After collecting a lifetime of friends, 60-year-old Wendyann Fuller didn’t have the heart to leave anyone out of her bridal party – so she asked 40 women to be her bridesmaids. Not to be outdone by his new bride, Dave Upton (69) had 40 best men to match at their ceremony in the Hokianga, Northland earlier this month.
Wendyann’s bridesmaids ranged in age from 16 to 70 and included her best friend from primary school. The bride was also a student when she met Dave – he was her maths teacher at Papatoetoe High School when she was 14. “Dave was pretty hot, but I was naïve and I was into sport and not into him,” she grins.
The couple met again at a high school reunion 24 years ago and Wendyann plucked up the courage to introduce herself to her former teacher. “I said, ‘Mr Upton, do you remember you kicked me out of your maths class? All is forgiven. Should we have a dance?’ “He said, Miss Fuller, we’ll have the last dance!”
Within a year, they were living together, but Wendyann didn’t feel the need to marry until now. “There were a lot of rings tossed my way, but I was waiting for the right time,” she says. Wendyann finally decided to set the date because both she and Dave wanted their parents to be around for the ceremony. “And I just felt the love. After all these years, the love was getting stronger,” she smiles.
Dave has proposed several times before, but believes Wendyann finally agreed because, this time, he got down on one knee. With so many friends in her life, the bride knew she couldn’t leave anyone out, and 40 friends were invited to be bridesmaids. But a broken leg meant one couldn’t make it – the other 39 arrived by tractor.
“They were friends of mine from rowing days, hockey days, teaching days and dancing days,” Wendyann explains. They were all told to wear black leotard tops, mid-calf tulle skirts with satin bows – and gumboots.
The groom and his 40 best men also wore gumboots and their favourite rugby team shirts. “I insisted on wearing black footie shorts for the wedding,” says Dave.
The bridal party performed a gumboot dance at the wedding, which is just one of four big days the couple have planned. They are also holding a ceremony in the Blue Mountains outside of Sydney, where they both live, a fun Elvis-themed ceremony in Las Vegas, and a final one at a castle in Holland for their friends living in Europe.
Dave has been married before and has two children. Wendyann never had any children and she is happy to keep her maiden name. “I was happy being Wendyann Fuller, and I’m still going to be Wendyann Fuller. “I can’t see being married being any different.”