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Real weddings and wedding ideas

See how other couples celebrated their big day with wedding stories and ideas from County Wedding Magazines' Real Weddings features.

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Fun times

Hannah and Declan met in 2014 at work. "I had transferred across from another store and Dec, thinking I was temporary staff for Christmas, took it upon himself to show me the ropes!" Hannah tells us. "He won me over with his cheeky personality and a few weeks later we started dating, much to our manager's disappointment! We had to be separated at work because neither of us got much done!"

The couple became engaged on holiday in Fuerteventura on 20th July 2019. "We enjoyed a walk along the beach after dinner and there, in front of the sunset was where he proposed!" Hannah says. "It was a big surprise although I should've seen it coming because there were some tell-tale signs!"

A brolly good time!

Although Ella and Hamish both grew up in Haverhill and knew each other through mutual friends and parties, it wasn't until after Ella moved away to university in Wolverhampton that they actually began talking. "It started with a text from Hamish wishing me a happy New Year," remembers Ella. Romance blossomed and after a year working away, on and off, Hamish booked a sunshine holiday in the Maldives for the two of them. "Despite many of my friends saying that he must be planning to propose, I was in complete denial," says Ella. So, as they headed out for dinner one evening, when Hamish stopped to take a sunset photo and got down on one knee to ask her to marry him, it came as a complete surprise. "We spent the rest of the evening FaceTiming, calling and messaging our friends and family before sitting down and writing out our guest list!"

Destination love

Lauren and Darren's adventure started thousands of feet in the air on a flight to Reykjavík. The pair were both cabin crew at the time and started chatting before Lauren suggested heading for coffee when they landed. She says, "We still laugh about that moment as it's something I've never normally been brave enough to do before – I must have known we were destined to be together."

While on a stroll in The Bahamas back in 2020, Darren proposed on a beautiful beach. Lauren comments, "We've always talked about getting married, but it was a complete surprise on the day. My maid of honour, Keli-Ann, was with us at the time and acted fast to capture the whole thing on camera."

Moments that matter

Sam and Matt first met online and after a few dates, everything started to fall into place. Sam says, "We had dinner at Matt's before I drove us to the cinema to see the remake of the Star Wars franchise. A Madonna track came on in the car and Matt thought, 'wow this guy has taste'."

Matt proposed while the pair was on holiday in Las Vegas. Initially, he wanted to pop the question on the first night while having dinner, but he hadn't accounted for the jet lag, time difference and the seven glasses each of champagne. The next intimate opportunity was after a Cher concert. Sam comments, "I had got the event's start time wrong, so the evening mood wasn't great when we turned up and Cher was finishing the last few songs. While watching the performance, Matt had disappeared behind me and reappeared on one knee. He had to ask if I was okay as I cried a lot and if it was a yes or no – of course, I said yes!"

Drink it all in

Sara and Luke met in 2012 on Twitter. "Following our online friendship, we started writing letters to each other, and one day, we decided to meet up," says Sara. "We didn't live near each other, so we never thought anything of our relationship other than a friendship. However, once we met, we were inseparable, and Luke asked me to be his girlfriend. From 2012 until 2018, we had a long-distance relationship whilst we completed our studies. We would travel by train to see each other, spending our weekends and school holidays together. Once we started our careers, we moved in with my parents while we saved for our house, which we bought in 2019. Over the years, we have grown together as a couple and become a team. A lot has changed in the past 10 years, but our friendship and love for each other has been consistent and grown stronger."

Luke proposed in April 2020. "It was a spontaneous moment," shares the bride. "He said that he had been thinking about it for a while, and one day he just went for it. He proposed during the first national lockdown at home. We were in bed, and he just randomly asked me. I was shocked, and it was a complete surprise! We had a Zoom party that evening with our family, and we shared the news with them and celebrated virtually. Because of COVID-19, we were reluctant to start wedding plans, however, in May 2021, we started the search and booked our wedding for later in the year."

Escape to the country

Chloe and Ray met, covered in neon paint, following their university's freshers week foam party. And from celebratory beginnings came a festive proposal. While putting up the decorations at Christmas in 2019 Ray produced several tree baubles he'd made featuring photos of the two of them. When they were finished they stepped back to admire the tree, Michael Buble's Christmas songs playing in the background – "I remember thinking what a lovely moment it was," Chloe says. But it was about to get even better, as Ray announced he had one more decoration to add. He handed her a handmade box, which contained a hand-painted ceramic disc with a Christmas tree on one side and on the other, as she turned it over to discover, were the words, "Will you marry me?" As she looked up she found Ray on one knee holding out her engagement ring, and somewhere amongst the happy tears Chloe managed to say, "Yes."

An intimate affair

Claudia and William first dated in school when they were 16 years old. "Our teenage love didn't last and we went our separate ways but continued to share a group of friends who were adamant that we should get back together," Claudia tells us. "Twelve years later, Will reached out again and fast forward nine months, we were engaged!"

The couple became engaged during a romantic beach proposal. "Will treated me to a barbecue on a quiet beach near Fowey in Cornwall," Claudia says. "He rustled up a delicious meal and it ended with a proposal which was perfect!"

Ready, set, wed

Gabby worked with Ross' sister in his local, but they didn't exactly start out on the right foot – Gabby says, "I always thought he was quite rude and grumpy." But when the two bumped into each other on a night out she actually found him to be funny, entertaining and very charming. So, when he asked her out on a date she accepted and explains, "I think his demeanour in the pub was just shyness as he's the most caring, kind, polite, funny person you could ever wish to meet."

Made for eachother

Becky and Mike met at a friend's 21st birthday party almost a decade ago. They discovered they were born on the same day of the same year in the same hospital, "So maybe our paths crossed way back then," Becky says.

Mike had originally planned to propose on a ski trip in March 2020, but as the country was plunged into the first lockdown at the time, the holiday was sadly cancelled. He still managed to keep his intentions quiet though and eventually succeeded in popping the question while on a break in The Cotswolds. During a beautiful autumnal walk from Stow-on-the-Wold to Boughton-on-the-Water, on a little bridge crossing a stream, right in the middle of nowhere, he asked Becky to be his wife. "We cried tears of joy – I've never been so surprised in my life, it was such a beautiful and happy time," Becky says.

Whimsical wedding

Vinaya and Tom first met while training to become lawyers and immediately clicked. They bonded over their mutual love of soul music, plus red wine, and have been inseparable ever since. Vinaya says, "Meeting when we were a bit older meant that we knew what we wanted in a partner. We knew we'd found the one and spent every day together during the lockdowns." She adds, "Our relationship felt very natural and like it was meant to be – everything has always happened very easily for us."

Autumn leaves

Katie and Shaun met online six years ago. "We had our first date at Ystradfellte Waterfalls in the Brecon Beacons and quickly became inseparable," says Katie. "Shaun is a very loving and kind person who puts me first, which was something I hadn't felt before and knew it was special. We moved in together after a year, which some may say was quick, but to us, it was so natural. We were on the same page, and I'm pretty sure I mentioned getting engaged within a few months of being together! Shaun put the reins on that for some time, but good things come to those who wait."

Pure gold

Lucy and Adam met at a New Year's Eve party of a joint friend, "I was eating a stolen pot of Pringles and Adam asked if the seat next to me was taken and the rest is history!" recalls Lucy. "It definitely wasn't his thick silver chain or his fresh shaven hair that attracted me to him, it was the way he made me laugh constantly and that he was so caring and thoughtful. Adam would say I'm funny, I always have him in stitches (I'd also say I'm very funny!). He also loves my eyes, so maybe that too!"

The big day was set 29th October 2021, with Braxted Park in Witham, Essex providing the ultimate backdrop. Here we find out more about their day...

Instant attraction

Jessica and Charlie Hogg met through friends and fell in love instantly. Jessica tells us, "We're extremely similar to one another, we're each other's best friends and soul mates." Charles popped the question in December 2019 when he took her to admire the view from one of Ilkley's famous rock formations, the cow and calf. Jessica remembers, "I turned around and he was down on one knee and asked me to marry him. It was a huge surprise; my mum and dad knew and had a bottle of champagne waiting for when we went to tell them."

The big day was set for 16th July, 2021 taking place at Hollins Hall Hotel & Country Club.

Light of my life

Despite meeting at a festival in Wales aged just 16 and 17, Abbie and Greg didn't really start getting to know each other until Greg sent Abbie a Facebook message a few months later. After a few dates at the beach, the pair realised they wanted to be together. "Greg says he was first attracted to my smile, while I loved how he could make me laugh until my stomach hurt – in fact he still does every day," Abbie tells us.

In 2017, Greg surprised Abbie with a trip to Iceland for her 21st birthday, and while there they decided to take a Northern Lights tour in the hopes they'd be kind enough to show themselves. However, by the time it reached 1am and the Northern Lights still hadn't materialised, Abbie decided it was time to call it a night and try again another day. But, Greg suggested they take just one last picture. He set up the camera on a timer, and as the flash went off he got down on one knee and asked Abbie to marry him. "It was the best feeling in the world and The Northern Lights appeared five seconds later. I couldn't have asked for a better proposal," Abbie shares.

To have and to hold

Bryony and Zoe attended the same secondary school where they became best friends. "We shared similar interests and our friendship grew stronger after we left school," they tell us. "Five years later, we fell in love and purchased a house together."

The couple became engaged on 26th June 2019 when Bryony proposed to Zoe at Bigbury on Sea beach in Devon. "I couldn't think of anything better than having Zoe as my wife," Bryony tells us. "I asked her mum and dad for their blessing before popping the question at our favourite spot. Zoe's mum Debbie had helped me choose the ring which was a big surprise for Zoe, and she said "yes" instantly - plenty of happy tears were shared!"

Lady in Red

Maddie and James first met when she moved to London for her first job as a junior doctor. "A mutual friend cunningly arranged for us to attend the same party knowing we were both newly single and had a shared love of art, nature and general goofiness," Maddie recalls. The matchmaking worked and they got together as a couple. However, when the time came for James to pop the question, things didn't quite go to plan. Three days into a two-week road trip in California he intended to surprise Maddie with a romantic proposal during a 5am hike in Joshua Tree National Park. The idea was to trek to the top of the highest rock and persuade her to pose for a photo looking out over the edge, to then find him down on one knee when she turned round. He hadn't counted on her being frozen to the spot with crippling vertigo though! "Poor James had to get back up to retrieve me. Luckily photo attempt two was more successful and we enjoyed a special moment together on top of the rock as the sun came up. I later had an image of the rock engraved on to a silver signet ring for James as a memento," adds Maddie.

Can't help falling in love

Holly and Thanasis met in the summer of 2014, whilst having drinks in Soho and hit it off immediately. "We spent the next few hours laughing and discovering shared interests and similarities," Holly recalls. "We'd arranged the second date before we'd even finished the second round of drinks!" It was obviously meant to be because five years later, Thanasis proposed. "It was a complete surprise, albeit a lovely one after a long work week!" she says. They celebrated with Champagne before heading out for dinner. "Amusingly if anything I might have expected Thanasis to propose the following week as we were going on holiday to St. Lucia. However, I got to pack my bag with lots of wedding magazines and we enjoyed kicking off the planning process from our sun loungers with cocktails instead," says Holly.

A modern fairytale

Lisa and Paul met through a mutual friend. "I was 16 and Paul was 19," says Lisa. "We got on really well and have done ever since. We've been together for 17 years and have two beautiful children together."

Paul popped the question after 16 years together. "It was a complete surprise," shares the bride. "He asked me at my 30th birthday party in front of all our friends and family. He put the ring in a gorgeous balloon, and I had to pop it and find it beneath rose gold feathers."

Timeless elegance

Georgie and Lloyd first met and dated when they were teenagers. "We lost touch and didn't see each other for 13 years," says Georgie. "We have a mutual best friend whose family member passed away, and Lloyd contacted me to see if I'd heard the news. We met up after that and immediately started where we left off. He is one of the most caring and loving people I've ever met. He is an amazing dad to his children too."

"Lloyd surprised me with a night away at Beaverbrook in Leatherhead," shares the bride. "To put me off the scent, he spent the weeks before saying we couldn't get married until we'd bought our house, so when he got down on one knee, I was in shock! I cried my eyes out, and we were so happy."

You're my world

Jade and Harry met at university. Harry played rugby and Jade was part of the cheerleading team. Romance blossomed when they spent 22 hours in each other's company on a coach trip through Europe on the university's annual sports holiday. They made the most of the long hours on the road discovering a common love of films, travelling and generally enjoying life. Jade says, "Our dates were full of laughter and we always seemed to accidentally have that extra bottle of wine! Travelling and exploring the world is something that we both absolutely love to do and we regularly find ourselves planning our next adventure together."

All you need is love for David and Marie-Anthea

David and Marie-Anthea first met online and decided to meet in person on London Bridge – the perfect location for a north and south Londoner to come together. Marie-Anthea says, "Dave almost cancelled because the Northern Line was down, but thankfully he persevered." She adds, "We realised we shared a lot in common, including a love for the gym, ballet, good steak, red wine and good-quality peanut butter." Early in their relationship, the couple had realised that they'd found the one. Marie-Anthea comments, "Dave offered to come to my office at lunchtime on a Monday to bring me a brownie because I was hungover, and that's when I realised he was a keeper."

Love wins

Laura met Mike in the oh-so modern way – online. While he was attracted to her genuine and down-to-earth personality, Laura says, "I fell in love with Mike's beautiful blue eyes and I'm not going to lie, the picture of him in his TA uniform was definitely a plus. I've always liked a man in uniform... who doesn't?!"

When Mike proposed in 2015 it wasn't a surprise as he'd asked Laura to go ring shopping the week before. "It was so much fun as I got to personally choose my engagement ring," Laura remembers. When the time came to pop the question, Mike took Laura on a romantic walk to Reculver, the beautiful church ruins on a cliff face, wine and glasses in hand. Despite being nervous he asked Laura to be his wife in the traditional way – on one knee – albeit in a puddle.

Simply chic

Daisy and Alex met when they were introduced by a friend. " "We both lived a few hours apart but regularly made time to spend with each other and the rest is history!"

The couple became engaged during a holiday in Canada. "Alex asked me to marry him at the top of Sulphur Mountain as we exited the gondola," Daisy says. "It was a beautiful day and a wonderful surprise."

Just married

Stacey and Jake met through an online dating app. "As our first date, Jake took me for breakfast after one of my night shifts which was a real treat," Stacey tells us. "We became engaged during the week that we went into the first lockdown! It was very romantic because we were at home and Jake had asked my mum to call me as a distraction while he decorated our home with candles and flowers. He had Tale As Old As Time from Beauty And The Beast playing, which is my favourite Disney movie that ended up being the song I walked down the aisle to because we hired a string trio who played a beautiful arrangement for us."

Love is all around for Sam and Michaela

Sam and Michaela first met on Plenty of Fish, a popular dating app, and set off for their first date after messaging back and forth. Michaela says, "The conversation flowed effortlessly, and I was instantly attracted to his looks, ambition and selflessness."

The pair realised they'd found the one at a three-day horse show, which Michaela was competing in. After the first two days of the event, she had fallen off twice and felt upset about her performance. But Sam inspired her to stay for the qualifying round, and she ended up winning thanks to his support. From that moment on, the pair knew they'd met their perfect match.

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