Romantic Recollections: Eric & Jackie Murray

A love of olympic proportions: Gold-medal rower Eric Murray and wife Jackie talk about their most romantic day.

    A love of olympic proportions: Gold-medal rower Eric Murray and wife Jackie talk about their most romantic day.

    Eric: Like many in our sport, we met through rowing circles in Christchurch but didn't date until five years later when we'd both moved to Cambridge. Jackie and I got engaged the night of Hamilton's Great Race Masquerade Ball. We were at her parents' house; I got down on bended knee and told Jackie she had another piece of jewellery to wear.

    Jackie: The ring is stunning. It's made of yellow gold, and has a large solitaire diamond set in the middle with two bars of white gold on each side lined with four small diamonds.

    Eric: We were engaged for 14 months, and married on November 4, 2006 in front of 120 guests. We wanted a stress-free wedding and looked at a few difference venues, but we eventually decided on Vilagrad Winery in Ohaupo. They were incredible and did absolutely everything for us.

    Jackie: Honestly, the most challenging aspect of organising our day was finding one style and colour that suited all three of our bridesmaids. We should've done what the Sex and the City girls did and given them three different styles! We ended up opting for a gunmetal-grey floor-length dress with a fitted bodice. My wedding dress was much easier. It was a diamond-white halterneck fitted gown in silk and lace, which fanned out at the bottom with a train. It was the first dress I tried. I spotted it in a wedding magazine and found out who imported it.

    Eric: My groomsmen and I wore black morning suits from Frank Casey, and my bow tie matched the colour of Jackie's dress. The groomsmen had gunmetal-grey bow ties matching the bridesmaids' dresses.

    Jackie: Page boy Jack wore a miniature morning suit, and our flower girl Brooke wore a light pink mid-length dress. Our bouquets were arum lilies by Heavenly Flowers in Hamilton. These were dyed pink for the bridesmaids and mine were white. During the ceremony, one of my favourite moments was when my father, [Olympic rowing gold medalist Gary Robertson] walked me down the aisle to Pachelbel's Cannon in D. Eric welled up when he saw me. I didn't cry; instead I just felt relaxed and really happy.

    Eric: I remember we laughed at each other when Jackie reached the altar. I was a bit shaky. During our ceremony, Jack dropped the rings. They were tied to a ribbon on a horseshoe: somehow he undid it and the rings fell on the ground. They were found and tied back on, but it was very cute.

    Jackie: There were some funny moments, like when our reception table centerpiece caught on fire! The lady who lit the candles at the venue accidentally knocked over one of the candles. She threw a bit of water on it and everything was fine. Also during Eric's speech, he talked more about rowing than the wedding!

    Eric: Our first dance was to The Four Tops' 'I Can't Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch', played by the 3 Brothers Band. We picked this song because it had a good beat and we loved Forrest Gump [it was on the movie's soundtrack].

    Jackie: We had a white and dark chocolate cake by Hamilton's BJ's Cake Decor, but we never got a piece - that's what happens when you have rowers at your wedding! For our first wedding anniversary, Eric bought me another gorgeous diamond ring. I had him on, saying the first anniversary gift is diamonds [traditionally it is paper], so he went out and bought me one. It's a band to go above my engagment ring with diamonds surrounding it. Because of Eric's rowing commitments, we didn't have a honeymoon until four years later in Rarotonga.

    Eric: Then we had our beautiful son Zac.

    Jackie: For brides, my advice is to relax, smile and enjoy the day. In marriage, expect a lot of give and take. Being married to a professional athlete, you've got to support their dreams and be patient. I'm horse-mad too, so Eric definitely makes up for it when I am away at shows and events. 

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