It seems fate was on celebrity stylist Myrrh Lao To and his fiance Koko Gonzales' side. Finally deciding to tie the knot, the couple of more than 11 years flew to Melbourne, Australia to legally wed after originally having applied for a May 18 civil wedding. However, with the actual date out of their hands, the couple was given May 17 instead—and, unbeknown to them, they coincidentally said their "I dos" on the same day of IDAHOT (International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia), as well as Taiwan officially legalizing same-sex marriage.
"On the morning of our marriage, I saw quite a lot of social media posts about #IDAHOT and #RainbowDay and I just got even happier because it was a commemoration so close to what we celebrate and actually fight for," Myrrh tells Preview. "Plus, that day also marked Asia’s first ever country to legalize same sex marriage! Love that the entire world has joined us make that day even more special."
With luck and a whole lot of love on their side, Myrrh and Koko officially became husbands on a clear, hopeful Friday morning at the Old Treasury Building in Melbourne. Both looking dapper in their Yves Saint Laurent suits, they celebrated with their closest family and friends. "We personally have no guides or templates when we decided to take the next level. With just real life stories we found on the internet and the will to inspire other LGBTQ couples to be fearless and do the same, we just went for it, praying that one day everything will just be fair for everyone."
Below, we talk more to Myrrh and Koko about their wedding journey, their sweet proposal story, and what having the right to marry means to them.
First of all, congratulations on your wedding! How's married life been so far?
"Thank you! Koko and I have been together for 11 and a half years and nine years living together so nothing has really changed, except for the fact that we’re legally married in Australia and we have a lot of new fun and happy memories to look back at."
May we ask about your proposal story? How did it happen?
"Koko proposed to me on our 10th anniversary last year, November 18. After dinner (we both love Japanese food, and eating a lot), he brought me to what used to be our first apartment—a corner room in a low-rise condo, while I was reminiscing and revealing to him that on our first month in that place, I used to look out the window and watch him walk to work until he goes further into the horizon and becomes too far I don’t see him anymore—he knelt on one knee and asked if I’d be willing to take it to the next level. I cried before I said yes."
Where did you get married? Did the country/place you chose hold any significance to you?
"We tied the knot at the Old Treasury Building in Melbourne last May 17—a day after we turned 10.5 years. We tried looking for cities to get married in but most had complicated requirements so when we found out about how relatively easy it was for the LGBTQ members to get married in Melbourne, we instantly said yes. It also helped that Koko’s cousins and their husbands got married and are based there so it became a vacay-slash-reunion of some sorts. While it was our first time, we undeniably fell in love with the city, we’d love to think that it was meant to be because everything turrned perfect!"
Did you purposefully set it to fall on IDAHOT?
"Not at all. The process of getting married in Melbourne is pretty easy but they decide which date you get. May 17 was our option day but we applied for May 18 originally (our 10.5 years together) but they gave us the 17th. On the morning of our marriage, I saw quite a lot of social media posts about #IDAHOT and #RainbowDay and I just got even happier because it was a commemoration so close to what we celebrate and actually fight for—plus, that day also marked Asia’s first ever country to legalize same sex marriage! Love that the entire world has joined us make that day even more special."
What were your preparations like leading up to the big day?
"We started really preparing for it early January. Koko is the more organized and the planner so he did all of the reservations, bookings, visa requirements, and schedules. I did the more 'visual' preps—our outfits, photographer, choosing which restaurant [laughs]."
Can you describe your dream wedding? Was your actual wedding just like everything you had in mind, or did some things change along the way?
"We both really aimed for a simple civil wedding. We’re actually still on the road to our November wedding in Manila where all of our families and close friends will gather to celebrate with us via a holy union and dinner party… so the Melbourne wedding was also kind of a 'rehearsal' that went surprisingly smooth and just pure fun and happiness."
You both looked handsome, by the way! Seeing as you're a stylist, how much say did you have on what you both wore?
"Wow, thank you! Shoutout to our friends from FacialCare Centre for taking care of our skin, Benefit for our grooming and SweetEscape for the beautiful photos. I HAD 100% SAY on the styling aspect [laughs]! We both wore Yves Saint Laurent suits, but we had them reworked to a fit we both liked. Dress shirts are by Dries Van Noten, my Gucci grosgrain bowtie finally made it (I’ve had them for years but never got to wear them), cummerbund by LSW and my classic YSL smoking slippers. Koko’s tie is from Dolce & Gabbanna and his accessories by Neil Barrett.
"I made sure we looked nice, that if we look at [our photos] hung in our house 50 to 100 years from now, we'll still look cute and remember how happy and fun it was!"
What does being married, and having the right to marry mean to you?
MYRRH: "Being married to the one you love means EVERYTHING to me. It means that I also have the same rights as any living human being in this world. Equality is something we shouldn’t be in a war for, but sadly, we have to fight for it. We personally have no guides or templates when we decided to take the next level. With just real life stories we found on the internet and the will to inspire other LGBTQ couples to be fearless and do the same, we just went for it praying that one day, everything will just be fair for everyone."
KOKO: "Unfortunately, same sex marriages/unions still do not mean we can enjoy the same rights of cisgender married couples. We still live in a world where discrimination is laced through differences in religion and faith. Being married is a celebration of our love for each other, and the love from those who have been with us through those years. We encourage, those like us who have yet to enjoy equal rights, to make their own celebrations of love—this is just one way of doing it."
What's your advice to LGBT couples who want to get married, but live in a place where marriage equality isn't possible yet?
"Just do it. Have faith. No matter what it takes. Listen to those who you trust and believe in the power of your love for each other. Use the Internet and research, research, research! This decision would encourage a lot of revelations—in our case, we had tons of well wishes and genuine showers of happiness but of course there will be judgmental people and my advice is to NOT MIND THEM. This is a celebration between you and your partner, so make sure to enjoy every step of the way and just remind each other that you will always have each other’s back no matter what."