My Big Fat Wedding Disaster….

Rosco and I will celebrate our four year wedding anniversary early next week. My wedding day was probably one of the worst events of my life. For a year afterwards, I was really quite scarred by it. These days, it feels like a hazy memory. I still can’t believe it happened, but it does make for one hell of a funny and unbelievable story.

So here goes.

It’s a day us girls all dream about, and as you soon see, while I didn’t do things the traditional way doesn’t mean I didn’t want the day to be absolutely perfect in every way, and it wasn’t. Buggar.

Ross, my high school sweetheart (yes, we go waaayy back) finally proposed after 10 years together and I was thrilled. Ross is a bricklayer. Rough. Ocker. Not much of a talker. I work in marketing. I’ve done themes, music choice, flowers, seating plans, invitations and all that stuff to death. Plus, we’d been together for so long and taking all that into consideration, a traditional wedding with a bridal waltz and bridesmaids wasn’t us.

So we did it our way and here was the master plan. Travel to Vanuatu with only immediate family, get hitched and then come home and have a big bash with everyone at our newly renovated house to celebrate. They call it a weddingmoon. Apart from not flying business class, this was my absolute dream. I was even going to wear my wedding dress to the cocktail reception so it felt like some sort of wedding reception.

I can honestly say, which not many can, that our engagement was relaxed and enjoyable. In fact I was smug, oh so smug, about how easy it was. I pretty much just booked a package online and the only thing I had to do was find a dress, and even that was a dream. I bought it from a boutique that made it perfectly according to size, and within four weeks. No appointments or gloves, no fittings and no expensive price tag. While my friends were out interviewing photographers I just booked mine online from a selection given to me by the hotel, along with a checklist of other “add-on’s” that were available.

Sure, there were some tiny hiccups along the way with family and friends, the hair and makeup lady suddenly left the island and flew back to Australia, and two weeks before the big day our wedding coordinator broke her leg or something and also had to fly back to Australia, but everything seemed to work out and I was left in the capable hands of the hotel event coordinator, Julie.

Finally, we arrived in Vanuatu and we were treated like royalty. All the other people from the plane got picked up in a group coach bus but we were greeted with hot towels, a bottle of water, a lei and a personal driver in a leather upholstered Landrover…. in front of everyone….. ahhh luxury…. this is how smug I was. When we arrived at the resort we were greeted with a fruit cocktail and entered our beautiful room which was a stone’s throw from the bar. Exxxxcellent.

Smug face: we'd just arrived in paradise and were treated like royalty
Smug face: We’d just arrived in paradise and were treated like royalty

Over the next three days our family couldn’t believe it. Ross and I were going everywhere and doing everything and making friends with all the hotel guests. We went on a sunset cruise, a snorkelling trip, a buggy ride, a trip to a marine sanctuary and even to the waterfalls. To top it off we were lucky enough to win another sunset cruise for two to use later in our stay. A hint of things to come…. it was never used.


At the base of the waterfall
At the base of the waterfall


A few more hiccups. Our event coordinator (remember the wedding coordinator broke her leg) didn’t show for our briefing meeting. All good though. We met her the next day, the day before the wedding. Understandable too- she had Diesel on the island and was doing two peoples jobs. Then, the hair and makeup lady was all of a sudden back. All good, even better in fact.

But here’s where things started going downhill.

The night before the wedding we were on our way to dinner with the family and we see this Ni-Van (native Vanuatu person) semi-conscious, with a drip, being taken to hospital by ambulance officers in the small ferry we were riding on our way to the mainland. My mum said to me “gosh is that Julie?” I replied “no mum it’s someone different”. It totally wasn’t Julie. Then Ross chirps in too “because it looks like Julie”. “NO…. it’s not Julie!”…… then my mind starts ticking…. hrmmm it kind of looks like Julie…… and come to think of it that IS what Julie was wearing today…… aaahhh crap, it’s Julie! Minor detail. Still good.

The big day had arrived. Sure enough, at about 10.00am the restaurant manager calls and tells us Julie is in hospital with a terrible virus but its ok because he will be doing our wedding and many years ago he did organise a number of weddings in Australia so everything would be fine. Still good.

Even when on the morning of the wedding the lady in the spa somehow managed to turn my nails green everything was STILL awesome. Suddenly I’m thrust into hair and makeup and the constant flash of photography in my face and it became perfectly clear the big day was here. Yippeeeeee!

Ross was awfully quiet. Not that he’s very talkative anyway and if you think about it he might still be hungover from dinner last night, he’s probably nervous because it’s the big day and if you had a gaggle of women in the main area of the bungalow with hairspray and boobs everywhere you’d probably hide in the bathroom too, right? The photographer only caught three photos of Ross before Ross proclaimed he’d had enough, which is kind of like Ross too.

Then lights, camera, action! Everyone else leaves and it’s just my dad and I. The golf buggy has taken them up to the clifftop where we were getting married and then it’s our turn. On the way up the restaurant manager tells me Ross isn’t feeling too good. Ummm…. no shit, he’s probably hungover and he’s a nervous buggar. Yes, all still good.

I start walking down the aisle with my dad led by native serenaders and it was amazing.

The beautiful wedding setting
The beautiful wedding setting

And then I see Ross’s face. Hrmm…..

Seriously Robyn, I'm not feeling too good
Seriously Robyn, I’m not feeling too good

Ross is looking at me with a pained expression as if he’s trying to use his mind to say something to me and he struggles through his vows (in fairness though, that was probably because we could barely understand what the pastor was saying). The show must go own. I try to mindspeak back to Ross to ask him what’s going on but we’re clearly not that in tune with each other so I just perform my way through our vows.  I was totally fake. Then we sign the registers and have a photo with the pastor and our certificate and Ross declares he needs a break before walking to the edge of the cliff, collapsing in a heap and power hurling like the exorcist. Not ideal.

Rosco trying to soldier through
Rosco trying to soldier through

Everyone around looks genuinely puzzled and not quite sure what to do. They shove two glasses of prearranged Moet in my hands and I stand there like a stunned mullet while Ross’s sister goes over to help the poor lad. Usually I’m good in an emergency situation, but this one caught me by surprise!

They buggy Ross back to the room while I wait and direct all the staff. Ross comes back, we take a few family pics and we repeat the whole public vomiting exercise again. By this time all the staff decide that the wedding has well and truly finished and start packing up, our family let us know they’ll just wait for us at the bar and give Ross some time to freshen up and we head back to the room. We’ve booked the photographer for the day so he lets us know he’ll just wait outside the room until Ross feels a little better. Well that’s awkward.

One hour passes and Ross goes downhill. He’s taken off all his clothes and has hopped into bed so I tell the photographer it’s over, but we’ve booked him for the day so he’s happy to wait some more. Another hour passes and Ross has just vomited all over the floor. He ain’t goin’ nowhere! So, I tell the photographer it’s over and he kindly convinces me that we’ll regret it forever if we don’t get more photos and we should get together before we fly out and have another burl. The dress finally comes off, my family come over to let us know they’re going back to the mainland, and that’s it. I’m stuck with him.

Part of our wedding package was meant to be a romantic three course dinner on our balcony on the night of our wedding. It goes without saying that didn’t happen.

By about 7.30pm Ross couldn’t even walk himself to the toilet without me helping him and was lying in bed groaning in a semi-conscious state. I didn’t know what to do. Every time he had a sip of water it just came back up, and more. I kept asking if he wanted me to call a Doctor or something and he said no, but I truly thought he was going to die.

Ahem, I spent my wedding night helping my new husband to the toilet and cleaning up vomit.

My mum called to see how he was and I sobbed on the phone before finally deciding to call the only person I could think of, the restaurant manager, who then arranged a Doctor for us.

The Doctor arrived close to an hour later and I was still crying as Ross lie on the bed. Ross is barely conscious. I’m crying my eyes out. The Doctor is cracking jokes, and then wham! The Doctor shoves a huge needle in Rosco’s thigh. That woke him up! The Doctor then went about this way and left Ross with a massive load of prescription pills.

The hotel brought us water, sprite, towels, bathrobes. This was no Bali belly. This was some evil tropical cruise virus from hell. Even the locals had it.

And then all of a sudden I realised I hadn’t eaten all day. My ‘romantic wedding night dinner’ was a pizza, in the bar, alone. In truth, I was just so relieved it was one of the best pizza’s I’ve ever had.

But it didn’t end there. I should have known.

The next day, Thursday, I farewelled my parents on the mainland before feeling suddenly nauseous. Then came a spew or two. Hang on. I’m smarter than this. I knew what was coming so now that we were married I owned 50% of everything and I’m pretty sure that extended to prescription medicine. I downed those suckers like kale and apple juice.

After all who was going to look after me? Not Ross! He was still lying in bed. I made it to the toilet a few more times before settling on the bed for the rest of the day in a shivering, feverous state but at least that was the worst of it.

Ross's idea of a joke - taking photos of me while I was sick
Ross’s idea of a joke – taking photos of me while I was sick

On Friday we were still feeling pretty average so we spent the day just sitting by the pool. Ross’s sister Maxine joined us and we relaxed on our last day in Vanuatu. I’d been so sick just yesterday and I still hadn’t brushed my hair since the wedding but then I donned the frock once more and we did the fake photoshoot, as suggested by the photographer. Apparently, it was still the shortest shoot he’d ever done but at least we had a few more photographs. Looking at the photos now I think ‘wow he earned his money!’

Should have just brushed my hair...
Should have just brushed my hair…
Ross gets the colour back in his face...
Ross gets the colour back in his face…


We then made our way to the restaurant to try and enjoy our three course dinner. Yeah, we were still pretty ill, so we managed about a bite of each course before laying in bed feeling sorry for ourselves.

I WANT to eat it, but I don't think I can....Still a little pale...
I WANT to eat it, but I don’t think I can….Still a little pale…

Maxine called us and was having a great time in the bar and had even met the pilot that was flying us home tomorrow at the Casino!

Saturday came around however, and for the first time in days things were looking up. We made it through breakfast and sure, most of our trip was a write-off but we could at least enjoy our last morning in Vanuatu so we went for a snorkel and kayak around the island. But, when we got back to our room an hour before check-out I’d had six missed calls and voicemail messages from Maxine. Oh no. It would take too long to listen to the voicemail messages so I just called and all Max said was in a croaky, soft voice “I don’t think I’m going to make the flight”.

Oh god, the nightmare continues. I was panicking. What would we do! Who would look after Maxine! I had to get over to the mainland and now! I got dressed in a flurry and shoved a few things in my suitcase and figured I could make it over, get a Doctor to give her a jab, and then we could check out and everything would be ok. Wrong.

It took me 40 minutes alone to get there. Always the way. Running out of time, I organised a visit from a Doctor for another one of those big ass injections and frantically called Ross and asked if he could pack the rest of my bags and meet me over here. Ross isn’t a fan of responsibility so he declined. Thanks mate, don’t you remember me helping save your life a few days ago and you can’t pack a bloody bag?! Whatever.

Cancelling the flight was a no go so Maxine had to suck it in and pull through. While she packed her bag, I tried to make it back to the Island to check out. Surprisingly just as I got off the ferry I saw my new husband walking down with my bags to greet me. What a relief and welcome surprise. He usually comes through in the end.

Ok, we’re at the airport… is this nightmare nearly over?… nope. After appearing to pick up for a while, Maxine then collapsed at the airport. Another Doctor, more drugs, and we carry her onto the plane in a state.

Ross and I had booked front seats and he agreed to give up his so I could look after his sister. To make matters worse it appeared as though half the plane, including the guy sitting next to me, were also sick. Again, I was knee deep in vomit.

At one stage the pilot from last night came out and started trying to chat up Max and invited her into the cockpit. I think it took him precisely 1 minute and 42 seconds to work out that she was in no state for flirting. That was of course after I had told him she was sick and clearly so was half the plane, and evidently half the island too. The guy sat next to me shook his head in agreeance, while dabbing his forehead with a wet cloth. Then, the pilot comes to and tells us that he even heard there was this couple who got married and the groom barely made it through the ceremony…. uuhh genius that was us!

I later found out my friends had booked a romantic dinner for us that never happened and my whole family were sick on the way home too.

You’d think that would be the end of it. Phew. The end of my nightmare wedding and I thought it was too. I had my party to look forward to and share my wedding moment then with lots of photos in my wedding dress to make up for the whole 30 minutes I wore it on my wedding day. That is, until we discovered we’d left it in our hotel room in Vanuatu. Yes, this happened. In my haste to get over to the mainland I’d thrown it into a ball and shoved it on the bed…. only to blend in perfectly with the bed sheets.

I’m pretty sure this is what upset me the most. I remember driving to another friend’s wedding dress fitting with a friend and crying my eyes out. My chance to put it all behind me and enjoy the party ‘as our real reception’ couldn’t happen and I was devastated.

Devastated for about a year. Genuinely traumatised.

Until my first wedding anniversary. What changed everything?

My friends. Rosco and I decided to go away for the weekend on our first wedding anniversary, and when we arrived in the room, we saw a hamper from my best friends. My girls. They’re amazing. They’d gone to all this trouble for me. I w


as here with my husband, and the pain just melted away.

My 'besties' at my wedding party, in a dress I bought that morning...
My ‘besties’ at my wedding party, in a dress I bought that morning…

Now it is just a funny story…..


What was your wedding like? Who are you going to touch base with today?

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