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See how other couples celebrated their big day with wedding stories and ideas from County Wedding Magazines' Real Weddings features.
So many great couples start out as friends, and that was the case with Abi and Tom. "We went to school and university together before we started dating," Abi explains. "We both have the same sense of humour; we laugh a lot!"
Chris was studying geography, and Rhian was focusing on English literature when they first met. "We were living in different flats in our first year at Aberystwyth University," says Rhian. "One night, during Fresher's week, a group of us took a spontaneous midnight stroll near Constitution Hill. We met at the top and started talking about our love of standup comedy. We got to know each other more over the years and found we had lots in common and always made each other laugh."
Jen was 20 minutes late for her first date with Peter. "The fact that he was so chilled out about my lack of organisation made me like him right from the start," she says. "I'm the ideas person, he's the planner – we bring out the best in each other," she continues. They'd already chatted over Tinder, so by the time they met up, there was a spark and a connection. Jen remembers, "It was like there was no one else in the room."
Dean and Victoria's love story began after spotting each other at a nightclub on Boxing Day back in 2015. Victoria says, "I was attracted to Dean instantly; I loved how kind and light-hearted he was. I knew he was the one during a surprise trip to Edinburgh for our first Valentine's Day, we had so many special moments and it felt 100 per cent right."
Jodie and Duncan first met 10 years before they started dating, at a get together before they left for university and went their separate ways. A decade later their paths crossed again at a mutual friend's birthday party at the Foresters Arms in Gosport. "We've been together ever since and two houses and two children later, we're now married," says Jodie.
An online introduction led to a first date for Lian and Mark, at Pippin, Maidstone, one bank holiday Monday. "Bottles of prosecco were consumed, chips were shared... We chatted and laughted with no awkward silences, and there was even a little kiss! It was a great first date," Lian remembers. Their relationship grew strong, and after five years together Mark proposed in Gran Canaria, where the pair were on holiday. As Lian works for her father at their family-run bespoke jewellers, Mark understandably, felt the pressure of choice. So wisely, he opted to pop the question with a can ring pull, allowing her to select her engagement ring at a later date. "He asked twice in Spanish first, but I had no clue what he was saying! Then, he got down on one knee and asked again in English. It was a complete surprise," Lian tells us.
Dr Naeem Meghjee and Dr Rahima Meghjee first started chatting at the tender age of 13 on MSN Messenger (remember that?), but they grew apart during their teenage years. It was when they both went to university in London that they reconnected. "I was initially reluctant about him," Rahima laughs. "But his charm, wit and good looks were hard to resist!" Naeem was attracted to her beauty and innate "goodness", eventually winning her over with a first date to the Natural History Museum.
Charlotte and Dean knew each other through friends, but they never really had more than a passing (drunk) conversation! That is, until a mutual friend thought they might have potential. "One Saturday evening I got a message from Dean. He asked if I 'fancied a dance, like a tango or something'," Charlotte laughs. Funny messages turned into funny dates – and the rest is history!
Laura and Frank met when they were teenagers and were set up as a joke by mutual friends. They started dating and always knew that they wanted to get married but had plenty of other things to spend their money on beforehand. "In the end, we gave in to the constant questions about it from our friends and family and got engaged," Laura says. "It was a joint decision between us both when the time was right."
Rebecca and Tom met in halls of residence during their first year of university. "We were in the same friendship group during our fourth year and by the end of it, we had become a couple," Rebecca tells us. "We both had similar interests and enjoyed spending time together. Tom will deny it, but he played the long game and it paid off!"
Ruth and Richard met at work. "He was my duty manager, and I worked in the kitchen," says Ruth. "We both love food, and my mastery of the bacon, egg and sausage butty must have swayed him towards me." Richard popped the question during a romantic evening at home. "We were watching a live Meatloaf concert in the living room while snuggling on the sofa," shares the bride.
Romilly and James met through a mutual friend at a party. "James was flying to Thailand in the early hours so apart from a quick introduction we didn't really have time to talk," says Romilly. "We met again on a night out and eventually had our first date four months later. We liked each other straight away, and it felt right being together."
Despite taking the same physics course at Bath university, Charlotte and Tom actually met through mutual friends. "We hadn't crossed paths before because I was much better at attending lectures than Tom," Charlotte laughs. The pair soon became inseparable, and ten years later, Tom planned a surprise trip to Bath – the city where they met.
University mates Amber and Ben first bonded over a shared love of cake and custard. Romance blossomed on their first date when Ben won her over with a bottle of wine he'd brought back from Tuscany and a three-course Italian meal before snuggling up to watch a Disney film, which Amber chose – another step in the right direction!Fast forward to the proposal and Ben popped the question on top of a mountain in Tuscany, during a last-minute holiday.
Simon first met Siân through mutual friends and she caught his eye after a few meetings. Siân says, "When I realised I was interested in Simon, we went on a six-hour-long date and spent ages talking the following day." She adds, "I knew within the first few months I'd found the one!" Fast forward eight months and Simon had a huge question to ask.
Rhiannon and Mark met while working on a performance of The King and I. "Our musical director ended up being one of Mark's groomsmen and a witness for our marriage." Mark proposed during a romantic trip to Paris. "We spent the day visiting the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum and the banks of Seine, but it was blisteringly hot," shares the bride. "Once we arrived back at our hotel, Mark offered to let me take a cold shower to cool down first, which I gratefully did. Little did I know, he was getting the ring ready and started playing the song Perfect Day from my favourite film, Legally Blonde. I burst into the room dancing to the track and was greeted by Mark on one knee!
Melanie and Steven's adventure first started back in year 11, when they realised they shared many interests and were instantly attracted to each other. Melanie says, "Our fathers are from the tiny island of Mauritius, and both of our mothers were born and raised in England. Funnily enough, both sets of parents met during nurse training many years ago." She adds, "We understood each other's cultures more than anyone else could – this created a lasting bond."
Lauren and Martin met at secondary school and lived near each other. "Martin was in the year above me but I used to pass him on the walk home every day and we had a few mutual friends so we gradually got to know each other," Lauren tells us. "We were friends for quite some time before we became a couple and I love the fact that our relationship is built on friendship." Lauren and Martin's younger sisters were also friends and wanted the couple to get married so that they would be related!
Despite attending the same school, Chloe and Luke never shared more than the occasional chance meeting at the time. It wasn't until a mutual friend encouraged Luke to join him at an Explorer Scout meeting, which Chloe was leading, that the pair started to get to know each other. They quickly hit it off and were out on their first date a couple of months later. Although they'd discussed the idea of getting married at some point in the future, when the proposal did come it was nevertheless a surprise for Chloe. "We were on holiday in Suffolk and visited Eye Castle where we ventured to the top of the viewing platform. I spent five minutes trying to read a plaque there, and by the time I turned round Luke was on one knee," Chloe remembers. Fortunately, his joke over breakfast about her having something sparkly by the end of the day had completely passed her by!
Taking place just days before Christmas 2019, Karen and Dave's twilight wedding at Merseyside Maritime Museum combined traditional festive elements with a colourful peacock theme and party atmosphere. Karen and Dave met at school and after dating for over a year in their late teens, they went their separate ways. However, they stayed in touch over the years and after meeting up again in their mid-thirties, rekindled their romance. The couple welcomed their son, Oscar, a few years later and family life became the priority, although the couple were keen to get married one day. Last summer, 31 years after they had initially met, Karen and Dave got engaged and decided to do it.
When Minju and Barry met in Qatar, where they both live and work, everything just seemed to click into place; they soon realised that they had similar values in life. "We got on so well, and enjoyed the small things together," Barry says. "We realised how much we were developing as individuals by being together." Barry's thoughts soon turned to popping thequestion.
Roxanne and Billy met at secondary school when they were both just 11 years old. "We started going out with each other when we were 15," Roxanne tells us. "We were best friends and both made each other laugh. He thought I was pretty and I thought that he had funny hair!" The couple became engaged four years later during a surprise proposal in Mexico. "Billy had asked my dad for his permission and I had no idea," Roxanne says. "My dad was very happy and said that I'd never find anyone better. Billy asked me to marry him on the beach and had arranged a photographer to take some pictures – it was a wonderful surprise!"
Lizzie found Rich's shyness intriguing when she met him back in 2010, and suspected they might be complete opposites. "Once I got to know him, I loved his kindness and light-hearted humour," she says. Rich, on the other hand told us, "I was initially attracted by Lizzie's beauty, but knew there was so much more to her. We have so much fun together."
After meeting at work, Samantha and Andrew both lived a considerable distance from the office and decided it would be an excellent decision to car share together. Little did they know this would be the start of their adventure together. The more they learnt about each other, the more feelings started to develop. Samantha says: "We started spending a lot of time together outside of work and found that we had a lot of shared interests and knew how to make each other laugh!" It wasn't until Andrew went away for two weeks on holiday that they realised they shared something extraordinary – absence definitely made the heart grow fonder!
Despite going to school together and growing up in the same town, it wasn't until Lucia and Kilian finished university that they became friends. "I was on a gap year and Kilian was on a placement year," Lucia explains. "We spent a lot of time together and we ended up going out. I don't think anyone would have put us together in our school days!"