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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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It's party time

Emily and Ben met on a night out 10 years ago. "We were instantly attracted to each other and went on a date the following week," Emily tells us. "We became engaged in December 2019 during a romantic winter proposal in Switzerland. We stayed in Geneva and had arranged to go on a bus tour for a day to Chamonix-Mont-Blanc in France to explore the snow up in the mountains but almost didn't make it because there was a high risk of an avalanche that day. It was magical and a wonderful surprise when Ben asked me to marry him against the scenic snowy backdrop."

The dream wedding

Tom and Meg first met through mutual friends and kept bumping into each other – it really was fate. After talking more often, the pair discovered a spark and from there, slowly fell in love. Originally, Tom planned to propose on holiday in Madeira. However, the flight was cancelled last minute due to bad weather and the lovebirds ending up booking Center Parcs last minute. Here Tom plucked up the courage and popped the question in their cabin.

Doughtnuts, about you!

Hayley and James met while working in their local department store as teenagers. Hayley would go to the restaurant for lunch where James worked and he'd give her a meal for free in the hopes she'd keep coming back!

"To me, Hayley was the most beautiful woman in the store. I was instantly drawn to what can only be described as the most unique laugh you can imagine! Paired with her beauty, kindness and smile, I was head over heels."

He finally gathered the courage to ask her out while giving away more free food, in this case a ring doughnut, which has since become a symbol of their relationship!

Country loving

Lisa and Jamie first laid eyes on each other at work. "Jamie took over my role when I went on a sabbatical to go travelling," says Lisa. "When I returned, we were working in the same team. We got on well and had the same sense of humour and interests. It did take a while for us to eventually pluck up the courage to admit we liked each other more than friends. Jamie asked me to go to the pub for our first date in the same village where we would have our wedding reception eight years later."

Vintage vibe

Emily and Tom met on Tinder in June 2017 and clicked from their very first date. "We both love musicals and performing so an in-car sing-along to Defying Gravity from the show Wicked was all it took, along with a race around a go-karting track!" Emily tells us. "Tom proposed just after my birthday in October 2019 at Cahoots, a 1940s-themed bar in London. It was a complete surprise! The timing was perfect as Tom was able to ask my parents' permission a couple of days beforehand."

Kindred spirits

A shared loved of the countryside and laid-back lifestyle helped cement the bond between Charlotte and James. They'd known each other for years and had been in the same friendship group since going to Kesgrave High School together. They kept in touch through mutual friends and met up socially, but it wasn't until after Charlotte graduated from university and moved back to Suffolk, that they started dating.

Fly away with me

Amrit and Ash met during their second year of university. "We were put into a group together in one of our seminars and slowly got to know each other," says Amrit.

"We eventually started dating the following summer. We have the same sense of humour and connected through music. We would often give each other recommendations, and when I had a radio show at university, Ash would send requests in. Once we graduated, we saved up and went travelling around the world for four months. We knew we wanted to be with each other forever, so we decided to move in together. Ash is from North Wales and I'm from the Midlands, so we agreed that wherever one of us got a job, we would move there. Ash got a job in Cardiff, and the rest is history."

Love in the wilderness

Ant proposed to Amy in front of the tree that first Christmas morning in their new home. Once the season and their incredible news had been celebrated and decorations were packed away, thoughts turned to wedding venues. They discovered Wilderness Weddings at Preston Court and were instantly attracted by the peacefulness and natural beauty of its outdoor setting. Ant says, "We love how relaxed it made us feel. The ceremony area really sold it for us, with the water in the background. We also loved how there was a clear flow through the venue and could easily picture how our day there would be. During our first visit Amy cried as she loved it so much, so it had to be done!"

Keen to know more, we got the lowdown on W-day from groom, Ant...

Tacos and tequila

Becky and Rob met at university at the age of 18. "We did the same drama course and one day Rob asked me out for lunch. We had a sandwich together on the sports field and have been together ever since," says Becky. Around 13 years later, they decided to tie the knot. "We both travel a lot for work and hadn't seen each other for about six weeks so while we were away in different parts of the world, we arranged to meet up mid-trip in New York," recalls Becky. "One night we were drinking tequila and eating burritos when we decided to get married," she says. "Rob didn't have the ring with him so instead he bought me an I love tacos t-shirt from a shop above the bar we were in, which was quite funny." What Becky didn't know was that Rob was already planning to propose when he got back to the UK. "When we returned we made tacos in our little flat. Rob had already bought a ring and he hid it in one of the shells and then officially asked me to marry him again," she says. "It was a double surprise as I didn't know he'd already been planning it."

Going dutch

Gemma and Laurens met at a Salvation Army summer camp in the Netherlands. "Laurens had attended every summer for years, while I was there for the first time as a volunteer," remembers Gemma. "We sat next to each other at breakfast and chatted about our mutual appreciation for Geordie Shore – despite Laurens' broken English! We became friends, and over the next 12 months, Laurens WhatsApped his way into my heart. After a year as a long-distance couple, he moved to the North East to be with me."

Unbeknown to Gemma, Laurens had asked for her dad's blessing to marry her back in 2019. "It was right before we moved to Canada for a year for my work," continues the bride. "Unfortunately, the pandemic hit, all the jewellery shops closed, and Laurens' proposal was put on hold. With plenty of time to chat thanks to the stay-at-home rules, we discussed our future and Laurens revealed his thwarted proposal plans. When things started to reopen, we went to a jewellers in Ottawa and designed my diamond and sapphire engagement ring together. However, the proposal itself was a surprise; Laurens got down on one knee at a secluded spot overlooking Maligne Lake during a trip to the Canadian Rockies. It was eight years to the day since we first got together."

The couple set their wedding for the 16th October, 2021, choosing St Peter's Church in Croft-on-Tees for the ceremony, followed by a reception at Rockliffe Hall. Here, Gemma tells us more about their amazing nuptials...

To the moon and back

Sophie and James met online. "I lived in Portsmouth and James in Gloucester so we agreed to meet halfway for a drink," Sophie tells us. "On the day, my car didn't start so our first date was delayed but James presumed that I wasn't going to show up!"

The couple became engaged almost two years later during a surprise proposal in the Lake District. "James got down on one knee and presented me with a beautiful diamond ring which was a wonderful surprise! We celebrated with dinner in a local pub, it was the perfect private proposal to mirror our intimate family wedding that was to follow."

Timeless elegance

Online dating has become extremely popular over the last few years, and happened to be where Beth and Joe first met. On their first date, the pair headed to a gin bar to get to know each other more. Beth comments, "We both felt so relaxed in each other's company – we just clicked! We would do and say certain things simultaneously; we really are the male and female version of each other."

The lovebirds were on holiday in Dubai when Joe proposed. While enjoying cocktails at Burj Al Arab, which held many sentimental memories for Beth, she ordered a Genie in a Bottle cocktail which came with three wishes. She says, "The waitress brought over a treasure chest, which I thought was snacks, until she slowly opened it. Inside was the ring, and Joe dropped to one knee." The whole thing was captured on camera to show their friends and family back home.

You're the one that I want

Robyn and Kieran met in the very modern world of online dating, after liking each other's images on Tinder! "Despite living within a very close radius, our paths didn't cross until that all-important 'swipe-right'!" laughs Robyn. "We hit it off instantly and enjoyed our first date three weeks later at a local Turkish restaurant. The rest as they say is history, as we became inseparable from then on in." Five years later, the couple were enjoying what Robyn thought was a holiday at her second home in Crete.

Reader, I married him

Sarah and Mike's eyes met across a crowded room at a friend's party during their first year of sixth form college. Indeed, it was his eyes that Sarah was attracted to: "They're a lovely shade of blue," she says. The pair hit it off right away, immediately feeling at ease in each other's company, even though it took Mike another month to convince Sarah to go on a date with him. But needless to say, they're both so glad he did.

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!"

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."

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."

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.

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