June 5th: The Big Day

It is here.

‘The Big Day’ (TBD).

I am hungover like a motherfucker, thanks to Drew, the Dr, BT, the Bintang and vodka shots.

This will be a looooong day indeed.

Despite getting in later than I wanted to, I can’t sleep. I go down and have some breakfast and the majority of the wedding crew are chowing. Ms Emma is at breakfast. I know my wife-to-be well enough to know that she is as toey as a shit-house rat at the moment, and not surprisingly, with good cause. Ms Em is heading out to Uluwatu at 10am to check in to Karma Kandara and then get ready for the ceremony.

Us boys head to Vitamin for some relaxing massages before we’re due to head off. We agree afterwards that they were sensational and just the tonic for the day ahead.

I’m immensely sad to be checking out of the Pelangi. It’s an amazingly special place for Emma and I, holding so many great memories for us and, as I’ve said in previous posts, is an example of that almost intangible ‘Bali magic’. There is nothing flash about the Pelangi when compared to some of the villas you can rent in Seminyak, but as long as my arse points to the ground, with the quality of the people who work there, the atmosphere of the place and its location, there’s (almost) nowhere I’d rather stay in Bali (Elysian Villas, I’m looking at you!). If only they could do something about the totally annoying and bullshit ‘one key per room’ policy they have…

Courtesy of the Amazing Made, we head off to Karma Kandara and Uluwatu. The drive out is quiet, but in no way sinister. I’m not sure if Drew and the Dr are nervous, but I know I am. I later find out that Made thought that Emma and I were traveling to Uluwatu together and made arrangements for a Police escort from Seminyak to Uluwatu! CLASSIC!!!!

We arrive to find Emma and her bridesmaids at the villa. Not IN the villa, but AT the villa. They’ve had their massage treatments and have been waiting around a half hour for someone to bring up the room key (again with the ‘one key’ policy. Go figure). The girls are getting nervous. The photographer, Orly, is due in around 45 minutes, and wanted to snap some pics as soon as they arrived.

Once we get inside the villa, everyone is amazed! It is a stunning tri-level three bedroom job and the pool is just awesome. The girls scurry around getting ready while us fellas are watching a replay of Germany V Sweeden from October last year on the local sports channel. Now, before y’all think that’s typical of boys on their wedding day, I want to defend our actions by saying that we had planned our arrival to happen by the time the girls would have (at least) had time to get dressed so there’d be no privacy issues and we could swoop in and do our preparation thangs. The missing keys put the kibosh on those plans.

The photographer arrives, the girls are finally ready, we’ve showered and the photographer and her team are snapping away. My nerves are getting out of control. And then, for the first time, I see Emma in her wedding dress. I am speechless. Playing on the Mediterranean-inspired surrounds, Em is in a Grecian-inspired salmon coloured gown, and she looks farken hot absolutely exquisite. I deliberately avoided seeing her in her dress prior to the wedding and the wait was totally worth it.

It’s time to head down to Nammos Beach for the ceremony. I’ve been married once before. Despite knowing what the day would be like, I am super-nervous. Perhaps I wasn’t as nervous at my first wedding because I was a bit Bambi-esque and had no idea what to expect? It doesn’t matter. Nothing is dulling the nerves as we head down in the Karma travel-ator. And what a ride it is! It carries a maximum of five people per trip and descends almost directly vertical as it takes off from the cliff tops. As it progresses downwards, you get the most stunning view of the Bukit Peninsula and its much sought-after waves. You also ride downwards through the trees and if you’re really careful, you can spot a few of the local (and sacred) Monkeys hanging about.

As we ride down, the sky is a light pink, with the sun descending through slightly overcast, but clearing, westerly skies. The light from the sun hitting the clouds bathes the beach and the wedding venue in a mix of lush tropical blue and light pink, with a light gentle breeze wafting slowly from the south-west doing its best to cool everyone down, but the heat is strong, but strangely pleasant, given that it’s still 33-degrees at 5pm.

We (Drew, the Dr and I) arrive at the beach and where we thought we would be arriving first and welcoming people, the bulk of the guests are already on the beach and getting stuck into the cocktails and Bintangs. Some of the guests have their buzz on already and to a person, everyone tells Emma and I how beautiful the setting is. All the worries that we had about the weather for the wedding has evaporated and seeing everyone having such a good time and delighting in the venue gives us a real sense of satisfaction.

It’s time for the ceremony and a local celebrant does the honors. I’m so nervous that I put the ring on Emma’s right hand, ring finger instead of the left and in the vows, Emma slips up and refers to me as her “awfully wedded husband” as opposed to, yes, her LAWFULLY wedded husband. Everyone sees the funny side of it and adds to the fun of the occasion.

The photographers only stage us for one shot, and that is EVERYONE standing around in a big group shot, after that, they go about their work snapping us casually chatting to guests, having drinks and a few kisses caught between Emma and I.

The meal is just superb. The venue has put on what’s called a Rijstaffel banquet. Rijstaffel literally translates from Dutch as ‘rice table‘ and is most easily explained as being like a tapas meal, only with Indonesian specialties. Among the highlights of our selections are Beef Rendang and a mind-blowing Babi-Guling. If you’ve never had Babi-Guling, you are missing out. Babi-Guling is ‘suckling pig’ (sorry vegos and vegans). It is (usually) slow cooked over a number of hours in a BBQ/Sweet and Sour type sauce and it’s about the most popular dish in Bali, if the prominence of the quality of a Warung’s (restaurant) Babi-Guling on their shingle is any indication. This shit is amazing!

The speeches are, naturally, heartfelt and emotional. Emma’s stepfather reads out Keryn’s (Emma’s Mum) speech and by the end, there’s not a dry eye in the house. After reading Keryn’s words, Henry adds his own tribute to Emma and I, but adds a truly beautiful off-the-cuff observation that Emma’s late father, Russell, would have been immensely proud of her today and in his own way, thanks to the ‘Magic of Bali’ (a place Emma’s Dad LOVED) it was quite likely that Russell was at the Wedding in spirit. Bravo Henry.

The speeches and cake cutting out of the way, the party gathers steam and everyone is really enjoying themselves. I feel especially sorry for my parents; Dad (72) has two artificial knees and an artificial hip, Mum (71) has arthritis in her back and getting around on the sand is tough going for them. To their credit, there wasn’t one complaint on the night from them, god bless them. I got to share some truly quality time with Dad just sitting on one of the day beds set out by the shoreline; just shooting the shit and watching everyone enjoying themselves.

One of the highlights of the night is Emma’s good friend Elly ordering Emma into a ‘sexy Sailor’ costume for a half hour or so. The costume was something Elly bought for Emma to wear on the Hens night as a joke, but with her partner, John, grounded for medical reasons, Elly missed the Hens night. Undaunted, Elly still had Emma change into the costume. With the costume’s ridiculously short hemline and tightly fitted upper body, it’s fair to say that more than a few admiring glances were cast in Em’s direction, not least from me. Purrrrrr!

Perhaps its the heat of the day, the quality – and plentifulness – of the food and the considerable amounts of alcohol consumed – including the two-dozen bottles of Veuve Clicot we muled out to certain guests to bring into Bali with them (the reasons why this was done is a story for another day), but everyone seems buggered out by around 11pm and the slow procession of guests back to the car park and the waiting buses back to Nusa Dua and Seminyak begins.

Personally, I’m exhausted, as is Emma and we head back to the villa after some last-minute key issues (not to mention Henry and I both on the verge of losing our shit (not at each other) over the inexplicable one-key-per-room policy sweeping Bali tourist accommodation.

I’m saturated in sweat – having worn a white linen shirt and grey cotton/wool trousers – and now, back at the Villas, Emma – equally as hot and uncomfortable from the unforgiving silk dress – and I strip off and fall into our villa pool at 1am. It has been a truly unforgettable day an amazingly successful wedding and – not surprisingly – a landmark day in our lives together.

We want to thank Lauren and the staff at Karma Kandara for being so brilliant in the planning, organisation and (missing keys notwithstanding) execution of the wedding.

We want to thank Henry Ekselman, Judy Simpson and Katherine Schmitt and Georgie Nicholson for their speeches on the night. We also thank Melanie Drummond for contributing the content that was Katherine and Georgie’s speech. Each speech was equal parts laughs, tears and sentiments from the heart. And Emma and I thank everyone who spoke.

I also want to thank Andrew Lowther for being an outstanding MC at ridiculously short notice. I thought that we would have gotten away with not having one, based on the fact that there were no actual formalities. When it became obvious we’d need someone to guide the speeches, Drew stepped up in a heartbeat. Thank you brother!

We want to thank all of the guests who made the trek from, not just Australia, but all points of the globe to share our special day with us. We really appreciate the sacrifice people made in getting to Bali. We hope that we’ve shared a truly unforgettable event with you and it will remain as special for you as it will be for Emma and us.

Lastly, I want to thank Bali for playing its role in the wedding. The sights, the sounds and the colors of the island stepped up to give us, and our guests, a wedding experience that money couldn’t buy and illustrated perfectly the reason we chose a fly-away wedding party; the beautifully warm weather, the cooling sunset breezes, that sunset itself and the magic of the starry sky all colluding to create the perfect Bali evening with our nearest and dearest that will remain special for everyone for a long time to come.


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