This time last year, Shortland Street star Amelia Reid was busy organising the final touches of her fairytale wildflower wedding.
Earlier this month, she donned a wedding dress again, but this time it was to “marry” her on-screen partner, the ill-fated Dr Luke Durville, which she’s followed up with a honeymoon – the one she never had with her husband, actor Shadon Meredith.
“Last year, I was so focused on planning our wedding. It’s actually lovely having our honeymoon now – it feels like a treat after a really busy year,” says Amelia (26), who plays Bella in the hit TV2 show.
The pair are spending six weeks travelling around Cambodia, Bangkok and "wherever else takes our fancy", meeting up with friends, visiting an elephant orphanage and soaking up as many experiences as they can on their typically unconventional honeymoon.
“So far we’ve driven for three hours on the back of a pick-up truck with 10 people and a pet monkey to visit our friend Soknay – the perfect way to see the countryside!” laughs Amelia.
While sleeping on a shack floor in a third-world country isn’t the epitome of romance for many people, Amelia says it’s the perfect choice for them.
“When we’re in Cambodia, time slows down. We might spend a day walking in the fields, just talking; or picking fruit on Soknay’s farm.”
But is it romantic? “I can do resorts for a day or two, but I’m not one for tanning!” jokes Shadon. “Trust me, there will be champagne too!” adds Amelia.
It’s been quite a year for the newlyweds. While Amelia has spent long hours in the studio, Shadon (27) has been busy with a range of projects – appearing with Paul Henry in a Snickers ad, becoming a rape prevention educator and developing his passion for hip-hop.
In between, the pair have also been working together. Their latest project was directing a theatre show in September. “That was a great test, both of our marriage and of us working together,” says Amelia.
She admits she’s learned to become more of a planner, in part to balance Shadon’s “looser” nature. “We’re very different people, but we complement each other – he comes up with these crazy ideas, I work out how to make them a reality,” she says.
While the pair confess there are heated moments in their professional dealings, they love working together. “It allows us to learn and make mistakes, and be able to talk them through at the end of the day,” says Amelia.
“We’ve had to learn to challenge each other’s work, rather than make it personal. Little things, like talking over each other or contradicting each other, used to take us a day to get over – now it’s forgotten in five minutes!” adds Shadon.
While the couple are happy challenging each other’s point of view – the night Shadon proposed, the pair had one of their usual arguments – they are undoubtedly a strong team, with similar values and goals.
“We have our own personalities individually, as well as our identity as a couple and professionally as a directing team. “We argue because we hold on strongly to who we are,” explains Amelia.
The creative pair are easy going, but totally passionate about everything they do. They also never seem to run out of things to talk about – which will no doubt help when the pair spend part of their honeymoon in the small Cambodian village Amelia fell in love with seven years ago.
“We already have our list of food we want to eat!” says Amelia, who has visited the country three times. “I love lok lak (beef with lime and black pepper) and amok fish curry. We have a friend, Ennie, in the local marketplace who makes us breakfast of noodle soup with coffee, made with sweetened condensed milk. It sounds terrible, but it’s completely delicious.”
While the pair have a clear long-term plan, the near future won’t involve kids. “We don’t know where we’ll be, but we know what we want to be doing. We have a 20-year plan and some very big dreams!” laughs Amelia.
“I don’t think we’ve quite got there yet,” agrees Shadon. “Right now, it’s time for us to be a couple. I feel like we’ve been married forever, but we’re more solid than ever.”