Lynley Bendall and Ally Wanikau, who have been together almost 14 years, wed onboard a special Air New Zealand flight from Queenstown to Auckland.
The leading ladies made their vows in front of friends and family, including their children Javarn (9), Maycee (7) and Mikaere (6), and Ally’s son Damon.
The pair exchanged pounamu (New Zealand greenstone) in place of traditional wedding bands before being pronounced as officially wed in front of actor and marriage equality campaigner Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who recently married his long-term partner Justin Mikita.
“It’s been an absolute pleasure to be able to celebrate this historic and joyous moment with Lynley and Ally. Marriage equality is something very dear to both Justin and me.”
Following the in-flight ceremony a pop-up choir surprised the couple and their guests, performing the Maori love song Pokarekare Ana which was sung in the New Zealand Parliament following the legalisation of same sex marriage in April.
Lynley says the couple has waited a long time to make their 13-year union official and she’s ecstatic to be able to call herself a newlywed.
“To be married at 30,000 feet beneath strings of fairy lights with our children, friends and family as witnesses makes an already memorable day that much more special. It was surreal to have Jesse play a part in the ceremony too – we’re big fans of Modern Family!”
Jesse and Justin gifted the couples’ children bow ties from their charity Tie The Knot which raises funds for the promotion of marriage equality.
Air New Zealand Chief People Officer Lorraine Murphy says the onboard ceremony was an unforgettable way to mark the law change. “The atmosphere onboard was incredibly festive and the applause following the couple’s vows was heartfelt. It was a great celebration of New Zealand’s diversity.”
The couple departs New Zealand tonight on an Air New Zealand service to Los Angeles for their honeymoon at a Palm Springs resort.