TODAY |

Watch: Same-sex couple denied dream Cook Islands wedding after winning competition

A same-sex couple who won a tropical beachside wedding have finally been awarded their prize - but only after coming to Fair Go.

Tracey Strachan and Ali McWatters won the dream trip to Edgewater Resort in the Cook Islands in January, after attending the North City Wedding Expo.

They emailed the resort to claim their prize – but were dismayed after being informed that same sex marriage was illegal in the Cook Islands, and so the ceremony couldn’t proceed.

"We were shocked," said Tracey. "We were able to enter the prize, if it wasn’t able to be fulfilled the prize shouldn’t have been held here," she said.

Tracey Strachan then approached North City Wedding Expo organiser Deirdre Calvert, who said she would assist but then failed to return Ms Strachan’s follow up emails.

Worried they’d never be able to claim their prize, and with overseas friends and family asking what was going on, the couple approached Fair Go.

Turns out, it may have all been a miscommunication.

Edgewater Resort’s Emile Kairua says the hotel was organising a replacement ceremony, but had not communicated that directly to the couple.

"We actually lost track of where we were with this… A number of things we’ve been trying to catch up with," he said.

Mr Kairua immediately offered the couple a beachside ceremony – and an apology.

As for North City Wedding Expo’s Deirdre Calvert – who had been in contact with Tracey to try and fulfil the prize – she said she thought Edgewater was taking care of all communications.

"I probably should have followed up and I apologise that I didn’t… But at the end of the day, I relied on what Edgewater were telling me," she said.

Ms Calvert has since apologised for causing any stress to the couple, and says the Expo wholeheartedly supports same-sex marriage.

Edgewater has made the couple a formal offer of an 'affirmation' ceremony, although it cannot be a legally-binding marriage.

To make up for that, Ms Calvert has committed to helping Ms Strachan and Ms McWatters with their legal ceremony in New Zealand.

The couple were over the moon when Fair Go paid them a visit.

"Oh wow, thank you so much," said Tracey.

"It was a fantastic prize," said Ali. "We are stoked."

Same-sex marriage isn't legal in the Cook Islands, leaving Tracey Strachan and Ali McWatters in limbo. Source: Fair Go