They call themselves an “unconventional” couple, so the wedding of actors Mike Edward and Eve Gordon was never going to be what you would call a traditional affair.
Mike (38), who is most well-known for his role as bad boy Zac Smith on TV2’s Shortland Street, and The Almighty Johnsons goddess Eve (31) have known each other for more than a decade – and been in love for the last three years.
Rather than promise to love, honour and obey on their wedding day, the couple chose a far more pragmatic and, in their view, honest way of expressing their deep affection – which happened to include black water rafting, croquet and driftwood.
“Weddings have a pretty strange history,” says Eve.
“The word husband originally meant owner, while the word wife is loaded with connotations and expectations.
“We didn’t want to associate our relationship with any of that, but we did want to celebrate our love.”
Accompanied by their best friends Rochelle, Ascia, Ed and Geoff – all actors and trapeze artists that work with Mike and Eve at their theatre company, The Dust Palace – and Mike’s two children, Ella (13) and Ali (4), the couple embarked on a day of fun, laughter and celebration.
Starting in Waitomo, the wedding party, minus Ali, began the day with an adrenaline-pumping black water rafting experience, alternating between jumping off waterfalls and floating through the famed glowworm caves.
“These sorts of things give you a crazy sense of perspective and a feeling of awe,” says Eve.
“It just makes you feel so alive and makes you think, ‘Oh my God, isn’t the world so much bigger and intense than we are!’”
“That was so, so, so fun!” exclaims Ella, who had been desperate to get in the water all morning and loves the look of her “ninja” wetsuit.
“Ella and Eve are best friends,” Mike says, watching his wife-to-be and daughter hug after emerging from the river.
“The biggest reason that we’re doing this is for the kids,” Eve adds. “It’s to formalise us as a unit – a family. It was a given for both the kids to be here.”
After changing out of their wetsuits and into wedding attire – Mike into shorts and Eve into a white bridal blazer and glittery grey leggings – the group makes its way to Point Chevalier Croquet Club by limousine.
Here, there is a nod to tradition with a typically English lunch of cucumber sandwiches, scones, lemonade and Pimm’s laid out for the guests.
“When I was a kid, my grandparents had a croquet set and I loved it,” says Eve with a smile.
“I just thought it would be heaps of fun and something that our friends would love.”
After another outfit change into “croquet whites”, the group is joined by Ali, and a spirited game ensues, with bewildered club regulars looking on.
As everyone else enjoys their games, Mike takes a quiet moment to play with Ali, who is taking after his 1.8m dad when it comes to height.
“Ali’s definitely going to be taller than me. I hope he can play lock,” laughs Mike, clearly relishing this time with his son as he tries to teach him how to swing a mallet.
From there, the bridal party heads to Auckland’s Westhaven Marina to board a launch owned by a friend of the couple, Scotty.
Also joining the group is fellow actor Tainui Tukiwaho, an old friend of Eve, who is presiding over the ceremony.
“He is the perfect person to be marrying us,” Eve says, hugging Tainui tightly as the boat battles through high seas and strong winds to Motutapu Island on the Hauraki Gulf. Typically for the laid-back couple, finding a location for their actual ceremony wasn’t planned.
“We just wanted to cruise out there and go for a place that looked cool,” says Eve.
As the sun sets, a small break in the weather allows the boat to dock on the island’s wharf.
Mike, Eve and friends venture onto the beach where, quite miraculously, there is not a breath of wind.
“This is amazing,” Mike says, looking around at the pink-hued sky. “Let’s do it here,” pointing to a clearing overlooking the entire Hauraki Gulf.
Mike, after a quick search with Ali, finds a gnarled piece of driftwood and sets it down at his and Eve’s feet for the “most important” – if only – tradition of the day (jumping over a broom or piece of wood is a custom to signify crossing the threshold.)
“Our hearts go out to you, through space and time,” says Tainui, in both English and te reo. “Through the support of your gathered loved ones, the ‘heart of the totara’ can grow, and so too will your love. Allow your spirits and bodies to join and grow as the totara, to its full potential.
“Be resolute and hold strong. Agreed! Gather one, gather all, it shall be.”
As their children and friends look on, Mike and Eve then exchange carefully written and heartfelt vows.
“I love you,” both start, Mike already blinking back tears, before they begin the vows. “I’m very happy to be married to you and have you as part of my family. Today it is my wish to grow old with you beside me.”
And with a jump over the driftwood, their emotional ceremony is complete.
While there are no rings or even a marriage certificate, this is exactly what the pair wanted – for legal reasons they later married “officially” at a registry office in Auckland
“Circus performers can’t wear rings and we decided we’d like the Queen to preside over our promise to the state,” says Mike, referring to a picture of the monarch on the registry office wall.
“We just wanted the day to be fun and about us – not the conventions,” says Eve.
“There’s no point promising anything to each other because what if things change?”
As the party moves on to Waiheke Island for dinner at restaurant The Oyster Inn, Mike and Eve grin as they reflect on how their day is exactly what they had imagined.
“I only agreed to get married as long as I could wear a sparkly unitard,” Eve laughs.
“I couldn’t have wanted anything more,” she says, looking up at Mike. “It was absolutely perfect.”
Mike wears rodd & Gunn, Frank Casey formal suit hire newmarket