Being a tragic fan of both “Days of our Lives” and “The Young and the Restless” through the 1980’s (Mum and I watched nearly every episode, often sitting up Sunday nights to churn through a week’s worth of videotape), I knew a thing or two about weddings, Daytime Soap Opera style. The good, the bad and the ultra romantic.
In addition, my younger sister and I had a semi-professional String Quartet during our Conservatorium years, so we had witnessed another set of weddings from the “hired help” perspective. So I had a pretty good idea of what a fairy-tale wedding should include. (And not include – I was hoping to be spared the appearance of any long-lost amnesiac ex-wives, crazed gunmen, or former boyfriends on motorcycles).
It didn’t take long to decide that our wedding would take place in my hometown of Adelaide, South Australia. Not least because Neil has very little family, both his parents being “Only” children – meaning he has no Aunts, Uncles or first cousins. Whereas I have a lot of relatives on both sides, some of whom I was convinced would not forgive me if they missed the wedding. Plus, as the viola player in our String Quartet had once laconically observed “What The Bride Wants, The Bride Gets.”
So planning for the “Bartsch-Guthrig Wedding Spectacular” began. We determined early on that as far as possible we would aim to have people we knew take part, for a personal touch, plus knowing that we could delegate and trust them to carry out their particular role well, without too much direction from us. Something quite important when you are trying to plan the essential details of such an occasion from the other side of the world, with only a couple of weeks in Adelaide at the end to complete the final touches.
First up to be decided were the date and venues. Our “window” for this was between Neil’s academic year-end in Cambridge, and start of “Curacy” (a kind of internship for intending Pastors) in Ruislip, West London, which was due to commence in September. I rather fancied the 19th July as being 18 months to the day since our New Zealand engagement, and a year since I had got on that plane to England. This fell on a Sunday, which despite being unusual, I discovered was quite legal to get married in Australia.
The church also chose itself, as I had grown up at St. John’s Lutheran Church, Unley, including being Baptised and Confirmed there. I wanted to include a connection to my late father Ken, so asked permission to utilise afterwards the Hall at the nearby St. John’s Primary School, which he had designed, and which I had visited with him at various stages of construction during my last year of school.
The Best Man was to be Martin, who we “blamed” for Neil and I meeting, and the ushers Rhonda and her partner Jonathan (also given responsibility, Rhonda we jokingly referred to as “Cupid”).
Thinking that it was only fair to give Neil some input, he largely chose the Minister, Revd. Dr. John Kleinig. Dr. Kleinig had been doing some postgraduate study in Cambridge and had encouraged and paved the way for Neil to come to Adelaide as an exchange student, so, again, were it not for him, we would not have met.
Flowers were entrusted to Neil’s Mum Sylvia and Martin’s Mum Melva, while Music was to be in the capable hands of St. John’ s organist Don Wiadrowski (who had taught me as a teenager) with friend Warren on trumpet.
My two sisters were bridesmaids, and Mum Carlein made all the gowns. Being a winter wedding, the girls were in burgundy velvet and taffeta, very wintery and classy. Mum also painstakingly decorated the three-tier wedding cake.
We thought hard about the type of reception to have, as I had been to weddings where I was isolated on a table with near strangers with little opportunity to speak to those I wanted to. We also had the issue of wanting to include a lot of people but realising that it would be very unbalanced if we went for the traditional “Brides Side and Grooms Side”…both for the Reception and also in the church. [As the “groom’s side”, as far as family went, numbered FIVE.]
In the end we devised a “Finger Food” style reception in the Hall, so if there were a few more or less guests, it didn’t matter, and then invited EVERYONE. We even had Dr. Kleinig announce at the end of the ceremony that anyone who had come along to the church that day was welcome to join us for the reception in the hall afterwards. Hence this included even the elderly church ladies who had come along for a “Squiz” at the dresses.
(This ended up being a winning formula – Mum told me that years later, folk still talked fondly about being at Kylie’s wedding).
Neil was concerned, however, that we would all starve if we didn’t have a hot meal somewhere along the line, so we also booked an evening dinner at “The Ed” (a pub where we had shared some early dates). This was quite small – only around twenty people, which we restricted to the “Wedding Party” and immediate family (including Aunts/Uncles but no further, to keep it consistent and contained). However we did all the “Proper Wedding Stuff” (Toasts, Speeches, Cake Cutting) at the afternoon “do” with everyone, so all felt (we hoped) part of the “Real Reception”.
There was a lot of planning and arranging to do in the short period of time from arriving in Adelaide and the day itself, although my family had done as much as they reasonably could. I will admit that this was pretty stressful, and at some points we weren’t sure if we would bring it off.
But we got to the night before, everything was organised, and delegated, so we made a conscious decision to leave everything in the hands of those trusted people, and to relax and enjoy the day.
It dawned rainy, but it didn’t matter. Us girls spent the morning in hair and make-up, while reportedly the “boys” attended church and ate a Roast Dinner with Martin’s family.
Martin’s Dad David arrived in his meticulously restored vintage Dodge, and we were so excited that we left early. And looked like arriving at the church early too (rather than “fashionably late”) so we drove around the block a few times, deliberately making the elderly engine backfire and startling vague teenagers and the odd dog.
This we timed carefully to the 8-bar sections of the Processional – Helen’s favourite – and that which I had performed in Cambridge – Charpentier’s “Te Deum”.
We included our favourite hymns, with Don’s thundering pipe organ playing, and included all the traditional vows I had always loved “To have and to hold…to love and to cherish”.
All went off without a hitch, the Minister Dr. Kleinig amusing me highly while preaching on Romans 8:38, when he spoke of things which can potentially separate us, as people, from one another, citing as an example “Kylie’s messiness and Neil’s fussiness”. Oops!
[The beautiful text reads: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”.]
It was a wonderful day, truly a fairy-tale day. An important next step in our own fairy-tale.
I wore my silk taffeta gown right through to the evening, because I knew it was the most exquisite dress I would ever wear. It was wonderful to be the Bride, although I knew it was just for that one day.
But now, not just for one day but (I trusted) for many years hence, I was a Wife. Neil’s Wife.