Wedding mishap no bar to 70-year union

Invercargill couple Doug and Fay Ridder display a wedding photo they managed to get taken at...
Invercargill couple Doug and Fay Ridder display a wedding photo they managed to get taken at Johnsons studio in 1954 after their wedding photographer failed to successfully take any shots. PHOTO: NINA TAPU
Most couples would be disappointed if their photographer did not get photos of their wedding day but Doug, 94, and Fay, 90, Ridder, of Invercargill, would not let the mishap ruin the start of their marriage.

"The shutter was down and he clicked away to no avail," Mr Ridder said.

He and his bride-to-be, Kathleen Fay Bryan, continued with the day spurred on by the fact they "did not have to pay" the hapless shutterbug.

Overcoming this first hurdle as a married couple would signal the longevity of their relationship.

On a cold morning, the couple wed on June 12, 1954 at the Tuatapere Presbyterian Church, cheered on by about 50 relations.

They had only met the year before at Mr Ridder’s brother’s wedding.

"I was the best man and Fay was a bridesmaid," Mr Ridder said.

"She came over and pulled on my arm and that’s how we got together."

Their wedding service was held at 11am, followed by a "midday meal wedding breakfast" at the Waiau Hotel.

Mr Ridder built the first family home in Thornbury before they were married and finished it while they started having children.

He was a self-taught builder and used to work for a man doing country builds, having started off by building garden sheds.

Mrs Ridder supported the family doing relief teaching at the local school, despite not having a teacher’s qualification.

"The school was right across from our house, so I didn’t have to go very far," Mrs Ridder said.

She went on to work for two electrical businesses.

Mr Ridder spent 30 years working as a sales agent for John Edmonds hardware store and was grateful for the company car and wages that enabled the family to go on holidays to Timaru.

When the 1984 floods hit, Mr Ridder moved the family from the house he built at the bottom of Harvey St in Invercargill to a third house built by him at the top of Harvey St.

His building experience and care for his wife and their three sons kept the family anchored in the city.

The couple said the keys to their successful marriage were co-operation from Mr Ridder and patience from Mrs Ridder.

Liking the same things and interests also helped.

"We used to go to lots of district dances and lodge balls," Mr Ridder said.

When it came to overcoming challenges, Mrs Ridder was "the worrier" while Mr Ridder "didn’t worry", which balanced them out.

The couple are celebrating their 70th wedding anniversary with an afternoon tea today at home surrounded by their three children, eight grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren, other family members and friends.