The time I survived an earthquake the day before our wedding

Earlier this week Matt and I celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary! Life’s hurried along since then with a dog, a house and a baby, but we’re still happy as can be.

So I thought I’d share a little about the events surrounding our wedding.

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Matt and I don’t always like to do things the most traditional way. For example, we had our Engagement party at a bowling alley. So our wedding was never going to be normal either. We decided on a destination wedding.

After exploring our destination wedding options, we booked ourselves in to be married in Vanuatu.

With our closest family members in tow, we all hopped on a plane to spend a week in Vanuatu, planning to get married in the middle of the trip.

All was going swimmingly. We arrived at our island resort and were informed that since we were being married there, our room was immediately upgraded to a third story apartment complete with spa bath on the balcony. Yippee!

We spent a few days swimming, snorkelling, sailing and drinking cocktails, leading up to the big day.

The day before the wedding we’d broken off into small groups, doing different activities. In the afternoon my Mum, brother and I were enjoying some time in the pool, my Nanna was back in her room enjoying some quiet time and my Dad, Matt and Matt’s family were off sailing around the island.

I’d just hopped out of the pool and was drying myself off when I heard and felt a little rumble, I turned to Mum and said ‘What’s that? It feels like a truck going past…’ and as I was saying it the movement became stronger and stronger, until we could see the water in the pool sloshing backward and forwards and coming out of the pool in waves. We heard the clattering of glasses and cutlery shaking and falling in the bar and restaurant next to us, and saw people running out of buildings.

As soon as the rumbling stopped I started towards the strip of beach where I knew Matt, Dad and Matt’s family had sailed from. We stopped and spoke to some resort staff on the way. ‘Is this normal?’ Mum asked one of the staff. The staff member we spoke to looked surprised and said ‘no’, and then I panicked. Was there a tsunami on the way too?

I’m not a runner, but I ran to the beach, and halfway there, came across Matt and the rest of our family, as they were looking for us. They were just stepping off of their catamaran, onto the beach, when they felt the ground shake beneath them.

We were all told to make our way to the highest point on the island, incase of a Tsunami. Along with the rest of the resort guests, we made our way up the hill, and sat and waited for either a Tsunami or some news. We started to wonder whether we would be getting married the following day after all.

Reassuringly, one of the other guests was a geologist, who’d travelled to Vanuatu to study volcanoes. Experiencing an earthquake whilst he was there was a huge bonus for him! He was able to get information quickly, and told us that we’d just experienced an 7.5 magnitude earthquake, quite close to us, and that if there were to be a Tsunami, it would have happened within a few minutes of the earthquake. The coast was clear, we were all able to go back to our rooms.

We got back to our room to find all the draws and cupboards shaken open, and superficial cracks in the walls.

We spent the night before our wedding, jumping out of bed every half hour to hour, to rush to a door frame during the aftershocks. We continued to experience aftershocks, throughout our wedding day. Some of the worst aftershocks happened just before the ceremony, when I was having photos taken in our third story apartment, and everyone up in the apartment with me, grabbed something to hold themselves steady as the rumbling passed.

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It made a memorable day, even more memorable, but thankfully didn’t ruin it in any way.

For some, earthquakes are familiar events, but for us in the south of Australia, we only experience the occasional slight tremor, so small that I’ve never actually felt one. To us, this was a big deal!

Our wedding day went perfectly. We enjoyed every second of it and the rest of our time in Vanuatu.

Three days after the wedding, as we were waiting at the airport to fly off to New Zealand for our honeymoon, we felt one more little aftershock. I couldn’t have been happier to get on that plane!

It’s certainly made for a good story to tell though 🙂

Abby xx

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