It got to 42C (108F) on the day before and that’s too hot for anything really. There were stray northerly gusts strong enough to blow the food off the table at the market where we were eating our breakfast. Buying supplies, of course we were. It didn’t augur well. But we were clinging (for days, weeks) to the forecast which said 26 with light southerlies. Duly at 2am the temperature began dropping, 18 degrees by 6am — and, for Melbourne in summer, Jan 5 was a lovely day. The wedding was on.
We’re not sure why Mitzi and Simon decided to get married. They’d been living together for five or six years and had two children. It could have been the new suit Simon bought in Bangkok and the need for an occasion to give it an airing. It might have been the constant hectoring from the parents/grandparents whose resignation had descended into fits of misty sighing. Or it could have been the occasion for a fine party. Or all of the above.
It was to be held in the backyard of their house with the catering to be supplemented by contributions from the guests. Our kitchen was papered with lists: ‘160 meringues, 140 Florentines, 200 small cakes, beetroot and lentil salad (no fetta). Small tables from the Salvos. Plastic cloths, clips, golden tissue paper. Rose petals, bucket, containers for …’ that sort of thing, pages of it, exactly the sort of thing I am inclined to tidy up and move along.
There was getting ready. A Backyard Blitz of sorts had occurred with Simon’s uncle imported to build the snaking wall that had been planned for some time. Mulch had been mulched and top soil soiled. Pots of petunias were cossetted and junk was junked. Mostly. The last remnants of goat hide found their way to the tip, and Frida supervised.
It was of course supposed to not look like a backyard and various cunning ploys were employed for this purpose including a bamboo archway up the drive built by the ever ingenious David Mollison, Simon’s dad. Note new fence. Weddings have their purposes. This is what the bride has to do on her wedding day, an old Australian tradition.
And there were rehearsals to be rehearsed.
By the time the crowd, which included 40 or 50 kids, started assembling the backyard looked okay. And anyway, of course, the real decorative elements are always the people.
It was also a SHOW to be held in the backyard, an all singing/dancing kind of wedding which is what might be expected of a musician and a dancer. It was also as carefully crafted as a drum and as well organised as a biology experiment. The crowd arrived to a genteel concert of djembe and balafon. Given a good break among the vicissitudes of fortune, Bassidi Kone (from Mali) playing the balafon may one day become another Youssou N’Dour. Masaki, an African drumming enthusiast from Japan, is drumming. Of course, you say.
Meanwhile the business of the day was commencing. Simon had decided to wear shoes, Mitzi’s hair had been reorganised, the crowd had got into the bar and Veronica the celebrant had dug up all the featured artists. With a variety of responses, the elite flower persons brigade had got a look at the bride and Shanti, her best woman.
Miriam had sung a very affecting version of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’, and the show was on the road. ‘Today is a celebration’ it was said, ‘of the miracle of all loving relationships which have at their foundation the belief in the best of what it is to be human: the generosity of spirit to be open to another person, to share life’s joys and sorrows, to care for and nurture each other in the journey of life.’
To the delight of all a tear crept into the bride’s eye. The groom’s were of course already streaming. What’s a wedding for if you can’t pack up. They made their vows to each other and it was done.
The event drew a crowd.The only modest and fleeting sensation was the emergence of a ringer who joined herself to the floral guard. But that can happen when you have such a large detachment.
They sang and sang beautifully: ‘Skinnermerink’ which everyone is supposed to know but I didn’t, and a song Betty, Simon’s mum, wrote for the occasion. Both were belted out lustily. The register was signed … and the bouquet was thrown. The first recipient at second slip had already been married for 30 years, and so a second throw was called for and a lucky man rose through the pack and brought it down.
Led by Simon’s sister Jo, a professional musician based in Vienna, the throng adjourned to a nearby park for dancing and drumming while the food got sorted and the backyard was remodelled. I went down Sydney Rd to the Al Wahal bakery to pick up three spit-roasted lambs with pilaf and pistachios. Good or what! The food turned out to be memorable. And so did the fabulous pick up jazz band playing to greet the party goers as they returned from the park. Just so cool …
Speeches aided participants’ digestive processes. There were nine but none longer than two minutes. The topics varied; the quality and heart-feltness little. Dave’s poem may have been a standout.
Mitzi’s Aunt Gill’s cake was cut, and it got dark and so there aren’t many more photos.
But the show went on, and on. Mitzi and Simon provided their own presentation, the humour highlight of the evening. Another sensation was the bridal waltz which began as an African dance, but changed into a salsa as Mitzi and Simon were joined by four other couples — notably beautiful dancing by the men, although Mitzi says we are just not used to seeing men dance and women are customarily wonderful. This turned into a Polynesian hula for the women and a Maori haka for the men. It just went on.
In his speech the father of the bride (pictured with younger granddaughter) described it as a happy happy day, and so it was. Tired but happy? Yes I think that’s it. (Pa David, Betty and Myrna) Wonderful.