It's not often a beaming bride stands with two loves of her life at the altar, each vying for her attention. But for Football Ferns star Olivia Chance, her romantic lakeside ceremony didn't just include the affection of her new husband Robert Le Guen.
The couple's beloved 10-year-old golden retriever cross Gooner brought the ceremony to a momentary halt when he refused to walk down the aisle in his tuxedo with the flower girls. Instead, the lovable rescue dog only wanted to stroll with his Olympic athlete mum, who was surprised to discover she was pregnant during the FIFA Women's World Cup last July.
"Gooner was meant to walk down as the ring bearer and stand with Rob, which we'd practised at the rehearsal – they had matching suits," laughs Tauranga-born Olivia, 30, chatting to Woman's Day shortly after the ceremony. "He got a bit of stage fright and just stared, so he came down with my mum and me!"
It was a hot, still afternoon when the wedding unfolded at Cambridge's The Boatshed Karapiro, exactly nine years after Olivia and Rob began dating. A decadent doughnut wall was one highlight planned by the food-loving couple, inspired by a date they shared in Manchester. There was also a massive ice-cream bar and an array of lawn games for their "competitive" families.
But it was Olivia who stole the show in her backless lace gown, which accommodated her growing 30-week baby bump thanks to regular dress fittings leading up to the big day. As she walked down the aisle to the Ruelle tune I Get To Love You, strength and conditioning coach Rob, 37, unexpectedly welled up at the sight of his "breathtaking" bride, who is due to give birth to their son next month.
In front of 50 guests who had flown in from around the world, two years after the pair locked in their wedding date, Rob kicked off the vows, calling Olivia his "best friend and soulmate", adding, "I can't wait to grow old with you as we navigate through life with love, respect and understanding. You make me whole. I promise to protect you always and forever."
When it was her turn, the bride – who met Rob while she was studying finance at a Florida university – declared, "I promise to love and support your dreams, even if it means many more hours at Ironman races. I promise to watch more movies with you, even without my phone. I promise to play with your hair until we are grey and old… and to love you with all I have."
Olivia also thanked Rob for letting her follow her dreams by playing for the Celtic Football Club in Scotland while he was in England, which led to many months of long-distance love. (They're now based in Rob's hometown of Melbourne.)
She continued, "You're my best friend. I miss you when you're upstairs and I'm down. You remind me how wonderful life can be. I love you today, tomorrow and forever. You're my home."
Rob then presented Olivia with a platinum band that wraps around the diamond ring he used to propose to her outside Edinburgh Castle in 2021, while Olivia put a band encrusted with black diamonds on his finger in return. Guests clapped and cheered as the newlyweds were pronounced husband and wife.
After canapés and drinks, including a refreshing mocktail for Olivia, everyone made their way inside the venue for the laidback reception, where the bride's sister read a surprise speech from absent Football Ferns co-captain Ria Percival, who joked that the mum-to-be mustn't have wanted her teammates at her wedding since she planned it for the Northern Hemisphere football season!
Later, Olivia pulled on a pair of custom-made Air Force sneakers – gifted to her by her sponsor Nike – for fun football-inspired photos. They were accompanied by baby shoes adorned with a bright-blue tick, which the newlyweds used to announce the sex of their baby to guests.
A flower-covered cake with tiers of chocolate and lemon made for a delicious dessert, and despite being so close to giving birth, the bride managed to stay for the entire reception!
Although the couple don't have a honeymoon planned just yet, instead focusing on the impending arrival of their bub, they'd like to travel as a family to a sunny celebration spot later this year.
And while Olivia is looking forward to being a mum, the talented midfielder insists she won't be hanging up her football boots anytime soon, explaining that Rob will help her juggle her parenting and professional commitments. She adds that they can't wait to tell their son about how he made his sporting debut in the World Cup, even if she was only in her first trimester.
Of their future together, Olivia enthuses, "As an athlete, it helps to have a partner in the same field because they understand the hours you have to put in and that you don't get a lot of time at home. It's going to be very interesting fitting a baby into our crazy lifestyle, but it's exciting!
"It's been nice taking time out because I've given so much to the sport and this is probably the first time we're putting ourselves first. I'm looking forward to seeing what football will bring with a son in the stands."
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