Darren Dubberley and Dave Harrison first met on a Thursday night at Craig’s Royal Hotel 18 years ago and have been together ever since.
While the Ballarat couple, who have two grandchildren, had a commitment ceremony in 2000, their dream has always been to get married.
When Mr Dubberley came across Thomas Jewellers’ Finest Wedding in the Country competition he entered for fun, but was delighted when the submission was not knocked back.
“With the (same-sex marriage) postal vote, I thought there was a possibility it could happen so I thought I would just enter it,” Mr Dubberley said.
“It’s nice to see people are so supportive of us and would like to see us married.”
A $50,000 country wedding package is up for grabs, with diamond rings, wedding planner, stylist, photographer, venue and catering all included.
The competition is open to couples Australia-wide, with the average cost of a wedding $36,000 according to Money Smart Australia.
“Good on them (Thomas Jewellers) for putting it out there so people like us can have a go and see if we can win it,” Mr Harrison said.
Entrants can choose from Geelong, Ballarat, Warrnambool, Bendigo, Shepparton, Albury or Wagga Wagga as their dream wedding location.
The couple selected their hometown Ballarat because it was the perfect place to throw a big party for family and friends.
“I would love to get married at Sovereign Hill, just that backdrop of the old buildings – that is Ballarat, Sovereign Hill,” Mr Harrison said.
“They (the family) all want to celebrate our love because we’ve been together so long,” Mr Dubberley said.
The couple believed the ‘yes’ vote would win the postal survey, and even if it did not, they were confident they would eventually have the opportunity to marry in Australia.
“It’s (the postal survey) a big waste of money… but if we get a good result out of it, it’s all worth it,” Mr Harrison said.
“People in general are a lot more accepting of gay relationships, because a lot more people are open about it,” Mr Dubberley said.
“It’s not hidden like it used to be, it’s just normal, which is the way it should be.”
The Finest Wedding in the Country competition closes on November 30, with the winning entry going to the couple with the most public votes.
To vote for a couple visit win.thomasjewellers.com.au/entry/ and select a region.