A Groom's Tale: Let the Planning Begin

When Mike Hutcheson told us he was on the brink of saying ‘I do’ – for the third time – we were keen to hear what he had planned for the big day.

  • Story by Words Mike Hutcheson

With a colourful background in advertising and publishing – and having penned columns for titles such as The Independent and Idealog – Mike Hutcheson has a career’s worth of creativity under his belt. So when he told us he was on the brink of saying ‘I do’ – for the third time – we were keen to hear what he had planned. His monthly column, A Groom’s Tale, will detail all the thrills and spills of wedding planning – it’s a glimpse into the mind of a seasoned groom-to-be.

Getting married for the third time is a whole lot different than the first, let alone the second time. However it can also be more exciting and adventurous – at least it is the way we’re planning it. Ours will be a trip to Bali in late June with the extended, blended family of six adult children, their respective spouses and/or partners and a couple of grandchildren thrown in to add a touch of chaos. But I’ll get to that. Over the next few months I’m going to catalogue the journey from a male perspective.

I’ve been talking to a few friends lately who’ve been through multiple nuptials and found some common threads. All those I’ve spoken to recall their first wedding as being their mother-in-law’s show. They felt carried along with it – committed but not involved. The second was often a small private affair at an exotic location – for me it was in South Lake Tahoe in Nevada – or a registry office followed by dinner with a few friends. For others it’s been more of a knees-up party at a restaurant or local hall. Courageously, a couple of blokes had the same best man at all their ceremonies, which seems highly dangerous – they know way too much about the groom. Third weddings are uncharted waters for most, so that’s why I thought I should record our progress.

Multiple marriages are becoming more common these days – with an average of 21,000 weddings taking place each year here in New Zealand, a third of them are not the first time either the bride or the groom has walked the aisle. Besides divorce, subsequent marriages also follow widowhood.

Michelle and I have known each other for almost thirty years, and been together now for seven. Our kids from previous relationships have known each other since childhood and seem to quite enjoy having a wider range of siblings. We are committed and very happy. We got engaged at The Menjangan in Bali a couple of years ago and because we had such a great time there, we thought we’d go back for a reprise. Where to actually pop the question was unresolved until we got to Bali but I knew the answer would appear. One lesson my father – a Sandhurst trained soldier - taught me was that time spent on reconnaissance is never wasted.

A wander around the resort told me the outdoor, over-water restaurant should be the spot. Unbeknown to Michelle I’d hidden the ring carefully in my pocket. One evening at dusk while we were having a pre-dinner aperitif she commented that she’d like us to keep doing this kind of thing for the rest of our lives. I couldn’t have scripted a better segue! That was the cue to ask the question, so I produced the ring. I will always remember her delighted laughter. The sun going down couldn’t match her smile.

Menjangan Resort – where we got engaged.

Wanting the same romantic, laid-back setting for our wedding, we’ve decided that our ceremony and reception will take place at Alam Warna in Seminyak. Ample space makes it ideal for a holiday with the whanau – there’s eight fabulous boutique villas and apartments as well as the spacious, neighbouring Villa Kalimaya. With six kids and two grandchildren, we decided we’d keep the plan simple and have a party for our wider family and friends once returning home.

Getting away from the Kiwi winter is what drove our decision to tie the knot in July. Luckily, co-owners David and Sylvia Rishworth have been amazingly generous and helpful, making sure the place can squeeze us in at what has proved to be a very busy time for them in Bali. Their Balinese partners are helping Michelle sort out the day’s details – the catering, celebrant and décor. They’ve already given us a list of restaurants in Seminyak – many of which we’ve tried – so setting up a family eating-out agenda is going to be a delight, especially since the Alam Warna drivers are on standby during the day and most of the night to take guests anywhere. Last time, Nyoman – the head driver – took us on the five-hour journey to Menjangan Resort on the north-western tip of the island – then turned around and drove home again. I think it cost us about a hundred bucks.

Our Ceremony and reception will take place at Alam Warna.

That’s another thing worth mentioning. The Balinese people – regardless of whether they’re working at a resort, restaurant or are just passers-by – are so welcoming; polite, gentle and helpful. If they can’t offer you a service of some sort they seem disappointed! I haven’t counted them all, but there appears to be at least one person on hand for every guest in the villas. Masseuses, housekeepers, gardeners and cooks all seem to understand that service doesn’t mean servility – to them it’s just well-mannered, helpful, friendly hosting.

Date? Booked. Venue? Sorted. Next step? Logistics.

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