Kiwis rugby league star Benji Marshall has married long-term partner Zoe Balbi during a secretive ceremony in an exclusive hideaway near iconic northern New South Wales tourist location Byron Bay.
The New Zealand captain and Wests Tigers playmaker tied the knot with Balbi at the Visionnaire Estate yesterday afternoon, far from the prying eyes of paparazzi.
The high-profile Sydneysiders are understood to have negotiated a lucrative women’s magazine deal for exclusive rights to their wedding and chose a secluded location surrounded by thick bushland to protect their arrangement.
Balbi, 28, reportedly wore two different Steven Khalil gowns for the nuptials which took place before about 120 family and friends including her confidante, Australian model and TV presenter Jesinta Campbell, and American track and field Olympian Allyson Felix.
Marshall's league mates Beau Ryan, Chris Lawrence, Robbie Farah, Bryce Gibbs and Chris Heighington also attended while New Zealand-born pop singer Stan Walker is understood to have performed.
The wedding took place eight months after 27-year-old Marshall proposed to Balbi while they holidayed at Hamilton Island off the Queensland coast.
Although a joyous occasion for the couple, it was tempered by the absence of significant family members.
Balbi’s mother died six years ago and she revealed her continuing sense of loss as preparations for her big day gathered momentum.
“I do wish my mum was here during these times,” Balbi wrote last year on her blog ‘Know your Worth’.
Marshall's foster father Mick Doherty succumbed to pancreatic cancer in late 2009 – a devastating blow that motivated him to establish the Benji Marshall Foundation, a charitable organisation designed to find cures for childhood cancer.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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