Wedding for Timaru cemetery
After a year marked by tragedy, Julie Wood and Russell McIntosh hope to find joy in the most unlikely of places - three South Canterbury cemeteries.
The couple plan to wed next month in the Timaru Cemetery and visit two other cemeteries before celebrating at a reception at the Timaru RSA.
It might sound like a morbid approach to marriage, but the couple say it is their way of remembering and including the loved ones they have lost.
"Our last year was one of the worst we ever had," McIntosh said. "But we got through it."
The couple reunited last year after a difficult breakup and bought their York St home, looking forward to a fresh start.
On May 11, the day they were set to shift into the house, Wood's 28-year-old brother, Shane Braddick, was found dead just metres down the street.
"The police had the street closed off and I was impatient to get into the house," she said.
"They told me to go to the station after noon to find out when the cordon would be lifted. When I got there, they told me it was Shane, and I just started screaming."
Johnny Grant Holman, 25, of Timaru, has been charged with Braddick's murder. His next court appearance will be just weeks before the wedding.
"Having that over your head dampens everything," Wood said. "But I'm not going to let it ruin one more moment of my life."
About 40 family members and close friends will be invited to join the couple at the Timaru Cemetery for the wedding ceremony, which will be held near the grave of McIntosh's mother, Avis McIntosh.
They will then visit the Geraldine Cemetery, where the bride's adoptive parents, Judy and Graeme Wood, are buried, and the Temuka Cemetery, where Braddick is buried.
In both places they will take photos, lay flowers and have a glass of wine.
"We're not going to be standing there crying and moaning," Wood said. "But if they can't come to us, we'll go to them."
Their arrangements have surprised many of the guests.
Wood said she was not bothered by those who were critical of the plan.
"Like the old saying goes, you might be hit by a bus tomorrow," she said.
"You might wake up and find that your brother is dead.
"People's opinions just don't worry me any more."
The Timaru Herald