Kiwi actress Deb’s picture perfect wedding

The star’s romantic big day played out just like a film!
Pictures: Think Visual

She’s made movies with Haylie Duff, shot commercials with Isla Fisher and created an award-winning short film series, yet it was her picturesque Nelson wedding that felt like the ultimate movie set for Kiwi actress Deb Foster.

Walking down the aisle to Blink-182, the Auckland-born star and her US love Erik Smith then saluted 10 Things I Hate About You by sharing their first dance to Frankie Valli’s Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, before pulling the ultimate rom-com move – dancing in the rain, then jumping in a swimming pool!

“It was totally like an American high-school movie!” says the Los Angeles-based star.

But just like the movies, there was also some heartache. Deb, 38, was grappling with the absence of her late dad Kevin. In a fun gesture, guests were invited to remember him by taking a shot of Baileys at a bar set up in his honour.

Mum and sis walked Deb down the aisle.

Kevin instilled a can-do attitude in Deb from early on and, along with her mother Kieron and younger sister Janine, helped the actress build her dream life in LA with Erik, 40.

“I was always making Mum film me on he Handycam as a kid! Acting and creating drew me in.”

While performing in school plays and Tip Top commercials, Deb studied photography and took acting classes. Then she got lucky in winning the US green card lottery. Relocating to New York at 24, she did theatre and films, appearing in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

But the Big Apple acting scene was challenging and Deb eventually moved to LA, where she instantly felt an affinity with the city’s arts community. She has since appeared in such TV movies as The Neighbors Are Watching, directed by Disney darling Haylie, and commercials with Alec Baldwin and Isla, while also writing and shooting her own scripts.

However, it wasn’t just work that fell into place in LA. Upon arrival, Deb was promptly cast on a project with Nebraska-born Erik, who was smitten from their first work call.

“I thought, ‘This girl’s got a cute accent,’ then did some cyberstalking on Facebook,” says the director of photography, who has a production company, Banana Man Films, and has filmed with Usher, Henry Winkler and Leslie Mann.

Immediately thinking Erik was cute, Deb didn’t hesitate when he asked her to check out his band. He then invited her to his birthday bash, where she met her future mother-in-law Pam.

Erik recalls, “Mum was taking photos of my friends and making notes so she could remember who’s who! She saved Deb as ‘the giggly one’. With Deb, I immediately felt like I wasn’t pretending to be anybody. I’d had relationships where I was trying to be someone else, but she allowed me to be me.”

On their first date, Erik cooked Deb dinner, then took her skateboarding. Once again, it was like a film set.

What a glorious feeling! The happy couple make a song and dance.

“He surprised me at the top of this parking garage, pulling two skateboards out,” says Deb. “We ended up doing it like the movies, where the guy’s behind the girl, tandem skateboarding.”

Bonding over their shared love for surfing, travel and filmmaking, the two were soon spending every day together. They went adventuring through Bali and visiting Aotearoa.

“My parents invited themselves to New Zealand too,” laughs Erik. “I loved it. New Zealand’s the perfect mix of the Midwest where I’m from, with farmers, tractors and small communities helping each other, plus city, surf and film.”

Having secured Kevin and Kieron’s blessing, Erik proposed in Raglan, pretending to film the sunset with his drone while secretly recording the whole thing. Too absorbed in a script to get suspicious, Deb remembers, “He did a speech and said, ‘I want you to marry me.’ I was in shock, then went, ‘Wait! You didn’t actually ask me.’”

Erik laughs, “I had misjudged the angle of the drone and it was heading towards a tree. I knelt down, saying, ‘I love you,’ but the drone distracted me!”

A long engagement followed as a result of COVID and the unexpected 2021 loss of Kevin, who suffered a blood clot in his heart. “It was the most shocking, super-sudden thing ever because he was such a healthy guy,” says Deb, tearing up.

However, Kevin’s presence was felt as Deb and Erik tied the knot at Kieron’s Nelson home. The couple organised fun pre-wedding activities,
like hiking the Abel Tasman Coast Track, winery tours and a Kaiteriteri Beach day, where they introduced US guests to cricket. “They tried to make it like baseball,” chuckles Deb.

Finding that her dream gown from Berta cost $12,000, Deb searched for a more affordable version. She thrilled to discover a similar dress in the label’s budget range, Jolie. Kieron and Janine, an LA-based musician, walked her down the aisle. “I’m so grateful for my mum and sister’s amazing support,” says Deb.

After the ceremony, guests sipped custom cocktails called Sneaky Kiwi and Nebraska Surf Club. Then, the newlyweds hit the floor for their first dance to a mash-up of All-4-One’s I Swear and Frankie Valli’s Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, having choreographed the performance themselves from Instagram videos.

American Erik is smitten with Deb and New Zealand!

“We wanted it to be a super-New Zealand, down-to-earth, fun, casual day and it was,” smiles Deb.

After honeymooning in the Coromandel, the couple are now back in LA filming an apocalyptic short film together. Deb admits they have to remember to talk to each other on set like colleagues instead of partners, but she loves having a spouse who understands the movie industry.

Deb’s also finishing up Bad Kiwis 3: The Homecoming. It’s part of a short film series she started with fellow New Zealand actress Rebecca McFadzien after they confided in each other that they felt like imposters when auditioning for Aussie roles.

The second film, Bad Kiwis 2: Kiwi Driver, followed their characters attempting to obtain Californian driver’s licences. It saw Deb and Rebecca named Best On Screen Duo at the 2021 Austin Spotlight Film Festival. “The next one’s about our characters going home to relearn how to be Kiwis again because we’ve lost our Kiwi-ness,” says Deb.

After 10 years in LA, Deb loves that Hollywood life has allowed her to get up close to inspiring actresses like Jennifer Aniston and Halle Berry, and as she continues conquering Tinseltown, she often remembers her dad’s wise words.

“He always said the hardest thing about running is just putting your shoes on,” she tells. “My dad was the biggest example of deciding you’re going to do something, then doing it. He flew planes and ran marathons. He’d say, ‘I want to do this,’ then make it happen. He was so inspiring.”


Pictures: Think Visual

Flowers: Willow Floral & Design

Cake: The Blooming Baker NZ

Catering: Krisine Harris

Celebrant: Rachel Tau’alupe

Decorations, marquee & furniture: Continental Event Hire Nelson, Got It Covered NZ

Music: DJ 4 You, Anthony Rima.

Related stories

Get Woman’s Day home delivered!  

Subscribe and save up to 29% on a magazine subscription.