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Weddings

The Kiwi celebs who double as marriage celebrants

And yes, you can book them for your wedding!

By Marilynn McLachlan
From radio stars to stars of the small screen if you're looking to add that extra special something to your nuptials there's a bunch of famous faces who are more than happy to help make your big day unforgettable.

Antonia Prebble, Westside actress, 35

Although unsure just when she and fiance Dan will tie the knot, Antonia knows it'll happen. "Publicly declaring your love is a special, significant thing," she says.
She's loved around New Zealand for her varied acting roles, but Antonia Prebble is probably best known as Westside's Rita West. And it comes as no surprise that after becoming a celebrant in 2012, she's had a number of requests to perform ceremonies as her iconic character.
"I'm not allowed to impersonate her outside of the Westside set," the actress explains. "But I'm quite pleased because I don't think Rita would make a particularly good celebrant. She would not be very positive – she'd be pretty grumpy and she would swear like a sailor!"
While she may not perform ceremonies in character, Antonia admits she's often a surprise at the end of the aisle.
"I do a lot of weddings out west, so a lot of the guests are Westies or Westside fans – it's a great moment when they realise a fellow Westie is about to officiate!"
The brunette beauty, who also regularly emcees events and conferences, thought becoming a celebrant would be a natural fit.
"Marriage is a wonderful thing for two people to want to do," she says.
"I don't think it's outdated like some people do. Perhaps some elements are less relevant than they used to be, but publicly declaring your love is a special and significant thing."
But Antonia does note the irony that she's not married yet. It's been a tumultuous couple of years for the TV matriarch, who became engaged to fellow actor and writer Dan Musgrove, 37, in June 2018.
The couple excitingly discovered they were pregnant before the end of the year, but their lives took a devastating twist when their house caught fire, leaving it uninhabitable.
And while they still aren't in their family home, they happily welcomed adorable baby Freddie in July.
"We've been engaged for over a year now and have no idea when we'll get married," laughs Antonia.
"It feels like up until this point we just couldn't have the mental energy for it because of Freddie and the house, so that's sort of the paradox of being a celebrant who doesn't know when she's getting married. But one day we definitely will!"

Matty McLean, Breakfast host, 33

Don't mind if "I do"! Matty adds some showbiz pizzazz to the proceedings.
He's been a celebrant for five years, but Matty McLean's face still lights up with an infectious grin when he talks about weddings.
"I'm just in love with love," he declares. "And I love being there and helping people celebrate that love!"
It was when his friends started getting engaged that the broadcaster began to think about being part of people's special day. Then when a couple he knew asked if he would consider being their celebrant, he jumped at the chance. Although it took some time to gather the paperwork for the Department of Internal Affairs, he was approved on his first application and has now officiated around 40 weddings.
"It makes me really proud to be part of someone's day and a part of such a momentous occasion," he gushes. "I take real pride in trying to figure out who the people are and what it is they want from a wedding – and from a marriage as well – because there's so much more than just what happens on the wedding day. It hopefully continues for the rest of their lives."
And the Celebrity Treasure Island contestant likes to take the stress out of the day, adding that when they get to the end of the aisle, "I want to see big smiles on their faces."
In his TV role, Matty is used to meeting and talking to lots of people. But with his likeable and open personality, he admits that sometimes it takes people a moment or two to realise that they've never met him in the flesh before.
"But that's great," he enthuses. "It means I'm doing my job right because on Breakfast we want people to feel like they know us and they're part of our family."
When it comes to future brides and grooms choosing a date for a wedding, Matty reckons New Year's Eve is a great idea.
"I've been a celebrant at a couple now, which sounds chaotic but it's actually so much fun," he tells. "They're extra special because it's a wedding and it's New Year's Eve, so everyone is in a really, really good mood!"

Paul ‘Flynny’ Flynn, More FM Drive host, 40

The radio star is hot property on the celebrant circuit, even dressing up as the Monopoly Man for one lucky couple.
After attending too many dull weddings with "old ladies wearing floral dresses" as celebrants, Paul "Flynny" Flynn decided he wanted to give it a crack himself. But his application was rejected a whopping seven times!
"It turns out that on a previous radio show I made a prank call to Internal Affairs and they had a transcript on the wall and there was a note under it saying, 'Please never accept Paul Flynn as a celebrant because he's taking the p* out of us,'" he laughs. "I even asked [Sir] John Key to try and help me when he was the Prime Minister, but he couldn't!"
Finally, after five years, he was granted his wish and has never looked back. With around 230 weddings under his belt, Flynny admits to becoming friends with many of the couples, advising most to ditch the rehearsal to keep the spontaneity.
"I like to get the party started early," tells the popular radio larrikin. "I like to get everyone involved with lots of audience participation. It's a little more light-hearted. It's still got beautiful parts but it's fun and memorable. There's laughter amongst the tears."
When it comes to unusual weddings, he has plenty of stories to tell. He's dressed as Mr Monopoly for a couple who were obsessed with the board game, and donned knight's armour for a Lord of the Rings-themed affair.
But despite his jovial approach, Flynny has officiated at tender weddings too, including one where the bride had cancer.
"It was heartbreaking," he shares. "Obviously it was extremely intimate and everyone there was very, very emotional. Even though I had just met them, they'll always be special to me. We did it on a beach at sunrise."
And while he's been happily married to Nat, 38, for 14 years, if he had to do it all again, the father of Jack, 14, Leo, 11, Mickaela, eight, and four-year-old Alex would have a backyard event.
"There's something pretty cool about being at someone's house on the back lawn with the barbecue going or a spit roast cooking in the background."

Miriama Smith, 800 Words actress, 43

"The stars on the day are the happy couple, so I'm always eager to deflect the attention back to them," she says.
While her goal is to assist happy couples celebrate their love their way, actress Miriama Smith had a special reason for wanting to become a celebrant.
"I also applied to help honour Maori language," tells the award-winning actress, who is of Te Arawa descent.
"Being able to incorporate te reo Maori into ceremonies is something I love to offer all couples, whether they are Maori or not. And pronouncing Maori names correctly out of respect for heritage is hugely important."
Living at Waihi Beach, Miriama has officiated at ceremonies from Tauranga to Auckland, and admits that with most couples booking her a year in advance, by the time they walk down the aisle, they're friends as well as clients.
Describing her style as relaxed, personable and authentic – with a healthy dose of humour – the mum of son Rauaroha, six, says not everyone expresses their feelings or emotions as freely as others. And when it comes to memorable moments, the Filthy Rich matriarch says it's "seeing big, burly Kiwi dads cry when they're giving their daughter's hand in marriage. It gets me every time!"
Although she likes to plan things well in advance so that by the time the big day rolls around she's focusing on the job at hand, guests excited to see a famous face can throw a spanner in the works.
"Most people are friendly and very keen to talk about any film or television projects I've worked on. But rightfully, the stars on the day are the happy couple getting married, so I'm always eager to deflect the attention back to them," she says.
Of all the ceremonies she's officiated, there's one that will always stand out in the vivacious star's mind.
She explains, "A couple chose their dog as their ringbearer and it ran down the aisle towards them … and then kept on running because the anticipation had become too much," she laughs. "The whole wedding was in fits of laughter. We eventually got the dog and the rings back and continued the ceremony!"

Ria Vandervis, Shortland Street, 35

"They'll come up and say hello and ask for a photo," Ria explains, when guests realise who the celebrant happens to be a Shorty Street star.
When it comes to her most memorable wedding as a celebrant, it's Shortland Street star Ria Vandervis' very first that springs to mind.
In 2012, she wed the woman who would be the photographer at her own wedding a month later, and while she admits she was a tad nervous, its simplicity put the then-newcomer at ease.
"They just wanted it to be them and a witness each – the bare minimum," Ria shares. "They wanted to get married on a rock, in the surf, so it was quite amazing! The bride was in a full wedding dress, even though there were only two guests and we did it in the ocean."
The actress turned her hand to celebrancy after returning to her home town of Dunedin from Sydney, where she found herself looking at other opportunities. She completed her certification and now, seven years later, has officiated more than 100 celebrations.
"People meet in so many ways and their love stories are so different," she says. "But essentially, love is the same. It's like the commonality between everyone – and being around that beautiful energy is a real privilege." And as Harper Whitley on New Zealand's most popular soap, it's only natural that guests are a little shocked when they see Ria setting up her microphone before a gig.
"It's quite funny," she laughs. "People will start noticing, but they're so lovely. They'll come up and say hello and ask for a photo, or say, 'It's just so nice to meet you.'"
She's also keen to reassure couples that magic can happen, even on a rainy day.
"People are so set on the perfect sunny day and a beautiful view, but there's something so special about a wedding being forced inside because of bad weather," she enthuses.
"When everyone's kind of squished in, there's just this real intimacy to it all. So it's a win-win – you get your good sunny day or get this beautiful intimacy!"

Erin Simpson, TV presenter, 37

Erin was keen to take on the role so she could officiate her cousin's wedding.
Bubbly blonde Erin Simpson recalls showing up at the Huntly courthouse in 2012 to have her celebrancy application approved, and the judge beaming with happiness.
"Back then, I was one of the first young people to walk through the doors as a celebrant and he was so excited," she laughs. "He was like, 'This is what the celebrant people need – a young person!'"
Erin was keen to take on the role so she could marry her cousin and, qualification in hand, she did just that at the Red Barn in Cambridge – but she was in for a surprise!
"Susie, my cousin, was walking up the aisle and I felt like I was in the wrong place because I've never seen that view before. I remember thinking it was so weird!"
Since then, she's done around 30 weddings, but after marrying Bachelor NZ star Zac Franich, 30, in November 2019, the newlywed reckons she'll understand a little more about what brides and grooms are going through.
"It's really hard taking everything in and it can be very emotional," she recalls.
Erin and Zac shared their dream day with Woman's Day.
Erin likes to inject a bit of personality and a few laughs into the proceedings.
"I think people know what to expect when they ask for me."
At the same time, she's careful not to take anything away from those who are most important – the bride and groom.
"I always wear pink pastel colours so that I can kind of morph into the background as much as possible," she says. "And when they're having that lovely big kiss for the first time, I disappear!"
And she's quick to point out that when she's officiating, it can be unexpectedly awesome if something goes wrong during a ceremony.
"Mistakes are human nature," explains Erin.
"And if they happen, you should be comfortable to laugh at it! These are the little things that you remember from people's weddings and it shouldn't be an awkward thing because there's nothing worse than awkwardness. We'll just get through it and it will be the best day of their lives."

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