Rugby royalty head to the venue for Dan's biggest match

By Jarrod Booker

Aaron Mauger and Richie McCaw. Photo / Alan Gibson
Aaron Mauger and Richie McCaw. Photo / Alan Gibson

The guests for the wedding of Dan Carter and Honor Dillon have begun loading into buses and cars to travel to the venue.

Among those spotted boarding the buses with tinted windows in central Blenheim were All Black lock Ali Williams with fiancee Casey Green, and former All Black Leon MacDonald with his wife Hayley.

Captain Richie Mccaw left a Blenheim motel to travel to the wedding in a private car.

The wedding is expected to be held at 4pm at the exclusive Timara Lodge about 10 minutes drive from the centre of the Blenheim.

Rugby royalty flew into Blenheim last night for New Zealand's wedding of the year.

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.

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

This morning All Blacks coach Graham Henry and wife Raewyn arrived at Blenheim Airport and were quickly whisked away from waiting media.

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 either unaware of the wedding taking place on the outskirts of their town, 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".

- NZ Herald

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