We were merely missing jafas in our loot bags. Next time, Auckland.

I do enjoy weddings, which makes my decision to traverse half the world and avoid the few years that passed for wedding season in my neck of the woods, a curious one. Prolix. Summer, being the season of weddings here in NZ, happens to coincide with my January birthday. So travelling back home for my 30th means I’ve landed in the aforementioned wedding season. In short, I just used 60 odd words to say what I could’ve far more succinctly announced as “I went to a wedding.” I guess in this way I can make it about me.

Which it wasn’t.

I’ve known the bride since early in high school. Our paths crossed during drama performances and intertwined as our friend groups expanded to adsorb one another. She also introduced me to community theatre as I searched for a drama outlet once finished seventh form. With her quick wit, sense of humour, iron stomach and warm reliability, she fast became one of my besties. Also we once camped away for a week. She ate nothing but tinned peaches, which earned my eternal respect.

The ceremony was held in a public park overlooking Lake Pupuke, a freshwater lake nestled in a volcanic crater. Atop a hill, it overlooked scenes of windsurfers and small boats. The sun blazed down with a pleasantly chilling wind blowing through. One of the “ushers” carried sunscreen in a basket. An Auckland wedding to a tee. It was a short, areligious affair. Vows were self-written, earnest and realistic. The celebrant was fantastic, fusing heartfelt sentiment with a grounded perspective of the struggles inherent to a lifelong marriage. She espoused the importance of choosing your partner every day, placing their needs above your own. Friends and family did short poetic readings. Smiles all around. Tears were shed. Documents witnessed. Shiny and chrome.

That done, we packed off to an intimate venue on Cheltenham Beach. Sitting on a sandy shore, dormant volcano Rangitoto in sight, we’d once again reached peak Auckland wedding. The event’s emergency protocol shamelessly said nothing on the topic of volcanic eruption. I guess “lie down and embrace sweet, ashen death” didn’t go with the theme. The MC, a gifted theatre performer and improviser did what she did best; went with the flow. As the wine followed suit, the proceedings loosened, along with her tongue. The bridal party gave their speeches, along with thanks to all attendees and  people who made the event happen. More laughs, tears. The bride remembered my love of green jellybeans and filled my placeholder candy bag with an abundance of them ones. My tears were shed. The MC at times seemed to think she was MCing a roast instead. It was fantastic.

The food was great, though my attempts to protect my white shirt from rogue chicken cacciatore proved to be in vain. I tucked my napkin into my collar like a bib. I wore it with an air of smugness, only to discover the edges had sauce from said chicken dish, finding their way to my crisp white shirt underneath. Cuuuuuuurseeeeees. I drank more, forgot about it and had an excellent time. It just so happened I was seated next to the one couple that didn’t manage to make it to my 30th. Lucky, lucky. We dined, drank, danced and soaked up the company of longtime friends. As the music died down I scanned the table. High school friends on all sides, still deeply close to this day. Decked out in buttoned up shirts, an age around the eyes that wasn’t present three years prior. When did we all become adults? No longer kids wearing grown up attire. For once, the clothes fit. As always, we were the last to hang around, reluctant to leave each other’s presence and lose the magic. Time dragged on and we slowly stood up. As it has a habit of doing, life got in the way.

As it always will.


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