When planning her perfect wedding day, Kristine Gallagher made sure that every box was ticked – from the guest list to her gorgeous wedding gown.
The only missing detail was the groom, who had no idea he was about to marry his love of 12 years, until just moments before Kristine (33) walked down the aisle towards him!
Although the Napier nurse had been engaged to her partner Tony Banks (36) for five years and had two children with him, he always told her he never wanted to get married.
Tony insisted that if Kristine wanted a wedding she would need to spring it on him – so that’s exactly what she did.
“I’ve never liked being the centre of attention. I don’t like crowds. I don’t like speaking in front of people,” says Tony.
“I also never wanted to spend so much money on one day.”
Without Tony discovering her intentions, Kristine spent more than a year organising the day.
“It was actually easier for me to plan a wedding without him knowing. If we had done it together, we would have argued the whole way through,” she laughs.
Although many family and friends were in on the plan, Kristine didn’t tell their two children, Courtney (8) and Zavier (4), until the day.
“It was amazing, everyone kept the secret. No-one let it slip. It just goes to show how amazing our friends are.”
Kristine became an expert at hiding her big secret and at times the wedding seemed like a covert operation.
She hid wedding decorations at her parent’s home, arranged secret phone calls and stashed money away in order to throw Tony off the scent.
However, Tony did suspect something was going on – especially with the secret calls and texts – and at one point he even asked Kristine if she was having an affair.
“I had to confront him and told him if he wanted to know the truth, I would tell him everything, but it would ruin the surprise,” Kristine says.
“The hardest thing was all the times I had to go out to do something. I felt bad, always making up stories and leaving him at home with the kids.”
Assuming that she was organising an overseas trip, Tony let it go and Kristine continued with her planning.
“He knew I was being secretive about something. He never thought it would be a wedding,” she explains.
All was revealed in October when the day finally arrived.
Tony had been out buying a stereo for his car and returned to find his brother from Australia in the garage with his good friends, who had the duty of giving Tony an invitation to his own ceremony!
“I opened it and read what was inside. I was shocked and didn’t know what to do,” he says.
Kristine had bought Tony some nice jeans and a black shirt for their wedding day.
“I made sure it was nothing too flash – otherwise Tony wouldn’t have liked it,” reveals the woman who clearly knows her man well.
Kristine arranged all the decorations and the ceremony to be held at a friend’s house, with more than 100 guests, as well as the celebrant.
Although he was surprised and anxious, Tony’s nerves vanished as soon as he saw his stunning bride, who wore a white satin gown and walked down the aisle to Adele’s song One and Only. She was also holding a gorgeous bunch of plastic flowers she’d bought on Trade Me.
“If I had known about the wedding from the beginning, I would have tried to back out of it. But when it was sprung on me, I couldn’t resist,” reveals Tony with a smile.
Kristine planned their special day with Tony in mind – down to the lime green wedding cake, which was- designed to match his prized classic Holden V8.
“What she did to make all of it happen made me love Kris even more,” says Tony.
After they said their “I dos”, his bride surprised Tony again with a romantic honeymoon on the Gold Coast.
Kristine says all the secrets were worth it to see Tony happy.
“I was stoked that I pulled it off. I still get goose bumps every time I think about the occasion. It was the best day ever.”