Johnny Hendrikus isn't someone who cries easily, but the freelance film-maker admits that when it came to All Black TJ Perenara and Greer Samuel's surprise backyard wedding, it was a different story.
"It was the most emotional wedding I've ever been to," confesses Johnny, who had the privilege of filming the couple's wedding in Porirua earlier this month, after getting to know them through the gym and community events.
"It's safe to say a tear dropped from my eye while filming the hongi between TJ and his best man Byron," Johnny says.
"It was such an incredible moment of friendship and brotherhood."
A haka, started by members of the newlyweds' family and then joined by TJ and Greer, themselves, was another moment that had Johnny reaching for the tissues.
The couple had originally planned to marry later this year, but told Woman's Day they decided they couldn't wait and organised a surprise wedding in February. Guests thought they were arriving for an engagement party at Porirua's gorgeous Gear Homestead. After everyone was gathered on the lawn, Greer ran through a few housekeeping matters and announced, "Oh, just one more thing. We're getting married today!"
Close family members had been summoned to the family home a few days earlier to be let in on the secret, and the wedding video, below, opens with their jubilant reaction.
Greer, a professional singer, walked down the aisle with her father to This I Promise You by 'N Sync, after promising herself, at age 14, that she would one day walk down the aisle to that song.
She wrote her own vows:
"I love you for so many reasons, but the thing I love the most is that you have one of the most generous hearts I've ever come across. You never hesitate to help, nothing's an issue, your selflessness amazes me every day, and I'm so grateful to you and the values we share.
"You're my biggest fan, whether I'm performing in front of hundreds or a handful of people in a bar where you've convinced the band to let me get up and sing," she told her groom.
In return, TJ promised his bride, "I love the way you love me and I love the way you love my family as if they were your own. I think they love you more than me sometimes.
"I take you to be my wife with my whole heart."
The couple's cherished labrador, Roni, was present at the ceremony, and each of the bridal party members carried a framed photo of a relative who had passed away.
Johnny shot around three hours of wedding footage and then had the difficult job of editing it down to this beautiful five-minute video. It took him 20 hours!
"TJ and Greer are such special people and you can see they get their quirks and energy from their families," says Johnny.
"I felt honoured to be involved in their special day."
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