Rural Palmerston North couple Aydan Palmer and Francis Leppard were considering getting married in Las Vegas but now their wedding will happen in Marton.

The two entered the Project Marton "Elope to the Country" competition, with the prize a wedding at the Marton Harvest Festival on March 31, followed by a six-day Rangitīkei honeymoon.

Leppard saw the competition on Facebook, and sent a photo, then a video but never thought they would win.

The two were tricked into driving to Marton for a meeting, by being told they were in the top three. At the meeting they were asked how they would feel if they won, and were handed an envelope.


"They came running out with flowers and wine and said we had actually won it. I burst into tears. I didn't really know what to say," Leppard said.

The two have been in a relationship for just over five years. They have two children, Cooper, who was 13 months old when they got together, and Mila, 3.

Aydan Palmer and Francis Leppard have a public wedding planned for March 31. Photo / Supplied
Aydan Palmer and Francis Leppard have a public wedding planned for March 31. Photo / Supplied

"I got pregnant six months after meeting. We thought 'This is all the wrong way round' but we were pretty confident in what we had," Leppard said.

They were both living with their parents, but they confided in a friend who told them it never seemed like the right time to have children. They took heart and built a house together, moving in when Mila was 6 weeks old.

They had met through a shared passion for motocross.

"We used to go on rides and race together. Both families did it as a family and our children are now involved."

They travel New Zealand racing their bikes though these days it's mostly Francis supporting and watching Aydan and Cooper.

Both are very outdoorsy people, Leppard said, and will love the rafting, shooting and horseriding planned for their Rangitīkei honeymoon.


"It's going to be so much fun."

Leppard's parents will look after their children for that week, which will be the longest the two have ever spent without them.

They have four weeks until the wedding, and lots to arrange. They'll have to dip into their savings in order to pay for guests, but it still seems like a dream come true.

It will be better than a Vegas wedding, Leppard said, because their families will be there.

"Family for us is a massive thing."

The public aspect won't worry them, because they are both "pretty confident people".

"I competed in Miss Manawatū when I was younger, and I'm not worried about public speaking," Leppard said.

They may postpone their trip to the United States.

"It just isn't as important now that we have got the wedding to plan for."