Weddings

See Tom Walsh’s stunning Christchurch wedding

The champion shot putter wed the love of his life in a romantic ceremony.
George and Jane, @georgeandjane.

It’s a calm and cloudless afternoon at Christchurch’s Waipuna Estate as bride Dana Mulcahy smiles at her groom, shot put champion Tom Walsh, and prepares to share her vows in a beautiful wedding ceremony by the snow-capped Southern Alps.

Surrounded by native bush and vibrant spring blossoms, the couple look relaxed and polished. Dana wears an elegant drop-sleeve gown and Tom is dressed in a navy suit that accommodates the shot putter’s frame. That same frame helped him win two Commonwealth gold medals, two Olympic bronzes and a world championship.

Christchurch’s picuresque Waipuna Estate set the romantic scene.

It’s a beautiful but rare sight for their guests. They’ve come from all around New Zealand and overseas to celebrate the sports-loving duo. Usually, the laid-back pair spend their days together in casualwear, playing golf, travelling between Tom’s competitions or walking their beloved golden retriever Rippa on the beach.

“To some people, you’re an athlete, a double Olympic medallist and a world champion. But to me, you are so much more,” says occupational therapist Dana, 29, in her vows. “You’re my world, a ray of sunshine, my soulmate and, soon to be, my husband. Whether we are together or far apart, I always know you’re near. You can always make me smile, even from the other side of the world.”

Tom and Dana share a kiss after their wedding

Sealed with a kiss! Dana describes Tom as “fun, caring, loyal, authentic and hard-working” .

Tom, who is also a fully qualified builder, follows with his own heartfelt vows. He acknowledges that they’ve experienced incredible moments, as well as the challenge of many periods of long-distance during their nine-year relationship.

“We’ve built a home and embraced the joys of raising Rippa together. Through it all, I wouldn’t change a single thing,” says the 31-year-old, who was recently recognised as the sixth best shot putter

in history. “Everything I’ve achieved to date is down to your unwavering support and honesty, even sometimes when I don’t want to hear it.”

Tom and Dana Walsh on their wedding day

‘Our style is personalised with a lot of humour and feeling in it. It was the best day’

Tom tells his bride she’s the most caring and supportive partner he could’ve asked for, calling her his best friend.

He quips, “I can’t wait for many more walks on the beach with Rippa. Oh, and I promise to clean him no question asked when he gets dirty!”

When the happy couple chats with Woman’s Day shortly after their nuptials, Tom raves about the picture-perfect weather and his gorgeous new wife. Her Alyssa Kristen dress featured a long train that he nearly tripped over.

“Dana looked absolutely gorgeous,” grins the athlete. He proposed last September, when they took their pup to Lake Benmore in Twizel. “I had watery eyes seeing her walk down the aisle.”

Tom Walsh in action competing for New Zealand

Dana’s dad told the champ, “Tom, the biggest prize is sitting right next to you.”

On the morning of their big day, Tom enjoyed a casual game of golf with his groomsmen before “stopping for kai” – important for an athlete who relies on muscle mass and eats about 5000 calories a day, more than double the human average.

Afterwards, the men sipped beer and changed into their rented Rembrandt suits, with the finishing touch of boutonnières from florist Bourbon Rose, who created the day’s array of bouquets and decorative flowers.

“We had a beautiful breakfast put on by the venue and the makeup artist arrived at 7am, then my bridesmaids gifted me a gold necklace that has our wedding date engraved in the pendant,” shares Dana, who started dating Tom in 2014, when she worked for his father Peter, a livestock agent and former shot putter, while at university.

“The girls and I were ready by one, which meant we had a couple of hours up our sleeves to relax.”

A white wedding cake with colourful flowers climbing up the sides

For dessert, guests dined on cake and ice cream.

Tom jokes that if he ever forgets their wedding anniversary, he’ll look at the necklace, before reminding Dana that despite her being ready early, she still made him wait 10 minutes at the altar!

But after welcoming their loved ones to the wedding, it gave an emotional Tom time to gather himself. He chatted to celebrant Maddy Lloyd, who did a great job ensuring the nuptials ran smoothly, despite only stepping in two weeks before the big day because the original celebrant had to pull out due to unforeseen circumstances.

After the ceremony, the newlyweds ducked away to capture some memories with photographer Letitia from George and Jane, and videographer Zac from Flatroc Films. Then, they returned to celebrate with guests, who loudly serenaded the couple with Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline.

The bride and groom dancing into the night

Dancing the night away, Tom says, “I just want to do it again!”

Singing and dancing along, Dana swapped the sleeves of her gown for spaghetti straps. She also added a sheer bridal top to the ensemble.

She says, “I narrowed it down to two wedding dresses that were very different. One was a sparkly party style with lots of sequins, while the other dress was more traditional. I’m still really happy I ended up choosing it. I went with this because the lady at Paperswan [bridal boutique] asked which one I’d regret not wearing. I thought I’d never wear this style of dress again!”

Tom and Dana share a kiss after their wedding

At the reception, where the vibe was “relaxed and entertaining”. Everyone enjoyed a grazing table and dinner by catering company Smoke ‘n’ Barrel, with a decadent main course of Akaroa salmon, Canterbury slow-smoked pork and lamb shoulder, and salads, followed by wedding cake and ice cream for dessert.

Tom’s brother Bill was MC. He took the opportunity to tease his younger sibling more than once, while two of Dana’s bridesmaids did a joint speech entirely in rhyme. But the standout line of the night came from Dana’s dad Marty, who told the medal-winning groom, “Tom, the biggest prize is sitting right next to you.”

Tom Walsh walks wife Dana down the aisle after the ceremony

Just married!

As the sun set, the band began to play and Tom’s longtime schoolmate Cam Scott sang. An evening of dancing unfolded and the lights of Christchurch City twinkled outside in the distance. Shares Tom, “A lot of the guests commented on how fun the day was. We didn’t want it too formal – that’s not us. Our style is personalised with a lot of humour and feeling in it. It was just the best day.”

Earlier this year, while Tom was “throwing that steel ball”, as he calls it, the couple enjoyed a “pre-honeymoon” in Greece.

Gazing at his bride, Tom admits, “I had watery eyes.”

For now, they’re simply enjoying a chilled-out post-wedding getaway in Twizel, with Rippa in tow, of course.

Tom laughs, “There’s so much stress that goes into a wedding. There were definitely moments in the last three months where I’ve gone, ‘Is this worth it?’ But we’re really happy. Now I just want to do it again!”

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