Former Fair Go host Kevin Milne opens his heart to share sweet memories of the day he wed the love of his life.
I think it might have been love at first sight. I met Linda on my first day of a new job in London – I can still remember her hanging up her coat. I loved being around her and hated days when she didn’t come to work. We got on extremely well but didn’t date till a year or so later.
The proposal was what you might call ‘functional’. Linda and I had moved to New Zealand, but she’s English, so we had to marry within a year or she would’ve had to go back to Britain. There was no down-on-the-knees proposal. Awful isn’t it – like a marriage with immigration holding the shotgun.
We got married in 1978 at St Mary’s Catholic church in Christchurch; the same church my parents married in. We felt very close to everyone who was there. We have a group photo and I love it because everyone looks really happy. Ours was a very ’70s post-hippy wedding – understated, inexpensive and informal, but with lots of love. There were about 20 guests and we didn’t have groomsmen or bridesmaids. It was totally stress free, although I do remember Linda wasn’t happy with the hairstyle the salon gave her. It was brushed out and started again.
Linda and I arrived together and walked down the aisle together. We were already living with each other so anything else would have felt odd.
I wore a groovy grey suit with wide lapels, a wide tie and a matching buttonhole. I look like a jockey in the photos. Funnily enough, a shot of me seated in the church reveals a pair of red socks – they were my tennis socks from earlier in the day!
Linda chose a creamy satin outfit with a full skirt and a top tied with a lace wrap. Although it wasn’t bridal as such, it looked lovely. She bought it at the legendary ’70s store Memsahib in Wellington, and the person who sold it to her was Ruth Pretty, now famous for her cooking. I remember helping Linda buy both the wedding dress and her ‘going away’ outfit – a light blue cotton dress that had a belt with a floral buckle. I can picture it still. Sadly, some time later a dog tried to climb up the dress while it was airing on the clothesline, and that was that.
I just loved our wedding. I have one particular memory that typifies the day. I recall getting up early to go and pick up the food that my Aunty Moira had worked through the night to prepare. I remember thinking as we put it in my mother’s Morris 1100, ‘She’s done all this for me. How generous.’ I couldn’t believe how kind everyone was. I’d written to all our guests, inviting them and telling them not to worry about buying a gift. But most brought presents, and many prepared food. So kind.
The reception was at my mother’s house; just a little get-together really. I was very proud of my family that day, and for some reason I felt overwhelmed that Linda and I were the centre of attention. It was a pity that her family and friends in the UK couldn’t be there. I remember talking to them on the phone when we got home.
At the time, we were determined to keep the wedding small, simple, and casual. That was partly to do with the fact that neither Linda nor I had much money and we didn’t want to impose on our families who also didn’t have a lot of spare cash. But later in life, when we stood in glorious churches and watched beautifully outfitted brides make their way up the aisle, my wife would give me the elbow and a mock-cross look. She never had the opportunity to show off in front of a huge crowd. I regret that, too, because she’s so gorgeous. But we’re not ones for a renewal of vows, that’s a bit over the top for us.
For our honeymoon, we took a week-long trip in our VW around the South Island. We spent our first night at the Hermitage Hotel at Mt Cook. I ordered mutton bird for dinner and the waiter, struggling to get it onto my plate, dropped it on my crotch – very hot. Linda thought it was so funny. We have four children, Alex, 26, Rory, 23, Jake, 19, and our little girl Tommie who’s eight. Our advice to them about their wedding day would be to not let the stress of the planning overwhelm the joy of the occasion. Don’t let anyone else tell you what sort of wedding to have. And consider carefully whether some of the budget mightn’t be better spent establishing your life together. Frankly, it astonishes me how much some young couples spend on their wedding.
What’s contributed to our 30-year plus marriage? Firstly, I think we both set out to stay married. That’s not always the case these days. We’ve never taken each other for granted. And something I reckon’s worth thinking about – love’s great, but continuing to admire is much more special. Don’t let marriage dull you to the wonderful qualities of your partner. It always tries to; you have to fight it.