Suzanne Paul’s romantic vow renewal

After 10 years together, Suzanne and Duncan celebrate their devotion. We have all the details of their special day.

By Donna Fleming
It was a moving moment in what was an emotion-filled occasion.
“Suzanne,” said marriage celebrant and TV presenter Jo Holley, “do you continue to have Duncan as your husband, to love and cherish him for the rest of your days?”
“Oh, go on then,” came the cheeky reply from Suzanne Paul, much to the amusement of gathered family and friends.
Her husband Duncan Wilson, when asked the same question, grinned at his wife and said, “Oh, yeah!”
When the TV star and her husband decided to renew their wedding vows to celebrate 10 years of marriage, they agreed they wanted the service to be short and sweet. This is the second time they’ve renewed their vows – the first time was five years ago – and they were keen on a relatively low-key and intimate occasion.
“We wanted to keep it simple,” says Suzanne. “None of this ‘I promise to iron your shirts and make your toast for breakfast.’ We’re not into that sort of stuff.”
But they are into plenty of love and laughter, and the ceremony was a mix of touching and amusing moments. Guests were misty-eyed as Suzanne (58) and Duncan (49) promised each other their endless love and support through good times and bad, and to always be by each other’s side. Then there were smiles all round as celebrant Jo, a friend of the couple, told the story of how they met. The pair were introduced 12 years ago by mutual friends on a Friday night at Auckland’s Soul Bar – which was the venue for their vow renewal – but the instant attraction between them nearly went nowhere.
“I asked her out and she ran away,” says Duncan.
“Yes, I did grab my bag and run off, but there was more to it than that,” says Suzanne. “My first marriage had only been over for four months and I thought I needed to be on my own for longer.”
Duncan kept going to Soul Bar on Friday nights, hoping to see this lovely lady again. He didn’t realise Suzanne – who’d cut her hair and dyed it blonde – was Suzanne Paul off the telly. He also didn’t realise that when she went out with friends, it was usually on a Saturday. But Duncan eventually visited the popular venue in the Viaduct Harbour on a Saturday, and who should be there but Suzanne. When she spotted him, she made a beeline through the crowd and asked, “Is that dinner invitation still open?”
So began a romance that led to marriage two years later, and it is clear that a decade as husband and wife has only strengthened Suzanne and Duncan’s love for each other.
“Ten years of marriage is a big deal – celebrities are known for not lasting the distance, so we reckon it’s equal to about 35 years when you think of it that way!” Suzanne chuckles. “We are so happy together, and the fact that we’ve been through so many ups and downs during 10 years of marriage and come through it stronger than ever is a good reason to celebrate.”
It’s fair to say that when the pair married in Fiji 10 years ago, life had just delivered them lemons. They’d weathered a rough period financially, and were only just getting back on their feet when the global financial crisis set in.
Then they suffered personal heartbreak. In the last decade, Suzanne has lost her mum Eileen, who lived with her and Duncan, and her dad Albert. But Suzanne is an optimist with a backbone of steel and an ability to keep going in the most difficult of times. She’s also able to find the positive in everything life throws at her.
“Every night, when we go to bed, I say to Duncan, ‘Let’s have a great day tomorrow.’ I know it sounds ridiculous, but we say that to each other every night. I tell him, ‘I’m looking forward to seeing you tomorrow,’ and I mean it. I’ve got Duncan, I’ve got my health, I can get myself out of bed – that’s a great start to the day to me.”
Suzanne says Duncan has been crucial in getting her through the tough times.
“We have been to hell and back together but we have come out the other side. Even when we lost everything – by that I mean material things – we still had our love for each other and that’s what really mattered.”
So what is the secret of their very happy marriage?
“We have fun,” says Duncan. “There’s quite a lot of silliness in our marriage but I think that is a good thing. Plus we don’t take each other for granted.”
“We tell each other how lucky we are to have each other all the time,” adds Suzanne. “Often, when you are married, you forget to give compliments. I think that’s important. I’ll say to Duncan, ‘You look so handsome,’ and I let him know that he still makes my heart beat faster. He tells me every day how much he loves me, and I love that.
“We’re also careful about how we speak to each other. I can’t remember the last time we had an argument, but if we do have words, we don’t say anything cruel. We’re always kind – we appreciate what we’ve got together and we don’t want to mess it up.
“This is a second marriage for both of us and once you have had a marriage that has gone wrong, you put extra effort into the next one to make sure you don’t make the same mistakes.”
Duncan is dad to twins, Hamish and Rachael (25), and Zoe (22) from his previous marriage, and “G-Dad” to grandkids Boston (18 months) and two-month-old Ruby Rose.
He says, “When Suzanne gets home from work, we sit down and have a chat about our day and make sure we make time for each other.”
When he and Suzanne first got together, they had a serious talk about what it would be like for Duncan, being the partner of someone who was well-known.
“There is a responsibility to Suzanne as a celebrity and as my wife, but I just roll with it,” he says. “I do what I can to support her, and I let her be herself.”
There have been times that he’s found it hard hearing his wife being criticised. “You have to be thick-skinned. I’m pretty good and I tolerate people’s opinions but there are times when I have wanted to put others straight about what Suzanne’s really like.”
Suzanne has worked tirelessly over the last 10 years and is now employed full-time by Brand Developers, testing and advertising their products. She also trains people here and in Australia to demonstrate Thin Lizzy make-up products, and markets supplements called Happy Balance designed to ease menopause symptoms. Plus there’s a web-based project in the pipeline. “I’m very busy but I love it – I couldn’t do it if
I didn’t love it,” she says.
Duncan, meanwhile, has a variety of projects on the go, including helping Suzanne with distributing Happy Balance and fostering unwanted dogs. They also worked together to arrange the vow renewal and everything ran like clockwork – Suzanne is naturally methodical and Duncan, who has Asperger’s syndrome, likes structure.
“I think planning today has brought us even closer together,” says Suzanne. “Deciding to renew our vows has made us think back to what it was about each other that we fell in love with, and that has been lovely.”
It’s a tradition they are determined to continue. “We’ll keep doing it every five years. I think next time, though, it will be a chapel in Las Vegas with an Elvis impersonator!”