Passengers on a Fiji Airways flight from Auckland, New Zealand to Nadi, Fiji, were treated to an unusual but heart-warming spectacle as their aircraft climbed to cruising altitude on August 7. Parading down one aisle and back up the other were five brides and five grooms, all dressed for their weddings and all about to seal the deal at 41,000 feet.
Once altitude was reached, the pilot handed an aircraft printout to Chris Sheedy, Guinness World Records adjudicator for Australia/NZ/South Pacific. Marriage celebrant Helena Dixon was given the nod and the ceremony, which would be the world’s highest altitude wedding on an aircraft, began.
Perhaps unsurprisingly there was a great deal of emotion as the couples realised, despite the unusual situation, the seriousness and joy of what it was they were doing. Tears flowed freely as vows and rings were exchanged in the newly-designed, luxurious business class cabin of the Fiji Airways A330 aircraft. Once the ceremony was over, glasses of Champagne were handed around as newlyweds, friends and families celebrated.
The pilots, under the watchful eye of Captain Warwick Daw, Fiji Airways’ Manager Line Operations, had kept the flight at an even altitude throughout the event, as a second printout from the aircraft systems proved. They had also flown south over the New Zealand land mass, then doubled back to ensure the plane was always above New Zealand during the ceremony - a legal requirement for the marriages to be recognised under New Zealand law.
The event had been organised by Fiji Airways, formerly known as Air Pacific, to mark their new brand launch. What better way than organising an on-board wedding as the flagship A330 aircraft flew to Fiji, an enormously popular marriage and honeymoon destination in itself.
“This was a unique idea to get five couples married on board, in our bid to raise awareness of the new airline branding and of Fiji as a wedding and honeymoon destination,” says Fiji Airways Acting Chief Executive, Aubrey Swift. “With our new brand identity and service based around an authentic Fijian experience, a couple’s Fijian wedding really can start the moment they set foot on board. We’re delighted that we were able to set a new Guinness World Record. We kept this as a surprise for our five couples and it was great to see their reaction when they found out they were part of this world record.”
“This was a flawless event,” Chris Sheedy from Guinness World Records says. “Congratulates to Fiji Airways for pulling off a difficult and technically challenging record attempt successfully whilst still preserving the very intimate and personal nature of the weddings. And of course, congratulations also to the newlywed record holders - Shannon and Chris Michl, Chelsea and Joe Williams, Philomena and Arron Wilson, Brent and Amber McArthur, and Liahn and Wade Herewini. Your married lives have begun on a record-breaking high.”