- Publish Date
- Wednesday, 26 April 2017, 7:48AM
A same-sex couple's fairytale story of winning a wedding in Rarotonga nearly ended in tears after they learned gay marriage is not legal in the Cook Islands.
Allison McWatters and Tracey Strachan had been together for five years when they decided to get married. They found the rings, bought the wedding dresses - but didn't think they could afford their dream wedding in Rarotonga.
They told FairGo they went to the North City Wedding and Bridal Expo 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.
Their first holiday together was in the Cook Islands so the idea of getting married there was a dream come true.
"It was an opportunity to have the wedding that we wanted that we didn't think we could have," McWatters told FairGo.
But their dreams were dashed when they discovered gay marriage is not legal in the Cook Islands. In addition, the resort said it could not find a celebrant willing to hold a ceremony for them.
They were upset they had been able to enter - and win - the competition without being told they weren't eligible.
"We went along to this expo. We were able to enter this prize," Strachan said on the show. "If it wasn't able to be fulfilled then the prize shouldn't have been held."
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," McWatters 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."
When FairGo contacted the expo, the organiser apologised for not communicating better. "We apologise for any distress our actions may have caused Tracey and her partner," the expo organiser said in a statement.
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 license back in New Zealand so the couple can make it official.
This article was first published on NZ Herald and is republished here with permission.