It’s winter in Melbourne, sunny in Saminyak, and I’m about to embark on my first wedding as celebrant oh mighty.
The boys are walking around in towels and drinking by the pool in their villa and the girls are at theirs; trying to work out how to keep their hair straight in these tropical conditions.
It’s a hub of dresses, make-up and sweat.
The private taxi is late and I’m starting to silently stress. I should be there by now.
The van finally arrives and I am seated in the very back, blocked off from any exits; locked in and worried. We hit the afternoon traffic jam immediately and come to a distressing stop, 10 metres from our villa.
After about 5 painful minutes of not moving and feeling my ever-increasing lateness, I impulsively announce that I must get out and find a motorbike taxi. This celebrant must beat the groom, if it kills her!
I’m running down the pot-holed street, dodging shoppers, bikers and people merely sitting around, feeling the build-up of sweat down my back and the awkwardness of my high heal wedges. I feel like a character in a rom-com.
Instead of the usual Balinese occurance of every second man calling out ‘taxi’ as I pass, no one seems to have one.
Finally a man calls out from across the street “Taxi Madam” at which point I confirm it’s in fact a motorbike and the negotiating begins.
I usually don’t bother haggling as I’m happy to share my Australian-earned money amongst the locals, but he saw the desperation on my face and thought me a vulnerable victim.
His original price was ridiculous, so I halved it and he tried to continue the argument.
I knew the price was still massive and even though I was desperate, I wasn’t willing to be completely ripped off, so I went to walk away.
He knew I’d won and went to get his bike… well not his bike as such, his friend’s bike; that he’d never ridden! Oh joy!
Then a further 5 minutes was spent with my chauffer-to-be and his two mates discussing in Balinese where the hotel, the location of the ceremony, was situated exactly. No one knew for certain where it was and I didn’t know the address, but I did know the name of the hotel and that it was along the beach, easy right? Hmmm
So I hitched up my figure hugging dress in order to get on the bike, and with the script under my arm, we sped off down the narrow street in the direction of the beach. Looking good so far.
As soon as we hit a quiet road, he started to work his magic, asking me my name, age, whether I could love a Balinese man and would I like to go and have dinner with his family that night.
I carefully explained that I was off to a wedding; hence the urgency and it may render me a tad busy tonight.
This didn’t deter him. He offered to be my date for the evening and followed it up with a stroke of my thigh.
I was thrilled of course, especially when he grabbed my arm that was by my side and tried to wrap it around the rolls of his waist.
I looked to the sky and almost smiled, convinced that I’d see someone up there looking down and laughing at my predicament… it was getting too ridiculous not to be someone’s idea of a joke.
We sped along the esplanade weaving through the hundreds of beach goers and bar-hoppers until we came to a stop. It was a locked gate across the road and he told me I’d have to walk from there. This wasn’t part of the plan; these shoes were not built for this mission!
I asked if he knew where it was and he vaguely waved in a forwards direction, so I set off, running… as best as I could in my heals anyway.
Sweat was now officially pouring down my back and I became concerned for my appearance when I did finally turn up, but this was not the time to stop and ponder that problem, I had to get there first!
I ran and ran until I came to the end of the gated section and when the first guy on a bike called out ‘taxi’, I almost jumped on him.
I told him I had the Aussie equivalent of 10 cents left and I needed to get to whatever the hotel was called as I was late for a wedding. This was all said in a reasonably panic-pitched voice; he smiled, agreed and told me to ‘get on’.
The near-by beach goers had heard my outburst and encouraged him to hurry, they all knew how it felt to be late for a wedding, but when I turned to them and announced I was the celebrant, their cries increased and they cheered as we sped off inland!
Inland? What were we doing?
Turning around is what we were doing. We did a large block backwards to the exact spot I’d first been dropped and he drove me up the driveway to the hotel.
I was an idiot but I didn’t care, I’d made it!
A waiter saw my stress and offered to walk me around the back to the wedding. The guests had gathered, including the bride who’d beaten me by at least 10 minutes and were casually sipping cocktails, calm, relaxed and a bit hot.
I arrived looking like a cooked prawn, was offered a drink which I finished in a gulp, a fan which I waved at turbo speed and many words of relief and encouragement.
I had exactly 3 minutes before the wedding planner announced it was time to start, thrust a microphone into my hand and told me to gather the masses; it was time.
And despite the colourful journey, the beads of sweat that secretly rolled down my back the entire service and the over-whelming amazement that I’d made it, everything went well and everyone thought I’d done it a million times.
Little did they know, little did they know….