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See how other couples celebrated their big day with wedding stories and ideas from County Wedding Magazines' Real Weddings features.
Kelly and Tim met via an online dating app in 2015. "It was a picture of him wearing an Exeter Chief headpiece after watching them play rugby that did it for me!" Kelly tells us. Tim adds, "It was Kelly's dark hair and signature red lipstick that caught my eye." The couple became engaged during a surprise proposal in New York on Kelly's 30th birthday. "We were so excited to visit the city ahead of Christmas but I had no idea that he was going to propose," Kelly tells us. "My birthday fell on the last day of our trip and we had an evening ticket booked to visit the Empire State Building.
Hannah and Harry have known each other since they were children. "We went to primary school together and met again when we were 19," says Hannah. "After some persistence from Harry, I agreed to go on a date with him, and we've been inseparable ever since." Harry proposed during a holiday to Berlin. "We were on our way to a Liam Gallagher concert in March 2018," shares the bride. "It was in front of the cathedral and was wonderfully romantic."
Stuart and Cheryl found each other through mutual friends and got on really well from their first meeting. The pair shared the same sense-of-humour and everything seemed so natural together. Cheryl says, "Not long after we started going out, I knew I had found my soulmate. Stuart makes me feel special; he's so supportive and is always there for anyone who needs his support." During the lockdown, the couple were sitting in the garden enjoying the sunshine and a glass of champagne when the idea of marriage came up.
Jodie and Michael first met more than ten years ago, becoming friends for a few years before they started dating. "We lost touch and then met up again in a pub a few years later and our relationship developed from there," Jodie tells us. The couple became engaged during a surprise proposal in Paris for Jodie's 27th birthday. "Michael proposed the night before my birthday on the Pont des Arts," Jodie says. "He had planned a surprise trip and the first I knew about it was when we arrived at the airport - it was a complete surprise, I had no idea!"
It was fourth time lucky for Becky and Max when they eventually tied the knot at Hintlesham Hall in Suffolk. After having to cancel three previous wedding dates due to Coronavirus, their big day finally came on 17th June this year – and what a day it was! Despite restrictions and disappointments along the way, including having to slash the guest list by almost half, they married in style and celebrated with a cool cocktail of soft pastel colours mixed with a dash of boho and Mediterranean vibes and a good measure of gin!
Jade and Paul met through mutual friends. "I think it's fair to say I was persistent," laughs Jade. "Over time our relationship blossomed, and in November 2018, Paul proposed. It was a total surprise to me! We were visiting Bermuda for my 30th birthday and were playing miniature golf and having a few cocktails when Paul popped the question. Following this, we went onto New York for a four-day stay before returning home for my birthday."
Kirsty and Ryan's love story began at a friend's New Year's Eve party back in 2010. She says, "Ryan was sat across the table from me and as cheesy as it sounds, I just knew there and then that I wanted to be with him. We instantly clicked and have rarely been apart since that first meeting." Three years later, Ryan proposed to Kirsty in front of their friends at another New Year's Eve party. He put the ring in a champagne glass, which Kirsty nearly drank, and got on one knee as midnight hit. She says, "I knew he was going to propose as we'd been ring shopping a few months earlier, but I had no idea when he would be asking and it was a huge surprise."
Tom and Elsa met in the mid-noughties' coolest way: on MySpace. "We spent two weeks 'dating' by going to the local bakery on our school lunch break!" Elsa remembers. She was attracted to Tom's honesty and happy energy, while Tom was drawn in by the mystery of the new girl at school. After discovering a strong connection and easy-flowing conversation, the pair made it official when Tom asked Elsa to be his girlfriend.
Jasmine and Stephen met through a mutual friend on a night out in Croydon. "It was far from love at first sight," says Jasmine. "In fact, Stephen thought I was a bit stuck up, and to be honest, I don't think I said two words to him that night, so it's no wonder his first impression wasn't a great one! We met again on New Year's Eve the following month, and again, there was no love story. We went out as part of a large group in Bournemouth and barely remembered saying hello or goodbye to each other. Less than a month later, we ended up on another night out together. I had dyed my hair back to brunette, which apparently made me Stephen's type. He spent most of the night trying to figure out how to make his move. We finally exchanged numbers and had our first date a week later, and the rest is history!"
The spark between Charlotte and Josh was clear from the moment they met and it was obvious to friends looking on that they were witnessing love at first sight. Five years on, and by that time a couple, they'd quit their jobs to go travelling for seven months. Charlotte was quizzed before she left about whether Josh might propose, but she was adamant he wouldn't. Sri Lanka was the first stop on their travels and whilst there they made sure to visit a restaurant recommended by a friend. Charlotte tells us,
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!"
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."
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."
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."
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.
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."
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.