Wedding On The Pier

This wedding was to take place on the Queenscliff Pier at six pm Friday on a January summer evening. The celebrant – my wife Anne – had been a little concerned about the forecast of wet & windy weather, but it turned out to be a beautiful day. A hot day, blue skies, no wind and the sea glassy smooth. Port Phillip Bay was a picture, and a holiday mood prevailed. Lots of people were swimming or on the beach, ships were passing, and many anglers on the pier dangled their lines in the water – this all added to the seaside holiday atmosphere.

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Photograph by courtesy of Coastal Clicks
Pt Lonsdale, Victoria, (03) 5258-3417

Those who know Queenscliff will recall that there is a structure covering the pier about fifty metres from the seaward end, a large shelter-shed type of building open at both ends, through which people walking the length of the pier must pass. (This is known as the "Waiting Shed", built many years ago to shelter passengers waiting for the paddle steamers which carried thousands of people on bay excursions each year prior to the 2nd World War).

It was decided that the ceremony would be held beyond the seaward end of this building. And so the guests grouped together on the pier waiting for the ceremony to get under way. There were a number of local youths nearby, diving off a pier landing, doing ‘bombs’ into the water with lots of splashing, swimming, duck-diving etc and generally having a great time. They noticed the wedding preparations going on and walked among the guests several times before the ceremony began, and seemed to be taking particular interest in what was happening. In fact we got an impression that they could be up to something. I was a little apprehensive that they might cause a nuisance during the ceremony, but decided against saying anything to them in case this created any resentment – we had after all intruded on their activities.

In due course the ceremony began after the bride arrived by walking nearly the length of the pier through the shed to where the groom, the guests and celebrant awaited. The youths, who watched the bride’s arrival from within the shed, had made a ‘rope’ by tying all their towels together, they then tied this rope across the shed opening nearest to us to ensure nobody could walk through and disturb the ceremony. Then they quietly moved to the landward end of the shed and proceeded to close the metal grille gates there to doubly prevent any possibility of intrusion. This was good thinking and helped to ensure that the ceremony proceeded without interruption! After closing these gates, they then climbed up them and got onto the corrugated iron shed roof. They quietly walked along the roof to the seaward end, sat down, then watched and listened from above as the ceremony took place. So far-so good, no noise, no interruption and no harm done!

pier.jpg (20334 bytes)Well, the ceremony continued, the celebrant completed the vows, then reached the climax of the event by asking the groom to kiss his bride. As the groom did so, the youths all stood up in a line on the edge of the shed roof and followed their leader by jumping off the roof and doing ‘bombs’, one after the other some six or seven metres into the water below, landing almost adjacent to where the couple were kissing. So there was lots of water splashing into the air and the noise of bodies hitting the water provided emphatic punctuation which added much to the sense of occasion.

It was great fun, it was all done with exquisite timing and created extra excitement and surprise to a ceremony that was already very atmospheric! And the bride’s mother, who had come from Germany just a few days before to attend her daughter’s wedding, was delighted and very, very impressed by the way these things are done in Australia!

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Peter Cowden
'The Celebrant’s Roadie'



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