Romantic Recollections: Adine Harper & Jeff Wilson

Romantic Recollections. Netballer Adine Harper won the game of love when she married sports legend Jeff Wilson

    Romantic Recollections. Netballer Adine Harper won the game of love when she married sports legend Jeff Wilson. 


    It was 1999, I was 19 and playing for the Otago Rebels. Meanwhile, Jeff was playing rugby for the Otago Highlanders, who were having a party and invited our team along. Jeff asked around to find out who I was and hunted me down, but we didn’t start dating straight away – I made him work for it. We were together for a few years before Jeff popped the question.

    I’m a bit of a control freak, so I did most of the wedding planning, with some help from my mum and older sister. The challenge was trying to put it together in eight months despite our crazy schedules. Luckily finding the perfect venue was easy – the second after he proposed Jeff suggested Terrace Downs at Mt Hutt, where we’d been snowboarding together.

    I loved the idea of designing a gown and having it made just for you. I went to Louise Anderson and together we came up with my dress. I felt like an absolute princess and wish I could wear it again. My three bridesmaids wore two-piece silver dresses that had a purple tinge. I have a lot of sisters, and my three youngest were flower girls. Jeff went to Sergios to rent his suit. After he chose what he was going to wear, I showed him a piece of the bridesmaid-dress material and it totally clashed, so we had to completely change it all.

    We wrote our own vows and weren’t going to share them, but Jeff said, ‘I just want to tell you what mine are.’ After hearing them I realised I would have to re-write mine because his were so good. The night before the wedding I still hadn’t written them, but when I had them on paper I read them to my bridesmaids and they cried – so I thought they mustn’t be too bad.

    Many of our 120 guests stayed with us at Terrace Downs, and I think that was one of the best things about our wedding. It was held on a Friday and it felt like we were all on holiday together for a long weekend. Before the wedding, my bridesmaids stayed with me in a chalet. We wore big white robes and Muriel’s Wedding was on TV – the night was just brilliant.

    It was so hot the week before our October wedding that I can remember my bridesmaids and I not wanting to sit outside in case we got tan marks. Typically though, on the day it poured with rain. But I wasn’t disappointed because the fires burning inside Terrace Downs made it pretty cosy.

    When I walked down the aisle to Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s version of Over the Rainbow, there were a lot of tears. Greatest American Hero played when we arrived at the reception, and Christchurch jazz band Barock took the stage afterwards. Jeff’s right into his music, and he and a friend spent hours putting together four CDs. Everyone went crazy on the dance floor – we had to kick people out at 4.30am.

    Instead of being served individually, we had big platters on each table so it was like a family dinner. It made it much more intimate and worked really well. Our cake was delicious – it was triple-chocolate fudge with fruit cake for the top layer, because our grandmas love their fruit cake!

    The one thing I’d say to brides to be is to enjoy the whole day – who cares if things don’t go as you imagined? Don’t waste your energy worrying – you have the people you love around you and you’re wearing the best dress you’ve ever owned.

    We’ve been married for almost five years now and, especially since having our son Harper [one], we’ve found it’s important to go out on dates with each other so you can feel like you did when you first met. When I think about our day, there isn’t anything I’d change – I’d just love to go back and experience it all again.


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