New Farm Park, Brisbane

Saturday, February 21, 2015

THE MARRIAGE MIX UP

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.



37 comments:

  1. And Happily ever after.
    Good to know that your folks got to see your brother courtesy of
    T.A.A. - "The Friendly Way".
    Cheers
    Colin

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  2. A wonderful chapter!
    Your mini was lovely. You must have been/are a good seamstress.
    What a wonderful brother to bring your Mom and Dad. I was feeling so sad when I read they wouldn't be there. So glad that all worked out. I'm still jealous of all your adventures. :)

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  3. It is with great pleasure that I viewed the photos from the time and some of them aren't half bad photos. TAA, the government airline that kept the airline cartel under control. Terrific of your late brother to stump up for your parents.

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  4. Oh what a lovely story. And yes, Happily ever after is the punch line! I love your mini. You looked GREAT. And even without a "proper" photographer, you all looked like you were enjoying yourselves. It's great that your brother paid for your parents to attend your wedding and also that the caring friend phoned Bill's parents so that they were virtually present too! I wondered what flat parcel Bill was holding ? Greetings Jo

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  5. I read somewhere 'the smaller the wedding, the longer the marriage' :) I think your wedding sounded perfect Diane, very relaxed.. Gosh you two were a pretty cool coup!e..

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  6. I think you had a wonderful wedding without all the pump and ceremony. This is what it is all about anyway and it has also a feeling of the sixties when all the old things were thrown overboard. We had lots of friends who went by bike to get married at that time in a simple short mini dress as yours.

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  7. Your wedding was so nice - and the mix up has given you something to have a laugh and write about all these years later. What a kind brother you have and how happy he made all of you with his kindness. Having the visit to Switzerland to look forward to would have been so exciting too, your parents-in-law would have been thrilled speaking to Bill on that special day.
    Congratulations on a long and obviously happy marriage.
    Oh, yes, and I really loved your Wedding dress - gorgeous!!

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  8. Despite the odd muddle up it was a day of pretty smooth sailing.

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  9. A most evocative account of your special day...my Argentine husband and I got married in LA County Court..we were given number 5A and the judge's name was Norman Pitluck!!! Surrounded by a motley queue of shot gun weddings and the like back in 1979...when we returned to the UK we did it all over again in a church for both Argentine and English family to enjoy..our lunchtime wedding in LA was followed by a drink in Simply Blue..a club in a multi-storey block..As he returned to the table Champagne glasses in hand I noticed the pictures on the wall gently swaying...I thought it was due to perhaps an underground train passing..like in London. He then told me LA didn't have a Tube and that was an earthquake!! So on our wedding day the ground really did move. Congratulations!

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  10. I loved this story. I regret not having my parents at my wedding, but as the marriage turned out, it was just as well. When I worked at an elementary school, there was a teacher who was a friend of mine. She and a gentleman had been going together for a couple of years. One day she went to lunch with him and when they came back they were married. They had gone down to City Hall and gotten married. It was two perfect people. They are still married and I see them around now and then.

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  11. Diane, I love this part of your story. You and Bill did live happily ever after.. And I like your cute mini too. I am glad your parents made it to the wedding, that was a nice gift from your brother.. Great photos, thanks for sharing.. Have a happy weekend!

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  12. Lovey story...and here you both are all these years later, still together. That was lovely your parents ended up coming to your wedding..

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  13. oops! glad YOU showed up at the right office to get married. :) love your sexy wedding dress!

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  14. and we all know it is happily ever after and the marriage Worked.. have never heard the crust as job.. not even in all my reading. i like your dress, you did a great job on it. a merry merry mix up marriage and it worked.

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  15. What a fun chapter in your life story! You daughters and grandsons are so lucky to have such a good story teller/wrier . The wedding sounds so fun ... Much more interesting than a conventional one with no mix ups.

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  16. What a great brother you have to pay for your parents' trip! Your marriage started out so well!

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  17. That was a brilliant story Diane. I loved the story from start to finish. How very special of your brother to pay for your mum and dad to be there. What a sweet guy and I'll say it again, you were and are a great looking couple!

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  18. Almost forgot, I loved, loved, loved that sketch of the two of you in a cooking pot. Did I ever tell you I was told that some relatives on my mother's side were missionaries and were supposed to have ended up in one? I believed that story from the family historian BUT when I told Gregg he was so skeptical that he had even me doubting that stories authenticity. It was told by a cousin of my mums and well, he had a twinkle in the eye when he told us kids.

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    Replies
    1. It certainly sounds like a tall story, Denise.

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  19. Diane Your post is very interesting. The photos are great. And now I can see how well - developed country was Australia at that time comparing to countries in Eastern Europe which were under communism..

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  20. How time flies when you are having fun. N and I got married in a registry office minus both sets of parents. He had at least met mine, but I had not met his. Good job we all got on well together. We also only had a few photos taken by friends. First wedding that did not last was a big affair!!!!

    Love your wedding invitation and glad everything turned out well despite the misunderstanding. T'other Diane

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  21. What a great story and the pictures are charming - probably the moreso because you weren’t having to pose for a professional photographer!

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  22. What a wonderful story, and the photos you have posted are priceless!! Just goes to show that the old saying "you have to kiss a few frogs before you find your prince charming" is certainly true!!

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  23. You look beautiful in your wedding dress and so wonderful that your parents were able to be there. And you are still smiling, after all these years!

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  24. What a neat story. Everyone looks very happy, and I like your wedding dress. The 'professional' photographer Betsy and I hired to do our wedding was pretty awful as well -- we got very few decent photos.

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  25. Awwww you two were so adorable - and still are!!!

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  26. Your wedding sounds so nice and funny ! I can't even really remember ours, my father had organized a big wedding with limousine and of course a photographer and we were like puppets on a string in a show. Most of the invited people we didn't know, colleagues of my father, We married in a church, all I can remember was that Riccardo's niece stepped on my 11 m long (!!!) veil she was holding. The wedding was in Brussels and my MIL and SIL came from Italy. We celebrated later our wedding with friends at least then we had fun ! And my father was proud of the show he had given !

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  27. So glad it all turned out well. Though I do hope you are going to say you finally got to go to Switzerland also! Glad you drove by your friends so you could all connect, and have a laugh over the mixup. You looked lovely in your mini-wedding dress. Mine was not so short (my hubby was pretty jealous back then! :-) ) I also meant to say that I love your car! We had a Kharmann Ghia after Russell got back from Nam and enjoyed it so much!

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  28. It is a good thing you drove past the registry office and saw your friends waiting for you to arrive, how great that your parents was able to attend

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  29. Diane, I loved reading about your nuptials! The mini dress looks groovy and you look so stylish in it. You two look very happy together. What a terrible mix-up with your friends, though!

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  30. Cracking story! Our wedding photographer was rubbish too!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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  31. Love seeing the 60's styles - I got married in 1966. The "old" pics are great!

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  32. I sure enjoyed reading the story of your wedding . It sounds like the story has continued happily for many years. I look forward to reading the next chapter.

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  33. Lots of special and funny memories there for you both Diane.

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  34. How things have changed! Not sure I would have been happy if my daughter married someone I had never met. My brother took photos of my wedding!

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  35. I'm so glad that your parents were able to be at your wedding and thta Bill was able to talk tio his parents. With wisdom of age we know how important that was for therm! Your invitation was fun! You and Bill were both glowing with happiness, Diane and even the "bad "photos look wonderful!

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