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Weddings

Silver Fern Katrina Grant marries her soulmate in a spectacular clifftop ceremony

And the bride wore Gucci sneakers!

By Kelly Bertrand
Katrina Grant is in a hurry. Clutching the arm of her brother Lance, the Silver Fern vice-captain is a vision in white as she makes her way down a rose petal-strewn aisle, the Wellington wind unusually calm and the Tasman Sea glistening behind her.
Though she's supposed to be timing her walk to John Legend's Stay with You, the netballer is impatient to get to the end of the aisle where groom Joel Rore, 27, is waiting, his eyes welling up as he watches his beautiful bride stride towards him.
"Slow down!" Lance whispers, laughing, while Katrina, 31, grins at the 80 friends and family who have gathered to watch the nuptials. "Hi guys!" she bellows, but then she finally locks eyes with Joel, who wipes away a tear.
"I was looking everywhere else but at him," she admits.
"I knew the tears would happen if I did – and they did! Ever since we got engaged, we couldn't wait to get married. We'd be lying on the bed and go, 'I wish we could just go and do it today!' When you find the person you're meant to marry, you just can't wait for it to happen."
It's a magical moment, three years in the making, for the couple and one that's come full circle. It was at a friend's wedding where they first met and ever since, the pair have battled through long separations and the challenging demands of Katrina's netball career.
But on this still and peaceful day, high on Wellington's cliffs at Boomrock, the only people that matter right now are Katrina and Joel. Their day has been meticulously planned for maximum celebrating and minimum fuss.
And that theme starts in the morning, with Katrina getting ready with her bridesmaids – maid of honour and sister Natalie, her "Silver Fern soulmate" Casey Kopua, former Central Pulse teammate Daya Wiffen and university pal Kate Thompson.
Casey's making sure everyone's glass is topped up with champagne, and after the girls have their hair and make-up done, they help Katrina into her gorgeous, bespoke gown by Helen Forster, which features a low back, French Chantilly lace, and a gathered sheer silk chiffon skirt and train.
"I wasn't really sure what I wanted, apart from the low back," Katrina confesses.
"But obviously with netballers, we're a bit athletic, so I wanted the dress to be really soft and feminine, and Helen custom-made it for me. I didn't find one on the shelf – my size and shape aren't normal!"
Katrina has eschewed a veil and instead of heels, she opts for a pair of white Gucci sneakers.
"Well, it's not like I need the height," she grins. "I couldn't find any that fit, so I was like, bugger it!"
Soon, it's time for the girls to leave Wellington's CBD and make their way to Boomrock, where Joel and his groomsmen, Slade King, Anata Rore, Joe Scheres – whose wedding Katrina and Joel met at – and best man Tyme Nikau are already waiting.
All of the bridal party has arrived in style – thanks to Joel's love of helicopters, there's a quick flight over the capital for the excited group.
Touching down on the hills above Boomrock, it's a lippy touch-up for the girls and a swig of bubbles for good luck, before Katrina follows her bridesmaids down the aisle.
A guest yells out, "Beautiful Katrina!" as she walks past and meets Joel at the altar.
"I was trying my hardest to hold the tears back," smiles Joel. "It was the best feeling in the world. She was amazing. So beautiful, so gorgeous. As soon as I saw her, my heart just burst – that was my wife walking down there."
Katrina, who's used to all eyes on her when she's playing netball, admits the walk down the aisle with her brother – her dad John was too sick to make the wedding – was nerve-racking.
"Man, it's all serious, isn't it?!" she exclaims. "And everyone's staring at you. But then I looked at Joel and I realised it was just us."
After some quick words of encouragement from Katrina to Joel – "You're not half bad, are ya!" she says to him, grinning – celebrant Alice Pritchard kicks off the formalities, which have been shortened as much as possible.
"It's easy to see why Katrina and Joel have fallen in love with one another, and they know that while they're wonderful as individuals, they're even better together."
Much laughter is elicited from the crowd as Alice reads out what Katrina and Joel love about each other. Along with his personality, sense of adventure and kindness, Katrina also "loves Joel's handsome face – and body", while Joel can't help but mention Katrina's bum!
The bride's sister Jo performs a reading from Dr Seuss' Oh, the Places You'll Go – complete with the Cat in the Hat's top hat – then it's time for the vows, which the pair have penned themselves.
Joel Anthony Te Hemi Rore and Katrina Louise Natasha Grant promise to make each other laugh, to always be there for each other, not to be grumpy when they're "hangry", and to be each other's best friend and sidekick.
"Finally," they both declare, "I promise you myself. Without you, I am nothing. With you, I am everything."
Following another touching reading by Joel's sister Alex, the pair exchange their rings – Katrina's a simple band, while Joel has a thick gold ring, inlaid with a tiny diamond.
"That's for when he's feeling fancy," laughs Katrina. "He was really cute – when we were getting them, he asked, 'Can I have a little diamond?' I said, 'Of course!'"
Finally, Katrina and Joel – soulmates, best friends and partners – are pronounced husband and wife, with the pair sealing the deal with a passionate kiss, which is met by whoops and cheers from their guests.
"Oh, man, I just couldn't be happier," says an ecstatic Joel after the formalities are over. "Being married is such a great feeling. We already feel a little closer."
Looking down at her sparkly new ring, Katrina adds, "It's been the best day of my life. And he looks pretty good with a ring on too, eh? Today has been so much more than I expected – and now it's party time!"
Walking in to join their guests in Boomrock's intimate dining room, the couple pause on the lawn and look out to the ocean, with the sun setting in front of them as they pose for a final photo.
Then it's time to tuck in to a dinner of pork belly, beef fillet, deconstructed banoffee pie and to follow, a delicious chocolate, white chocolate and raspberry wedding cake.
"Marriage was always on the cards for us," the new Mrs Rore nods. "And I know the future is full of awesomeness for us – but as for tonight, I don't want it to stop! It truly has been the most perfect day."
The couple helped design their rings.
The cake has delicious layers of chocolate and raspberry.
Katrina's netball pals (from left) Laura Langman, Daya, Claire Kersten, Bailey Mes, Casey, Jodi Brown and Elias Scheres. Left: Seats for the lucky guests at Boomrock.
Not taking their eyes off the bouquet, Katrina's attendants get ready to catch.
And the winner is ... Kate!

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