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Rival reporters romantic engagement

Ollie Ritchie’s ‘plan C’ proposal to Kimberlee Downs turned out to be absolutely perfect

Newshub sports reporter Ollie Ritchie always had big plans when it came to proposing to his TVNZ journalist girlfriend Kimberlee Downs.

After three years together, he knew he’d found the person he wanted to spend his life with, so he secretly designed and commissioned a beautiful diamond ring, asked Kim’s delighted parents for their blessing, and was determined it would be an engagement to remember.

However, as is often the case with the rugby reporter’s hectic work schedule, dreams of an exotic destination proposal never quite came to fruition.

“First of all, I was hoping it might happen while we were on holiday in the South Island,” explains Ollie, 29. “But then I had to cancel that because of work – and there were a few other ideas that I couldn’t quite make happen either because I was away so much. I was beginning to wonder how I would ever pull it off.”

In the end, it was at a beach just minutes from their home on Auckland’s North Shore where Christchurch-born Ollie finally popped the question. And despite his earlier grand plans, bride-to-be Kim, 32, says Ollie’s proposal was perfect in every way.

“Ollie calls it his ‘plan C’ engagement, but I honestly couldn’t imagine it being any better,” she says, welling up. “He put so much thought and effort into it, and I still cry when I think about it.”

Both sports reporters, Kim and Ollie might work for rival channels, but they’ve always been on the same page when it comes to love. They met back in 2016 on a Black Caps cricket tour, but it wasn’t until 2018 that sparks really flew.

They did long distance while Kim was TVNZ’s Australian correspondent, before moving in together in 2019. After their OE plans were scuppered by COVID, they turned their attention to buying a house and finally secured the home of their dreams in Auckland’s Northcote.

Kim happily said yes to her soulmate. “I’m so grateful I met Ollie and that we have our future to look forward to.”

While Taranaki-raised Kim was content enjoying this chapter of their lives, behind the scenes, Ollie was busily working on plans to propose to the woman he loves.

Unknown to her, he was making secret visits to The Diamond Shop in Auckland’s Herne Bay, working closely with the jewellers to create a stunning solitaire diamond ring to propose with. During the Christmas holidays in 2021, he had managed to get Kim’s parents Chris and Alison on their own to ask for their blessing.

“Kim’s mum cried with happiness, so I thought that was a pretty good sign,” he laughs. And Kim still can’t believe he managed to do all this without her having any inkling at all.

Kim’s parents Chris and Alison gladly gave Ollie permission to marry their girl.

“We had talked about the future and knew we were in it for the long haul, but I had absolutely no idea he was planning to propose,” she says. “He got me good!”

While Ollie was champing at the bit to pop the question, it wasn’t until 2022 that he finally found the perfect day to do it. The pair took a trip to Rangitoto Island, with Ollie secretly packing a bottle of Champagne, two glasses and the ring, of course, into his backpack in the hopes of finding a secluded spot on the Hauraki Gulf landmark.

“I realised pretty quickly that it wasn’t going to happen there,” he says, explaining they were far from the only people who’d made the journey that day. “There were people every-where, so I had to come up with another idea pretty fast.”

With the bubbles and ring remaining in the bag, the couple returned home.

But Ollie hadn’t given up – later in the afternoon, he suggested they visit Kendall Bay, a secluded beach just minutes from their home.

“I’ve never been so nervous in my life,” he recalls. “I can do live crosses on TV and I can speak in front of lots of people, but this was next level. I wasn’t worried that Kim would say no – I just wanted to do it right because it was such a big moment in our lives. I wanted it to be special.”

Kim says she can remember every detail of the proposal. They were sitting on some rocks when she noticed Ollie looked as white as a sheet. When he started talking, his voice sounded odd and that’s when she realised what was happening.

“Just as it dawned on me what was going on, he dropped to one knee,” she tells. “He said he’d been trying to find the words to tell me how much he loves me and how much he wants to spend the rest of his life with me. Then he said, ‘Will you marry me?’ and that’s when I started crying with happiness. It was an immediate yes!”

Fast-forward to today and they’re excitedly counting down to their March wedding, which will take place in Taranaki in front of 140 guests.

Planning has been mostly enjoyable for the laid-back duo, but Ollie admits much of his input has been via email thanks to his hectic schedule. The past 12 months have seen him travel to China for the Winter Olympics, and follow the All Blacks to South Africa and Australia. “I CC’d him into a lot of emails and we had to save a lot of decisions until when he got back home,” adds Kim.

Wedding plans have had to be worked around Ollie’s busy reporting commitments.

With the venue booked, Kim’s custom-made dress almost finished and invites sent, the couple are excited about finally saying “I do”.

And they’re doing their best to avoid any bridezilla moments.

Says Kim, “When I’ve felt myself going down a bit of a rabbit hole or stressing about things that really don’t matter, I’ve reminded myself that, really, the only thing that’s important is we’re getting married and that we’ll be surrounded by all the people we love.”

The couple will be having their first dance as newlyweds in March. “The only thing that’s important is we’re getting married,” says the bride-to-be.

While she admits she never grew up dreaming of being a bride, she simply can’t wait to make her and Ollie’s love official.

“I think marriage is a wonderful way to show your commitment to each other and celebrate with the people you love. I’m so grateful I met Ollie and that we have our future to look forward to together. He’s an amazing person, so fiercely loyal and loving, and when I’m with him, I feel most at peace.”

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