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John and Elaine say I do at ‘Wed-cote’

Written by Suzanna Reid
on December 13, 2023

It was a Woodcote wedding for all to see. Every resident at the village was invited, and most came along for the pink-tinged marriage of Elaine Palmer and John Barber.

Both Elaine and John sported stunning pink ensembles for their styley wedding outfits, as they stood before wedding celebrant Dawn Maley in the gardens of Ryman Healthcare’s Woodcote village, located in Hornby. 

“I’m a pink lady,” Elaine says. “I have pink hair most of the time, and I’ll be married in pink, and he is wearing some pink.”

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Dawn Malley goes through the Vows with John Barber and Elaine Palmer

Celebrant Dawn drew the couple together on the Woodcote lawn where rings were exchanged.  

“This beautiful ring has been engraved with a leaf to signify new beginnings, as you look at this ring over the years, I hope you remember that you have created something invaluable,” Dawn said during the vows.

Family and friends of the couple, watched on in awe, with some having helped in the preparations. Attendees came from far and wide, including Pahiatua, Nelson, and Blenheim.

The couple won’t admit to one or other of them having suggested marriage, with John saying the subject just came up and that it was a joint decision. John says in some senses he’s settling down having spent his whole life being a country boy and “moving ‘round a lot”. 

Now Elaine has taken on John’s surname, with Elaine saying in the last line in her speech; “much love to you all, and from John and myself, Elaine Barber,” she shared excitedly!

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John and Elaine sign the official documents

Both residents love that the village provides an amazing community of like-minded people. Elaine is part of groups like Knit and Natter, while John prefers to chat with people from all over the village.

The original move into Woodcote was positive for Elaine.

“It was like a big family, and everyone was talking to everybody else – that’s what it’s like here,” she says.

“We know everybody personally. That’s why we’re having the wedding here, with everybody from the townhouses and everybody from the resthome and the apartments – they’re all welcome.”

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John, who is soon to turn 83, moved into Woodcote in July 2022, having relocated to be closer to his brother Norman, who already lived in the village. John says since the early days of chats the romance has blossomed, and both are looking forward to their shared time ahead. 

“I think it will go quite smoothly. We get on very well, even though she’s the boss,” he jokes.

Elaine, aged 80, adds that as a village resident it is nice to have company: “when you’re our age and you’re single, you need companionship. The nights get awfully long with nobody to talk to, and just the TV.”

The couple talk easily though, John reckons Elaine, who has been in the village for more than nine years, is the boss. She even has a beer tankard, gifted by John, with something like ‘The World’s Greatest Boss’ etched on it. 

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Elaine (originally from New Plymouth) was previously married twice and John once. They have between them a good number of children. Elaine has six children while John has a son, Norman who is based in Rolleston, and a daughter named Kathy.

Her late husband’s sister, Janet Ward, travelled from Cheviot to be a witness to the marriage, while Elaine’s eldest son, Warren, and her younger son Allan gave her away.

Village activities coordinator Chrissy Tweedie told the tale of their first introduction at the post ceremony afternoon tea in which John was looking for somewhere to park a mobility scooter. 

“So here we are a year later, he didn’t park his electric scooter, he’s parked himself with Elaine!” Chrissy laughed.

About Ryman Healthcare:

Ryman was founded in 1984 and has become one of New Zealand’s largest listed companies. The company owns and operates 45 retirement villages in New Zealand and Australia which are home to more than 13,900 residents and the company employs 6,800 team members.

Media advisory: For further information, photos, interviews or comment please contact Group Corporate Affairs Manager Silke Marsh on +64 27 294 3609 or Communications Advisor Maryvonne Gray on 027 552 0767.

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