Mixed response to Australian vote

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Wedding planners in Central Otago have mixed feelings about whether the Australian vote for same-sex marriage will affect the number of couples getting married in New Zealand.

Queenstown wedding planner Sarah Arkin said that none of her same-sex clients had cancelled their summer weddings.

“We work with a lot of Australian clients, and from our perspective we were pretty excited for everybody over there,” Ms Arkin said.

Ms Arkin said she knew a lot of people were worried it was going to reduce the number of same-sex weddings that might take place in New Zealand, but said people came for the location.

“Queenstown is one of the top wedding destinations in the country, if not the world,” Ms Arkin said.

Same-sex weddings made up about 30% of her business.

“I think we are still going to see the same amount of couples coming over to get married here and possibly even more now that it will be recognised back in Australia.”

Alexandra celebrant Marg Matheson said that even before the referendum, it had made a huge difference to her business.

“We are not getting the same amount of inquiries from Australia coming through,” she said.

Mrs Matheson wished Australians well but recognised it was a little bittersweet.

“The majority of my clients were same-sex couples,” she said.

“But we put ourselves out there globally and this is a place that couples all over the world like to come to.”

Cromwell celebrant Glennys Logan said it was fantastic news that was well overdue.

“I’ve married about 30 same-sex couples from Australia over here,” Mrs Logan said.

The location was a big factor for many people, she said.

“We do lots of heli weddings and I think that won’t change.

“Over here it is about the destination as well, and so if they want a destination wedding they will still come,” Mrs Logan said.

Same-sex marriages were still a small part of her business, but over the seven years she had been a marriage celebrant they had become more popular.

“I’ve seen a lot of couples with children getting married.

“It’s just about bringing families together.”

She said none of her same-sex clients had cancelled since the results of the referendum were announced in Australia earlier this month.

“Every couple is a great couple.

“Love is what makes the world go round,” Mrs Logan said.

Brendan Bouffler and Chao Zheng, of Australia, tied the knot three years ago in New Zealand.

“We were always going to wait for Australia to legalise marriage, but we’d also decided to move to the UK for my work needs, and it was hugely easier for immigration purposes for us to be married rather than de facto,” Mr Bouffler said.

He said they wished they could have married in Australia, but New Zealanders were amazingly accommodating and friendly.

“Thirty-five of our nearest and dearest turned up at the last minute to join us,” Mr Bouffler said.

Lloyd Guy and Kim Riley live in Sydney and got married in New Zealand last year.

“It was such a shame we had to do it in New Zealand but, luckily, our friends and family all travelled and it turned into a ‘destination’ wedding that went for three days,” Mr Riley said.

“Australians have to change their mentality like the Kiwis.”

Mr Riley said two grooms or two brides would become “normal”.