Dame Jacinda Ardern and Clarke Gayford have released their first official wedding photos, following an intimate ceremony in Hawke’s Bay.
After almost five years of engagement, and one cancellation due to a global pandemic, the pair said ‘I do’ in front of around 50-75 guests beneath a canopy of trees at Craggy Range Winery on Saturday.
Cheers rang out across the venue as the newlyweds made their way from the ceremony to what looked to be a reception area.
Ardern wore a white, halter neck dress, custom-made by fashion designer Juliette Hogan, while Gayford wore a black suit, custom-made by Zambesi, with a white shirt and black tie.
Their 5-year-old daughter, Neve, walked down the aisle with her father, wearing a dress made from Ardern’s mother’s wedding dress.
The marriage was officiated by close friend and former deputy prime minister Grant Robertson.
The couple were tight-lipped about the big day, but Stuff understands the ceremony was small – with mostly family, very close friends and a few politicians.
Preparations at the venue kicked off early on Saturday, with umbrellas being set up as temperatures soared.
As afternoon approached, guests began to arrive, including former prime minister Chris Hipkins and partner Toni Grace.
Other guests spotted at the venue included fashion designer Juliette Hogan, chef Peter Gordon, former deputy leader of the Labour Party Kelvin Davis, former speakfer of the house Trevor Mallard, former press secretary Andrew Campbell and High Commissioner of New Zealand to Australia Annette King.
Robertson was dressed for the heat, sporting a t-shirt, shorts and a sailor’s hat.
Davis said he was feeling good in anticipation of the wedding.
Kiwi singers Hollie Smith, Marlon Williams and Tali also attended.
With on-site accomodation, many of the guests stayed overnight, but some have been staying in the townships nearby.
Guests were greeted by a security guard who let them through the venue’s gates after identifying them on a list of attendees.
Once at the main building, guests could either walk or take a golf cart to the back of the venue where the ceremony was held.
At least three distinct sections had been set up for the wedding, one which looked to be a bar area hidden in the shade of a tree line, a dining area and an area for guests to gather after their arrival.
Staff spent the morning setting up in the tent where Ardern is believed to be having her reception.
The gates were closed to the public, with ArmourGuard security posted across the grounds. One stood mostly hidden from view at the front gate, questioning workers arriving by car before letting them in.
Members of the public were stopping outside the venue regularly to try and get a peek at the high-profile couple.
Police arrived at the venue around 1pm to address a small group of protesters.
About 3pm, a helicopter was circling the venue as a Daily Mail photographer took pictures out the window, prompting police to make enquiries. The helicopter had left by 4pm.
Local cyclist Eli Anderson had stopped on her morning ride to have a look at the wedding venue. Anderson said she normally goes a different route on Saturday mornings but decided to change it to see what was happening.
When asked if she was surprised the wedding was being held in the Hawke’s Bay region, Anderson said she wasn’t, as “this place is sick.”
“Look”, she said, pointing around at the views, “where else would you have it.”The couple deserved a great day, she said.
On Friday afternoon, as preparations began, a large white gazebo tent had been erected at the venue, in the middle of a vineyard.
Staff could be seen setting up the area, which had rows of long wooden tables and chairs.
Former Speaker of the House Trevor Mallard, a close friend of the former leader, is also expected to attend, as is Ardern’s successor and former prime minister Chris Hipkins.
The weather has turned on for the high-profile wedding, with temperatures expected to soar to almost 30C.
It was a long road for the couple to get to the official ceremony on Saturday with the Covid-19 pandemic putting a stop to their previous wedding plans.
The pair met at the Metro Restaurant Awards event in 2012, with Ardern attending as a guest of model and TV personality Colin Mathura-Jeffree, who’d featured on the cover of that month’s Metro magazine.
Shortly after first taking office as prime minister in 2017, Ardern announced she was pregnant, and gave birth in 2018 to their first child together, daughter Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford.
It was announced in May 2019 that the pair were engaged, after an Easter weekend trip to Mahia, a beach settlement on the North Island’s east coast, near Gayford’s hometown of Gisborne.
Ardern was then spotted with a diamond while she was at a ceremony in Pike River just a few weeks later.
Wedding plans were set down for the summer of 2022, but the government, led by Ardern, tightened gathering rules due to the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
After announcing the decision, the then-prime minister said “such is life” and that many other people had suffered much worse effects from the pandemic than a wedding disruption.
“My wedding will not be going ahead, but I just join many other New Zealanders who have had an experience like that as a result of the pandemic.
“And to anyone who’s caught up in that scenario, I’m so sorry, but we’re all so resilient, and I know we understand that we’re doing this for one another.”