Allison McWatters and Tracey Strachan thought all their dreams had come true.
They went to the North City Wedding and Bridal Expo in Wellington, New Zealand in January and decided to try their luck by entering a prize draw for an all-inclusive wedding package at the popular Edgewater Resort in Rarotonga – and won.
Their first holiday together was in the Cook Islands so the idea of getting married there was a dream come true.
But when they emailed the resort to claim their prize they were dismayed after being informed that same-sex marriage was illegal in the Cook Islands, and so the ceremony couldn’t proceed.
They contacted both the expo and the resort for help but neither was able to assist, and then communications stopped.
“We’re not asking them to marry us. We’re not even asking them to bless us,” Allison said.
“We’re just asking them to be able to use their venue which they offered us in the first place by winning the prize.”
“We were shocked,” Tracey said. “We were able to enter the prize, if it wasn’t able to be fulfilled the prize shouldn’t have been held here.”
Worried they’d never be able to claim their prize, and with overseas friends and family asking what was going on, the couple approached New Zealand consumer affairs TV program Fair Go.
When Fair Go contacted the expo, organiser Deidre Calvert apologised for not communicating better.
“I probably should have followed up and I apologise that I didn’t … but at the end of the day, I relied on what Edgewater were telling me,” she said.
The resort has now agreed to let the couple celebrate their love in a special ceremony and enjoy the week-long resort holiday as part of their prize.
The expo has also offered to sort out a celebrant and licence back in New Zealand so the couple can make it official.