Dina Broadhurst, 43, Artist, and Max Shepherd, 27, Senior Credit Adviser
When Max collected a piece of artwork from Dina in March last year, he wasn’t expecting to also pick up a girlfriend. “When I met Dina, I was quite taken aback. She’s quirky and cool,” he says. Having just come out of a relationship, Dina also wasn’t on the hunt for a partner. “I hadn’t heard of Max on the scene, so it was really nice to meet someone different – even though it was the last thing I was looking for,” explains Dina, who has a 12-year-old son, Leo, from a previous relationship.
“Since Dina decided she was ready, we’ve pretty much been inseparable,” gushes Max, who says he’s proud of dating an older woman. Their 16-year age gap doesn’t bother Dina either, who says she’s “immature at heart”. She adds, “You can have problems in a partnership even if you’re the same age. I think about ageing as a personal journey. You just have to embrace it.”
Emma Bosley, 30, Fashion Designer & Stylist, and Ange Yu, Model & Marketer
In true millennial fashion, Emma and Ange’s love story started via Instagram. “I was working at a cafe and Em was a regular. The sta used to play a game called outfit of the day and Em always won,” Ange explains. “I thought she was really straight [heterosexual], but we had a rapport, so I slid into her DMs on Instagram.”
Emma was stoked to get the message. “I had a crush on Ange, which is why I went into the cafe often,” she admits, despite not being sure if Ange was interested in women. “After our first date, it became apparent the feeling was mutual.”
Two months in, they solidified their relationship on a trip to Tokyo. “We went to Disneyland and it was really cute,” says Emma. “And we didn’t kill each other,” Ange adds.
With an international holiday successfully ticked off, the couple then took the next big step of coming out to their families. “I had trouble coming out to my nearest and dearest, but Em helped me through it. She was the first partner I wanted my family to get to know,” explains Ange.
Set to celebrate their three-year anniversary in March, the couple say their connection is still on the up. “I feel like I’m more attracted to Ange now than when we first met,” says Emma. “She has invigorated me. I love her positivity, creativity, and of course her physical attributes, like the mullet.”
Not to mention all the LOLs. “Em has an amazing sense of humour – we’re always cackling together,” explains Ange. “She’s my best friend.”
Jessica Smith, 34, Paralympian & Author, and Hamid Salamati, 29, Commercial Director
“You look pretty, Mummy,” coos Ayla when her mum emerges on set, dressed in a beautiful gown. It’s an almost-identical black version of Jessica’s wedding dress, which she wore to marry her husband Hamid in an intimate ceremony in Western Australia four years ago. “I wanted a traditional wedding dress that was also respectful to Islam culture,” explains Jessica, who was raised Catholic and converted to Islam before the wedding. “Hamid’s parents had expressed their wishes for me to convert; however it wasn’t something that was forced upon me. It was a decision I made based on love.”
Respect has long been a driving force in Jessica and Hamid’s connection. “She’s very well accomplished, but it’s the way she carries herself,” Hamid says of Jessica, who was born missing her left arm and represented Australia in swimming at the 2004 Paralympic Games. “One of the things that initially attracted me to Jess – and I said it on our first date – was that she was strong and independent.”
When they first met during a night out in Brisbane, Jessica admits she was taken aback by Hamid’s “Glaswegian accent and Middle Eastern good looks”. Yet as the days of new romance have developed into the deeper sense of fulfilment that comes with creating a family, her understanding of love has changed. “You can have lust, but love is about being able to respect each other when times are difficult.”
Tutti Bennett, 68, Wife & Mother, and Paul Bennett, 71, Artist
When Paul first saw Tutti across the room at a party 42 years ago, “it was like the heavens opened – there was thunder and lightning,” he says. “The magnetism was incredible. There was nothing I could do, except be drawn into the aura of this amazing-looking woman.” The cosmic connection was mutual. After their first date, Tutti told her mother, “If I marry anyone, I’m marrying this guy.”
Having spent more than four decades together, the obvious spark and synergy between the pair is still there. “We’re a perfect fit,” gushes Tutti. “We fit like a glove,” nods Paul.
During their four decades of marriage, the couple has had two daughters (Cecily-Anna, 37, and Sonia, 33), climbed Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia and faced down cancer. “When Tutti was diagnosed with breast cancer several years ago, she was the most incredible inspiration to our family – and to others. I never heard her complain once when she was ill; she was stoic and absolutely amazing,” says Paul, who was by Tutti’s side every step of the way. While she’s now fully recovered, Paul still ensures the love of his life is well looked after. “He brings me a cup of tea every morning in bed, without which I wouldn’t get up. I’d be a sloth till the end of my days,” explains Tutti, laughing.
So, morning tea rituals aside, what’s the secret to a happy marriage? “Good therapy,” says Paul. “And lots of laughs.”
Natalie, 43, Journalist, and Nathan Bridgewater, 44, Builder & Pastor
Nathan Bridgewater remembers the feeling of all-consuming first love well. He first met Natalie at a party in Sydney in 1995 when they were 20 and 19, respectively. Nathan knew he wanted to spend every second with her. “I was obsessed. We had many long conversations over the phone and I would send her love letters in the post,” he says, looking at her adoringly.
Natalie couldn’t resist the declarations of devotion (which she’s kept in a suitcase for two decades). “He was very persistent and I fell hard,” she explains.
Yet both of their parents were concerned about them rushing into marriage – they were young and had the rest of their lives for that. But everything changed in 1997. Nathan’s parents were involved in a serious car accident in January where he lost two sisters. “When someone close to you dies in shocking circumstances, it gives you a new perspective,” says Natalie. “After that, we knew we always wanted to be together, and we were married 10 months later.”
After 21 years of marriage, the arrival of four sons (Finn, 15, Jude, 13, Milo, 10, and Iggy, seven) and a blue staffy named Luna, the couple credits their shared sense of purpose for getting them through the tough times. “Our faith is a big component in our relationship,” says Nathan, who is an ordained Christian minister. “[As a couple], we have a purpose. Love is a decision more than a feeling. Love opens up your future.”
Robyn Fay-Perkins, 35, Photo Editor, and Matt Perkins, 42, Social Media Manager
Robyn and Matt’s love story reads like a Hollywood rom-com script. Seven years ago, their paths collided en route to Switzerland for a work trip. The dramatic twist? Robyn’s phobia of flying. “I tried to play it really cool when I sat down next to Matt on the plane, but I was shaking and sweating,” she remembers. “Maybe even crying.”
Picking up on Robyn’s fear, Matt “was my angel”, and kept her calm from take-off to landing. Their connection grew during the 10-day trip, and after returning to Australia and parting ways, the distance felt unbearable. “Coming back and not being together, I felt the pang of separation,” Matt explains. “It was like I couldn’t live without him,” agrees Robyn. “Being with Matt just felt right. I could be myself with him – I didn’t have to pretend.”
Despite clearly being meant for each other, new divorcee Robyn kept searching for a sign, as all rom-com heroines do. When they moved in together after 10 months, Robyn noticed Matt’s knife holder in the kitchen was missing a carving knife – he’d lost it years earlier. As fate would have it, she had that exact knife, and it fits perfectly in Matt’s holder. Cue fireworks.
Four years of marriage and two little boys later, Matt still swoons when he looks at Robyn. “She is fire and energy. Sunshine pours out of her,” he says. “I love that we’re still creating new memories together.”