Monday, June 07, 2010

Splice Yarn

Thea, a twitter acquaintance, put up a blog post recently about a wedding she attended, which brought to mind a wedding adventure I lived through once...

Many moons (a lifetime) ago I was a child-free career girl in Sydney town. Amongst friends and acquaintances, my flatmate Aniqa (an occasional commenter here) and I knew many people formerly of a small African nation.

Through coincidence, there was a month where we happened to be invited to celebrations for several of these folk - and while they all offered cultural diversity and small group intriges, there was one that has stood out from the blur of weddings attended in my memory banks (and no doubt, those of everyone who attended).

It was an early wedding - we had to rise at the crack of dawn and be at Lady Macquarie's Chair - where the bride and groom were to be spliced - for an 8am service, followed by a breakfast overlooking the harbour. Ahhh - sounds divine, doesn't it?

We arrived, bleary-eyed but in our Saturday morning finest, with about 1/4 of an hour to spare. There were the usual gaggle of women - Anglo and African - laying out the tables for the breakfast, there was one lost-looking marriage celebrant - and there was us.

The minutes ticked down, and as the time passed the marriage celebrant was becoming more and more lost-looking. Kick-off time was set for 8 - and nary a named member of the party to be found...

With seconds to spare, two suited men, formerly of Sierra Leone, arrived. As the celebrant was booked out all day, she set them to fill out the paperwork required for the day while we all waited for the bride.

African time was a term I learned during my years in Sydney - it means it will eventually happen, just not to any timetable. The bride was not just marrying a man from Africa, she was well and truly embracing the concept. Five past eight came - and went. Ten past. Quarter past. Half past.

Each rotation of the second hand saw the marriage celebrant get more and more agitated. African time might be something to be contemplated in the melange of multiculturalism, it wasn't working for a woman who had 6 couples to join all over Sydney town that sunny Saturday. She had another couple lined up for 9.30 - and with travel time, she had to leave by 9 - and she couldn't marry a couple when there was half a couple lacking.

Ten minutes to the celebrant's leaving (and 50 minutes after the scheduled kick-off), a car arrived at a leisurely pace, and out from it hopped two bridesmaids, a groomsman, the father of the bride - and the woman of the moment herself, done up in full costume.

It seems the Aussie father of the bride had taken his chauffeur job quite seriously. So much so, he had booked the car in for a service. On the day before the wedding. With some bloke he knew down the road. Obviously the whole African time concept was embraced by the bloke down the road as well, because it wasn't ready for collection until well after they should have shoved off.

The celebrant explained that she couldn't actually perform a wedding in the 10 minutes left, and so a deal was brokered that she could jump off the boat (that was the venue for her 9.30 wedding) at Circular Quay and splice them at the other end of the Royal Botanic Gardens at 11am - and when she said 11am, she meant 11am!

This caused a new problem, as the best man was due at work at 9.30 and would not be able to attend the new time - and the paperwork that had been filled had his name attached... I have no idea how they negotiated that, because we (and the rest of the guests) migrated to have a Wedding Breakfast BEFORE the wedding.

Fortified (and if I may add, slightly tipsy from morning champagne), we were gathered to walk around the harbour to the new venue by 10.15. By half past, and well less than halfway to where we had to be, we were a rather well-dressed jogging group. We were within sight (and our glow more perspiration than inebriation) when we saw the boat arrive to deliver the celebrant. With much haste, a quiet (and quite pretty) corner was found and finally the wedding took place.

Epilogue - 6 years later when I was living in Melbourne, I bumped into the groom - sans the bride... It seemed that a rocky start doesn't always = a smooth marriage...

So what is the most interesting wedding you have attended?


Thea said...

Oh my goodness, that is a good one!
I would have been dirty about having to get up and ready so early...for nothing!! Hehe

Thanks for the link to my blog. :)

BB said...

Gads... I had forgotten that story. Some call it (whatever country) time. Others call it bloody inconsiderate. Pot-ate-ohs. Po-tart-ohs.

All I know: I never want to be a wedding planner. Or a celebrant. The stress is WAY too much!

River said...

I've been to only four weddings in my entire life, one of them my own. Sadly, nothing spectacular happened at any of them.

Debby said...

Once, I was maid of honor at my friend's wedding, which was outside. They married under a great big oak tree at a park called Heart's Content. I wore a long dress and we processed through a field, and a bumblebee flew up under my dress. I spent the entire ceremony trying not to panic as a bumble bee knocked around under my skirt, buzzing. I was so intent on not spoiling it, but then it started crawling around the waist band of my panty hose. Dear heavens. As soon as the ceremony was done, I darted behind a tree and had my skirts up in a second. Everyone thought that I had to pee.

Tamsyn said...

Great story Jeanie. Nothing that exciting has every happened at any of the weddings I've been to.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jeanie, you neglected exactly what condition we were in by the time we had to do the run to meet the celebrant. There was a hell of a lot of alcohol consumed along with the prawns and I don't think the warm weather helped either.

A lot of sore heads by the afternoon.

(PS cant remember my login so will post as anon, but you know who I am ;-))

Pencil Writer said...

I've lost count of the number of wedding I've attended--thanks to being as old as I am--first one was for my second grade teacher, in Germany. I have to admit that a couple of weddings were very trying for me . . . I was providing the wedding cakes . . . my gift to the featured couple. I don't charge, because I get totally freaked out since wedding cakes, at least the ones I make, just don't cooperate and look great like the ones on TV!

My first wedding cake did look lovely, actually. BEFORE it got to the Church. The top layer decided it wanted to travel a little further than intended. It didn't escape entirely before I rescued it and reestablished it where it belonged. But that's all about me. Not so much the weddings. Ooops.

I like Debby's experience. Must have been a bee-ootiful wedding. (Sorry, Debby.)

I love your blog, Jeanie. Do keep writing whenever you get a moment.