It’s said that smooth seas never made a good sailor, and the living proof of that comes in the shape of radio star and keen yachtie Hamish Coleman-Ross, the longtime host of Newstalk ZB’s top-rating mental health programme The Nutters Club.
Always topping its timeslot, Hamish has been involved in the show since its inception and took the helm from Mike King in 2017. And now he’s also officially number one in the life of primary teacher Yvette Farnell after the pair tied the knot on Auckland’s Motuihe Island.
After several COVID postponements, the lovebirds, both 38, exchanged vows in front of a backdrop of their beloved ocean and an intimate party of 70 guests ferried over to the wildlife sanctuary.
“This day is something I’ve wished for my whole life,” said Hamish as he waited for his bride-to-be in the sand, in a custom pencil-grey suit from Barkers. He gasped when Yvette breezed across the grass to him in an ivory Anna Schimmel gown to the ENZSO version of Crowded Houses’ Message To My Girl.
“We knew we would be very emotional reciting our vows, so we asked Penny to keep it simple,” Hamish explains afterwards, referring to Auckland councillor Penny Webster, who acted as celebrant.
“But I didn’t think I’d be so swept away when I saw her – it was so wonderful.”
Maid of honour Lucy Campbell, who met Yvette at high school, tells us, “Seeing them both just glowing with love and excitement when they first set eyes on each other was the highlight of the day. I witnessed my best friend marry her perfect match.”
But this beautiful day almost didn’t happen as Yvette, a doting mother to Harry, 15, and Ashley, 13, almost chickened out of their first date back in 2014. Luckily, Hamish managed to convince her to see Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in the film Hercules and they quickly bonded over mocking the movie.
“Being able to share a laugh so easily with her instantly got my attention and I knew I wanted more,” he remembers.
Yvette adds, “After being so nervous, I was surprised how comfortable it was to be around him. I just wanted to spend as much time with him as I could and that has never really changed.”
Three dates in three days were quickly followed with home-cooked meals from a dodgy flat oven and a hilarious couple’s massage. However, it was the pair’s shared passion for aquatic adventure that sealed the deal, with the besotted duo spending several summers exploring the Hauraki Gulf and Bay of Islands aboard Hamish’s yacht Bacharach.
Hamish quickly knew he wanted to spend his life with this woman, but he prioritised finding the ideal home for their family before choosing the perfect ring to propose with. “My only jewellery knowledge was about the One Ring from The Lord Of The Rings,” he laughs. “I was completely out of my depth.”
So he went to Nelson to Jens Hansen Jewellers, who made the ring for the blockbuster film series, and commissioned an engagement ring using a lab-grown diamond. “That diamond only came into creation for Yvette’s ring,” says Hamish. “It was basically born for our love.”
The broadcaster lured Yvette, as well as a large group of friends and family, to the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron under the pretence of celebrating his birthday in front of the America’s Cup.
It was there he popped the question. Yvette recalls, “I didn’t suspect a thing. Hamish is known for doing things a bit differently and when he planned to give a speech in front of the cup at 6pm sharp, I just thought that was typical of him.
“He started his speech and my bestie said to me, ‘Shouldn’t you be standing next to him?’ Hamish stopped speaking and looked at me. Next minute, he was down on one knee, producing this beautiful ring. How I could say anything except yes?!”
Planning the big day on Motuihe, between Waiheke and Rangitoto Islands, seemed easy at first, with an early December 2021 date pencilled in.
“The wedding was always going to be outside, near or on the water,” says Yvette.
“We wanted to do something a little different, with a dash of adventure thrown in.”
But the couple were forced to postpone to April 2022 as travel restrictions would’ve prevented much of Hamish’s family from attending. “I actually like the new date,” says Yvette. “When Easter eggs appear in the supermarket, I’ll know it’s almost our anniversary!”
After the ceremony, guests were transported back to the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron for the reception, which featured stunning wrap-around views of the Harbour Bridge.
The couple’s wedding bands were also commissioned from Jens Hansen to match the engagement bling.
“It seems fitting the One Ring to rule them all would be what we chose as a design to show our commitment to each other,” says Hamish. “It also carried meaning to keep a connection to an iconic New Zealand story.”
Although starting the day as Coleman-Ross and Farnell, the couple have embarked on their new life together as Mr and Mrs Williams, taking the surname of Hamish’s late father, who committed suicide when the radio star was just four.
Hamish had always considered changing his name and, with the help of his Newstalk ZB listeners, decided the wedding provided the perfect opportunity to create something positive out of tragedy.
“I was really inspired to do it by the courage and honesty of the guests and listeners of The Nutters Club, who have shared their stories with me over the years,” he explains.
After a honeymoon night at the Cordis hotel’s luxurious new Pinnacle Tower, with a twinkling cityscape view, the newlyweds were looking forward to more oceanic adventures as a married couple.
But before they sail off into the sunset, the last word goes to their best man Justin Flitter, who says, “For Hamish and Yvette, love and sailing beat COVID and lockdowns, so I know they will be able to conquer life’s stormy seas together.”