Jessica Mutch’s fairytale long distance romance

After beginning their romance over Skype, the 1 News reporter had first date with Jacinda Ardern's 'hipster bodyguard' in Paris. They're now happily planning their wedding.

He made global headlines as the hot, hipster-bearded bodyguard shadowing Labour leader Jacinda Ardern during the election campaign, but while Iain McKay takes his job protecting New Zealand’s prime minister very seriously, it’s a certain TV personality who is his top priority.

The diplomatic protection officer has been dating 1 News reporter and Q+A presenter Jessica Mutch since late 2015 and, just before Christmas, the hunk got down on bended knee and popped the question at a fancy Auckland restaurant.

“We had a really frantic week, but somehow Iain convinced me we needed to squeeze in a nice dinner at The Sugar Club, at the top of the Sky Tower,” tells Jessica, showing off a glittering engagement ring with 68 diamonds.

“We had an amazing meal looking out over the harbour at sunset and as soon as I finished my meal, Iain got very keen on dessert, which actually isn’t that unusual for him.”

Suddenly, a waiter placed a big strawberry sponge cake on their table with the words “Will you marry me?” iced on top. When a shocked Jessica, 33, looked up, Iain, 31, was on the floor with the ring he’d designed himself.

He remembers, “I don’t typically get very nervous, but I was a bit of a wreck that night as there were so many people around. But when it happened, everyone else disappeared and we were in our own little bubble.”

The security officer has made headlines guarding our prime minister.

However, as soon as Jessica finally managed to say yes, her parents and brother made an appearance.

She grins, “They’d watched the whole thing and it was really cool to have them share the moment, crack open some champagne and eat the cake. I was really surprised because with my journalist’s brain, I felt like I should’ve seen the signs, but I never clicked. Iain did really well finally tricking me for once!”

The burly bodyguard can’t remember his exact words when he placed the ring on Jessica’s finger, but she recalls them exactly: “I knew that I wanted to marry you from our first date in Paris.”

She admits it sounds ridiculous that their first flush of romance happened in the City of Love, but it’s true.

While working as a political reporter in Wellington, Jessica had laid eyes on Iain many times before she moved to London in 2013 to be TVNZ’s Europe correspondent.

“We’d stand on opposite sides of the prime minister, so I knew who he was, but we’d never spoken,” she tells.

It wasn’t until 2015, a few months before Jessica was due to leave the UK, that Iain saw her on TV and sent her a friend request on Facebook. Soon, they were chatting and Skyping on a daily basis.

She says, “He was really interesting and a news junkie like me. It was nice to get little notes about all my stories.”

“I never felt unsure about our relationship,” says Jessica. “I just had a warm, solid feeling that Iain was ‘the one’.”

As Jessica prepared to pack up her London apartment and return to Aotearoa, Iain asked her, “Shall I come over and we can have our first date?” She replied, “Well, let’s just make it more of a story and meet up in Paris!”

Jessica laughs, “As I’m talking about it now, it sounds so crazy, but at the time, it just felt romantic and right.”

After finally meeting and sharing a first kiss at Charles de Gaulle Airport, the pair fell deeply in love while eating escargots in cafés and climbing the Eiffel Tower. Iain then travelled back to London to help Jessica box up her belongings.

Six months later, the bodyguard packed up his life in Wellington and moved in with his girlfriend in Auckland.

Iain tells, “It just made sense. She’s smart and beautiful, and she gives as good as she gets in a debate. We have a lot of fun together.”

The pair were surprised when images of Iain and Jacinda went viral during the last election.

Jessica laughs, “It’s strange because he’d been following John Key for almost a decade and people weren’t that interested, but I always look out for him in the back of news footage – and I guess other people started doing that too!”

Blushing, Iain shrugs, “I just treated it as a bit of a joke and I’m happy if people got some laughs out of it, but I generally like to avoid attention. I haven’t had a conversation with Jacinda about the whole palaver – she had bigger things to worry about at the time!”

For now, Jessica and Iain are simply enjoying their engagement, but she confesses that she’ll be flicking through a few bridal magazines over the holidays. She says, “I’m excited about us sharing and building a life together.”

Smiling, Iain concludes, “Marriage is about having that one person to spend the rest of your life with and everything I do, I want Jess to be right there next to me.”

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