Stephen Lyon and his wife Lovelyn Gatchalian. CHARLOTTE PIHO/21012225
Rarotonga businessman Stephen Lyon and his long-time partner Lovelyn Gatchalian exchanged their vows in front of family and close friends this week. The wedding held at Ra Mura in Betela, Arorangi, was a special one – it was the first wedding of the year.
Lyon made Rarotonga his home after moving to the island from New Zealand over a
up a diving business here and eventually got himself involved in community
work, advocating for the environment and supporting the people.
of years after arriving here, Lyon met Lovelyn Gatchalian who came to Rarotonga
from Philippines for work. They started dating and over time developed an
unbreakable bond which strengthened after Gatchalian gave birth to their son
James five years ago.
The bride Lovelyn Gatchalian. CHARLOTTE PIHO/21012222
decade later on Wednesday in front of family and close friends, the two tied
the knot after taking their forever vows of love and honour. They sealed their
lives together in a matrimony before Cook Islands marriage celebrant Florence Buchanan.
Cook Islands marriage celebrant Florence Buchanan. CHARLOTTE PIHO/21012223
wedding held at Ra Mura in Betela, Arorangi, was a special one – it was the
first wedding of the year.
who is the owner and managing director of Pacific Divers, says they were
planning to get married earlier but had to stall their wedding due to Covid-19.
would have got married earlier if borders had been open, he says, adding they
decided to have it in the summer hoping borders would be open by then.
quarantine free travel into New Zealand which started on Wednesday enabled some
of their guests, including his best friend from New Zealand, to attend the
Stephen Lyon with his best friend who arrived from New Zealand this week for the wedding. CHARLOTTE PIHO/21012226
couple were also happy to exchange the vow in the presence of Lyon’s daughters
from New Zealand, who managed to get to the island to witness the wedding.
from New Zealand and my wife is from the Philippines, it would have been
wonderful to get families and friends here,” he says.
the couple relied on their close friends in Rarotonga to make their big day
who gathered around us are close friends who rallied together to plan and
organise the wedding, food, decorations and many more, it was outstanding.”
The bride and the bridesmaids. CHARLOTTE PIHO/21012227
wedding team was led by Tokerau Turia who prepped the food for the big day and
the Pacific Divers team Sandra Ankli and Ben Vakatini who located the tables
and other equipment to the venue. Pigs were kindly gifted by Tin Tolosa and
Trainee Samson. Fish was supplied by Jason Tuara.
venue was decorated by members of the Filipino community in Rarotonga and the
arch was created by Nana Short.
material for the dresses was gifted by their friends in Nelson; Mike Kennedy
and Edisha Patosa Miscoran and the bride’s wedding dress was sewn by Marilyn
also thanked celebrant Florence Buchanan for her “guidance and support” and
photographer Charlotte Piho for capturing the precious moments on their wedding
would have simply been impossible without all the help we have received. And I
credit this to my beautiful bride to be. Who’s kind and warm soul has touched so
many more lives than my own. Lovelyn truly is an amazing woman, evidenced by
the people that have come together to help us.
you to all I have mentioned, and those I have no doubt forgotten. Thank you to
absent family and friends for your wishes.
last acknowledgement for our beautiful daughters, Dylan and Mila Lyon who have
accepted Lovelyn into our lives. Without their support and acceptance this
would never have been possible.”
hopes when the two-way travel bubble with New Zealand opens, it will also open
up the opportunity for Kiwis to celebrate their big day in the little paradise.
The Lyon family. CHARLOTTE PIHO/21012224
as borders open New Zealand come to the Cooks. Having a wedding here is
absolutely beautiful and the Cooks is an amazing place, it is a gorgeous place
to get married.”
Covid-19 restrictions forced Cook Islands to close its doors to visitors,
weddings on the beach here was a “dream come true” for many tourists.
demand for paradise weddings was growing and became an important tourism foreign
exchange earner in the Cooks. There were more wedding suppliers than ever, and
many people were making their living from weddings.
statistics available before Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the tourism industry
showed that the numbers of visitors getting married in the Cook Islands
remained fairly steady. The country hosted 643 weddings in the 2018/19
achieving similar growth in the near future seems impossible, there are high
hopes the two-way travel bubble – expected to start by the end of March this
year – will attract a good number of visitors who are planning to head here to
make their big day extra special.