Weddings

Olympian and America's Cup sailor Joe Sullivan's magical wedding

Not even a sudden downpour could dampen the day for the loved-up pair.

By: Kelly Bertrand

As a gold medal-winning Olympic rower and America's Cup cyclor, water has been a big part of Joe Sullivan's life for as long as he can remember.

But standing in front of Auckland's magnificent Hunua Falls, hand-in-hand with his beautiful bride Jordyn Raggett-Brierley, 23, as the heavens open and raindrops pelt down, even Joe, 30, admits he could have done with a little less of it on his big day!

"Ah, what can you do?" he grins as he rushes to grab a couple of umbrellas to shield Jordyn from the sudden downpour. "Everything has a way of working out – today's no different!"

And despite the weather meaning the loved-up Auckland couple's ceremony has had to be hastily moved into their reception venue – a rustic shed on the grounds of the Country House Farm in Brookby – it's still a beaming Joe who's waiting at the end of the makeshift altar. Fairy lights twinkle overhead as the first strains of Ellie Goulding's "Love Me Like You Do" ring out.

And finally his beloved bride, stunning in her Sue Barrett Bespoke lace gown, emerges at the back of the venue and makes her way down the aisle on the arm of her mum Jo Brierley.

"Seeing her walk towards me ... it's just one of those really special moments in life," he says of his partner of four years.

"It felt better than any competition I've ever won. She's stunning. I can't even describe it."

Adds Jordyn, "I was just focusing on Joe the entire time. I was really comfortable and relaxed. And just so, so happy."

Clutching each other's hands, the couple turn to their celebrant, Olympic bronze medallist Nathan Twaddle, who welcomes the 170 guests and offers words of comfort.

"I know the weather hasn't exactly played ball today," he begins, "but fear not. This is my fourth Olympic gold-medal wedding. The other four also ended up in the rain and I'm happy to say they're still married – which is pretty good!

"Joe and Jordyn are the epitome of a progressive, modern romance – from how they first met [on dating app Tinder] to their aspirations for today's gathering, which is to have a good party!"

Nathan then reminds the guests – who include Joe's rowing buddies Mahé and Juliette Drysdale, and Nathan Cohen, as well as fellow America's Cup cyclor Simon Van Velthoven – of the bride and groom's differences.

And while it's not quite a case of "opposites attract", the pair definitely complement each other, he tells. Jordyn pushes Joe to keep striving and challenging himself, while the boy from Picton has introduced his bride to the power of "winging it", Nathan quips, earning a laugh from the crowd. Then, finally, it's time for the vows.

Joe promises to respect and support his new wife, vowing to always better himself, love Jordyn through the good times and bad, and do anything he can just to make her smile.

Mahé and Juliette Drysdale.

Jordyn, in turn, vows to treat every day with Joe as an honour, to always be there for her husband, to support, encourage and lift him, and to forever give him the best of herself.

After exchanging their stunning Grae Jewellery rings – Nathan throwing the empty ring box into the crowd when he realises he has nowhere to put it – Joe and Jordyn are announced as husband and wife, then they share a passionate smooch.

"It's instantly sunk in for me," Jordyn says just moments after. "I am Mrs Sullivan and it feels great! It feels so right already. And I feel really, really lucky. I managed to meet an amazing man!"

"I'm just so stoked," adds Joe. "It's been a very 'us' day – and now there's a mixture of relief that it's over, and excitement that it's happened! It's an overwhelming feeling, like we've just managed to achieve something great.

While their nearest and dearest turn their attention to dinner – aptly, the menu is pizza, with the pair getting engaged in Italy last year – Joe takes a moment and turns to his new wife, giving her a squeeze as he looks down at his shiny
new ring.

"I'm looking forward to spending my life with my perfect match."