The fairytale bride: from ruins to altar

18:00, Feb 18 2013
Emma and Chris Greenslade
SHAKY DAYS: Earthquake survivor Emma Greenslade was married to Chris Greenslade amid a whirlwind of media attention only three days after the February 2011 earthquake.

There is still a touch of fairytale to the marriage of earthquake survivor Emma Greenslade and her husband, Chris.

The pair were wed amid a whirlwind of media attention only three days after the February 2011 earthquake.

The bride had spent six hours trapped in the ruins of the deadly PGC building before she miraculously walked out unharmed, into the arms of her fiance.

Emma and Chris Greenslade
TWO YEARS ON: The happy couple, Emma Greenslade and Chris Greenslade.

News of the happy couple's reunion and preordained wedding came at a time when media organisations were hungry for positivity.

Their story spread around the world and when 27-year-old Chris Greenslade kissed his bride outside a Burnside church, a bevy of international and local media were there to capture the moment.

Poignant details such as the bride's cream Jaguar passing a "massive army tank" on the way to the wedding, her bruising being visible above the strapless gown she wore and the groom wearing a borrowed suit because his suit was stuck inside the red zone just added to the magic.


The pair were flown to New York by CBS News for a live interview straight from their honeymoon in Rarotonga. They received emails from wellwishers throughout the world in the months that followed. They included a letter from the wife of former United States senator.

From their Rolleston home, Emma Greenslade, 25, explained how the past two years had flashed past in a "haze".

After the quake, the wedding, the honeymoon and the free trip to New York, the couple spent two months travelling through Europe. Three weeks after their return they sold their Hornby home and moved to Rolleston.

Only now, as their second wedding anniversary approaches, have the couple finally had the chance to breathe.

But the relaxation won't last long, as the Greenslades hope to start a family in the near future.

"Sometimes I think about how I was so lucky, so lucky. If the building had been thrown the other way I would have been dead. And it makes you realise what's important in life," Emma Greenslade said.

Looking back, she said that being labelled the "feel-good" story for a national tragedy had come at a heavy price.

She recalled being hounded by reporters, returning home to find post-it notes pinned to her front door and scores of daily voice mail messages.

She also had several regrets from the "crazy" three days before her February 25 wedding, including the faux pas of neglecting to wear waterproof mascara on the day and announcing her wedding venue on national radio.

"There are so many things I wish I said no to. I never thought I'd arrive at the church and there would be a whole party of cameras and radio. I wasn't nervous the whole day, but as soon as I saw them I was like, ‘Oh my God'."

It wasn't until weeks after the wedding that the pair discovered the families who had lost loved ones in the quake had been gathering at Burnside High School, for their daily briefing with police. The meeting was held across the road from their wedding venue, Christ the King Catholic Church, at the same time they were being married.

Their ceremony had held a moment's silence for those who had lost their lives in the quake. Greenslade said she felt incredible sadness for the families who had been left behind. However, on her wedding day she had been "in a wee bubble of happiness".

"I wasn't thinking about how positive it may be for the city at such a sad time; I was just thinking about us and how stoked I was that I could still marry Chris."

The Press