It was a case of third time lucky when Olympic bronze medallist Jonelle Richards walked down the aisle at an idyllic New Zealand hideaway. So used to riding wear, the equestrienne went through two wedding gowns before finally selecting the perfect dress just a fortnight before her big day.
Jonelle (32), who’s based in Wiltshire in the UK, had bought the first gown over the internet, but once she tried it on, she didn't like it. And the same thing happened a second time.
”The first one didn't suit me. The second one I thought I could change, but it didn't work. After that, I thought I'd better go and try some on, but in England everything was big layers and patterns so I decided to wait until I got to New Zealand. The day after I arrived, I went into the shop and just picked one,“ she explains.
Jonelle tied the knot with her partner of 11 years, Tim Price, in the simple off-the-shoulder ivory gown she eventually found at Christchurch’s Davis Bridal. In his speech, Tim (33) joked that Jonelle had collected enough wedding dresses to open her own bridal boutique.
Both professional riders who lease a farm in the UK where they train horses, the couple were pleased to take a break from work for their animal-free, three-day wedding last month.
The ceremony has topped off a great year for the rider, who was part of the bronze-winning New Zealand equestrian team in London, where she rode her horse Flinstar, bred by Tim's parents in New Zealand.
Tim and Jonelle, who met when they were both eventing in Christchurch in 1998, have lived in the UK for eight years and become good friends with fellow equestrian Zara Phillips, the Queen’s granddaughter.
Unfortunately, Zara couldn’t make it to the wedding. Instead, it was a big family affair, with Jonelle's uncle Rick stepping in as celebrant, and Jonelle's parents sharing the honour of giving her away – despite having been separated for 25 years.
“They're still very good friends and it definitely makes life easier,” she says. Tim and Jonelle were also good friends for almost three years before they got together. “We didn't hook up until I turned 21. It took us time to realise maybe we should,” Jonelle recalls.
When Tim broke his leg in 2010, he decided to pop the question. “He suddenly had a lot of time on his hands,” says Jonelle, “so I think that's how we got engaged.”
“I didn't want to rush into it,” Tim argues. “I'm a bit old fashioned and I wanted to do it when I could afford a nice ring.”
Tim presented Jonelle with a platinum and diamond ring and the pair chose Furneaux Lodge on the Queen Charlotte track in the Marlborough Sounds for their ceremony because, Jonelle says, “A few people were travelling from England and we wanted somewhere where everybody could stay.”
While the newlyweds say living and working together is a blessing, as they might otherwise not see each other, there is a downside to spending every moment as a couple. “It can put more pressure on a relationship when you're together all day every day,” explains Jonelle.
Thankfully, their personalities complement each other and Tim is one of his wife’s biggest fans. “She's got a truckload of determination,” he says. “She's very un appable. She knows who she is and what she wants. “I guess, at times, I'm a bit more delicate and she's a bit more stern and sometimes it's the other way round.”
Jonelle adds that finally walking down the aisle after an 11-year partnership has been a highlight in her life. “It was a bit overdue but good things take time.”