As far as love stories go, Brad Beukes and Katrina Pinnington's is a somewhat strange one. Not only did the newly engaged couple fall in love on a reality show, but they both have Brad's ex-wife to thank for it.
Last year, despite a messy break-up 10 years ago, Jess Fuller got in touch with former hubby Brad to ask if he'd be interested in starring in a new TV series, The Ex Best Thing, based on divorcées setting each other up on dates.
"I wasn't holding out much hope," laughs Brad. "So many things could have gone wrong. But Jess obviously did well with my match!"
Each episode followed one ex-couple's journey, from meeting up and airing any grievances, to being set up on dates with potential love interests their former partner had chosen for them.
"I had my doubts, but I went with it," says real estate agent Brad, 41. "The whole process ended up being really good for me. It forced me to reflect on my past and where I wanted to go. It helped me to realise what I actually wanted." And most importantly, it introduced him to his future wife.
Katrina, 31, a Westpac customer service rep, was matched with Brad by Jess and is as stunned as anyone by the outcome. At the time of filming, Katrina had been single for two years when her sisters started setting her up on dates.
"I had got so comfortable with myself," explains Katrina. "When I did date, the guys had to really like what I liked. If they disagreed with anything, it was just like, 'No, I'm sorry, you're not right for me.' Then I got to a point in my life where I didn't feel like I needed anyone. When I went on the show and met Brad, I couldn't believe how similar we were. Nothing's really too much of an issue."
Brad adds, "We still talk about how strange it is and how it all happened. It doesn't seem real. I think we were just in the right place and ready to enter into a relationship."
Eighteen months later, Brad found himself setting up the ultimate surprise proposal, involving a helicopter trip to Aoraki/Mt Cook.
"I said to Katrina, 'There's this place I want to take you, but it's just for the night because it's very booked up and isn't available very often,'" recalls Brad. "I think she might have been a little bit suspicious!"
"A proposal was in the back of my mind," laughs Katrina.
"I was hopeful, but once we were up there and out of the helicopter, the views were so amazing that I was totally caught off guard when he proposed."
Today the loved-up couple are planning their wedding, to be held in February next year, and recently bought a house in Christchurch, which Katrina plans to move into after their nuptials.
"That's something I've always wanted to do," says Katrina, explaining her decision to live apart. "I stay a few nights a week at our house, but the majority of my time is spent at Mum and Dad's. I feel like if I wait until we walk down the aisle, it has more of a meaning. For me, anyway."
With a new house, there isn't much to be done in the way of renovations, but the couple are making it their own little by little.
"We'll probably get stuck into it a bit more once Katrina has moved in, so that she has some time to nest," smiles Brad.
Which brings us to our next conversation topic – children.
"We definitely want them sooner rather than later," enthuses Katrina, pointing out their age gap.
Adds Brad, "I don't feel older, but we have to bear in mind that I'd like to enjoy them while I can."
It was being on the show, that brought Brad to the realisation he wanted kids.
"I always thought I wasn't one of those children type of guys," he explains. "I've been a step-parent a couple of times, which has softened me a bit. But it was on the show that I realised I would like to have children of my own in the future. It helps when you meet the right person too."
Sadly, Brad's ex-wife Jess, 39, didn't fare so well on the show, which Brad hopes wasn't entirely down to his choices.
"Jess was under the impression I didn't do a good job with her selection," tells Brad. "It showed a couple of the comments I made to some of the guys. And I think she was upset that I didn't sell her enough. But it is what it is. I do think it helped us both get some closure at least."
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