It was 1969, after a whirlwind romance, I was soon to be married to a Swiss boy. We were living in Papua/New Guinea and we had to decide where to get married. Switzerland, Australia or P/NG. We thought it would be unfair to my parents if we got married in Switzerland and unfair to Bill's parents if we got married in Australia. In those days air travel to the other side of the world was very expensive. So we thought getting married in P/NG would avoid that problem. Neither set of parents would be able to afford to come and although being sad for all of us at least it was fair. (Now being a parent myself, I think that was a pretty harsh decision. )
So we pushed on with the marriage arrangements. We had our photos taken to be used on the invitation cards.
Bill was friendly with a Swiss artist in P/NG and he offered to draw a cartoon of us being cooked by the natives. Inside the card we wrote the invitation in both English and German. We sent them to family and friends in all three countries. But as expected only those living in P/NG could attend. However, my brother was living on the other side of P/NG way up in Kavieng on New Ireland and he couldn't get away from work so he wasn't able to come. He sent me a letter saying he was sorry that he wouldn't be there, but for a wedding present he would pay for Mum and Dad to fly from Sydney.
|Mum and Dad at Port Moresby airport.|
Wow! That was exciting news but I was worried about how Bill's parents would feel about being left out. Nevertheless, Bill assured his parents that we would go to Switzerland to visit them. That was something for me to look forward to. Bill nor I had met our prospective parents in law. So it was going to be bad luck if either of our parents disapproved. Anyway, we continued on with plans. We weren't religious so we decided against a church wedding and we made enquiries about where we could have a civil marriage ceremony. We were told that the District Officer could marry us in the District Office. The trouble was we had to be married in office hours, so we made an appointment for 5:00pm on a Friday afternoon in the school holidays on 10 May. We told our friends not to worry about coming to the ceremony if they were working but to make sure they came to the reception later in the evening. We had booked out the whole of the "Purple Parrot" restaurant with over 60 guests. Some of our friends said they would like to come to the marriage ceremony too.
At four o'clock Bill climbed into a suit and tie which was very hot to wear in the tropics. I was luckier because mini dresses were the fashion. I was daring, and with the help of a dressmaker, designed a mini wedding dress. At least it was cool. We drove to the District Office with my parents. We met Willy, who was going to be a witness together with my Dad. The District Officer was nervous because this was his first marriage ceremony. We told him not to worry because it was our first one too. We all had a good laugh and waited a few more minutes to see if any of our friends would arrive. The clock ticked on and no one came so we had to get on with the ceremony. It was short and sweet. Our hearts were fluttering and we were very happy. We wondered why no friends arrived but thought they must have had to work and we would see them later at the reception.
After the ceremony, the plan was to stop by my friend, Kerrie's house, for a few drinks before going onto the reception.
It so happened that we had to pass the Registry Office on the way to Kerrie's house. Outside the Registry Office was a small crowd of our friends all waving at us to hurry up. Bill hit the brakes. We heard them calling out, "Hurry up! You are very late for the marriage ceremony." Bill laughed and said, "But we are already married. What are you doing here?" "We're here to see you get married." One of Bill's friends had told everyone we were getting married at the Registry Office instead of the District Office. Oooops what a mix up!
Someone had a camera and took a few shots of us anyway, in the street instead of in the office. Oh well, Cest la vie. Anyway we all apologised and had a good laugh and then we went to Kerrie's house for drinks and nibblies.
I can't believe how silly it was of me not to organise someone to take decent photos, especially as I was keen on photography even then.
We did hire a "Professional Photographer"??? for the reception but none of the photos, were any good. This is the best of the worst photos I have ever seen of a wedding reception. But nothing could stop us feeling happy.
One of Bill's Swiss friends secretly made a phone call to Bill's parents while we were at the table. Bill was thrilled to be able to talk to them. I couldn't because I couldn't speak Swiss German.
We had a great party with our friends and all the mix up was forgotten.
We had decided to postpone our honeymoon until the next year when we would have saved enough money to go on holiday to Switzerland. Well that was the plan ....
The next morning we took my parents to the airport and loaded them onto a small plane to take them over the other side of P/NG to Kavieng to visit my brother, David, his wife, Ann, and their little grandson, Michael. I think my parents were fairly pleased with my choice for a husband. It must have been hard for them to try and get to know him in a few days. Bill had only just learnt to speak English and he was very confused when my Dad asked him, "What do you do for a crust?" I had to translate the slang. "What do you do for a job?"
Flying TAA in 1969. That airline doesn't exist anymore.