Falling down rabbit holes, walking through a wardrobe of fur coats, discovering that a weird door in your bathroom leads straight into Pride and Prejudice, catching a large metal bird and finding yourself in a completely different city less than an hour later, what's the difference?
At the other end, a short drive into the city, was a tall 5-star hotel where we slept on the 47th floor overlooking (quite literally) half of Melbourne (thanks to a last-minute bargain via Zoe's cousin). Whisked to a Brunswick pub, we encountered a host of bloggers in a scenario not far removed from the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, presided over by Nabakov, who kept wickedly filling my wine glass every time I turned my head, so that it seemed to be magically self-filling, and I lost track of reality.
The next morning wasn't quite so magical. Our hotel deal included a lavish breakfast buffet that I couldn't even look at, let alone smell. Zoe managed a number of helpings, while I tried some fruit and something bready and then ran to hoik it all up again in the sink of what Nabakov had promised would be the most spectacular toilets in Melbourne. They were. The view, when I could look up from my chunks, was marvellous. Luckily no-one walked in on me as I admired it, doubled up and retching. I wasn't such a good sight.
The day did, fortunately, get a lot better. I managed not to lose my stomach lining on the train, and we met up with the lovely View from Elsewhere coming off the same train at our destination. She'd been up the front, and we the back, and we joined forces, all slightly head-sore (she'd been at the blogmeet too), to walk the long way around to the wedding.
Walking into Sills Bend the Second (a lovely retro house on the inner outskirts of Melbourne) was like walking into a fairyland: interesting people, lovely objects, and an atmosphere of general jollity and excitement. Laura and Dorian had spent much time in the garden, making it perfect for the event, and had sweated the smallest details: there was bunting hoisted around, small neat triangles of colourful patterned fabrics flapping jauntily in the breeze, there were gorgeous cushions scattered on the grass and retaining walls for folks to sit on. I was very grateful for the opportunity to sit through the ceremony, as you can imagine. I was also quite close to the ceremony, so I'm probably in many of the photos people took. Unfortunate, but ok, to answer Laura's request for permission...
If you click that link I just inserted, you'll also see better photos of the happy couple than I managed to take. Someone mentioned in the comments of that post that
It was [a] textbook how-to-have-a-wedding-that-actually-meant-something, you know, in these troubled times.
And I agree. I have had two unusual weddings of my own, both of which were fantastic, and I know how much effort goes into making them unconventional. You have to not only struggle against the wedding each set of parents (and impending in-laws) want you to have, but you actually have to wrangle the celebrant away from the attitude that they know best just because it's their job and they do it every weekend. Watching both sets of parents at this particular wedding, I don't think L&D had much of a struggle (having been together long enough to have proof that nothing on this day would be 'normal'), but they did, I know, have to be firm with their celebrant. And he learned, and grew, just as my two celebrants did. He admitted as much during the ceremony.
It was so worth it. The poetry they read was meaningful, not platitudinous, and unusual. I was pleased to discover that reading 'Ithaka' by C.P. Cavafy doesn't evoke torrential rain, as it did when I read it at a friend's wedding years ago. The other poems all revolved around being in love while using public transport. The vows were sincere, provoking tears from nearly everyone.
The couple looked amazing, the (kitty) bridesmaids were nowhere to be found until much later in the afternoon, but the chooks were very happy, crawwwwwing to themselves amidst many admirers:
For the halibut, here's a happy shot of their wedding feast:
Our wedding feast was delicious, catered by Asylum Seeker Resource Centre Catering. Amazing vegetarian finger food and such friendly service, they made the day really wonderful.
Laura and Dorian had rearranged their house (and probably stashed a lot of stuff under the house) to make a number of social areas for the wedding horde. Bloggers attending soon found nooks to gather, and we had a lovely time either getting acquainted or re-acquainting ourselves with each other's physical appearances. It never ceases to amaze me how strange it is to see someone whose inner workings you know so well. In the case of Pavlov's Cat, I had an overwhelming sense of familiarity, something I really wasn't expecting, and felt quite happy about. I forgot to mention to her how I haven't stopped giggling about the treadmill cats, they haunt me at odd moments of the day. Well, now you know, Pav, thanks.
I didn't, thankfully, make a fool of myself, something I am wont to do -- at least I don't think I did. I didn't drink any alcohol, which decreases the chance of my usual foot-in-mouth issue, and not once did I call the day a 'funeral', something I often do (and did all through my first wedding, ominously). I did succumb to my habitual urge to take photos of feet, as you can see above. And TimT and I had a wonderful time playing with the origami squares and pipe-cleaners thoughtfully laid out for children like us.
By the end of the day the bloggers outnumbered the family, and we stayed and stayed, forcing L & D to open some of their presents, talking and talking and talking, and admiring the cats when they finally showed their beautifully collared necks.
Zoe and I finally went off to the house of a friend of mine (M) who conveniently lives one suburb away from the nuptuals; we stopped at a petrol station so that M could get petrol, and a beautifully lubricated Zoe wandered in to buy something while we waited. Five minutes later she came out, and the (white-haired, initially grump-looking) man behind the desk waved at us with gusto as we drove off. In that short time, she'd ascertained that he was being left by his wife, he has two children and she was a complete cow because he was so lovely. This morning she remembered none of it, not even the petrol station itself. And it was her turn to not want a lot of breakfast :)
The flight back, once we got to it (M doesn't do freeways, which was a bit painful for Zoe's head), was uneventful, but that journey back through the portal is always a bit sadder and quieter than the way in. Suddenly I was hurled back into routine, picking up child from father, preparing my class for tomorrow (on altered books). Sigh, back to normal. But all the better for having witnessed such an important, loving and life-affirming day.
I'd like to thank Tiger airways for being so cheap, Melbourne bloggers for being so hospitable, and Laura for issuing us with a golden ticket to magic-land. It was a wonderful weekend, and I wish them a happy marriage for ever and ever. They don't really need the wishes, they themselves are pieces of magic.