Our Wedding Day

April 26 (1952) was my big day! I was quite excited and very nervous when I woke up at the Cosmo hotel. My boi had ironed my shirt and pressed my sharkskin suit. After I had dressed, I ordered a taxi to come and get me to go to church.

Our friends were already gathering around the church plus some sticky beaks.

The only members of my family were Rudi and Gwen Diercke and their children. Mary Lou had only her mother. Though Father White was to say mass and marry us, I was met by Father Bernard Frankie.

He told me what we needed to do, where to kneel, etc. He was really beaming and kept telling me what a lucky guy I was to get Mary Lou Harris!

Father Bernard Franke

Bob (Sutherland) arrived with his mother and we were ushered into the church and told where to stand. I made sure that Bob had the ring! Soon Mary Lou arrived. She was given away by our friend, Arthur Savage. They came up the aisle and Mary Lou knelt beside me. She looked very beautiful. I just couldn’t believe that she was about to marry me!

Father White came into say Mass as attended by Father Franke.

So, OUR MASS started, and the time came for us to say all the things required to say to become man and wife.

I could see that Lou was also a little nervous. To be quite honest, I don’t think that I was able to follow the Mass as I should have, except when it came to receive the Sacrament. Then I really thanked God for giving me Mary Lou.

When Mass finished, we went to the Sacristy to sign the books. Then I had my wife on my arm and we walked down the aisle to the front of the church. There, the Girl Guides formed a Guard of Honour.

Guard of Honour by May Lou’s girl guides

The bridesmaids were Wynne Ann Legge and Pat Ives. The flower girls were Alannah Parker and Sharon Whalley, and the page boys Christopher Diercke and Anthony Parker.

The main wedding group posed photos were taken at the door of the church.

At left wearing hat is our Nana Ursula Harris … mother of Mary Lou

We then walked across the yard to the Xavier Hall. Soon all the speeches were being made, and I had to make my speech, and was very nervous as I had never made a speech before. I felt a bit tongue tied but it wasn’t too bad. We had a wonderful reception. It was great to have all our friends around us.

Father White and Ursula Harris in a champagne mood

Jack Thurston was very special as he had been a great friend of my father.

As mentioned earlier, he had made his boat Karlamanus available to take us to Sum Sum.

He was going to skipper it down himself, although he had his own captain.

When it was time to leave for the ship, we got into one of the new Chev cars to take us to the wharf via Lou’s home, where she had to change. Friends had tied tin etc. on the back of the car, so we made a big rattle leaving the reception whole.

Mary Lou changed for the boat trip to Sum Sum .. with Wynn Ann Legge

Incidentally, that hall had been beautifully decorated by John Carroll and his Boy Scouts.

The Karlamanus was tied up at ‘wreck wharf’. Most guests also came down to see us off. After lots of farewells and “Good Lucks’ we left for our trip to Sum Sum.

We must have left about midday or soon after as it took five and half hours at least to get to Sum Sum.

The Karlamanus was a fast boat so we got to Sum Sum just before dark.

All the plantation workers and their waveband children were at the beach to welcome the new Missus. Our baggage and cargo was unloaded and we went ashore.

All the plantation workers and their waveband children were at the beach to welcome the new Missus. Our baggage and cargo was unloaded and we went ashore.

As we went into the new house I observed the tradition of carrying a new bride across the threshold. Our new home was just about finished. 

I think one spare bedroom still had to be lined. We asked Jack to stay for a bite, but he wanted to get going. So we had a bottle of champagne and saw him off! We lit our kero lamps and had a bite to eat from the leftovers of the reception. 

Most couples went off on their honeymoon to somewhere other than they home. We didn’t. We had a wonderful honeymoon on the plantation itself, exploring and swimming up the Sum Sum river. Swimming along the passages in the reef. Collecting shells and food on the reef. Fishing. Driving in the jeep.

That was the start of our life together.

I wonder if on that day we knew what was ahead of us in years to come, how we would have felt!?

I am writing this 45 years later and have 10 children and 25 grandchildren.(*note in 2019 now 32 grandchildren , 23 great grandchildren with three more on the way)

There have been trials and problems and unforeseen situations, as the rest of this story will confirm. But all in all, we have been greatly blessed and have had so much to be thankful for.