Weddings

Paul Henry's daughter Bella is getting married - and it was the dream proposal!

''I have the dream ring, the dream proposal, the dream man. I can't think of anything better.''

By Kelly Bertrand

Paul Henry knows he's a lucky man. There was the great TV career, a close family – and of course, his current life on the high seas on his own yacht, Olive, named after his beloved late mum.

But almost all of it paled in comparison to a moment on the bow of his boat, with Venice's St Mark's square dazzling in the background, as he watched his youngest daughter Bella (26) get engaged to the man of her dreams, Julyan Collett (29).

"What a privilege," the proud dad says down the phone to the Weekly from Olive, which is currently anchored in Athens.

"How many parents get to see their daughter's proposal? It was very special."

Of course for Bella, Paul's mini-me and youngest daughter, it was simply a fairy tale.

"I'm all grown up now!" she exclaims.

"It was amazing. Julyan and Daddy planned it so well – they'd been working at it for about a month, which is very impressive, because I find out everything."

"She does," Julyan adds with a smile. "She's incredibly hard to surprise because she probes constantly, so it took a bit of planning!"

The magical moment – which was actually 12 months in the making – took place in August during the couple's holiday with Paul. Julyan, who has known Bella for 10 years and been with her officially for three, knew the trip was the perfect time to pop the question, and he also knew Paul – and Olive – had to be part of it.

"I came up with the plan with Paul and it was a no-brainer, really," Julyan explains. "I know how close Bella is with her dad, and how close she was to her grandmother, so I knew the boat was perfect."

Paul, who loved being in on the plan, helped Julyan set up an elaborate ruse to get Bella on deck at the crack of dawn by inventing a photo shoot."And all I wanted to do was eat," laughs Bella.

"I was really hungry, and Julyan's going, 'Put the food on hold! Your dad wants us to take some photos of us outside for his website!' Which I believed, because my dad's crazy with photos when he's on holiday, he's so annoying.

"So I went downstairs to get ready and Julyan's checking on me constantly because he knew I would want to look good, but I still didn't click. We get up to the front of the boat and I was taking heaps of selfies because I was really digging my look that day!"

But eventually, the selfies gave way to a few family photos and as Paul stepped away, leaving just the two of them at the bow, Julyan took his opportunity. Not that Bella noticed.

"Daddy goes, 'How about a photo of just you two?' I turn back to pose, but Julyan's pulling me around and I was like, 'No, this is my good side!' But then I saw he was getting down on one knee and my mind went blank. Well, actually, I think I swore a few times!"

After composing herself, Bella accepted Julyan's proposal – and stunning diamond ring – saying it was the most incredible moment of her life. And for it to have happened on the boat where her beloved grandmother's ashes are interred made it all the more amazing.

"It was so special," Bella gushes. "He knew how important my dad and my nana are to me. When Nana passed away, I was really sad knowing she wouldn't be at my wedding. She always wanted me to find someone; she kept nagging at me about it. She'd say, 'If you don't, you'll get too old and no-one will want you!' She'll be happy now."

And Paul couldn't be more thrilled – he even likes Julyan.

"It's very tricky because I'm quite harsh and obviously, as a father, no boy is going to be good enough for my daughters – for any of them," he says.

"But he's a nice guy. I've got to know him, they've been together quite a long time and he makes her happy. That's the main thing."

As for Julyan, he admits to a few nerves when first meeting Paul – which happened at the front door of Paul's former Albany home, with the robe-clad former presenter answering the door and offering a quick 'hello'.

"That was a bit daunting!" Julyan laughs. "It was quite a funny little moment."

Bella and Julyan first met when she was just 16 through Paul's ex-partner Diane Foreman, with Bella and Julyan both employed to do promotional work for her ice-cream company.

"Diane still likes to say if it wasn't for her, we'd never have met," Bella smiles.

"It was at an ice-cream factory in Manukau. I was young and quite shy back then, but after a week of working together I was madly in love.

"I was in complete awe of him. I remember writing all over my school books 'Bella Collett'."

However, their youth meant the pair didn't officially get together until three years ago.

"We both had a lot of growing up to do," Bella explains. "We had partners between being together, but we always came back to each other. I never found anyone who compared to him."

They now live in Bella's mum's flat with their pup Herman, who's like a child to them. And they couldn't be happier. Bella says she and Julyan are really nothing alike, a fact Paul wholeheartedly agrees with.

"There's no-one like Bella," he chuckles. "He'll be a good foil for her, I'm sure."

"Yes, he's very different to me," Bella laughs. "He's very chilled, very relaxed. Actually, he's just amazing, really amazing. My mum always said to me, 'Lock him down, Bella – you'll never find anyone else like that!'"

While Julyan provides the steady, stable foundation for the relationship, it's Bella who makes it exciting and unpredictable. And as Julyan says, you'll never die wondering what she thinks!

"The best thing about her is that you know exactly who she is. She's completely and utterly honest; she's like her dad in a lot of ways. She's incredibly loving – she'll drop anything for anyone. Those are things I hold in really high regard."

Julyan has won the approval of Bella's Dad Paul.
Julyan has won the approval of Bella's Dad Paul.

And as for the wedding?

Well, Bella and Julyan – and Paul – have a few different ideas on that score, with the father of the bride angling for a destination ceremony in Bora Bora.

"He's tried to convince Julyan, and Juylan's so easy- going he'd be keen. But I want to do it in New Zealand – it's home and it's special. And to be honest, I could never get married on a beach. I'm quite a traditional and religious person. I believe in getting married in a church. Plus, all my friends have kids. If I had a destination wedding, I'd be stuck in a bloody kid zoo!"

However, there is one dream location Bella would say yes to, Paul tells – Disneyland.

"Look, it's very much for them. Actually, no it's not, it's just for Bella, she'll take complete control! She'd love the wedding at Disneyland, dressed as a fairy princess. That would be her absolute choice, I'm sure," he says.

"I'm going to try to line it up, but I don't think it's going to happen," Bella adds, laughing.

"Maybe Daddy needs to stop spending all his money on the boat and save up for the wedding!" she jokes.

"In all seriousness though, I'm very happy. I have the dream ring, the dream proposal, the dream man. I can't think of anything better."

read more from