A New Zealand-Tongan man living in England spent his wedding night in hospital after his mother suffered a heart attack en route to the ceremony.

Agnes Mataitonga, 58, flew from her native Tonga to attend her son Frazer Mataitonga's wedding to Englishwoman Victoria Reeves.

Mr Mataitonga is a 27-year-old soldier in the 1st Mercian Regiment based in Yorkshire.

His new wife works for the National Health Service.

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The couple told the Daily Mail newspaper they thought Mrs Mataitonga had simply fainted, and therefore chose to proceed with the wedding ceremony. They were alerted soon after to the seriousness of her condition and went straight to the local hospital from the church service.

Mrs Mataitonga died after two days in the intensive care unit.

Speaking of her late mother-in-law, the new bride said: "It was such a devastating shock for us all to lose Agnes. Our world has been turned upside down.

"It was supposed to be the happiest day of our lives, our wedding day, such a joyous occasion but in reality it was the opposite."

The couple are now faced with a bill estimated at £20,000 ($39,000) to fly Mrs Mataitonga's body home to Tonga.

The newlyweds, who are from Westminster Park, Chester, had been engaged since last June and are appealing for help with the financial costs.

"The Tongans rarely travel this far and travel insurance is not a common product in the South Pacific, so our relatives also have nothing to contribute to Agnes' repatriation," said Mr Mataitonga.

"We are hoping and praying that we can seek assistance in our sombre and most unexpected task."

Mr Mataitonga expects up to 2000 mourners to attend his mother's funeral.