s expectations of you. May you have many, many more happy days together.x

  • Caroline Carter
    Posted at 23:13h, 21 May

    Such beautiful words with lots of love in them. It sounds like a perfect day 😘

  • Sara
    Posted at 07:52h, 22 May

    Sounds perfect.

  • Zoë
    Posted at 13:34h, 22 May

    What a perfect day! The image of the foal resonates so strongly…..❤️❤️❤️

  • Shireen HG
    Posted at 10:53h, 23 May

    An absolutely delightful read Java. What an increasingly journey and story :). Wishing you both the very best. Congratulations 🥂✨

  • Shireen HG
    Posted at 10:57h, 23 May

    I meant to say what an incredible journey* (auto correct 🙄)

  • Lisa
    Posted at 22:44h, 23 May

    Beautiful. It really does sound like the perfect day. Congratulations to you both, what a wonderful way to celebrate your love ❤️

  • Selina
    Posted at 18:19h, 29 May

    Congratulations on your perfect day and your celebration of love and commitment to the lives you are shaping together. Your words deeply resonate with me on your approach to this deeply personal and indeed nuanced subject and I especially adored the description of your moments before the deed in the morning. Thank you Java for your beautiful gifts you give to others through your authentic aesthetics, words and your work.