Ex-Savage Garden Frontman Weds Boyfriend
07/18/2006 AT 04:00 PM EDT
"I can honestly say it was the happiest day of my life," writes Hayes of the civil partnership ceremony, which took place in London. "I feel lucky to live in an era where my relationship can be considered legally legitimate, and I commend the U.K. government for embracing this very basic civil liberty." (Britain legalized civil partnerships in December 2005.)
After the ceremony, a reception was held over the weekend at a country hotel. "It was a magical mystery tour," Hayes's friend, stage designer Willie Williams, tells PEOPLE. "We didn't know where we were going but we were told to bring a toothbrush. We went by coach, west to Hampshire, to a hotel, and had a great fun weekend and some relatives came over from Australia. It was fun to have the two families all there."
Hayes, a native of Australia, was previously married to his college sweetheart, Colby Taylor, a Brisbane schoolteacher whom he wed in 1994. The couple split in 1998 and divorced in 2000. "No one cheated on anyone," Hayes told PEOPLE in 2000. "We were really young when we got married. We hadn't finished growing. We lead very different lives now."
Williams says of Hayes, "As far as anyone who knows him, he's been 'out' for years. He did feel the pressure because he'd do interviews with Australian press, and he'd say he had his partner Richard, and they'd still ask, 'Are you gay?' And he'd say, 'My partner is called Richard.' They just want the quote: 'Yes, I'm gay.' It's not that he doesn't want to give the quote, it's just that it's not a big deal."
The same year Hayes and wife separated, Savage Garden – the Australian pop duo made up of Hayes and guitarist-keyboard player Daniel Jones – burst onto the music scene with their self-titled debut album, which sold 12 million copies and produced the No. 1 single "Truly Madly Deeply." The band broke up in 2001 and Hayes released his first solo album, Insatiable, the following year.
"I'm proud of who I am, and after what felt like an eternity, I'm finally in a place where my heart is secure and content," Hayes writes in his Web posting. "And I can finally make sense of all of the searching."
As for why he decided to share the news of his wedding, he writes, "As so many of you have given me your heart and soul over the past 10 years, I thought it only fitting that I too return the respect and inform you of the most significant event in my life."