In Search of Families In Search of Adventure
A Family on a Bike Tour: New Zealand, Samoa, USA and Canada 2004/2005

The Wedding Party

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From:       Kirstie and Stuart
Subject:   The Wedding Party
  Date:         6th January 2005
     Rangiora, Canterbury, South Island, New Zealand

Marriage is one of life's great adventures and Mark and Lynette were just starting out on theirs. We had hoped to get to their wedding but events conspired against us, so we decided to stalk them on their honeymoon.

After eight weeks on the road, we were getting a little tired of each others' company and the idea of catching up with some old friends seemed inspired. We've enjoyed meeting all sorts of people on the road but conversations with new friends and roadside acquaintances lack the depth and familiarity of passing time with those you know well. So we were keen to track down the bride and groom and make up for missing their wedding by partying with them for an evening. And there was good reason to party; Christmas, New Year, Lynette's birthday and a marriage had all come at once.

We were stalking with consent. We'd talked the idea over with them one cold winter's evening while they were planning their wedding and we were planning our travels. We were in the snug of our local pub, sitting by the fire, supping pints of bitter when we discovered that although we'd miss their wedding, our paths could cross on their honeymoon. Mark and Lynette were going to be touring New Zealand at the same time as us. It was a moment of serendipity we felt could not be left to pass. We agreed to meet for a Kiwi wedding party and sat, supped and imagined the scene; tents pitched against a mountainous backdrop in a wild and beautiful camp spot overlooking a hazy blue sea; hot summer sun, cold beers and a sizzling barbeque banquet; then, with the kids asleep, champagne toasts in fine crystal glasses, and speeches at sunset with cake, chocolates and a whisky nightcap to end the day. It would be perfect. How could innocent honeymooners resist such temptation? They couldn't. We made sure of that by texting them almost every day of their honeymoon. "Whr r u nw? Whn shll we mt?"

Our itineraries collided on the last day of their trip. We met on the Banks Peninsula, a rugged and spectacular volcanic coastline close to Christchurch. The rendezvous was a playground in Akaroa, an old French settlement and suitably romantic place for a romantic occasion. Unfortunately the rest of New Zealand's touring public were also in search of l'amour. The Top 10 Holiday Park was an orgy of canvas. All around, kids ran wild, while parents supped well earned holiday beers and chewed on rib-eye steaks. We finally raised a toast to friendship and marriage in a small patch of grass behind the bumper of the honeymooners' campervan.

The bride and groom welcome guests to the marquee

We cooked a wedding banquet on their small campervan stove. Then we shivered outside, swiping at the sandflies as the children's popcorn blew into the wind. The weak sunshine and grey sea sulked behind a wall of canvas and campervans, as a string of wedding balloons grated against the tent like nails scraped on a blackboard. We all admired the bride's wedding fleece and sipped champagne out of toothbrush holders. When the last balloon had blown away we retired to Mark and Lynette's tin honeymoon suite to blow out the candles on the chocolate cake. Over a game of Scrabble it soon became obvious that while Mark and Lynette were lucky in love, they didn't stand a chance against the Pelling/Wickes International Scrabble Team.

Traditions upheld with the cutting of the cake

Mr and Mrs Edwards had to leave early the next morning to catch their plane home. Before they left, in a final reversal of tradition, the bride and groom gave the guests a parting present. Colourful kites for the boys to play with in the wind and for us, a hamper of goodies they could not take on the plane: ketchup, insect cream, bin bags, honey, bacofoil, meat skewers, shower gel, washing powder, coffee beans and tea lights. When we sat in the pub all those months ago, sipping real ale and planning the wedding party, we couldn't have predicted New Zealand's worst summer in seventy years. But we also hadn't predicted just how good it would be to see our old friends so far from home. We were grateful for the warmth of their honeymoon glow and the comfortable conversation of old friends. The bride complained she hadn't washed her hair in days, the cyclists smelt a bit funny, the kids kicked over the champagne, and no one asked anyone to dance, but all in all we felt it was a perfect wedding. As always, it's the people that make the difference.


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