Real Life

Bride’s winning gown

Aroha’s dream dress for her special day came from the small screen.
Bride's winning gown

It may have been Shortland Street’s Roimata Ngatai’s wedding gown, but it needed a touch of Maori culture before it was ready for Aroha Wilkinson’s walk down the aisle. Aroha (27) married her partner of 11 years, Bobby Tau, in Auckland earlier this month, wearing the Shortland Street wedding dress that she won in the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly competition last year – but not before important alterations were made.

Now six months pregnant, Aroha needed to let out the layered dress and wanted to include a koru design at the back to form a fuller skirt, in keeping with the Maori theme of her wedding day. After the ceremony, the bride told the Weekly that it was lucky for her Roimata didn’t actually get married on screen in the dress to TK Samuels – the wedding didn’t go ahead after TK’s former girlfriend Sarah Potts went into labour with their baby – because an old Maori superstition forbids it.

“It would have been tapu to get married in a dress somebody else has been married in,” she explains. “But she didn’t actually use that dress when she got married.” Including the koru design helped Aroha match her gown with her bridesmaids’ dresses. “I wanted to tie in with the girls who had Maori designs through their dresses, so we decided to make it a focal point,” she says.

“Roimata’s dress was a beautiful dress. It’s just I wanted it to look more like the bridesmaids’ dresses.” Aroha, who is a triplet, was once known as the “fat” sister, but she lost 61kg before entering the wedding dress competition. When the Shorty fan saw the show’s character Roimata, played by Shavaughn Ruakere, wear an elegant strapless wedding gown,

Aroha wanted one the same. “I contacted Shavaughn on Facebook to tell her I loved the dress and I asked where I could get one like it,” Aroha says. The actress told her about the Weekly’s competition to win the dress, so she entered. She had originally planned to have her two sisters as bridesmaids, but unfortunately a family falling-out led to a change of plans.

Instead, her friend Chanel Roberts and niece Nicole Taylor joined the wedding party. “I had to move forward and move on,” says Aroha. She was pleased when one of her sisters, Delia, attended as a guest and that her father Graham flew over from Perth to give her away.

After so many years together, she says getting married to Bobby, who is twice her age, has helped to seal their love. “It brings our two families together,” she says.

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