Sports reporters Kimberlee Downs and Ollie Ritchie's perfect Taranaki wedding

The rival sports reporters tied the knot in an emotional ceremony in Taranaki

By Kelly Bertrand
As two of the nation's top sports reporters, Kimberlee Downs and Ollie Ritchie know that sometimes when you start a story, you end up with a far different ending than the one you'd planned to tell.
Twists, turns, hooks and suspense are all part of it and as journalists, they know a little bit of drama in a yarn never goes amiss.
The loved-up couple have had their share of it too – in true sporting Romeo and Juliet fashion, they work as rivals for the nation's two biggest telly networks, Kim for 1 News and Ollie for Newshub.
But the pair most definitely could have done without the near-torrential rain that's currently bucketing down on the morning of their long-awaited wedding on the Taranaki coastline.
Kimberlee takes Ollie's hand for the adventure that lies ahead of them.
"It's good luck for it to rain on your wedding day, right!?" a panicking Kim asks Woman's Day shortly before walking down the aisle.
But what good journalists also know is that sometimes miracles actually do happen.
And at 1pm, somehow, the sheet of dark, miserable grey clouds has given way to an impossibly blue sky. And as the puddles dry up and the ceremony chairs are finally put out on the lawn of the stunning Bungalow Coastal Retreat, the Tasman Sea stretching as far as the eye can see and the sun streaming down, it's time for the bride to slip into her custom-made Liah Roebuck Bridal gown with the help of her bridesmaids, Hannah Mortensen and Grace Ritchie, plus maid of honour Rachael Whareaitu.
The newlyweds with (from left) Grace, Hannah, Rachael, Alex, Bill and Tim.
"I'm so excited that I've had one custom-made," says Kim, gesturing down to her stunning V-neck, cap-sleeved gown. "When else do you ever get that in your life? I knew I didn't want a princess kind of thing – that's not me – but I love that it's a mix of classic and modern."
Thoughtfully, Taranaki designer Liah has surprised the bride by sewing a red thread into the label of her dress, in a nod to her Chinese heritage. "That's going to mean so much to my mum," says an emotional Kim.
Soon it's time to make her way from her hometown, New Plymouth, to the wedding venue, where a very nervous groom – flanked by groomsmen Tim McGoldrick and Bill Menzies, as well as best man Alex Ritchie – is stood waiting at the top of the aisle for his bride. The always-punctual Kim is running the traditional few minutes late and Ollie can't help but keep glancing at the corner he knows Kim will emerge from.
"It was then that it dawned on me what a big moment it was," Ollie tells us later. "Seeing everyone who had come for us and then realising that it was finally time to get married… yeah, there were a few nerves!"
But any anxiety falls away swiftly as groomsman Tim, the brother of Sky Sport presenter Laura, takes to the mic for a rendition of George Ezra's Hold My Girl, a special song for the soon-to-be-weds.
Kim's two adorable nieces, flower girls Ayla and Gemma Tai, make their way down the aisle in front of the bridal party. And then a visibly emotional Kim, tears already prickling in her eyes, emerges on the arm of her proud-as-punch dad Chris.
It's an emotional moment when the bride arrives on the arm of proud dad Chris.
"I knew I just needed to look at Ollie the entire time I walked down," says Kim. "I think the only time I took my eyes off him was to make sure I got down the steps OK! But when I saw him, there was this huge sense of peace. I knew so clearly that this was the right thing to be doing. It's so right and it's exactly what I want in my life."
For Ollie, seeing his bride make her way towards him was a surreal moment – and the look on his face is like that of a kid on Christmas morning.
He recalls later, "I just remember thinking, 'Wow, she's so beautiful!' She looked even better than I could imagine – and I think she's the most beautiful woman every day. It was such an emotional moment."
Matiu Workman, a close friend of the couple who became a celebrant especially for this wedding, then begins the ceremony by welcoming the 120 guests who have gathered.
"In what will be the first of a few sporting references, by making it here today, Kim and Ollie have seen off the opening bowlers and survived a few tough moments, and now they've reached the point where they're eyeing up another important milestone in their beautiful partnership – husband and wife."
Heartfelt vows in front of celebrant friend Matiu.
After a reading from Kim's brother Gareth, the pair then make their vows, which in true journalistic tradition, they wrote themselves. Up first, Kim praises Ollie's humour, thoughtfulness and calm nature, and promises to always support, love, respect and cherish her husband – and to be his biggest fan.
"Like any good story, you had me hooked from the start," she says. "People say falling in love is the easy part, but it turns out growing deeper in love with you every day has been just as effortless. I'm so thankful. You've changed everything about what I thought my life would be, and I can confidently say the only reason I'm stood here today is because you taught me what it means to truly be in love and to truly be loved back.
"So thank you for choosing me, my darling… But to be very clear, promising all this does not mean I'll become a Crusaders fan and any suggestions other-wise amount to defamation!"
In turn, Ollie says he's the luckiest man in the world to be marrying Kim, vowing, "Our paths have led us to each other and a lifetime of happiness, and I promise to never deviate from that path. I hope that – even with your atrocious sense of direction – you won't either.
"I promise to love you, to protect you, to laugh with you and cry with you. I promise to stop using the kitchen sink to clean golf clubs. And above all, I promise I'll spend the rest of my life making sure you're as happy as you can possibly be."
And after filling out the paperwork, as the strains of Six60's Forever begin, Kimberlee Jayne Downs and Ollie Henry Barnett Ritchie are officially announced as husband and wife.
Woohoo! It's raining good wishes for Mr and Mrs Ritchie.
"That feeling was just pure joy," nods Kim, staring down at her sparkling new wedding ring from The Diamond Shop. "I wondered if I'd feel relief that it was done, but it was just genuine, huge happiness."
Adds Ollie, "It was the perfect moment. It couldn't have been better."
Ring a rosie.
With the formalities out of the way and a huge feast from Kim's favourite local café Elixir waiting, it's now time to launch into the reception, which provides hilarious speeches, plus incredible home videos of an 11-year-old Ollie trying out his journalistic chops.
Scrumptious share plates.
And then the new Mr and Mrs Ritchie (although Kim will be keeping her maiden name for professional purposes) open the dance floor to a well-rehearsed dance to the Friends theme tune I'll Be There For You.
"It's just been the most incredible day," says Ollie afterwards. "It's everything we could have wanted. You never have this many of your favourite people in a room together, so it's so incredibly special."
"Everything just clicked into place," adds Kim. "From the weather through to the end of the night, it was perfect, although as a lot of athletes would say, there have been some learnings and it really
does take a village.
The crowd cheers their most exciting match of the day!
"My SENZ radio co-host Stephen Donald came through with his Grins [RTDs], which went down a treat on a sunny afternoon, local company Dobsons Marquee & Party Hire outdid themselves and Elixir Catering went the extra mile to get our dream cake of cheese just right, even getting the wheels of cheese brought in from Over the Moon in the Waikato.
So gouda! The wedding cake is a cheese board.
"We don't feel any different now we're married. Although I do get a buzz out of seeing Ollie's wedding ring and someone just called me Mrs Ritchie, which made me think, 'Oh, yeah, we're married.'
How good?! It just feels completely natural."
Pictures: Abi Hackling Photography
  • undefined: Kelly Bertrand

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