Standing on a heart-shaped mat of hibiscus petals on a tiny island just off Rarotonga, All Whites star Tony Lochhead looked euphoric as he and Samantha Powell became husband and wife. Walking towards her fiancé in a breathtaking Allure ivory-chiffon gown, the first dress she saw, Sam (25) looked every inch the beautiful, blushing bride – although that could have been because the stunning former Miss Universe New Zealand was suffering from heatstroke.
“I was relaxing in the sun for the whole day before the wedding and suffered from heatstroke that night. The next morning, before the wedding, I had a combination of nerves and the effects of heatstroke so I felt ill,” Sam says. “But I thought, no, if I can do a fashion show in Christchurch with salmonella, I can do this! Nothing was going to stop me enjoying my wedding.”
A few Panadols and a whole lot of water later, Sam and her bridesmaids, Amanda and Jennie, made their way to the beach. A chiselled Rarotongan warrior in traditional dress then paddled Sam by waka to Motu Koromiri, an uninhabited island, where 58 of Sam and Tony’s family members and friends were waiting. “The boat was the perfect way for me to make an entrance,” says Sam, “but the sea was kind of rough, so I was holding on for dear life and my hair was going everywhere!”
After Sam and the warrior glided onto the beach, cheers erupted as she was lifted out of the boat and delivered to her emotional father Darryl, who walked her down the tiki torch-lined aisle towards Tony (30). “I could see her starting to cry as she got out of the boat,” Tony says. “She’s such a softie.”
The couple, who have been together for nearly five years, met on the dance floor of a Wellington bar in 2007. “He was the perfect gentleman,” says Sam, who was crowned Miss Universe New Zealand in 2008.
Although Sam had just turned 20, she knew she wanted to spend her life with Tony, who didn’t reveal he was an All White until weeks after they met. The soccer star has been playing for New Zealand since 2003 and joined the Wellington Phoenix team in 2007.
“From the moment I met him I had a feeling he was the guy I was going to marry and he felt the same way,” says Sam. The couple’s dream day couldn’t have been better. “It’s hard to put into words, the actual moment you say ‘I do’,” says Tony. “The ceremony was amazing, it was such an overwhelming experience,” adds Sam.
Guests were ferried back to the resort and an island-style reception followed. Traditional Rarotongan entertainment, including drummers and firedancers, wowed the attendees, with Tony and Sam having their first impromptu dance to the drums. “I was doing the hula and Tony was knocking his knees, it was hilarious,” laughs Sam. Their first traditional dance to Christina Perri’s A Thousand Years followed, with drummers then pulling the watching guests in to learn how to dance island-style.
“We always said we wanted a fun wedding and if you’re going to have an island wedding, you might as well do it properly!” laughs Sam. “I just wanted to marry my soulmate in the best way I knew how. It was nothing short of perfect.”