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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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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!"

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!"

Fast-forward to the day of the proposal, 19th of October, the day before Lucy's birthday at The Ned in London.

"We were in the room getting ready to go down for dinner and all of a sudden I turned round and Adam is on one knee, but shouts 'no I'm not ready!' so I have to look away again! At this point he's dropped the ring and panicked! I thought to myself 'only Adam'. We was both very emotional, it was so special. The next day we came home to my parents' house to a surprise party with our closest family – it was so lovely!"

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.

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."

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."

All you need is love

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.

Love is all around

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.

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."

Great expectations

Caroline and George Rispin met at work in York back in 2014. Caroline tells us, "I loved George's energy and humour – he made me laugh like nobody else and I remember one afternoon we were working together and were so engrossed in conversation that we just didn't answer the phones! Everybody loves George when they meet him, he's so fun to be around and he's incredibly caring."

"We're both very ambitious and are attracted to each other's independent drive. We have such a strong bond because we share the same values – our relationship has been built upon trust, honesty, transparency, and an unwavering love and respect for one another." Just like their high expectations in life they also had the same expectations in another area as Caroline jokes! "We were also looking for a partner with height! I'm 5ft 11, so I needed a tall man and he's 6ft 5 – so I'll be forever looking up to him!"

Alexandra and Darryl: The one for me

Alexandra and Darryl met when they were children. "I was friends with his sister," says Alexandra. "We then met later at a mutual friend's engagement party. We share a love of Formula 1 and have lots of mutual interests."

Darryl popped the question on Christmas Day. "He wrote it on a card and woke me up early as he was so impatient," shares the bride. "He thoughtfully sought the permission of my dad before proposing, and it was wonderful being able to share the day with family. It was definitely a surprise, and I didn't even believe him when I read it!"

Love is in the air

Patricia and Sean first met online, where they never expected to meet their lifelong partners. After messaging back and forth, the pair set off for their first date at Miller and Carter. Patricia says, "We had a nice meal while talking and getting to know each other more. We hit it off straight away and sealed the night with a romantic kiss."

Sean was captured by everything about Patricia and he loved how good she was with his son, which made him fall in love even more. He proposed on 28th November 2019 at the Palace of Culture and Science in Poland, which was three days after Patricia's 29th birthday and she was so surprised! They were enjoying the stunning views when he pulled out the ring, got down on one knee and asked her to marry him – the rest is history!

By the seaside

Rhian and Rory met on Tinder in 2014. "Rory was attracted to my smile, and I thought he looked cheeky and loved his curly hair," says Rhian. "We spoke via WhatsApp for a few weeks and eventually went on our first date. We knew from that first meet up that we had something special."

Rory proposed during a holiday to Venice. "It was the day before my 27th birthday, and it was a complete surprise," shares the bride. "I'm in charge of packing when we go on holiday, so I was shocked he had managed to keep the ring from me. He had asked my dad's permission before the trip, so my parents knew it was going to happen, however, they started to get a bit worried when days had passed, and there was no news. Rory wanted to find the perfect moment. He tried on a gondola but got told off for moving seats and making the weight uneven! He eventually found a lovely quiet spot on a bridge with no people around and asked me to be his wife."

The perfect match of Steph and Pete

Steph and Pete both felt an instant attraction when they met at work. Steph remembers, "Pete had to conduct my induction, and neither of us concentrated much!" Two months later, the pair started dating and have been together ever since.

Pete proposed on New Year's Eve 2019. The duo were spending the night at their best friend's house as they do every year, and as the clock struck midnight, Pete popped the question. Not only was it complete surprise for Steph, but even their assembled friends had no idea of his plan.

Church on time

Lucinda and Adam met online. "I was attracted to his beard," Lucinda tells us, "and I loved her legs!" Adam adds. The couple started dating and became engaged during a surprise proposal on the beach in St. Ives, Cornwall. "It was a wonderful moment and the weather was perfect," Lucinda tells us. "Some members of the public nearby clapped and cheered us on which was very special!" The couple decided to get married at The Minster Church of St. Andrew Plymouth and host their reception at the Treasury café, bar and restaurant next door. "The church is breathtaking and both venues are very centrally located which was perfect, especially for our older guests," Lucinda tells us.

Love on the slopes

With a shared love of skiing, Rosie and Ollie's pistes crossed in 2008, on a ski season in Whistler, Canada. "We both went out there to teach kids to ski with thirty other like-minded Brits," says Rosie. "We had a lot in common. Our shared sense of humour, laid back nature and appetite for travel and we still do!" she shares.

Ten happy years later Ollie proposed. "We went back Whistler where it all began on our ten-year anniversary of being together. It was a lovely surprise," Rosie recalls.

Rain failed to stop play

A mutual friend set Emily and Nathan up on a blind date bowling and they proved to be the perfect match! Their competitive nature came out during the game and Nathan was bowled over by Emily's carefree character. Romance blossomed and when the time came to pop the question, Nathan's plan was thwarted by bad weather and he ended up asking her to marry him looking out to sea in his hometown in Wales. "As we're avid walkers I was originally going to propose at the top of the Pen y Fan mountain, however when the sunshine turned to torrential rain, I had to quickly reconsidered my options," he recalls. Emily was so shocked, that she left Nathan waiting for three minutes before giving him an answer! She said 'yes', of course, and they were married exactly 14 months to the day later.

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