High-flying newlyweds celebrate in style

CHE BAKER
Last updated 05:00 20/08/2013
Gay Wedding Air NZ
CHE BARKER/Fairfax NZ
MELDING MODERNITY: Modern Family star Jesse Tyler Fergusson with the happy couple Lanley Bendall and Ally Wanikau and their daughter, Maycee, after their historic marriage on an Air NZ flight.

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Not everyone can say they celebrated their wedding day with celebrities in a plane and at the same time become the first same-sex couple to tie the knot 30,000 feet above New Zealand.

But Auckland couple Lynley Bendall and Ally Wanikau can.

The couple married on an Air New Zealand flight from Queenstown to Auckland yesterday as part of a publicity stunt by the company to mark the Marriage Amendment Act, passed by the Government in April, coming into law.

A chartered plane was decked out in purple and white and the aisle doubled as a wedding aisle for the wedding party to walk down in front of guests.

Special guests Jesse Tyler Fergusson, from the US television show Modern Family, and LA-based Australian presenter Ruby Rose, who are openly gay, were also part of the special day, with Fergusson giving a toast to the happy couple.

"I'm very happy to be here witnessing your wedding. I am very honoured to be witnessing this historic day for New Zealand," Fergusson said.

He and partner Justin Mikita tied the knot last month but "this was more extravagant then anything we could have planned".

Fergusson congratulated the couple and said "no law or legislation was ever going to diminish your love".

Ruby Rose said it was possible she would return to New Zealand to get married one day.

Australia often boasted about being ahead of other countries, "but on something like this (marriage equality) they are so far behind. At this rate it looks like I'll be getting married in New Zealand. Good on New Zealand for doing it first," she said.

Celebrant Kim Jewel Elliot said it was hoped the momentous occasion would give strength to other nations fighting for the "most basic human right; To marry the one we love".

"From this moment forward, all children in New Zealand will be able to grow up knowing they can marry the one they love if they want to," she said.

Lynley said the couple had waited a long time to make their 13-year union official and she was ecstatic to be able to call herself a newlywed.

"To be married at 30,000 feet beneath strings of fairy lights with our children, friends and family as witnesses makes an already memorable day that much more special. It was surreal to have Jesse play a part in the ceremony too - we're big fans of Modern Family," she said.

A wedding reception, MC'd by New Zealand actor Madeleine Sami, was held at Auckland Airport where New Zealand songstresses Anika Moa, Boh Runga and Hollie Smith preformed for guests.

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The trio yesterday launched a music video for their song Why Don't We which was written about marriage equality.

Lynley and Ally joined about 30 other same-sex couples who tied the knot yesterday across the country.

- The Southland Times

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