Arriving by kayak might not be the most conventional of wedding entrances, but this is a far from conventional love story.
Flanked by a flotilla of 16 friends on Saturday, Ngunnawal resident Justin Channells paddled down the Molonglo River to marry the love of his life, Jay Crawford.
“Justin was convinced that wherever we had the wedding he wanted to make the entrance on kayak,” Ms Crawford said.
“All of our friends from the canoe club wanted to join in as well.”
Friends and family watched the couple marry at Molonglo Reach and were told that the pair, whose love story spans more than a quarter of a century, was “destined to be together”.
“We knew each other from primary school a very long time ago,” Ms Crawford said.
“Up in the Torres Strait, we used to live on Thursday Island.”
As young children, Ms Crawford and Mr Channells spent time together as “great friends” until, at the age of 10, Ms Crawford moved away with her family.
Jay was devastated to leave but Justin wrote to her and the pair stayed in contact for many years.
They celebrated the end of high school together and their 21st birthdays, guests were told on Saturday.
In an unusual turn of events, Jay and Justin started dating a man and a woman who were siblings and their respective relationships brought them to Canberra.
They were even offered jobs with the same company and, when their relationships ended, they became flatmates and love blossomed.
“For me it was a total shock, I didn’t see it coming at all,” Ms Crawford said.
“I nearly fell over –literally.”
Yesterday’s wedding was attended by their children, Abby, 5, and Isaac, 3, relatives and friends, who watched in surprise as Mr Channells paddled into the ceremony with his guard of honour from the Burley Griffin Canoe Club.
Mr Channells had originally planned to row in alone, but paddling has been such a part of the couple’s relationship that their friends from the sport wanted to be involved.
Ms Crawford said the wedding was “just the icing on the cake of a wonderful life”.
“We tell our kids a simplified version of our love story right up to their births as a bed time story,” she said.
“It’s part of how we tell them how special they are to the story too.
“I often wish I could go back and tell my 10-year-old self how this story turns out - I think she would be ecstatic.”