When Breeze DJ Alison Leonard rang her husband John to see how he’d feel about renewing their vows aboard The Love Boat with the legendary Captain Stubing, the firefighter had to think quickly.
“I was about to drive over the harbour bridge – it was all I could do to stay in lane!” laughs John. “But, absolutely, I said yes.”
Never in their wildest dreams did the couple imagine that Gavin MacLeod – aka Captain Stubing from the hit 1970s TV show – would preside over their vows, which also represented 10 years of marriage.
To top off the novelty factor, their public declaration of love was undertaken with 14 other Kiwi couples and broadcast live on the Two Robbies breakfast show last Wednesday. It was all very much in keeping with the couple’s original wedding, which took place at a bride and groom show in front of a crowd of strangers!
“It was roped off and family and friends sat down to watch – but it was standing-room only at the back for people who just happened to be there,” smiles the former Dancing with the Stars judge.
“It was a lovely day – Candy Lane was my ‘old maid of honour’, Leah Panapa and John’s daughter Georgia were our bridesmaids, and Frankie Stevens dropped in on his way to the New Zealand Idol wrap party to do an Aotearoa version of Hawaiian Wedding Day. It was the day my fireman doused my flames of despair!”
“And now the phoenix is rising again!” quipped John, as the ship’s captain called the couples to gather around the pool to exchange vows.
Alison, who wore a bespoke Redhead dress made for her by a Breeze listener after she heard the DJ and former dancer joke that her original wedding dress “might be a pinch on the tight side now”, couldn’t resist giving their vows a twist.
“I promise to always be supportive – yes, I can do that,” she checked. “In good times and in bad – the good are always so much better than the bad though, don’t you think? In sickness and in health – that means look after him when he’s got man flu. Love and honour – glad it doesn’t say obey because that’s a bit hard – and keep you for as long as you both shall live. That makes sense because John’s said I have to carry on working when he retires so he can go and play golf,” declared Alison with humour befitting the set of the long-running sitcom.
“Isn’t this wonderful?” said the 82-year-old “captain”, who relished his role as celebrant.
The actor hopes to return to New Zealand soon.
“I’d love to come back for longer but I’m not doing that bungy jump everyone does. I’d like to see the quieter side of the country I think!”