Jodie Rimmer's Beach Wedding - New Zealand Woman's Weekly - 2011 (January 27)
Jodie Rimmer's Beach Wedding
As an actress, Jodie Rimmer knows a thing or two about making a dramatic entrance. But the most spectacular she’s ever made was at her wedding, and the guests will never forget it.
While her groom Tim Riley and the party waited on the edge of a cliff by Auckland’s Narrow Neck Beach, Jodie sailed in on a yacht helmed by her brother James.
Tim, close family members and a handful of friends were in on the surprise, but many of the 130 people gathered for the occasion had no idea Jodie had chosen the unusual way of arriving until a group of Cook Island drummers struck up a beat and a figure in white was spotted doing an impromptu jig on the deck of the approaching yacht.
“When I heard the drums I couldn’t help dancing – it was amazing,” smiles the star of TV series The Strip.
Jodie’s dad Bill Rimmer played the stirring Prince of Denmark March on the trumpet as James dropped the anchor and Jodie clambered into a dinghy to be rowed ashore.
But that wasn’t the end of her grand entrance. After she stepped onto a bay below her guests, the barefoot bride, hitched up her white gown and made her way up the cliff’s steep track.
“It’s never been an easy path to climb but I just bounded up it – I was so full of adrenaline,” says Jodie (36).
Once she got to the top, she stopped for a moment to compose herself, slipped on a pair of bright pink jandals and shared an emotional hug with her dad.
Taking his daughter’s arm, Bill walked her to the scenic spot where a beaming Tim (45) stood waiting for his bride.
“I was so proud of Jodie, and also a little jealous she got to arrive that way,” says Tim, a lawyer. “That will go down as the entrance of the year.”
Jodie says she never set out to arrive so theatrically. “It just occurred to me that if we were going to get married on a beach then I thought it would be cool to arrive on a boat. Things just kind of went from there.”
The parents of nine-month-old son Xavier chose the venue for their big day because it has a special place in Jodie’s heart. “I grew up on this beach,” she says. “I learned to swim and sail here – it has so many memories.”
A seaside wedding was always on the cards for the pair, who say they’re “beachy” people. In fact, the ocean has played a significant part in their relationship. They had one of their first dates swimming at Piha, after meeting at a Christmas party three years ago.
Then Jodie proposed to Tim on New Year’s Eve two years ago during a trip to an island off the Northland coast. The pair had been swimming when Jodie gave Tim a ring-shaped shell and asked him to marry her.
“I didn’t know I was going to do it – it just happened,” she recalls.
They chose the same date – New Year’s Eve – for their wedding and Narrow Neck was the obvious location, thanks to the family connection. Jodie’s dad Bill lives across the road and her 94-year-old grandfather, Darcy O’Brien, swims at the beach every day in summer.
While Jodie was delighted Darcy could attend the wedding, she couldn’t help feeling sad that her grandmother Rae O’Brien, who died two years ago, wasn’t there. “She would have loved to have seen this day,” says Jodie.
When celebrant Anna Marbrook – a close friend of Jodie’s – mentioned Narrow Neck was “Rae’s beach”, Jodie then raised an arm, looked skywards and called out, “Hi, Nanny.”
Anna spoke movingly of the couple’s love for family, and for each other. She told Tim, “You’re the most compassionate and beautiful person that Jodie knows. You enable her to feel peace and calm.”
To Jodie, she said, “You give Tim strength and freedom. You have courage – Tim loves the way you can scale rocks at Piha.”
The vows were heard by another celebrant, Rimmer family friend Pat Cole. Tim and Jodie let each other know beforehand what they would say. “I didn’t want to be overwhelmed during the ceremony,” admits Jodie. “Too much emotion can be a bad thing!”
But her eyes still shone with tears as Tim promised to always try to be as open and respectful as he could, and to always work through hard times.
Jodie also looked emotional as she vowed to love and respect Tim, and promised, “I’m here for the long haul.”
The ceremony was punctuated with moments of humour. There was laughter as Tim told Jodie, “I’ll try not to use your towel, but I can’t promise if it’s drier than mine.”
And Jodie said she would be as honest as she could – “including letting you know when you’re being an egg.”
She also raised a laugh when she promised not to be a back seat driver, and muttered under her breath, “I won’t be a control freak.”
When Pat announced, “You may kiss the groom,” the couple shared a tender moment and then family handed them their son Xavier.
“It was probably a bit overwhelming for him but he did really well,” says proud Tim.
After the service, the newlyweds walked down the hill to Wakatere Boating Club for the reception. They were serenaded on the way by musicians playing ukeleles.
The occasion was a mix of conventional and informal, with Jodie and Tim dispensing with wedding traditions such as bridesmaids, a best man and groomsmen. There was also no cake or first dance, but there were speeches – “lots of them!” laughs Jodie.
Master of ceremonies for the evening was good friend Oliver Driver, while other famous guests included Ginette McDonald, Craig Parker, Michael Galvin, Danielle Cormack, Joel Tobeck and Claire Chitham.
Former Shortland Street star Claire says the wedding was a perfect reflection of the couple and their love for each other.
“It was beautiful, and it also showed their very realistic attitude towards marriage.”
Jodie says, “We do try to be realistic. We know life isn’t always going to be happy and there will be hard times. One thing is we try not to change each other’s emotions. Often if one person is going through hard times the other feels this pressure to bring their partner out of it, to rescue them.
“We’re realistic about not doing that. We want to support each other but not try to change how they’re feeling. It took me a while to work that out, but I do think it’s really important.”
Jodie describes Tim as an “emotionally intelligent” person who has helped her get a good grasp on her emotions, and changed her perceptions about marriage.
“I could never get my head around it before. I always thought marriage would be quite restrictive until I met Tim. Now I think it’s incredibly freeing.”
She says her highlight of the day – which culminated in a brilliant fireworks display to mark the arrival of the New Year as well as celebrate their union – was the look in Tim’s eyes as the service got underway.
“He kept turning to me and his face was amazing. Those big dark eyes were so full of love and pride. I’ll never forget that look of love, and I know remembering it will help when there are tough times ahead.”
- Donna Fleming