Two fires shattered a young couple's wedding plans on Tuesday - but they're still smiling.
Mangawhai chef Joe Ferguson and his Swedish bride-to-be Emma Ehn were due to marry at 3.30pm in the Auckland Registry Office at 99 Albert St.
Half an hour before the ceremony was due to start, the office rang to say the building had been evacuated because of the fire at the nearby SkyCity convention centre.
They went out for dinner anyway with Ferguson's parents, grandparents and sister and Ehn's parents, who were booked to fly back to Sweden yesterday..
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But when they all got back to their hotel, Barclay Suites at 74 Albert St, a 15th-floor apartment in the building was also ablaze, with seven fire engines fighting it.
A Fire Service spokesman said that fire was put out within an hour. But the hotel was left with no hot water and the lifts were not working, so the couple climbed 25 flights of stairs to their room with their two children aged 2 years and 6 months.
"All the things that could go wrong, did go wrong," Ferguson said.
"But we had a really good night. We went down to the waterfront and had some photos. We've paid for the marriage licence, so in our eyes we are married."
"We're still happy," said Ehn.
The couple, who met in Melbourne seven years ago, arranged the wedding at short notice after Ehn's parents decided to visit to see the new baby, Lumi.
"We thought while we have all the parents here in the same spot, we'll do it," Ehn said.
"It might be the last time they come, if we move to Sweden," added Ferguson. "Emma's father has had some health issues."
The couple have already spent time in Sweden, where their first daughter Freja was born, and plan to return in the middle of next year.
"It was going to be a simple, small wedding," Ferguson said.
But Ehn got the first hint that it wasn't going to go smoothly when she checked into the hotel with her parents and the baby at 1pm on Tuesday - 15 minutes before the first call to the Fire Service about a fire at SkyCity.
"We went up to the 25th floor and walked out and saw the smoke," she said.
The registry office offered to postpone the wedding until Wednesday morning or transfer it to the Manukau office, but either option would have been too late for Ehn's parents who had to leave early for the airport so they have decided to try again in a few weeks.
Instead, they cut the wedding cake in a cafe next to their hotel before Ehn's parents left.
"They were fine, they thought it was quite funny," Ehn said.
At the hotel, Ehn climbed the 25 floors twice, first to their own room and again after taking some baggage down to Ferguson's grandparents.
"My grandmother was on the fifth floor, which was lucky because she's like 83," Ferguson said.
They felt they had no other options.
"The whole hotel stank, but they said we can't move you anywhere because everywhere is full," Ehn said.
"They were real nice. There was nothing they could do. People were like, 'We want our money back,' but it was like, 'I can't do anything, I'm not the manager.'
"This morning I met the cleaners going up 25 floors carrying the vacuum cleaners and bags of sheets. We felt sorry for them."
The couple did, however, cancel the second night that they had booked at the hotel and moved across to the VR Takapuna on the waterfront at Bayswater.
"We just want to get out of the city," said Ferguson.
They have bought a 28-year-old van and plan to tour New Zealand over the summer before going back to Sweden, where Ferguson hopes to retrain to make prosthetics and orthotic footwear.
"Mentally, it's time for me to get out of the kitchen and settle down a bit," he said.
The Fire Service said the seven fire engines called to the hotel fire came from Birkenhead, West Harbour, St Heliers and Howick because all vehicles closer to the city were busy at SkyCity. The service was called at 7.10pm and closed the job an hour later.
Automobile Association principal adviser Barney Irvine, whose office is in the same building as the Auckland Registry Office at 99 Albert St, said the building was jointly owned by the AA and SkyCity, which is just across Federal St.
"We are direct neighbours," he said. "I don't think anyone is working in 99 Albert St. It's closed down."
An Internal Affairs Department spokesman said the department "will confirm if the office is open tomorrow, closer to the time, based on safety concerns and best advice".