– Cashmere, Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand

September 4th 2010 was the day of a niece’s wedding. It certainly turned out differently to what we all expected.

At 4.35 a.m. we were all fast asleep, husband and I and the cat, and our son in another room. Earthquakes always were a novelty (note were) and a little exciting. So waking up to – Is that an earthquake? soon turned into a scramble to get out of bed and under a door frame as the shaking became more intense. The house rattled and shook and made noises I had never heard it make before. Our son was fine – age 13 at the time – and had barely woken so it was quite ‘cool’ for him. The cat was to spend the next three hours under his bed. Power was out so we text family and friends frantically and checked on the neighbours,. No more sleep was to be had so we stayed up as the earth rumbled and shook. Minimal damage to the house, and only a couple of breakages. February was to prove very different.

I always knew there were aftershocks with quakes but only thought there were 1-2. How wrong was that!

So, back to the wedding. Anna and Nick were due to be married at Oxford Terrace Baptist church in town, and reception at Riccarton Race Course. It turned out they couldn’t use the church, the reception venue or the cars they had planned as they were in Rangiora and the bridge was closed. Family and friends came to the rescue and this is what happened instead. John and I drove into town to place a sign on a tree outside the church telling guests that the venue had changed. All the orders of service sheets were in the church except for one so that was photocopied off onto plain old A4 paper.

The venue was changed to Spreydon Baptist Church which is the family home church and was fortunately was available that day. We descended upon Party Hire to get decorations, glasses and crockery, linen…to decorate the cafe at the church. Cars were cleaned and supplied by the bride’s neighbours, Couplands Bakery was descended upon to get bread for sandwiches and slices. Riccarton Race Course couldn’t host due to no effective toilet facilities but kindly donated some salads. Instead of a reception and dance it was everyone piled into the cafe for an afternoon tea.

To add to the drama the bride’s grandfather took a turn and we had to call an ambulance! He was fine – maybe the heat and stress of the day.

All in all it looked like the wedding was always going to be there and despite shakes during the ceremony it was a great day.

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