The Craggy Range vineyard in Hawke’s Bay echoed with cheering as former prime minister Dame Jacinda Ardern and Clarke Gayford tied the knot at an intimate ceremony on Saturday afternoon.
Standing in a copse of trees, the duo exchanged vows surrounded by 50-75 of their closest friends and family.
The big day came five years after the couple’s engagement and a wedding cancellation in 2022, due to Covid-19 gathering restrictions imposed by Ardern’s government.
Following the ceremony, Ardern emerged from the shade, before turning back and throwing her bouquet into the crowd.
Ardern wore a white-sleeveless dress, custom-made by Juliette Hogan, with shoes from Chaos and Harmony.
Gayford went for the classic black suit look, which was a custom-made Zambesi.
Their wedding rings were designed by jeweller Zoe and Morgan.
The duo wound their way through the grape vines after the ceremony – their photographer in tow – and headed to a shaded area to enjoy some drinks with attendees.
Their daughter, five-year-old Neve, was spotted enjoying the celebrations after walking up the aisle with her father, in a dress made with fabric from her grandmother’s wedding dress.
Long-time friend and former deputy prime minister Grant Robertson – earlier spotted at the venue wearing shorts, a sailor’s hat and jandals – officiated the ceremony.
Leader of the opposition, Chris Hipkins, arrived with a bus load of people, including his new partner Toni Grace.
Also on the guest list was dress designer Juliette Hogan, High Commissioner to Australia Annette King, former MP Kelvin Davis, former speaker of the house Sir Trevor Mallard and chef Peter Gordon.
Family and friends milled around for a few hours in the shade, before heading into a large gazebo, where rows of wooden dining tables were set up the day before.
The food served by the Craggy Range restaurant is award-winning. According to social media, the paua and snapper sausage rolls were a hit amongst celebrity guests, including singers Hollie Smith and Marlon Williams and Ardern’s hair stylist Tāne Tomoana.
The pair couldn’t have chosen a better day weather-wise, as the sun didn’t stop shining all day, with a light breeze to take the edge of the heat.
The day was not without some issues though, as around ten vaccine mandate protesters showed up and set up camp outside the venue.
The group covered the front entrance with signs and blasted music that criticised Ardern, the mandates, the government and the media.
Another issue, which appeared to delay the ceremony, was a small helicopter with a Daily Mail photographer, which circled the venue for up to 20 minutes.
Police on the ground were helpless to do anything about the chopper, but told journalists outside the venue that their office-based colleagues were working on the issue.
Security was tight at the vineyard, with big electric gates barring entry to anyone not on an approved guest list.
The venue, which sits at the foothills of Te Mata Peak, has accomodation on site for up to 30, with the biggest lodge sleeping up to eight.
All the accomodation was booked out for the wedding, with the venue closed to the public on Saturday.
Staff could be seen preparing for the high-profile event throughout the morning, dipping into shaded areas for respite from the sun when possible.
From 8am, umbrellas were up, marquees were being checked over and chilled beverages were being moved into place.
Florists, musicians and photographers soon arrived, around two hours before guests showed up.
Ardern previously visited the venue, dining at the restaurant in May 2020.
“Honoured to have had Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern dine with us last night. Thank you for coming and supporting Hawke’s Bay!” the venue posted at the time.