Words | Claire Debarre
This week, we chat with Arnold Perez and Sebastian Tobón who recently pulled off a stunning garden wedding in Somersby on the Central Coast of New South Wales.
Here’s their story.
M.J Bale: Can you tell us how you guys met?
Arnold Perez: I met Sebastian on the dating app Bumble in 2017. After matching on the app, we began chatting. The chatting became frequent. Then one day Seb messaged me, “are you gonna ask me out or what?” lol! We met at Central Station for our first date in Surry Hills. We had an instant connection and we found ourselves just wanting to keep the date going for the whole night, and just kept going to new restaurants and bars.
MJB: And was it love at first sight?
AP: It definitely was love at first sight for me. I’ll never forget exiting Central train station and spotting Seb first in the crowd thinking this guy is even better looking in person than in his photos. When we said our hellos as I walked towards him, we just smiled and I felt instantly at ease. And then when we finally greeted each other, we hugged and I’ll always remember how he pulled me in tighter during that initial embrace. I remember thinking how different that was and how natural it felt straightaway; it was something else.
MJB: Arnold, what was it about Seb that made you fall for him?
AP: Seb is everything I could ever ask for in a partner. I value his strength, charm and confidence. He makes me laugh all the time. He is a thoughtful person who puts real effort into making you always feel loved and cared for. With Seb I always feel like I can do anything. And that’s definitely a true statement that has been tested for sure. We’ve been each other’s biggest supporters when we’ve encountered troubles at work or with family issues. And I always use this as an example but a year into our relationship doctors found a 15cm tumor lodged in my kidney, which was thought to be most likely renal cancer. It was a challenging process and surgery, but Seb and I faced it together and I always knew I’d make it through because of Seb. My left kidney and adrenal gland were all removed, plus the tumor but fortunately it was all benign in the end.
MJB: And Seb, what was it about Arnold that you knew that he was 'the one?
ST: I will never forget the feeling once I saw Arnold coming out of Central Station and he came straight to me and gave me the most everlasting intimate hug. It’s crazy to me that I still get that same feeling every time I see him after five years together. He is the most charismatic, thoughtful, creative and supportive person I have ever met. He can light up any room with his smile and unique humour. He can change people’s lives and he has definitely changed mine. I can’t even remember my life before him and I can't imagine my life without him.
MJB: Tell us about the proposal. Where was it? How did it happen? Was it a surprise?
AP: I proposed to Seb in Bangkok on 2 February 2020. In the year leading up to the proposal, Seb kept dropping hints about getting engaged. Of course, being on the same wave length it was something that we both wanted. Being a same-sex couple, we had discussions about who would wear rings and how we felt about wearing different ring designs but in the end, we both loved the same kind of design for an engagement ring.
But although we openly discussed it, I never gave the hint to Seb that I was actually planning to propose. We had always planned a trip to Thailand and Vietnam in February 2020, so I decided to get ready to propose then. I actually visited Seb’s mum Gloria and dad Carlos by myself to ask for Seb’s hand, just because I knew Seb’s brother-in-law did that and I wanted to follow tradition. They were touched; Seb’s mum and I cried!
With the ring ready and made, I found myself at work googling “lucky dates to propose in February” and a website I read suggested 02/02/20. I looked at my itinerary and although I was hoping we’d have been on a Thai Island by then we were in Bangkok so I did some research into nice locations to propose and I soon settled on Lumphini Park, which stood out because of the greenery it offered compared to the myriad of rooftop proposal suggestions every website I found said.
We did a bunch of touring the day I proposed and when we got to Lumphini Park I told Seb we were there “to take nice photos”. We spent 20 minutes walking all over for supposedly a nice backdrop but really I was looking for a private corner where we wouldn’t be interrupted. Seb was getting annoyed with all the walking for sure! Finally, I set up my Tripod with my camera recording to capture it all and when I finally crossed back to meet Seb for “the photo” I dropped to one knee and proposed. I had a big speech prepared but it all went out the window and I just asked him to marry me. He was totally speechless. Then he said yes and we heard clapping, some random family walking near by congratulated us. It was super sweet.
Then, months later Seb surprised me too! We were having an anniversary dinner in Newtown and Seb proposed with his own ring. I was definitely not expecting that at all, it was a beautiful moment.
MJB: Can you tell us a bit about your choice to don an M.J. Bale number for the wedding? Were you chuffed with the final outcome?
AP: For us, M.J. Bale was the only choice for the wedding. M.J. Bale dressed both Seb and I, each of our best men and my two groomsmen (plus Seb’s Dad, too). So there was a lot of guys at that first initial consultation at M.J. Bale. David, the manager there, was so helpful in getting us in order. We only had a vague idea of the colours we wanted.
In the end, we went with navy blue for me, my best man and my two groomsmen while Seb’s side would have a black suit for Seb and a black suit for Seb’s best man. David suggested this difference of colour would be a nice touch to represent the different sides of each groom. To tie in Seb’s groomsmaids, all the best men and groomsmen would have a pink salmon bow tie and pocket square.
In that fitting, I remember David handing me my navy blue tuxedo first. I loved it as soon as I put it on - and the rest of the fitting was a blur. I knew from the moment I wore it this was the tux I wanted to get married in.
Seb and I loved the final outcome, we both looked and felt so special.
MJB: Can you both talk to us about the venue for your wedding, where it was, and what was the inspiration? It looked stunning!
AP: Seb and I did the rounds in Sydney for a wedding venue but couldn’t find what we were looking for. We wanted something pastoral and we wanted to do both the ceremony and reception in one venue to avoid that break in the day. We found a beautiful garden venue in Somersby on the Central Coast that was perfect for us. My family is mainly from Wollongong and Seb’s is based in Sydney so we also loved the fact that being in the Central Coast meant it would be like a mini-getaway for all of our guests.
In the end we both wanted something simple — greenery foliage with minimal flowers, white backgrounds and hints of gold. We took this theme on for everything from our Save the Date invitations, to signage and our table settings.
MJB: Have you had a honeymoon yet, or any plans for one?
AP: We left for our honeymoon the day after our ceremony. Our honeymoon was at Port Douglas in Far North Queensland. I think when we planned it during the height of Covid lockdown we were so eager to get away that we booked the first flight available. So we found ourselves waking up early the day after the wedding and heading straight to the airport to catch a morning flight. The honeymoon was just beautiful!
Over our ten day honeymoon we indulged in fresh seafood, body massages, snorkelling and we both even bungee-jumped. It was so memorable, intimate and everything we could’ve possibly wanted from our honeymoon. I only wish it was more than 10 days!
MJB: Lastly, does life feel any different for you guys now that you're married, or is it business as usual?
AP: We’ve been together for almost five years before getting married…but I think there is a difference I can feel since getting married, even though it’s subtle. Maybe its because all our family and friends are still referencing our wedding, there’s definitely a sense of peace and undeniable bond I feel now with Seb.