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Shorty star Jarod Rawiri says ‘I do!’

It was an untraditional day for Jarod Rawiri and Dolina Wehipeihana
Jarod and Dolina

Already an actor, artist and dad-of-four, Shortland Street star Jarod Rawiri is a man of many roles. But as his longtime love Dolina Wehipeihana sashays down the aisle at their picture-perfect, picnic-style wedding on the outskirts of Auckland, the acclaimed actor can’t contain his joy at the prospect of adding another title – that of husband – to his list.

Standing tall in a chambray suit, the Ferndale favourite grins from ear to ear as the mother of his children makes her way towards the grassy altar on a piece of his family’s ancestral land. Fourteen years since they first got together, the moment is understandably sentimental.

“I was speechless when I saw her,” he confesses later. “I’d asked not to be told anything about her wedding dress and it was better than I imagined. She looked beautiful. I was definitely moved. It’s hard to put into words.”

Jarod, 36, and contemporary dancer and choreographer Dolina, 39, first bonded over their respective creative pursuits, so it should come as little surprise that when planning their big day, tradition was thrown to the wind in favour of a more original affair.

“We definitely wanted every aspect to be special and to mean something to us,” explains Dolina, who has shunned the conventional white gown for a full-length floral frock designed by a friend, with bright blue tasselled heels on her feet.

Tender moment

The bride has both parents by her side as she walks down the aisle, planting kisses on their cheeks before delicately resting her hands in Jarod’s. Shaded from the sun under a marquee filled with pillows and picnic blankets, the pair are then serenaded by a waiata from their close friend, musician Tama Waipara.

Next up, the bride’s sister Kris reads a heartfelt poem by E.E. Cummings that Jarod dedicated to Dolina in the first year of their romance. Then before the vows begin,

the groom’s favourite theatre technique, audience participation, is employed to get family and friends to affirm that they will support and love the couple, with a resounding “we do!”.

There is laughter from the 200 guests as Dolina promises to help Jarod bring to life “all of his wonderful ideas”, then tears from the mother of the bride as Jarod says with a shaking voice, “You are my best friend, my lover, my mentor, my dance partner, my confidante. You challenge me every day to be better than the man I was yesterday.

“You hold my heart and make it stronger and richer with the gifts you have given me – our tamariki, your whanau, who I adore, and your friends, who I cherish. All that you are, I respect and embrace.”

Sealing the deal with a lengthy kiss, the newlyweds parade back down the aisle to ’80s classic “Give it Up” by KC & the Sunshine Band as their guests get up to dance.

The merriment continues later that evening as the pair welcome their loved ones back to the marquee for a picnic reception. Dolina’s dad Martin draws big laughs from the crowd as he tells Jarod, “I hope you’ve got a lot of money – you’re going to need it!” To which Jarod’s TV2 co-star Pua Magasiva responds, “He’s on Shortland Street!

However, the biggest laughs of the day are reserved for the groom himself, who stops mid-speech to compete in a dance battle, ripping his shorts while doing the splits.

“My dancing is a hidden talent that I only pull out on special occasions,” he laughs later. “The shorts splitting did throw me a little bit, though – I forgot a few moves after that. Luckily, I had a back-up outfit!”

See more of the stunning photos from the couple’s romantic big day here.

Jarod beams as his gorgeous bride walks down the aisle.

After 14 years together, the couple tied the knot in a romantic ceremony on Jarod’s family’s ancestral land.

Dolina was accompanied by both parents as she walked down the aisle.

“We definitely wanted every aspect to be special and to mean something to us,” said Dolina, who shunned the conventional white gown for a full-length floral frock designed by a friend.

Dolina says the wedding was better than they had hoped it would be. “It was very romantic. To take the time to celebrate each other and to say nice things to each other was amazing,” she says.

Happy family: The couple’s children Huia, Iarere, Tyla and Te Marino.

“I do feel really different – happier,” Jarod says. “I’m loving that I can now tell everyone I have a wife. I’m looking forward to doing some showing off!”

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