As she continues to guide the country through the daily crises of a pandemic, Jacinda Ardern has booked in some well-deserved time off for what's bound to be a most memorable day – her summer wedding.
"We have finally got a date!" the Prime Minister shared while discussing fiancé Clarke Gayford with radio station Coast. "When I say we've got a date, that doesn't mean we've told anyone yet, so we should probably put some invites out."
Jacinda, 40, confirmed the event was scheduled for summer, which will be "nice". She also indicated she's not planning a super-traditional ceremony.
"I feel a bit too old to have a bridal party," she confessed. "I don't know if it's just me, but I feel like there are some things, because I'm getting on a bit, I just need to forgo."
The wedding will come as the pair near 10 years since meeting at a restaurant awards ceremony in 2012. They later reconnected after Clarke, 44, wrote to his local Labour MP about a proposed security bill amendment. She arranged coffee to discuss his concerns and before long, he was taking her on their first date – a low-key fishing trip.
"It was literally Jacinda's first cast and she was like, 'Ooh, something's pulling!'" Clarke told New Zealand Woman's Weekly about the hook-up. "She pulled in a 5.4kg snapper and she said, 'Is that good?' I was like, 'That's real good!'"
Four years later, Jacinda replaced Labour leader Andrew Little as head of the party and just months after that, she discovered she was pregnant – days before being sworn in as Prime Minister.
"This year, we'll join the many parents who wear two hats," she declared. "I'll be PM and a mum while Clarke will be 'first man of fishing' and stay-at-home dad."
Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford arrived on June 21, 2018 and by the cutie's first birthday, Clarke had proposed using Jacinda's grandmother's engagement ring atop Mokotahi Hill in Mahia, Hawke's Bay, where the family were holidaying over Easter.
"There was a beautiful outlook – there was Clarke, myself and a member of the DPS," the PM shared afterwards, referring to the diplomatic protection service that trails her every move nowadays.
Since then, there's barely been time for wedding planning, given the turmoil Jacinda has led Aotearoa through, including the Whakaari/White Island eruption and the COVID-19 pandemic. Through it all, Clarke has frequently taken the parenting reins while also juggling projects like his TV series Fish Of The Day.
Being in a relationship with the PM hasn't always been easy, admits Clarke. "It sounds strange, but I cannot pick up the phone and ring my partner – she's just that busy. Some days, her schedule is 15-minute blocks, with meetings in that, so it's very, very difficult just to have that communication going."
Yet the pair have made it work, with Clarke praising Jacinda for finding time for whaˉnau, despite that hectic timetable. On her 40th, he posted, "Happy birthday to my favourite achiever in the whole wide world, someone who, despite everything on her plate, still finds time to squeeze lots of fun, love and happiness into our wee family unit."
So, what can we expect from the wedding of the summer? Chances are, Jacinda will have international designers clamouring to dress her, but since she has so frequently supported the local fashion industry, she'll almost certainly go with a Kiwi bridal designer, such as Trish Peng, Hera Couture or Rue De Seine.
And thanks to Clarke's love of fishing, seafood will be a big part of the wedding, especially crayfish, which often features on his social media – and played a role in their first dates. "In the early days, I would turn up at her house with crayfish," Clarke recalls.
Both known for their DJ skills, the couple have also bonded over music, so they'll likely incorporate some Kiwi tunes, perhaps with a performance from their friend Hollie Smith, Shapeshifter or Teeks.
Regardless, it'll be a joyous day for our PM, who admitted that before Clarke, she spent "a good amount of time in not particularly good relationships". Of her husband-to-be, she adds, "Realising you have someone you really adore – that's the stuff that makes me happy."
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