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Christchurch earthquake: Wedding brings smiles in trying times

By Claire Trevett

Happiness amongst the grief: Emma Greenslade (nee Howard) with her husband Christopher Greenslade after their wedding at the Christ The King Catholic Church in Burnside, Christchurch. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Happiness amongst the grief: Emma Greenslade (nee Howard) with her husband Christopher Greenslade after their wedding at the Christ The King Catholic Church in Burnside, Christchurch. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Christchurch earthquake survivor Emma Howard's groom Chris Greenslade stood outside the Pyne Gould building for six and a half long hours waiting for her to be rescued last Tuesday.

Yesterday he stood in a borrowed suit and married her.

The only visible sign that the bride had been trapped in the collapsed building was some bruising on her arm. She also had a bridesman - Dwayne Goodall - one of her best friends who was also caught in the building.

Dressed in a cream satin gown with beaded bodice, she looked as every bride should. She arrived at her wedding in a cream Jaguar and left scrunched up in the back of in an ice-blue 1989 Ford Laser.

Shaving cream pronounced them "Just Married" and cans clanked behind them as it rattled off, beeping.

After their ordeal, many expected the wedding to be delayed. But with the Howards' family church in Burnside still intact and all parties willing, the wedding went ahead.

The earthquake changed some wedding plans. The suits for the groom and four groomsmen were stuck in a shop in the earthquake zone and the wedding cake remained unfinished. Instead, Chris borrowed a suit from his father and his groomsmen went in shirt sleeves. Friends baked a homemade cake.

Emma's father John Howard had also waited outside the Pyne Gould building.

Yesterday, he walked the emotional bride down the aisle beaming, delighted the wedding had gone ahead.

"The decision was a no-brainer, really. If it had to be fish and chips on the lawn, that's what we would have done. It didn't matter if there wasn't a cake or the boys didn't have suits."

Guest Tania Hill said she could understand why the wedding stayed on schedule.

"At times like this you realise how fragile things are."

And the groom himself was more excited than nervous about the day after that frantic, desperate wait on Tuesday. Even the media attention was welcomed. "If we can give other people a bit of hope, it's all good."

For some, that wedding in a plain brick church did provide a bit of hope. People were going to and from the Burnside High School welfare centre just up the road.

"Is it a wedding?" one woman said as she passed. She smiled, "Oh, good."

The wedding was but a brief escape from the reality confronting Christchurch every day.

The families weren't to know it, but at the same time, directly across the road families of people still missing were meeting for their daily briefing with police and search and rescue. Two ambulances stood outside in case some were overwhelmed.

The walked out half an hour after the newlyweds had left, faces drawn.

They left quietly in small groups of two or three. Outside a couple sat crumpled together, devastated. Joy and agony in one street, at one time.

- NZ Herald

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