Celebrated broadcaster Carol Hirschfeld relives the unadulterated joy of her Auckland wedding to journalist Finlay Macdonald.
Fin and I had been together for two years when we decided to marry. During a work trip to Australia I went to a fortune teller, which was out of character for me. She said, ‘I see a garden wedding,’ and when I told Fin what she saw he said he’d just been thinking about getting married. I asked, ‘Well, do you want to?’, he said, ‘Yeah, let’s get married,’ and that was it.
We didn’t want a long engagement, so we organised everything in three months with help from family and friends. For our invitations, a clever friend of ours collected a whole lot of Mills & Boon books and put our faces on the hero and heroine.
On the day I had my hair styled and my makeup done, then a friend came round and we shared champagne. Meanwhile, Fin rushed around sorting last-minute details like getting glasses so people could have a drink at the ceremony. He had an extremely busy day – I feel guilty looking back! We married in the garden at Kinder House, an old stone home in Parnell that our family had connections to. I wanted a romantic bunch of flowers so I carried a large bouquet of stock and cornflowers – very cottagey. It was a stunning day. The ceremony was meant to start at 4pm but I was late – and not fashionably late, I’m late all the time. On our drive to the ceremony my father had asked me if we could have a picture taken at the Domain. He’d taken photos of my sister and I there since we were toddlers so it seemed completely right to do so; it’s nice to see the same locations in photos when you look back over the years.
As I got out of the car I put my heel through my dress but managed to forget about it by the time the ceremony started. No music played, and since there wasn’t really an aisle, I turned around the corner to meet Fin. He’s a huge Bruce Springsteen fan so he wore a new pair of black jeans and a black string tie. My dress was made by glorious designer Annie Bonza, who works with beautiful fabrics. I kind of stumbled into her shop one day. I’d been on TV the night before and she mentioned she’d seen me and thought, ‘I’d love to design something for that woman.’ Once I told her I was looking for my wedding dress she said she envisioned a Ginger Rogers-style gown on me, which is kind of what it was. I can’t wait to plan my daughter’s wedding; it’ll be amazing just to see her try it on.
I’ve worked in television all my adult life and no video could have captured how I felt on the day. I feel tearful talking about it. It was the happiest day of my life; except, of course, for the days when my children were born. I hadn’t realised it was going to be the most beautiful celebration among people that we loved, and how much goodwill gushes in when you stand up and say you’re committing yourself to another. I can remember turning around and thinking, ‘Wow, and people brought presents?’
We got married around the time the Berlin Wall came down. Fin made a fantastic speech about peace keeping and how that’s the way he hoped our lives together would be – the careful business of keeping the peace between each other and for each other. My biological mum died when I was 10 so one thing that was particularly important for me was when her sister, my auntie, paid tribute to her. It was really special. Our reception was held at a Ponsonby restaurant with 62 guests. I did forget a few things, like telling the staff to go ahead and serve food – everyone drank heavily for two hours before a meal was served! Afterwards a group of us ended up at a friend’s place for a night cap. It wasn’t until the early hours of the next morning that Fin and I got back to our apartment. A friend had flown in unexpectedly so he stayed with us. Fin and I slept on the base of our bed and he took our mattress!
Sitting on the plane the next day on our way to Thailand, I remember thinking that I’d had so much fun at the wedding I’d forgotten we were going to have a honeymoon as well.
We were 27 and 28 on our wedding day. We thought we were terribly old at the time, and now we’re approaching our 20th anniversary in November. Taking off for a long weekend to celebrate would be great, but you miss your kids when you go away and spend the whole time thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they were here?’
Over the years I’ve learnt that to respect the person you’re going to be living with means a lot of things. It means you’ll always listen, be open to them and understand that at times you need to compromise. One side has to compromise at some point in the many situations you face together. I do think respect for one another is deeply important in getting through the years.