Deborah and Andrew Judkins wanted to surprise their wedding guests with fireworks.
They ended up surprising all of Queenstown.
The Melbourne couple are in the business of weddings. Between them, their two reception venues host nearly 400 weddings a year.
So their post-wedding trip, after tying the knot in Melbourne last Friday, was always going to be extraordinary.
The happy couple, and 22 close family and friends, flew to Queenstown on Saturday and dined at waterfront restaurant Botswana Butchery that night. They stepped out during the break between mains and dessert, for photos and “a surprise”.
In front of their stunned guests, they pushed a button starting the six-minute fireworks display.
“I absolutely love fireworks, so to make all my dreams come true, my now husband organised the fireworks display,” Mrs Judkins said.
“It was a bit of fun. They were just blown away.”
Other than the sky, the display lit up social media.
One person asked: “Did someone start the Winter Fest fireworks a week early?”
To which one wag responded: “Yeah, thought we’d let rip while there was still snow about.”
The surprises did not end there. Four helicopters whisked the Australian group to the Remarkables mountains on Sunday.
Yesterday the party enjoyed Skyline’s gondola and luge and today is a Shotover Jet ride. The group flies out tomorrow. The Judkins will head to the United Kingdom for a 12-day honeymoon.
The Judkins, who have both been married before, first visited Queenstown last August.
When they got engaged a month later, Queenstown was the “natural choice” for an intimate, post-wedding trip, Mrs Judkins said.
“We just love it so much.”
Next time they visit they’ll be buying a house?
“Very close,” she said, laughing. “We would love to live here.”
Queenstown pyrotechnics expert Bill Falcone, who was contracted for Saturday’s event, says private fireworks displays happened once or twice a year in Queenstown.
“The wind dropped. I thought it was wonderful.”
Falcone’s skills will be put to use again this Friday for the Queenstown Winter Festival opening party and fireworks.
“It’ll be a magical show.”