After tying the knot as total strangers on national TV, Married at First Sight NZ stars Brett and Angel Renall used to dream of throwing a proper wedding. But on the eve of their one-year anniversary, as the reality TV twosome blubber through another viewing of the video from their beautiful big day, the lovebirds say they wouldn't have their nuptials any other way.
"As weird and wonderful as the experiment may be, the show has given us the greatest gift of all – each other," beams Angel as the country cuties pose for our exclusive shoot at their rural abode near Christchurch.
"While our wedding day was unconventional, the feelings were so real and so intense from the second we laid eyes on each other. No matter how many times we watch that moment back, it still gives us butterflies. It truly was the best day of our lives – how could we improve on perfection?"
Indeed, since meeting and marrying on Three's reality-romance series, life couldn't be sweeter for the young lovers. Happily ensconced in slow-paced Lincoln, Angel has landed a job she adores as the marketing and events executive at Girl Guides, the couple are the proud puppy parents to their French bulldog Cashew, and as of just last week, they're first-time home owners!
"We can now call this little Lincoln love pad our own," smiles 27-year-old Angel, who relocated from Wellington to start a new life with her hubby down south.
"It's actually crazy to think it's been a whole year since we said 'I do'. In some ways, it feels like just yesterday we were standing at the altar, but on the other hand, it feels like we've known each our whole life."
"Life is good – there's just no better way to describe it," adds Brett, 33. "Angel and I got off to a flying start, and we've never lost momentum."
So what's the secret to their "rainbow and unicorns" kind of love? The couple say it's really quite simple – communicate, be kind and considerate, and above all else, find a way to make your better half laugh.
"That's the kicker," smiles Brett. "I've got a few tricks up my sleeve that will diffuse any situation. My latest is a really terrible rendition of, 'My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard' by Kelis."
Having enjoyed such an elaborate start to their courtship thanks to MAFS – including living in an inner-city apartment, countless dinners out and international travel – it's the simple things that make their hearts sing.
Angel explains, "Before meeting each other, we had both been single for so long that we'd never really known what it was like to have that person who was always at your side – that someone you knew was going to cook you dinner at night and give you a Brett-sized bear hug each morning. I couldn't love Brett more when he makes a special trip home from work on a Saturday morning to bring me coffee or makes the bed when he's the last to leave."
But the lovebirds are the first to admit they aren't perfect. Angel is easily irritated by Brett, who has a pesky habit of sipping at empty fizzy-drink cans, and it can be all-out war when the timber signmaker's darling wife gets behind the wheel.
"Like all couples, we have our disagreements – for the record, Brett is a much better driver than me – but it's how we overcome them that matters," says Angel.
"When I first moved down here, I worried I wouldn't find a job that would fulfil me and I struggled with not having my financial independence, but Brett always believed in me. He was my biggest cheerleader and backed me 100%.
"From day one, Brett's friends and family have welcomed me to Christchurch with open arms," adds Angel, who is now a fully fledged member of the Lady Bees, the rugby WAGS of Lincoln.
"Once I got my job, everything fell into place and we were able to establish our routine with Cashew, cooking and exercise. I feel like people underestimate the bustling city of Christchurch, but Brett and I couldn't be happier here."
While the couple might only have one year on the clock, as far as relationship milestones go, Brett and Angel are speeding through the checklist. Wedding? Tick! House? Tick. Puppy? Tick! So will the pitter-patter of tiny Renall feet be next?
"Let's just say the house we've bought has four bedrooms and we'll definitely be filling them," smiles Angel. "Starting a family means everything to us and we can't wait to give our fur baby a brother or a sister. Cashew has definitely been a stepping stone for us."
"It's been great to watch Angel with Cashew," adds Brett. "She's loving and committed – it's a lovely little look into the amazing mum I know she's going to be.
"We're looking forward to showing the kids our episodes of Married at First Sight – both Mum and I have them all saved on the MySky."
And the couple can't wait to watch the new series. "Seeing the promos has definitely brought back all the feelings," admits Angel.
"We know we were set up by the show's matchmakers, but we definitely feel like we had a big dose of luck.
"If I could give the contestants any advice, it would simply be to put your best foot forward and stay positive," concludes Angel sagely.
"Being on camera can be stressful at times, but just remember to use your pleases and thank yous, and if you're lucky, you might just wind up with your very own Brett Renall too."
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