Many little girls grow up imagining what their wedding day will be like, and Erin Simpson has always pictured her special day as a simple, fun and stress-free party with friends and family.
But instead, just a few weeks out from tying the knot with The Bachelor New Zealand star Zac Franich, Erin is juggling a guest list of 200 people while house hunting and filming a new TV show!
"One of the filming days for this new series was our wedding day!" laughs the bubbly 36-year-old. "I managed to get that day off, but we're shooting right up until the night before the wedding. We film outside of Auckland, so my dad will be picking me up the night before and driving us back for the wedding.
"I had a bit of a cry because at first I was like, 'Yes, I'll take the whole week off and I'll get my nails done, a facial, a fake tan.' But now there'll be none of that!"
Zac, 30, laughs at his bride adding, "I'm not marrying you for your fake tan sweetheart, I'm marrying you for you."
Erin's new series, Adventure All Stars, will premiere next year on TVNZ, and as if she didn't have enough on her plate already, she and Zac are now on the hunt for a family home after moving into a cosy Auckland apartment last year.
"I think we're going to get to the end of this year and just be like, 'Phew, we survived!'" says former Dancing with the Stars contestant Zac. "Fortunately I thought ahead and proposed to an event planner."
Erin adds, "Ideally we'll move into a new place after the wedding. We're just dealing with loans and bank stuff at the moment. If it happened before the wedding, I don't know what we'd do!"
The loved-up couple first started dating in 2017 following Zac's stint on Three's The Bachelor NZ. After a romantic proposal at Napier's annual Art Deco Festival in March this year, Erin and Zac were eager to tie the knot. Erin admits she never imagined getting married before meeting surf-lifesaving coach Zac, but now everything about their wedding feels right.
"As much as we've had complications and stress organising everything, Zac's really great at talking me through it and saying that it's not us against each other, it's us against the problem – and that's so true," Erin gushes. "We could have 1000 complications, but we're still going to get married. It's the most natural thing on earth – not once have we ever been like, 'This is off!'"
And despite the change of plans with her pre-wedding pampering, the former kids' TV presenter is planning to look her best when she walks down the aisle.
In preparation for the big day, Erin has been hitting the gym hard with Monty Betham's 12-week fitness programme. She's been training three times a week, waking up at the crack of dawn to fit it into her busy schedule.
"I wasn't out of shape, but I wasn't in shape," she explains. "So Monty signed me up for his 12-week challenge. I got to the end and thought, 'Oh thank God it's over,' and he said, 'Right, let's start the next 12 weeks!' Now I'm on to my third 12-week programme and I'm actually starting to like it. It's working; I've lost a bit of weight, I'm in shape and I'm fit."
For Zac, he's loved watching his fiancée tackle the challenge.
"I'm really proud of her because in that first 12 weeks she was not enjoying it at all," he tells. "She'd get home and I'd ask how it was and she'd just say, 'horrible'. Now look at her!" Laughing, Erin chimes in, "I hate that exercising actually works!"
One easy thing they've checked off their to-do list is finding the perfect dress. Although she's keeping tight-lipped about what her gown will look like, Erin says it only took one trip to Brides By Donna Rae in Invercargill and she found 'the one'.
"I bought the first one I tried on – it's so beautiful," giggles Erin. "If only the rest of the wedding planning was that easy!"
And as the couple continue their search for what they're calling a "family home", we couldn't help but ask if they're planning to have children.
"We do want kids in the next 12 months," smiles Zac. Nodding Erin adds, "I just want to be relaxed. It's ok to rush around for a wedding and pack in all these hours, but it's not ok when you're pregnant. I don't want to be in that type of framework when a baby comes along – I want to be real chill."
As the smitten couple leave our photo shoot for another session of wedding planning, they couldn't look happier.
Zac tells, "We've done things in a certain order – we moved in together, went on holiday, bought a house and now we're getting married. I reckon we've had a pretty amazing time together so far and I'm excited to get married."
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