Lovable larrikin Millen Baird is a man of many talents, but being serious certainly isn’t one of them. Never short of a joke, the actor, writer and TV producer from Taranaki is wired to make people laugh, avoids deep conversations like the plague and finds it hard to pour his heart out – unless he’s using a funny accent.
But on this very special day in sunny Fiji, inside a charming beachside chapel where he waits for his beautiful bride – Outrageous Fortune actress Siobhan Marshall – an uncharacteristically subdued Millen finally lets down his guard.
Wringing his hands and shifting on his feet, the dapper groom cuts a tall and nervous figure at the front of the small church, where over 50 family members and friends have squeezed in to witness his and Siobhan’s island nuptials. To get here, most of the couple’s loved ones have travelled from New Zealand, and some have even come from America and the UK. Their excitement is palpable as guests, including Kiwi actors Antonia Prebble and Will Hall, file into the pews.
At any other occasion, Millen would have a crowd this size in stitches, but on his wedding day, the funnyman is decidedly distracted. Beyond the outdoor boardwalk and palms that line the Denarau beachfront, the 43-year-old catches the first glimpse of his wife-to-be, edging towards him on her golf-cart chariot.Excitement builds as Temper Trap’s “Sweet Disposition” fills the church, bringing with it Siobhan’s eight blue-clad bridesmaids on the arms of five outnumbered groomsmen. Millen’s gaze, however, doesn’t waver. He’s mesmerised by Siobhan, who cuts an ethereal figure in a floaty white backless dress by Sally Eagle.
“When I saw her walking down the aisle, with our song playing in the background, I knew straight away there was no way I was making it through the ceremony dry-eyed,” Millen confesses later.
“She looked so beautiful and I was just so proud of her. Terrified is one way to put it – there were a lot of emotions popping up. I’ve seen YouTube videos of grooms fainting and I thought, ‘I’m going to be added to that list.’”
It’s the groom’s doting mum Colleen, a qualified celebrant, who has the great honour of uniting The Blue Rose star and her son in marriage. At 43, Millen’s still her baby boy and to say she’s excited about her role in his big day is an understatement.
By the time the gorgeous bride – flanked by her dad Kevin and stepdad Roy – reaches Millen at the altar, Colleen stands firmly between the lovebirds, eager to get proceedings underway. Without so much as a touch between them to settle their nerves, emotions run high when the couple come to reciting their vows.
As predicted, the glassy-eyed groom chokes up at his promise “to give my friendship and love, not only when your moments are high but when they are low”.
His teary bride responds, “It is my intention to be with you forever in a holy partnership of the soul, sharing all that is good within us with all of those whose lives we touch.”
But Siobhan’s tears don’t last long. With her vows said and done, and a sparkly new ring on her finger, the bride lets out one mightily goofy laugh, much to the delight of guests, who were hoping to hear at least one of the adorable actress’ signature cackles.
“That’s so me,” she smiles. “People often say Millen and I are as weird as each other. Well, today I married my weird and awesome soulmate, and it was perfect.
“I wasn’t one of those girls who ever really dreamed about her wedding day. Though this chapel was always going to be the one,” admits Siobhan, who stumbled across the venue at age 12 when she was on holiday with her family.
“I’d never fantasised about my dress or my dream husband, but I’m pretty happy with the one I got. It was the best day. There’s only one thing I would have changed – having my dog Bentley here. He would have made the cutest little ring bearer.”
Sadly, the couple’s Schnauzer couldn’t make the flight to Fiji, but as the sun gives way to stars for a fairy-lit alfresco reception, Bentley is certainly there in spirit. Not only does their little pup have a starring role in a surprise lip-synching video masterminded by Millen, it’s also the name of the bride and groom’s table.
Other pets are remembered on the night too. Homage is paid to Tiffany – the Marshall family cat that used to cough up huge fur balls – and their duck Fritz, who may or may not have been eaten for Christmas dinner one year.
The quirkiness continues with a round of pass the parcel – Siobhan’s favourite childhood game – and a quiz, before their MC, Nothing Trivial actor Aaron Ward, honours the long-limbed couple’s likeness to giraffes by peppering his speech with animal facts.
As the night wears on, friends and family attest to the couple’s kooky nature. Millen’s older sister Andrea jokes she feared her “big little brother” would never find someone as odd as him to settle down with, while Siobhan’s mum declares the lovable weirdos two peas in a pod.
Says Siobhan, “We definitely bucked tradition with the wedding, but we wanted something that represented us – a day that was memorable, enjoyable and a bit silly. It was amazing to see how happy everyone was, so I think we’ve achieved that. And after a few proposal hiccups, we wanted one wedding and we wanted to do it right.”
Indeed, it took the couple, who first met in 2013, three attempts to pull off a successful proposal. Their engagement story began in September last year, when Siobhan was a contestant on Dancing with the Stars New Zealand. While admiring his sweetheart on TV, it suddenly occurred to Millen that Siobhan was the only girl he ever wanted to marry – but she wasn’t ready to make the lifelong commitment.
Three months later, by which time the stunning blonde had warmed to the idea, her attempt to ask for Millen’s hand in marriage was met with similar trepidation. In the end, it took
a spontaneous trip to Fiji to seal the deal once and for all.
“We both did a lot of soul-searching to get to this point – and we couldn’t be happier,” says Millen. “It was important to us that we made this commitment in front of our loved ones. It feels so good, like a psychological shift. I must have been the world’s happiest man walking out of the chapel.”
After locals perform a traditional Fijian fire dance, the formalities are concluded with the couple’s ballroom-meets-hip-hop first number. It’s the moment two-left-feet Millen has been dreading, but his directive for guests to whip their heels or jandals off and dance means he soon has plenty of company on the sand.
While it’s been a joyous day, it’s also a bittersweet occasion for the pair, who are jetting off to LA after the wedding to try their luck in Hollywood. Before departing NZ, Siobhan and Millen bid their West Auckland abode farewell and hugged their furball one last time.
“It was hard saying goodbye to Bentley, but he’s staying with Mum, so we can Facetime him all the time. The motivation to get a job is so we can bring him over and have all the Bairds together again!”
“It’s an unconventional start to married life,” adds Millen. “We are heading into the unknown, really. But the important thing is that we’ve declared ourselves as a team now, so whatever happens, we have each other’s backs.”