Jacinda Ardern on her sister’s wedding day surprise

The MP opens up about her labour of love for her sister.
Jacinda ArdernWoman's Day

When Jacinda Ardern’s only sister announced she was getting married in Spain this year, the popular Labour Party politician’s heart sank. “It’s an election year and they’re always so full on – and I’d just been made deputy leader,” she explains of her decision not to go.

“I felt terrible.”

And the feelings of regret only grew as her big sister Louise prepared to marry her partner of 10 years, Colombian-born Ray Dussan, at a cosy villa just an hour outside of Barcelona. The couple live in London with their three-year-old daughter Isabella and are expecting their second child, a boy, in October.

The more Jacinda, 36, thought of missing her sister’s wedding, the more determined she was to go, so with then-leader Andrew Little’s encouragement [Ed’s note: Jacinda has since been named the new leader of the Labour Party in a press conference held today] the Auckland MP hatched a last-minute plan, jumping aboard a plane just 24 hours before the big day to surprise her sister Louise, 38, at the villa.

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To say her sister was stunned would be an understatement. There was screaming, tears, jumping and hugs. A video of the moment (above) went viral soon after it was uploaded to Facebook.

“A little part of me wondered if she had figured it out,” Jacinda laughs. “But when I saw her look of absolute shock, it was pretty clear she had no idea. It was amazing, although I think I may have sobbed more than her!”

The sisters spent the morning of the wedding searching the small town for a hairstylist and make-up artist for the bride. The ceremony got under way at 6pm, with Louise in a simple lace dress and Jacinda in a teal-blue Cybele frock she purchased “ages ago”.

Rather than a traditional wedding gift, Jacinda – who lives with her longtime partner, TV presenter Clarke Gayford – bought the flowers for the big day and gave Louise a bracelet that matches a necklace she received from her sister a few Christmases ago.

“The ceremony was entirely in Spanish, but it still made me cry,” reflects Jacinda. “It was a small but beautiful wedding. It was brilliant to meet so many of Ray’s family, even if we had to speak in Spanglish.”

The highlight? Jacinda smiles, “Walking my sister down the aisle, all the while making stupid jokes so she wouldn’t cry and mess up her make-up.”

Louise, meanwhile, says the day couldn’t have been more perfect.

“I had no idea Jacinda was coming. I never blamed her for her initial decision not to come, but as the day got closer, I was quite sad knowing she wouldn’t be there.

“I know what a sacrifice it was for her to come and it means the world to me that she’s done this. I’m so happy she did. Having her calm my pre-wedding stresses, help me get ready and walk me down the aisle are memories I’ll never forget.”

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