Love and other near catastrophes

Graham Rigo and Genevieve Simpson finally got to exchange their wedding vows – but only just. Photo by Amelia Kate Photography

A COUPLE whose wedding plans were frustrated by WA’s big Covid lockdown exactly a year ago couldn’t believe it when a new attempt to exchange vows was almost derailed by WA’s latest snap restrictions.

The careful reader may remember an advertisement splashed across the front page of the April 25, 2020 Melville Herald, under the banner “Apology to Graham Rigo from Genevieve Simpson.”

Ms Simpson expressed her regret that the couple had not been able to marry on April 24, the 13th anniversary of the night they first met at The Clink Nightclub. 

Last weekend, in spite of the three-day snap lockdown, the couple was finally able to tie the knot among masked revellers.

Ms Simpson said when texts about the impending lockdown started arriving of Friday, she feared a year of waiting to celebrate her love for Mr Rigo amongst friends and family would again be frustrated.

“We had already made the decision that we were going to get married on Saturday, even if there were only five people there,” said Ms Simpson. 

Fortunately, loved ones quickly followed their initial concerned texts with the news that weddings of 100 people or fewer could go ahead with a special permit and face masks. The sight of a Covid wedding on the beach at Point Walter didn’t go unnoticed.

“We got some pretty good looks,” said Mr Rigo, adding that police officers twice stopped to make sure that the permit was in order and everybody was wearing a mask.

Wedding festivities largely went ahead as planned, with a trip home from the wedding by tram and a surprise cabaret pianist serenading the party. 

The wedding providers had stuck by them in spite of the delay.

“We had heard stories about how hard it was for wedding and other event providers going into lockdown so we offered to pay our providers everything up front so that they would have some money to tide them over to next year,” said Ms Simpson.

Perhaps the only unwelcome surprise was that the scheduled cleaning service was not able to attend due to Covid restrictions, so the newlyweds spent their first morning as a married couple cleaning up empty beer cans from South Fremantle Brewing, which Mr Rigo cofounded.

In the end, another year was not so long to wait for a couple that has now been together for 14 years. 

The newlyweds recalled their 2018 proposal, wherein Ms Simpson organised a trip to the top of the Diamond Tree viewing platform, which has since been closed.

“I got down on one knee and he said, ‘are you going to give me a ring now?’” said Ms Simpson. “So I took the ring out of my pocket and I put it on my own finger.”

Ms Simpson said she had been inspired to publish her original ad in the Herald following a series of front page apologies between tussling political pundits in the weeks prior. 

“I thought, how funny would it be if I just followed the trend of these people having a fight with an apology between two people who love each other.”

She and her new husband describe themselves as “avid followers” of the Chook, and saw taking out the advertisement as a way to support the paper during difficult times.

In last year’s ad, Ms Simpson wrote, “I regret that the stupid coronavirus has prevented us from sharing a special day with our friends and family,” adding, “However, to be honest, I am not really that fussed about it, and instead am focusing my emotions on being thankful to all the essential service workers out there who are keeping us safe in this difficult time.”

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