Off to a flying start: Kate Elliott elopes to L.A!

The blissful bride is on cloud nine

As the sun sets over Los Angeles’ Echo Park, Kiwi actress Kate Elliott marries the love of her life David Benge to the tune of a vintage omnichord. No fuss and no drama, their secret elopement in the US is what the 34-year-old calls her “perfect wedding”.
Just eight close friends are there to witness the ceremony, but former Shortland Street star Kate and David, 37, who is the managing director of worldwide media company VICE, wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s David’s brother playing the old electronic musical instrument and his best friend Dan Mancini who has the honour of uniting the two lovebirds as their celebrant.
“I didn’t want to have a big wedding and I love to get out of New Zealand as much as possible,” explains Kate. “So we were like, ‘Why don’t we go and elope in Los Angeles and have a honeymoon too!’”
Bringing the ’60s to life, the gorgeous bride, who graced our screens as Kiwi aviator Jean Batten in TVNZ 1’s Sunday Theatre film of the same name on October 23, wears a vintage veil and a custom-made Delphine Manivet dress from Paris. It’s the perfect complement to David’s dashing Crane Brothers suit and the pair look the picture of happiness standing against the golden LA sky. “I wanted it to look a little bit like the wedding from The Godfather and a little like Priscilla Presley’s wedding to Elvis,” laughs Kate.
As they say their vows, Kate’s eyes are locked with David’s. She’s clutching a bouquet of gorgeous flowers she arranged herself that morning to match her scarlet Charlotte Olympia shoes. It might be an unconventional wedding, but it’s the perfect representation of the couple’s personalities and fun approach to life.
When asked more about why they decided to elope, Kate smiles and simply says, “It sounded like fun, like an adventure.” The celebrations continued the next day with a pool party-style reception and a trip to Disneyland. “It was low-key, low-stress, but I think it was the most possible fun you could have in two days,” tells Kate.
The pair had shared their marriage plans with family and a few close friends, but will celebrate again with them later in the year.
The elopement is just another chapter in their fairy-tale romance. Three years ago, Kate flew to New York for a film festival, only to reconnect with her old pal David, never imagining he’d soon become her husband.
“I was there for five days and that’s how it all began,” she recalls, shooting her hubby a knowing grin. Kate had met David once before back in New Zealand so when she found out he was living in New York, she decided to get in touch. “I texted him at three in the morning when I arrived, not thinking he would reply – but it’s NYC and no-one ever sleeps!” Kate laughs.
She invited music manager David, his brother and his friend to the premiere of her movie Fresh Meat, a cannibal comedy that also starred Temuera Morrison. “But David was running
late – as always!” she recalls. “It was about halfway through the film and I thought they weren’t coming. Suddenly, these three rambunctious young men burst through the back of the theatre! They had missed most of the film, so we went next door for a drink and we ended up staying out all night.”
But her tardy friend more than made up for missing the film by wooing Kate for the rest of her trip with wild nights of adventure in the city. “We’d go into town, have frozen margaritas and then go see these amazing artists like Iggy Pop in these concerts that were so small, you were literally being hit by his sweat!” she remembers.
“At the end of the five days, I was madly in love and so was he. We were already talking about marriage and babies. You know, it was like one of those perfect fairytale starts.”
David popped the question earlier this year during the Auckland Film Festival.
“I sort of knew it was going to happen – David’s not very good at hiding things,” confides Kate. The pair escaped to have a romantic weekend at SkyCity, watching films and “drinking heaps of champagne”.
Kate and David’s storybook romance has a modern-day twist, with the joining of their families. The newlyweds have beloved daughters from previous relationships and it’s been a big responsibility blending the families together. “It’s always a challenge, it’s never easy, but we try to make it as fun as we possibly can,” she tells.
Kate’s daughter Dee Dee, seven, lives with them all week and David’s four-year-old girl Hunter visits every second weekend. “It’s madness all the time!” laughs Kate. “But they get on like a house on fire, so that helps a lot.”
Her busy life at home back in Auckland hasn’t put a halt on Kate’s acting career, however. In October, we saw the star in action in her portrayal of flying legend Jean. “It was quite an intense shoot and I had full flight training too,” explains Kate. She worked every day for seven weeks, sometimes for 12 hours straight.
Although she might bear a striking resemblance to the Kiwi aviation heroine, with her pixie nose and brunette locks, one thing they don’t have in common is marriage. Jean never tied the knot, while Kate couldn’t be happier with a ring on her finger.
She beams, “It felt wonderful before we got married and it feels wonderful now.”

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