Ally Wanikau and Lynley Bendall don’t usually like a fuss. For this quietly content couple, a star-studded, public wedding ceremony would appear out of character.
So it was quite a surprise to family and friends when the pair announced they were getting married on an Air New Zealand plane, 30,000 feet in the air, with Modern Family star Jesse Tyler Ferguson in attendance, after winning a national competition.
“It’s a bit crazy, isn’t it?” Lynley laughs, as she and wife of one hour, Ally, stand among a gaggle of media at Auckland Airport.
“We just can’t believe we’re married. It was nothing like we expected, but it’s been amazing. Awesome. Incredible!”
Extraordinarily happy, albeit slightly overwhelmed, Ally and Lynley, who are mums to Javarn (9), Maycee (7) and Mikaere (6), joined more than 30 other gay Kiwi couples getting married last Monday, when the Marriage Amendment Act came into law.
The couple, who met at the childcare centre where they both worked in 1999, walked down the aisle of the specially chartered and decorated plane in front of 20 friends and family. Ronan Keating’s When You Say Nothing at All played, as both brides were escorted by their children and best men Ken Pedderson and Andy Lawrie.
Jesse, who plays Mitchell on the hit TV3 show, toasted the couple before their vows.
“A successful marriage requires you to fall in love many, many times with the same person,” he said, looking tenderly at his husband Justin Mikita, who he married in New York only a month ago.
Saying the words they recited to each other at their civil union in 2009, Ally and Lynley again promised to love and accept each other fully as they are, and delight in what is to come.
Despite feeling married for 12 years, the couple wanted to make their union official for the sake of their children.
“I was going to propose to Ally on the night the bill went through, but the day before, she says, ‘I think we should get married.’ So that surprise didn’t work. We’ve waited 14 years and she ruins it the night before!” Lynley jokes.
Speaking to the Weekly at the reception in an Air New Zealand hangar, Jesse says he’s incredibly lucky to have been a part of this special day, adding, “It’s been a fast visit to New Zealand, but we love it here.”
As they departed for their week-long honeymoon, the newlyweds agree the wedding couldn’t have been better.
“At the end of the day, Ally’s my best friend,” says Lynley. “Everything is perfect.”