The storm clouds gathered and the rain teemed down, but for once the elements were way down TVNZ Breakfast weather presenter Tamati Coffey's priority list.
"A lot of
our best friends are girls, so Tim decided that, as we don't have a bride, we'd dress the girls up like showgirls. Each girl picked the colour they wanted and Buckwheat went over to Thailand and had the outfits made for them," says Tamati. "Our culture is that we're gay and we do live in this crazy world, so we wanted to include it in our day and include all our family and friends within it."
Glitz and glamour were the order of the day as he and his partner of almost five years, Tim Smith, were joined in a civil union in front of 150 family and friends. The colourful Auckland ceremony included showgirls for bridesmaids, dogs in feather boas, Jason Gunn as MC and wedding-party choreography by Candy Lane.
"That hot northerly has ensured it's humid and with the rain it's a little bit warm. But this day is so full on, things are getting a little bit hot!" jokes the weatherman, who, along with Tim, wore a top hat and tails for his big day.
The couple had planned to make a grand entrance by jet-boating to The Wharf, their seafront venue on Auckland's North Shore, but stormy seas necessitated a quick change of plan, so they arrived by car.
They were met by their unusual and colourful wedding party – eight friends in showgirl outfits, their "maître d", close friend Matt Jackson, and professional drag queens Buckwheat and Tess Tickle.
The wedding was a flamboyant affair from the start. Buckwheat and Tess kicked off with a dance for the 150 guests, while the showgirls joined them, arriving to the medley from the Whoopi Goldberg movie Sister Act 2. As the music changed to Sister Sledge's We Are Family, Tamati and Tim, both 32, danced down the pink carpet together, each on the arm of their respective mums, Rangi and Chris, to huge applause from the audience.
The ceremony itself opened with a typically upbeat speech from Jason Gunn, who had the audience in stitches of laughter, before close friend and marriage celebrant Suaree Borell said the words that bound the pair for life.
But the big day nearly didn't happen after Suaree discovered that to conduct the gay couple's civil union, she had to file a new set of papers, despite recently qualifying as a celebrant.
The 40-minute ceremony featured moving speeches from several of Tamati and Tim's gay and lesbian coupled friends, who talked about what love means to them. Tears flowed freely as Tamati and Tim said their simple vows – which they had written only hours before, while spending the night prior to the wedding at Auckland's Langham Hotel.
"I actually finished writing my vows in the hairdresser's chair this morning!" laughs Tamati. "We're both guys – we're not that great at planning."
"I know it goes against tradition to spend the night before the wedding together, but not much about this day is traditional," adds Tim. "The whole point of the day is that it reflects us."
Ring bearers: Typically for the easygoing couple, laughter was never far away as the day progressed. The pair's beloved dogs, Ali and Anzac, were dressed in pink feather boas and acted as ring bearers. Tamati and Tim exchanged matching platinum, gold and diamond rings.
Tim's mother Chris Smith proudly presented Tamati with a korowai (Maori cloak), which the Smith family had made and blessed especially for him.
"The night before the wedding, Tim asked me to sleep next to it, to bless it with our love," explains Chris, who was the first to learn of the pair's plan to tie the knot when Tamati rang her in England to ask her permission to wed her son.
Special touches: the couple exchanged matching platinum, gold and diamond bands on the day.
"I love Tamati and I'm so pleased our families are joined. This is a real honour."
As the pair's union was made official, a huge cheer erupted from the delighted crowd.
Then a "pop-up band", which included several brass players dotted secretly around the room, played The Beatles' All You Need Is Love. Tamati and Tim even threw a bouquet "for any of the girls here who want to get married", which was expertly caught by showgirl Maree.
The party then enjoyed Champagne and canapés before sitting down to a dinner of prawn martinis, manuka-smoked kingfish and bombe Alaska with orange chocolate- chip ice cream, followed by "Tower of Balls" wedding cakes.
The musical theme continued throughout the night, with the pair opening the dance floor with their first dance to Bruno Mars' Count On Me, before the party continued into the early hours.
"There wasn't really a template for our wedding, so we opted for a day that blended all of our families together. My family in England, Tamati's family in New Zealand, our cultural families and our 'rainbow' family that's created from our friends," explains Tim, whose family travelled from England for the big day.
Tamati's family, led by his beloved mum Rangi, looked after all 28 of the Brits at AUT University's marae for several days, where the Brits enjoyed traditional Kiwi hospitality. Tim's family took over the marae's kitchen the night before the wedding and cooked an enormous Lancashire hotpot for the blended family.
Both Tamati and Tim are very close to their mums and both ladies shed a few tears as their boys declared their commitment to each other. "I'm very proud of Tamati," says Rangi. "He's true to who he is and he's with someone who loves him and cares for him. That's what every mum wants for their son."
While the newlyweds are delighted with their new status, Tamati is aware there will be some who disagree with his decision to legalise his relationship with his same-sex partner. But as he points out, the gay community disagrees just as strongly with the fact that same-sex couples can't get married in New Zealand.
"At the moment we have this second-class citizen thing called a 'civil union'," he explains. "As much as I wanted to wait for us to be able to marry as the rest of society do, I'll take the current option, as life's too short."
Despite his feelings on being treated differently, the charming TV favourite says he isn't trying to change anybody's mind. "Tim is beautiful, he makes me laugh and he's passed all the little challenges that all couples set each other. He's right for me," Tamati says.
"Not everyone will agree with us having a legal union and I can't change people's opinions. But I believe in people working things out for themselves. All I hope is that when people see our photos, they will realise what we have is love, which the world always needs more of. It's a perfectly valid form of life, just like anyone else's."
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