UNIQUE | Bride



Surprise parties are nothing new. A surprise wedding is something else again. A surprise bride must be rare indeed. Perhaps shocked and astounded bride would be more accurate, as bridegroom Nathan Hildebrand of Suva tried to explain to a group of confused guests. Almost all of the 60 or so guests thought they had rocked up on Saturday afternoon, 21 July, to attend a 40th birthday party. The theme was ‘oceans’ and the dress most people wore were sea connected in some sense, either aqua coloured or marine printed or even beachwear. Floating paper jellyfish suspended from the roof of the large white tent and swathes of aqua fabric along the tables were nudged by white flowers… and more confusingl­y, what appeared to be a bower with masi and mats. All was soon to be explained. Hildebrand welcomed everyone and launched into a rambling story about how he had promised a friend that he would wed his partner, Martina Lee, by the time she was 40. It didn’t quite happen – her birthday had been about a week previously, but she was too busy to celebrate. So a party was set for the next Saturday under a marquee in the garden of their friends Johanna Mitchell and David Philp’s Lami home and the birthday girl told to take a relaxing day, that others had the organising in hand. Hildebrand and a very small number of others who included the party hostess and Martina’s 21 year old daughter Tracey, were thrown in a frenzy of secret planning. All the myriad details that go with a wedding were franticall­y sorted, selected, ordered, collected and stashed in secret places. On the Friday night, mere hours before the wedding day dawned, Hildebrand finally proposed. “Fortunatel­y, she said yes,” he told the flabbergas­ted ‘birthday’ guests. “Then she said ‘when?’ I said tomorrow!” There followed emotional phone calls to a very close few …. “not that we could understand her at first, she was crying so much, we thought something was terribly wrong. Finally she sobbed out ‘I’m getting married’.”

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