Amid the leafy backdrop of a quiet olive grove, top-seed tennis player Michael Venus stands beneath a gazebo, white silk billowing softly in the wind. As his gorgeous bride Sally Trafford walks up the aisle, his heart melts.
"Seeing her was really emotional," the 32-year-old later tells Woman's Day. "That feeling in your stomach – it was like having butterflies."
And as the smitten pair turn to face each other, a smiling Sally reaches up to adjust her groom's crooked bow tie, causing the guests to erupt in laughter.
"We're not the most serious of people and we wanted the wedding to reflect us as a couple," explains Mike, as he's known to friends and family.
The duo's special day comes just days after arriving in Auckland from their home base of London. The Kiwi couple chose Auckland's Bracu for its minimalistic yet romantic vista, which suited their down-to-earth personalities perfectly.
Mike and Sally, who share 14-month-old daughter Lila, admit that planning a wedding from the other side of the world was difficult, particularly when there were so many last-minute jobs to do. The sportsman was juggling a hectic practice schedule with tasks such as getting the cars cleaned, writing his speech and having his beard trimmed!
But as their special day comes and morning rain gives way to mid-afternoon sun, the groom looks relaxed greeting guests as they arrive at the stunning venue. Among family and friends are fellow doubles player Marcus Daniell, and US players Bradley Klahn and Christina McHale.
When 3.30pm rolls around, people take their seats as Mike, looking a tad nervous, chats with his groomsmen at the end of the aisle. Celebrant Ken Youngson, who Mike has known for 10 years, welcomes everyone and, catching a glimpse of a white Jaguar, asks them to stand.
All eyes are on the small wooden walkway as Calum Scott's You Are the Reason plays and four bridesmaids, each carrying a bouquet of white gladioli, enter the gazebo.
Next comes adorable Lila, snuggling into Sally's mum Joyce, with Mike's mum Lynne alongside. At the end of the aisle, Mike's face lights up and he plants a sweet kiss on his daughter's cheek before she is seated.
The stage set, there is an audible gasp as Sally, her arm linked with her father Phil, makes her appearance. With her hair elegantly tied back, the brunette beauty wears a silk satin organza dress adorned with delicate appliquéd leaf detail. Clasped at the back by small buttons, her veil floats along behind.
Following tradition, her Valentino shoes from a luxury reseller are her something old, while her dress and earrings are her something new.
A bracelet, designed for Lila by her sister Amy, is her something borrowed and her wee girl's blue sash on her dress is her mum's something blue!
As Sally's dad shakes hands with her groom and steps aside, celebrant Ken encourages a round of applause for the stunning bride, then kicks things off with a phone call he received from Mike.
"The excitement was so great, I thought he had won Wimbledon," he teases. "But he had won something far better – Sally's heart!"
Then in a sombre moment, the celebrant takes the opportunity to acknowledge the duo's parents, in particular Mike's father Dave, who passed away three years ago. "How proud he would be looking down, and we honour him."
And next it is time to exchange their vows.
Mike declares to his bride, "I promise to choose you every day and to do the hard work of making now into always. I promise to support your dreams and to respect our differences. I promise to forgive you like I hope to be forgiven. I promise to tell you my feelings even when I don't know what I'm feeling."
And then, to much laughter, he adds, "I promise not to watch the next Netflix episode without you."
Sally, 34, repeats the same vows, but changes the last line to, "I can't promise not to watch the next Netflix episode without you, but I do promise to watch it again with you later!"
After saying their "I dos", they exchange rings. From Brighton's Venus Diamonds, Mike slips Sally's rose gold and diamond band onto her finger.
"I give this ring as a symbol of my love, my faith and our strength together," he pronounces, adding that it is his, "covenant to learn and grow with you".
Sally pledges the same, but it takes a moment for his matte gold ring to fit! As they move aside to sign the registry, a surprise twist awaits – an envelope taped beneath everyone's chair, for guests to write a piece of marriage advice to the couple.
The ceremony nearing its end, bridesmaid Sarah reads The Giraffe and the Monkey, a poem by Daniel Thompson. Both funny and endearing, Sally is brought to tears and turns to wipe them away before they are pronounced husband and wife. And with only one thing left to do, Mike lovingly pulls Sally to him and they kiss for the first time as a married couple.
Formalities over, everyone moves to the Pavilion, while the bride and groom have photos taken. Rejoining their guests, the sweethearts tuck into a three-course dinner. Dancing the night away, at midnight, the new Mr and Mrs retire to luxurious Kylemore Lodge, but there is very little downtime because two days later he's due back on court!
"We will have to plan a honeymoon at some point," laughs Mike. "I think Sally would love to go to Santorini because she keeps tagging me in lots of Instagram pictures of it!"
It's a whirlwind trip home for the pair, who met at a party in London in 2015. Mike, who ranks 10th in the world for men's doubles, competed as top doubles seed at the ASB Classic in Auckland last week, before jetting off to the next tournament in Melbourne.
Meanwhile, Sally will returned to England with their daughter. The Harvard-trained lawyer has taken time off from her career to care for Lila, who was born with craniosynostosis, where one of the sutures in her head fused early, restricting her skull growth.
The wee tot's had three surgeries to open the suture and even out the growth of her head.
"She's ahead on all the developmental stuff and she's totally happy," explains Sally.
"You really wouldn't know apart from a scar that goes from her ear to the middle of her head, but even that is mostly covered by hair."
To help any remaining asymmetry, Lila wears a helmet and needs to be in London for a fitting later this month.
But despite their schedules, Mike and Sally are relaxed as they reflect on their big day.
"The ceremony showed a lot of who we are," says Mike. "All that planning and how much we've been through to be here today and take the next step as husband and wife ... it's really special."
Looking up at her husband, Sally agrees. "It's been pretty magical, hasn't it?"
- RoyalsPrince William’s romantic surprise on Kate Middleton’s birthday
Now To LoveJan 17, 2022
- RoyalsThe Queen has stripped Prince Andrew of his military titles and royal patronages
Now To LoveJan 14, 2022
- Celebrity NewsAt home with Dame Kiri: 'You'll never want to leave!'
New Zealand Woman's WeeklyJan 13, 2022
- Real LifeOne-armed Kiwi dancer Brylee Mills reveals why her disability won't stop her
Woman's DayJan 13, 2022
- RoyalsDuchess Catherine’s portrait photographer, Paolo Roversi, reveals Prince William and the kids’ favourite photo, plus special behind the scenes details
The Australian Women's WeeklyJan 13, 2022
- Celebrity NewsChris and Mel Cairns: 'We're in this battle together'
Woman's DayJan 13, 2022
- Celebrity NewsIn memoriam: Paying tribute to the stars we have sadly lost in 2022
Now To LoveJan 11, 2022
- RoyalsThree new portraits of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge have been released to mark her milestone 40th birthday
The Australian Women's WeeklyJan 09, 2022