Wednesday 23rd March 2005 dawned bright and hot in Perth. The sun was a yellow furnace in a bright blue sky and the maximum recorded temperature that day was 42 degrees. I was glad I was getting married indoors at the Hillcrest Restaurant; a place with very efficient air conditioning.
Robin spent the morning being equipped with wedding hair, wedding fingernails, wedding toenails and a wedding face. When all was finished to her satisfaction, she climbed into her wedding dress. She tried very hard not to smile in case the make up cracked and fell off, but she couldn't help herself and she grinned widely at her reflection in the mirror. Fortunately everything stayed in place a great tribute to the skills of Kylie the make up specialist who had been summoned with frantic last minute phone calls the night before.
I arrived at the Hillcrest about 3.00pm. People drifted in slowly.
"You look very calm," said Phyllis, my soon to be mother-in-law.
"Only on the outside," I said.
At about 3.45pm Robin arrived. Unfortunately, her brother Ian, her sister Wendy and her neice Alex had not yet appeared. But nobody told Robin. The bridal music blared and Robin walked in on her father's arm. She looked around, puzzled.
"Where's Ian? Where's Alex? Where's Wendy? She's got the video camera. We can't get married without a video camera."
"Sorry," said Carol, the celebrant, "but you'll have to go out again and wait. The guests aren't all here yet."
Robin and her father backed out and the wedding music faded away.
"I've been marrying people for thirty-one years," said Carol, "and this is the very first time I've had to send the bride away."
"The only wedding in the world," I said, "where the bride is on time and the guests are late. It could only happen to us."
Eventually Ian, Wendy and Alex arrived. Alex and Wendy were festooned with musical paraphernalia: a flute, a music stand, the occasional cello. They bustled in a corner as they put everything together. Eventually they were ready. The video camera was switched on and we began again.
The Beatles All You Need Is Love blared out. Robin walked in on her father's arm to the trumpet fanfare and John Lennon's nasal voice assured us all that we could do anything. All you need is love.
Carol introduced herself and went through the preliminaries. Then she asked: "Who brings this woman to be married to this man?"
"I do," said Tim. I shook his hand. "Good luck with her," he said. "You'll need it." He had both a twinkle and a tear in his eye as he went to sit down. He really does love his daughters.
Then it was time to make our vows. We turned to each other and held hands as we repeated the words that Carol read to us. It was the first time I had looked directly (and closely) at Robin since she arrived and I had an almost irresistible urge to giggle for somehow her make up had slipped and there was a thin, white half-moon arc of cream decorating the bottom of each lens of her glasses. She blinked owlishly at me across the top of the cream. Fortunately I managed to contain my giggles and we both declared our love for each other and held that love up for all the world to see. It was our moment, our magical moment. We exchanged rings (miraculously they had not been lost).
And we were married.
As we signed the register, Wendy and Alex played Bach in the background. It was a perfect moment.
We milled around for a while. Photos were taken, champagne was drunk, canapés were nibbled. The children played with the wedding balloons, chasing each other around the room. Someone had bottle of bubble mix and soon lots of people were blowing bubbles. Alex's brother opened his mouth to eat a canapé and Alex blew bubbles into it. He remonstrated mildly with her. After we cleaned up the blood, we went into the restaurant. Food!
But first, after we were seated, my best man Laurie sang The Sparrow And The Gentle Dove by Henry Purcell to a flute arrangement by Geoffrey Coker. He was accompanied by Wendy on flute and Alex on cello. It was sublime.
Then Wendy's five year old daughter Ella danced to Grow by Hi-Five. I've never seen someone so young dance so well. She is stunningly talented.
Then food. And drink. Yummy stuff! And Robin and I got it first. Boy! This marriage lark is a good idea. Plates groaning beneath a heavy load, we chomped.
Then it was time for speeches. Tim officially welcomed me to the family and I got huge hugs from a seemingly never ending queue of utterly gorgeous sisters in law and nieces.
"Can we get married again?" I asked Robin. "I want to go round and hug them all a second time."
The best man gave a speech which it turned out I'd written. Laurie nicked some of my more vividly described autobiographical writings and strung them together to present a word picture of me. It seemed to go down well, though I couldn't help feeling that he shared rather too much information about my underpants with my gorgeous new sisters and my stunning new nieces. Sometimes one needs to retain an air of mystery about these things.
Then the master of ceremonies called on me to speak. I rose to the occasion and took a deep breath. But Robin was having none of it. She forced me to sit down again before I had said a word. She stood up regally and surveyed the crowd with an icy optic:
"My husband and I "
There was more music from Wendy and Alex. Then Robin's other sister Jenny accompanied her daughter Moana on guitar and together they sang for us, finishing with a rousing rendering of Rockin' Robin. Go girl!
And then by special request (from me), Jenny and Wendy took to their flutes and played a most wonderful arrangement of J. S. Bach's Bourée.
What a perfect way to finish.