As a marriage officer that has performed over 500 weddings I am often asked “what is the most interesting wedding you have done?” The question is too broad as so many weddings are interesting for so many reasons. I am therefore going to be detailing some of the interesting, funny, amazing things that I have seen and experienced at weddings in my 10 year career in this field.
I met Corrie and Nicola in February 2005. They had been together for about a year and were clearly in love. Nicola was a lot of fun, at least she seemed like she could be as we sat drinking cappuccinos at the House of Coffee. The House of Coffee had been my unofficial office for 4 years. Corrie was the kind of Afrikaaner that is very enjoyable to be around, laughing easily and talking very openly.
They were both microlite fanatics. From what I recall they either met this way or one got the other in to it. But they loved it. They spoke for some time about the pleasure they derive from being in the air and the freedom that comes with it. I was impressed at how much they shared this passion as well as their passion for one another. It was entertaining and pleasurable to listen to them.
In the middle of telling me about the great rush of flying Corrie casually says “so we thought we’d get married in a microlite”. The statement went right over my head. My brain caught up a few seconds later. “What!?”
They wanted to know if it would be possible for them to have their wedding in the air, while piloting their microlites.
I was a little stunned as I considered how this would actually work. The picture I got was the three of us squeezed into a thin sheet of fabric wrapped around a flimsy aluminium frame being powered by little more than a lawn mower engine. It terrified me. How would I even get a word out of my mouth? I was massively relieved to know that the ceremony would be conducted by radio and each would be in their own microlite and I would be in a 3rd. Since it was to be done over radio it occurred to me that I could do my bit on the ground. I eagerly put forward this suggestion. They agreed with only slight disappointment.
And so it was.
I was surprised to learn the intricacies of actually flying these little machines. Due to the dynamics of wind and heat the wedding would have to take place at 6am at a tiny airfield outside Pretoria.
This sounded very exciting until I realised I would have to get out of bed at 4.00am to make the airfield by 5.30 for the 6.00 take off.
On the 25th of March 2006 my wife and I got out of bed, made ourselves look as decent as it is possible at that time of the morning and headed out. There were around 40 people there when we arrived and breakfast was already being prepared on several Webber braai’s. The tone was pleasantly upbeat and lame comments such as “Love is in the air” abounded.
It amused me that Nicola was nervous about getting married when she was about to take the sky in a machine that had no real right to be off the ground. I was nervous of the possibly of presiding over my first wedding/funeral.
Shortly after 6am Corrie got into his microlite and lumbered ungainly down what can only laughingly be called a runway and took the skies. He was followed a few minutes later by Nicola. Once they had been in the air for some 6 minutes I was given a walkie-talkie. It was was very awkward for me at the beginning but soon got into saying “do you Nicola take Corrie to be your lawfully wedded husband, over?”. It was hilarious. But very very sweet. They declared their love and devotion to one another and 15 minutes later they landed and after clumsily getting out of their harnesses ran to one another an gave each other big kiss to the delight of the assembled crowd.
We moved into the hangar and signed the paperwork and it was done.
It was 8.30 by the time I got back home and it felt like I’d lived a week, yet the day only just begun.