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See how other couples celebrated their big day with wedding stories and ideas from County Wedding Magazines' Real Weddings features.
Anna and Jack met in the summer of 2011, and fell madly in love. "I was friends with Jack's sister," Anna says. "I moved into a house in Manchester but it badly needed renovation work; the solution was to stay with their family in the Orkney Islands for a few weeks while the work took place – gatecrashing a family holiday!" Anna and Jack soon connected as friends, before it grew into something more.
Niki and Jonny met on an evening out with friends in Liverpool. They exchanged numbers, but due to the long hours they both worked in the NHS they only managed to keep in touch via social media at first. But before long they discovered a shared sense of humour and outlook. "Jonny always made me laugh and smile whenever I was feeling down," Niki says. So, despite living some distance apart they began dating and further town the line Jonny moved in with Niki and her son Jakub, who'd really taken to him.
Online dating has become extremely popular over the last few years; that's exactly how Ben and Rebecca first met. When flicking through Tinder, Ben's profile caught her eye and she wanted to know more about him. She says, "We clicked straight away and our conversations never felt boring or awkward. We met in person a few weeks later and instantly felt comfortable in each other's company – it was like I'd known him for years!"
Before the days of Tinder there was Plenty of Fish, and this is where Jonathan and Jay first met. "It took months for us to have a first date as we had so many holidays booked," Jonathan laughs. "We finally locked in a date for 4th June, 2013, and we agreed to meet in Soho Square." Thank goodness they did get a date in the diary, because after a successful bar crawl across Soho the pair were inseparable. Fast forward to March 2018, and the pair are on a trip to an incredible safari hotel in Rathambore National Park, India, where Jonathan popped the all-important question. Of course, Jay said "yes," and on returning home the couple started planning their dream wedding.
Tia and Nathan met via an online dating app and chatted for a few weeks before enjoying their first date. "We kept making plans to meet up but I kept getting nervous and rearranging at the last minute," Tia tells us. "We agreed to meet for his birthday and I knew I couldn't let him down again so we finally met and the rest is history." The couple became engaged just after Christmas. "We had already chosen the ring together and Nathan surprised me after asking my dad for permission," Tia says. "It was a mutual decision to get married because we were separated for ten days during a family holiday and had never been apart for that long before. We knew then that we should just do it!"
Annabel and Gavin met at work 10 years ago. "We were in different departments, but Gavin asked me out on a date," says Annabel. "I wasn't sure at first about dating a coworker, but I decided to give him a chance and accepted the offer." Gavin proposed in September 2018. "We were enjoying a staycation in Bideford, Devon, with our beloved rescue dog," shares the bride. "On the final day, we walked the coastal path to Clovelly, and when we arrived at a beautiful beach called Mouthmill, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. It was perfect."
Abby and Jake remember making each other laugh right from their very first conversation about basketball as teenagers, and they've been doing the same ever since. Now aged 25 and 26 respectively the couple have been together for a decade. Absence truly did make the heart grow fonder for Jake as having spent three months away in Canada for work, he proposed to Abby over a special dinner to celebrate his return. After a meal at The Shard he surprised her with a private pod on The London Eye. Abby remembers, "We were nearly at the top and as the sun set Jake got down on one knee. It was utterly amazing and so much thought had gone into it that it was even more special."
After getting together as students at Bournemouth University in 2012, Zoë and Steve got engaged in New York six years later. The trip was a surprise for Zoë who was blindfolded at home in the kitchen before being whisked off to Heathrow Airport. "Steve revealed the destination under the departures board holding an apple with the word 'big' written on it," recalls Zoë. While they were there, Steve popped the question in Central Park, and the proposal was photographed by a passer-by walking their dog. "It was a complete shock as we'd just bought our first home together, a major renovation project which took us 10 months to complete before we could move in." adds Zoë.
When Catherine and Haider met while working together on a film shoot, it wasn't long before they were 'bumping' into each other and staying after work to chat. "We even ended up on a rooftop watching fireworks together," Catherine remembers. "I was sure he was going to kiss me – but no such luck!" A few days later, Haider had vanished to take a last-minute contracting job on the other side of London. "After an excruciating couple of weeks, I plucked up the courage to text him," Catherine says. "Our relationship blossomed from there. He later told me that it never crossed his mind that I might like him more than a friend."
Duda was only a teenager when she met Christopher at a friend's youth group gathering at their local church. She says, "My family came to England as missionaries to help out our church's youth and Chris was there for the free food. He was always super down-to-earth, kind and loving with his friends and always open for trying new things." Christopher loved how hilarious, but incredibly kind and super-family orientated Duda was.
Emili and Ben met online. "We started talking on a Christian dating site," says Emili. "We had similar interests and seemed to talk for ages! On our first date, Ben took me to three different restaurants, one for each course. It was very well thought out, and we had a lovely time. Ben asked me to marry him on 29th July, 2019 at Aira Force in the Lake District. We had been pragmatic about the subject of marriage, however, the day itself was a lovely surprise!"
Charlotte and Ben first laid eyes on each other at sixth form in 2009. "We met properly when volunteering with Handicapped Children's Pilgrimage Trust on a trip to Lourdes," says Charlotte. "We went from only having said a few words to each other to a couple during our week trip to France." Ben popped the question at Charlotte's master's graduation in 2016. "We'd spent the whole day celebrating, and I was about to return my gown when he insisted we visit a spot for another photo," shares the bride. "Little did I know he was actually going to propose. My family knew and recorded the whole thing."
Beth and James met at a bar in London. "I was studying at university, and James had recently moved there for a graduate scheme," says Beth. "We started chatting to each other, exchanged numbers and then met a week later in Covent Garden. That was in 2013, and we've been together ever since!" James popped the question during a camping trip in May 2018. "We went to the New Forest, and after setting up our tent, we went for a walk in the countryside," shares the bride.
Gemma and James spent their first date in Brighton, where a flight on the i360 was followed by a walk along the seafront, rides on the pier and a meander into Hove for dinner. Gemma says, "It was the longest first date! We spent eight hours chatting, but conversation between us was easy." James proposed on a beach in Cape Verde. "He'd been joking about giving me a shell as a ring for days, so when he told me he had something to give me as we walked along the beach I just kept going. But he got down on one knee and proposed with an actual ring," Gemma tells us. While she was surprised, she did have a sneaking suspicion that the all-important question was imminent as a week beforehand her dad let it slip that he and James had met for a coffee.
Jackie and Dan met at their local tennis club, but there was more than one love on the cards. "We embarked on a mixeddoubles losing streak, which we eventually broke," Jackie says. "Dan asked me out at the gates of the club after we played together a few times." They both had similar interests and a mutual attraction, so she agreed.
Julie and Craig didn't let distance get in the way of romance even though, when they first met online, they were living a three-hour drive away from each other. He was based in London and she was in Nottingham and after getting to know each other over the phone they spent the next two years alternating between their homes every weekend before finally settling down together in Grantham.
Ria and Connor met at university, six years before they got married. "Connor belonged to the football team and I was a cheerleader," Ria tells us. "As we got to know one another, I was attracted to his ambitious nature." The couple became engaged during a surprise proposal back in their university town where they first met. "Connor had planned a spa break," Ria says. "He recreated our first date, on the anniversary of it! After dinner and drinks, we walked along the beach where he proposed - I wasn't expecting it at all so it was a wonderful surprise."
Annette and Will met when they belonged to the same rugby club. "We both still attend to this day and it's a big part of our lives, Annette tells us. "When I first met him, I loved how laid-back Will was (and still is) and we enjoyed shared interests including sport and a love of good food and the great outdoors."
Joshua and Elizabeth first met on a Christian dating app where they hit it off almost immediately. Elizabeth says, "I knew Josh was the one when all ideas of what the perfect relationship should look like didn't matter anymore – I'm so happy by his side and wouldn't change anything about him." For Josh, he knew she was perfect early on in the relationship as they shared a similar sense-of-humour and interests.
Laura and Tony's dads were school friends and ended up running a judo club together in East London. While there were plenty of photos of Laura and Tony together as children, it wasn't until a judo club reunion when they were adults that something started to blossom. "We saw each other a couple of times after that, one of which was Tony's dad's surprise birthday party," Laura says. "I nearly didn't go because my hair wouldn't go right, but after a stern talking to from my dad I got ready and went. Tony and I talked for most of the evening, and three weeks later I had practically moved in with him!"
Natalie and Adam became firm friends after meeting at a birthday party in their teens and started dating several years later. Adam proposed during a trip to Belfast, where they were on a pilgrimage around the various Game of Thrones filming locations. After walking miles in the wind and rain to find the very spot where Jon Snow bonded with Drogon on the cliffs of Fairhead, Adam presented Natalie with an official HBO dragon ring and popped the question. Natalie explains, "He knew I wanted to choose my own ring should we ever get engaged, so this was perfect. We were soaked and freezing but felt like we were the only two people in the world."
Olivia and Arran met in a nightclub in Exeter and enjoyed their first date at the Fisherman's Cot pub in Bickleigh. Olivia tells us, "I remember thinking Arran was tall and very handsome - he has the bluest eyes I've ever seen." Arran adds, "I first noticed Olivia's beautiful eyes too and I loved her sense of humour."
A two-week road trip around France in June 2019 turned into a happy ever after for Erin and Pete. During a stopover in Bergerac on the second night, while on a romantic pre-dinner walk down to the Dordogne River as the sun was setting, Pete popped the question. The proposal was a complete surprise to Erin who first met Pete in 2017 while they were both working for Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance. "I had no idea," she exclaims. "It turned out to be a very happy evening and an amazing holiday, taking in Toulon, Cannes, Nice and the Alps."
Jackie and Graeme met via a dating website, My Single Friend. "Some people are sceptical when it comes to online dating, but at the time Graeme was living in Hythe and I was living in Orpington, so without it we'd never have met," Jackie says. After several weeks of exchanging messages, the pair arranged to meet up one Sunday lunchtime and spent the whole afternoon chatting and laughing together. "We found that we had so much in common and that there was a real connection between us, so we couldn't wait to see each other again," Jackie explains. After a year of whizzing back and forth up and down the M20, the couple decided to move in together, and the rest is history.
Hana and Brendan first met while they were playing hockey at the same club – although their relationship didn't get off to the best of starts. "I didn't like him at first, after he poured prosecco on me while we were on tour," Hana laughs. "However, in classic cliché form, we got to know each other and a romance kindled." The couple had discussed getting married, and with a trip to New York coming up, Brendan knew the time was right. "He proposed in our hotel room after we checked in," Hana tells us. "There was a sign on the wall saying "Marry me" and some flowers. It was a surprise at the time as I missed the sign – I was too busy deciding which side of the bed I wanted to sleep on!"