Rugby royalty head for DC's big match

Dan Carter and Honor Dillon will marry in Marlborough today. Photo NZPA
Dan Carter and Honor Dillon will marry in Marlborough today. Photo NZPA
Rugby royalty flew into Blenheim last night for New Zealand's wedding of the year - the tightly-controlled pairing of Dan Carter and Honor Dillon.

All Black captain Ritchie McCaw arrived on an 8pm flight and was collected at the airport by former Canterbury and All Black teammate Aaron Mauger, who was already in Blenheim.

Airport staff went to extreme lengths to ensure McCaw, who was hobbling on crutches, could leave the airport grounds without having to travel through the mass of waiting media and a handful of young fans.

Teammate Ali Williams and his fiancee, Casey Green, were among the wedding guests. Williams refused to comment after his arrival yesterday, saying only "it's [Carter's] day''.

Other big names were reported to be arriving last night, although the guest list has been kept secret.

Invitations did not disclose the venue, the Herald has learned, but with its leaking this week - Marlborough's exclusive Lake Timara Lodge - the organisers are going to extreme lengths to keep away prying eyes.

Carter and Ms Dillon, who became engaged last year after eight years together, are expected to marry next to a man-made lake at the lodge, with several marquees erected on the sprawling grounds for guests.

It is understood the wedding is the subject of an exclusive deal with a women's magazine.

Honor's uncle, Richard Dillon, told the Herald guests' invitations merely directed them to board buses that would take them to a venue.

Mr Dillon said he had spoken to his niece, a former Black Sticks hockey player,  about the wedding.

"I asked her if it's like a test match, and she said: `Much the same'.''

Asked how Carter would handle the day, Mr Dillon said: "I think he's pretty cool, calm and collected.''

With the conditions expected to be mostly fine today after a week of bad weather, Mr Dillon said: "I'm sure it will all be very joyous.''

But members of Ms Dillon's family appeared far from joyous yesterday at the appearance of a media-organised helicopter buzzing over the lodge.

A Civil Aviation Authority spokeswoman said there had been no request for special airspace restrictions for today's ceremony.

Security guards were stationed at the lodge entrance yesterday and from 2pm today roads around the lodge will be closed to the public.

The Herald yesterday visited a private property overlooking the lodge with the permission of a resident, but soon after staff from the lodge visited and asked the woman not to allow media to use her property - to which she agreed. Lodge host Louis Schindler told the Herald he could not comment.

On the streets of Blenheim, most locals spoken to by the Herald yesterday were unaware of the wedding or not interested.

One woman shrugged it off, saying: "Sonny Bill Williams is better. Dan Carter is too short.''

But Carter admirer Jude Toogood, 47, was disappointed. "He shouldn't get married. He should spread himself around,'' she said.

Blenheim factory worker Francis Roebeck, 23, said he admired Carter as a rugby player, but wasn't interested in his personal life. But having the wedding in Marlborough was "pretty good for the population. It's better than it being in Auckland or Christchurch''.




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