Leap Year Day - February 29

Leap Year comes around only once every four years and probably just as well!

Leap Year Day as I call it - February 29, a Friday - commenced with a morning wedding at Brighton, which meant that Anne and her Roadie had to leave early in the day from our home on the Bellarine Peninsula. This wedding was originally booked to be held at Lorne, but a late change in location was necessary due to family circumstances. So instead of driving 100 kms south-west from the Bellarine Peninsula to Lorne on the Surf Coast, we travelled 110 kms north-east through the city to the Melbourne suburb of Brighton .

But all went well, there was not a bridesmaid in sight, no children in the wedding party, just the bride and groom, with a handful of friends present. The ceremony was held very happily in the lounge-room of their home in Brighton, and being a morning wedding there was ample time for the celebrant and the Roadie, after a short lunch stop, to then drive to the Surf Coast for the next ceremony due to commence at 3pm.

Well, wasn't this a beauty? The largest number of people we've ever had to deal with in a wedding party, no less than twenty two (22!) attendants - plus the bride and groom. A true challenge for the celebrant's organising ability! The bride had five bridesmaids, the groom had his seven brothers as groomsmen, and there were no less than ten (10!) children involved - seven girls and three boys. The children, who led the bridal procession, ranged between three and seven years of age, the little girls were beautifully dressed in white fairy dresses, the boys in smart white shirts. What a spectacular wedding party, and all to be accommodated in a ceremony to be held on a small grassed area high up in front of the Jan Juc Surf Lifesaving Club building, overlooking the noisy, churning ocean.

The weather on the day was a concern, with showers throughout the morning, but it fined up later - apart from the almost gale force wind which blew straight in from the Southern Ocean. The bride and groom were insistent that the ceremony was to go ahead outdoors as planned, in front of 100 guests all facing the gale. Just as well the amplifier performed admirably (as usual) and didn't let us down, as it was essential to enable the guests to hear the ceremony, above the loud roar of the wind and the fierce waves breaking below.

My responsibility as Roadie included the usual task of organising the bridal party's entry procession. In this instance there was not only the bride with her five attendants, but the big challenge was arranging ten small children into some sort of order and to keep them on track. It was like trying to round up cats next to impossible! When we eventually were ready to start, the children led the procession whilst they laid a path of rose petals, which mostly blew away before they hit the ground. Then the leading child lost concentration after the procession had started and sat down to play, so the Roadie had to move in quickly and take the little girl by the hand so as to lead the procession on in the right direction.

But in the end all worked out well, the couple had the outdoor wedding they wanted and the guests were very happy. When the ceremony was over everyone quickly retreated indoors to get away from the wild wind and to enjoy further celebrations. I think we all experienced enough wind to last for a lifetime!

The third ceremony for the day was held outdoors at Barwon Heads overlooking the river and within sight of the ocean, but in a calmer location protected from the wind. It proved to be less of a challenge with a mere dozen people in the bridal party and no children involved, with a large number of guests. All went well without any unexpected drama, which was a good result for this assembly which included many discerning attendees.

It was satisfying to eventually arrive home again in the early evening after another long, demanding day in the celebrant's life journey. It was a good feeling to know that we had dealt well with the range of challenges which the day presented, with three different ceremonies in quite different locations, and that we had left three happy wedding couples with fond memories of their special Leap Year Day ceremonies.

One wonders if we weren't doing this, what else would we do for kicks?

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Peter Cowden
'The Celebrant’s Roadie'

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