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Nuptial nans: Bridesmaids and wise maids

Margareth Orange, left, Sam Orange, and Janet Wilton. PHOTO/SOUMYA BHAMIDIPATI

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They could be New Zealand’s oldest bridesmaids, but these two nans are ready for a knees-up.

Margaret Orange, 93, and Janet Wilton, 85, were left speechless when their granddaughter Samantha Orange asked them both to be bridesmaids at her wedding today.

“I thought she was pulling my leg,” Janet said.

“I didn’t believe it for a minute, not for an old person like me … but you can’t pull my leg now, it’s sore.”

Margaret also thought it was a joke at first.

“I was just gob-smacked,” she said.

“It was very emotional.

“I think that was one of my first thoughts when she gave us the card was ‘When is the wedding, November? Oh, I’ve got to stay alive until then!’”

Today will be Janet’s first time as a bridesmaid.

Margaret was first a bridesmaid when she was about 25 years old.

“It’s the second time for me, [I was a bridesmaid] once many years ago with a girl I flatted with.”

Samantha gave each nan a card with a gold foil heart on the front.

The gold scratched off to reveal the big question: ‘Will you be my bridesmaid?’

“A gold heart, like a lottery scratchy. You’ve won big!” Samantha said.

“I vividly remember both of their facial emotions. They were both quiet. One of them said ‘You’ve given me the wrong card’.

“Then I think we switched you both from a cup of tea to a champers.”

Her friends have dubbed themselves the BSU – Bridal Squad Unit.

They helped to throw her hens do – a high tea at the Copthorne Hotel – and planned to help with some of the more physical tasks on the day, like fluffing out the wedding dress.

“I don’t want anybody popping a hip!” Samantha said.

Margaret and Janet have been to all of Samantha’s dress fittings and chose their own bridesmaid dresses.

“I think the what to wear was a big concern, perhaps thinking I would pick something they were uncomfortable in,” Samantha said.

“I asked the florist if she’d bring some extra flowers to put on the walker.”

She described her nans as “girlfriends before I knew what girlfriends were” and said hanging out with them was a pretty regular activity.

“It’s nice to be called a girlfriend, isn’t it? It’s been a long time since I’ve been a girlfriend,” Janet said.

She and husband Gordon had been married for 65 years.

The key to a good marriage? “Just be normal, just be yourselves.”

Margaret has been married to her husband Bill for 66 years.

“Trust and respect are very important, and you’ve got to listen to the other side,” Margaret said.

“Family is important.”

Both grandmothers are very proud of their granddaughter.

“She’s beautiful, she’s organised, she’s just wonderful. She’s giving and loving,” Margaret said.

“She keeps us alive and keeps us out of a rest home!”

For Samantha, choosing her nans as her bridesmaids was a no-brainer.

“I’m very lucky to have all my grandparents, and there’s no rules, so why not? I couldn’t be happier,” she said, “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed having them with me through the whole process.

“What’s unusual to me is the interest, why aren’t more people picking their nans, aunts and mums? I can’t wait to get ready with my nans and share the morning with them.”

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