Married Via Message in a Bottle – The Elffers

Life in a Bottle

When Annie Rivet was 10 years old, she could not have known that she was about to step into a fairy tale. Annie’s parents took her from their home in Edinburgh, Scotland, to France for holiday in 1963, according to The Times. En route, on a ferry, she tossed a simple message in a bottle into the English channel. But she was only 10, and simply curious where it would wash up. Her gesture was not intended to be what it eventually became: A real-life message in a bottle love story.

She explained to The Times: “I liked stories about pirates and that’s how I knew about messages in bottles. So when my parents took me to France on holiday, I had my Tizer bottle ready and threw it in the sea halfway across the Channel. The note, which we still have, said: ‘Anyone finding this message please send to Annie Rivet,’ with my address in Edinburgh, ‘stating where found. Thank you. Merci Bien.’ I thought it would end up in France.”

July 31st, 1963

Anyone finding this message, please send to

A.C. Rivet

58, Belgrave Road


Edinburgh, 12,


Stating where found.

Thank You

Merci Bien

Instead, Niels Elffers found the bottle washed ashore in the Netherlands. Amazingly, Niels was also 10 at the time, according to The Sun. They began to write to each other frequently. “I just kept on writing to her. I don’t know why — I just did,” Niels told The Times.

First Meetings

Annie and Niels first met in person two years later when both were 12. They got along just as well as they had in their letters, and so, they kept on writing each other after that meeting. But they didn’t meet again for almost another decade.

When Annie and Niels were both 20, Niels’s family invited her to spend a week with them in Holland. Even after this meeting, there was no romance between them. But they stayed in touch.

How to Fall in Love Via Message in a Bottle  & Adventure

One day in their early twenties, they realized that they were both planning to travel around France at about the same time, so they teamed up–for, let’s say, the sake of efficiency 🙂 At this point, the story turns and becomes less about the bottle, really, and more about how they got along, and what they saw in each other.

Sadly I have not had the chance to speak with Annie and Niels (though I would LOVE to, obviously! Ask them to drop me a line if you know them, hey?), but I do not have to be a genius to do this math: A young couple, friends from childhood, connected in a magical way, go on an adventure through France alone in their early twenties…If they didn’t fall in love, well, that would be truly astonishing! But of course they did, because that is what messages in bottles are: Pure magic, time after time.

After this adventure through France and romance, they moved to the Netherlands together where they married in 1978, according to The Times. This made them one of very few couples to get married as the result of a message in a bottle–the other famous couple being Ake and Paolina Wiking. Like Ake and Paolina, Annie and Niels went on to raise two children, and eventually moved back to England where they now live.

Real Life Message in a Bottle Love Story - Annie and Niels Elffers

Annie Elffers (nee Rivet) and Niels Elffers. Photo: The Sun.

A Real Life Message in a Bottle Love Story

It seems to me that the UK is home to a disproportionate share of the world’s great mythological love stories, but this one strides into the realm of reality. One fascinating myth concerning the UK is not a message in a bottle love story, but the legend of Queen Elizabeth I’s “Official Uncorker of Ocean Bottles”.

Of course, the UK is an island nation, connected to the rest of the world by water. Isn’t it fitting that one of her greatest love stories ever should have been born in the English Channel?

I say it all the time, but it’s stories like this one that really prove it: Messages in bottles are the closest to magic we can get. Cheers to Annie and Niels and their beautiful, real-life message in a bottle love story!