Unspoken Conversations are the topics that are often swept under the carpet, whispered amongst the closest of friends and bitched about by many. I want to create awareness about difficult things that people face in life; grief, mental health, money, illnesses, family troubles, relationship difficulties and putting yourself first. I want to tell the truth about things that really matter.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The Wacky Watt Wedding

The Wacky Watt Wedding is my inspiration....yes...I have secretly (or not so secretly) been trying to convince Mick that we NEED a jumping castle at our wedding! Could you imagine how much fun that would be? Also trying to sell the idea of popcorn cones and toffee apples (he LOVES them both) and all things FUN, CRAZY and US after the ceremony. Today I welcome Susie to my blog to reveal her super special day that reflected her and her partner in everyway!

Take it away Susie.

Marriage is a funny creature. For some, it is the defining moment in their lives, the pinnacle of a relationship or high point of socialite fashion success.  For others, it’s a complete disaster which probably should have been avoided in the first place. For me, it was a complete surprise.

The Oxford Dictionary defines marriage as “the formal union of a man and a woman, typically as recognized by law, by which they become husband and wife”. Fairly standard, as far as I can tell.  It is this ever so un-inspirational definition which led me to believe that I, the living embodiment of the ‘modern woman’, would never ever get married. Seriously? What was the point?  As far as I could tell, the act of getting married was a formulaic, repetitive and meaningless action that people spent a bucket of money to go through for little or no reward.

Every wedding I had ever been to was the same. Bride in white dress, Groom in uncomfortable suit, go to ‘Location A’. Bride and Groom say a few words out of a book neither Bride nor Groom were really interested in reading, get photos taken while guests shuffle around in useless fashion. Go to ‘Location B’ and jump through the hoops ‘Location B’ had set on the evening – guests sit, welcome Bride, Groom and wedding party. Eat food. Speeches. Cut cake. Eat more food. First dance. Get drunk on free booze. Get out. The only good bit was when the Best Man got so drunk, he mistook the Bride’s mother for one of the bridesmaids and made an inappropriate pass at her during his slurred and profanity studded speech. That was worth hanging around for.

Aside from that…. Meh.

This attitude changed when I attended the wedding of a dear friend of mine who had relocated to the US and met the man of her dreams. Louisa and Ryan were already married when their wedding occurred on 2 August, 2002. This odd fact was owing to the fact that 12 months earlier, Louisa was all kinds of knocked-up and refused to give birth to a bastard, so they got hitched in a Registry office somewhere in the US.  But they wanted a wedding. And it had to be in Australia this time.

My first inkling that their wedding was going to be different from the norm (the couple already being married notwithstanding) was that Louisa asked me to belly dance at her reception.

Tick box one.

Then there was the location. Location A and Location B were the same place. A tiny community hall buried deep in the Adelaide hills with views to die for, no boring rules and ample room for useless guest shuffling.

Tick box two.

Finally, Louisa and Ryan made their wedding ceremony apply to them. They filled it with their beliefs, rituals which reflected them as a couple and had a family friend perform the ‘serious’ bit. I sat there and watched my awesome friend and her new (well, not entirely new) husband stand in front of their family and friends and declare their love for one another. They really didn’t care what anyone thought or said about that, but hoped that these special people would support them in their decision.

DING! DING! DING! We have a winner!

Fast forward about a hundred years later and I find myself with the man of my dreams on bended knee, presenting a giant shiny rock to me, asking me to be his wife.  Of course, I said yes and proceeded to blubber like a little girl. So much for the modern woman!

Steve and I grew up in two seemingly separate worlds. Steve’s childhood world was that of the son of a Uniting Church minister. Mine was that of a scallywag Darwin kid in the 70s. Chalk and cheese! We had both suffered in one way or another at the hands of organised religion, bad relationships and family and health hardships. As a result, knew that we wanted something really different from our wedding. We just had to figure out what that was.

We decided to analyse what marriage actually meant. To define what purpose it would have and the significance it would pose to us, both a couple and as individuals. I trotted out the story of Louisa and Ryan’s mind-blowing wedding. Steve recalled events in his youth which had had an equally profound effect on him. We asked friends and family at our engagement party what they felt marriage meant and how (for those who were married) it had changed them. We looked at how different religions interpret marriage and found rituals which had significance to us and our beliefs or reflected how we had grown through our experiences. From there we began to build our wedding.

We started with the venue. We chose to get married at the Woodhouse in Piccadilly. The Woodhouse has multiple areas you can get married at, but the most popular is the ‘Big House’; a beautiful 1800s mansion surrounded by lovely gardens, enough beds for 60 people and a commercial kitchen. It was perfect for us because it meant that our guests could stay overnight if they wanted to and for interstate guests, they had a place to stay for next to nothing. You can also book it for three days and nights, which meant we could set and break all the rules. This brought us to the conclusion; why have a wedding day, when you can have a wedding weekend?

Given that our location was fairly remote, we had a bunch of folks coming from all over the country and that we had a couple of days to party, we decided to really go nuts. If you’re going to celebrate something, you have to get a jumping castle, right? Damn straight! Mostly because we didn’t want our guests doing the useless shuffle thing in between the ceremony and reception, we planned entertainment for them (and us) at our venue. And it would be in the form of a carnival.  It meant a hell of a lot of planning and logistics, but it would be worth it!

Our wedding weekend was brilliant, if I do say so myself. The day before the wedding, we had all of our interstate guests (and a few local ones) over to the Big House for a BBQ and to help us with the last of the set up for the big day. People laughed, got to know one another and swapped the inevitable “I remember when…” stories.

On the day of our wedding, Steve and I walked partway down the aisle with both of our parents and then the rest of the way with just the two of us. Figuring that we were going into this as consenting adults and there was no ownership or ‘giving away’ of anyone. 

We had chosen a large tree under which to get married, as there was no pre-conceived denomination or religious iconography which could interfere with our message. We gathered our closest friends and family to join us under that tree and explained why we were there by telling a children’s story we had written, read by a friend’s 8 year old daughter.

We asked our brothers to explain us as people. We asked our mothers to talk about what their 40+ year marriages had meant to them. We had a sing along, where everyone joined in.

We asked people to write words of wisdom, advice and love onto strips of ribbon to tie to long drapes of fabric we’d suspended in the branches of the tree while some friends of ours played one of our favourite songs.

We stood in front of our family and friends and told them of our intent to spend the rest of our lives together, regardless of what they thought about that decision, but we hoped that they would support us. We had Steve’s dad do the ‘serious’ bit. 

We got hitched.

Then we had a carnival. It seemed quite natural to have an outdoor celebration to conclude our ceremony. It was the perfect ending for those people who had come to the ceremony, but couldn’t stay for the reception. It was fun for kids and adults alike, sparing the unnecessary boredom and time-watching angst. It gave us a chance to hang out with and talk to our guests and not get whisked away to do boring stuff. It gave us the opportunity to really enjoy our wedding day.

We’d hired a jumping castle and asked the Amazing Drumming Monkeys perform. Given that our venue was also close to the largest stash of scouting equipment in the world, we borrowed hand carts, giant games, benches and novelty toys to supplement the carnival.  We also asked a friend of mine to paint a peep board (a large board with a funny picture that you stick your face into and get your photo taken) depicting the two of us in our wedding finery for guests to use. 

All in all it worked really well. People who couldn’t stay for the reception felt like they were included in the whole day. People who were staying for the reception were spared the useless shuffling while we had our wedding photos taken and we got to really enjoy our day, our way.

The result of this day is that Steve and I have grown into a much better couple. We’re happy. We have enough space for ourselves as individuals, but are united in our wedded front. We’re secure in the knowledge that the other person has our back, regardless of how wacky things get or what weird events come our way. For me, these rewards (unseen to the outside world) which have come through marriage have been a complete surprise to me.  I must conclude therefore, that marriage is pretty good and I rather like it.

As I now sit, gestating my way towards motherhood for the first time, I can honestly say that it was the best, bar none, wedding I have ever been to. It was a celebration of two people, tailor made to them and their guests. No rules, no formula, no inappropriate drunken speech given by the best man. And a jumping castle.

Boxes ticked.

Susie xxxx

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