See how other couples celebrated their big day with wedding stories and ideas from County Wedding Magazines' Real Weddings features.
Both leading busy lives, Neda and Pedram didn't have much spare time to meet anyone – until they were introduced via the dating app Hinge. "Within a matter of days of being on the app, we matched, and the rest was history," says Neda. "What attracted me to Pedram was his charm, intellect, and great looks. He was a breath of fresh air. Not only did he tick every box, he brought the best out of me; a side of myself I never knew existed," she says.
Midwife Natalie met Mark when she became his mentor during a placement at Basildon University Hospital's maternity unit. "Mark was training to be a paramedic, and there was an instant attraction between us," says Natalie. "We saw more and more of each other, and soon began to realise we were meant to spend the rest of our lives together."
Abbie and George first met online before going on a date in London, where they got to know each other better. There was a spark straight away and the pair headed for a romantic walk around Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. Abbie loved how kind and friendly George was; he always managed to make her laugh. He says, "I first saw Abbie stood reading a book while she waited for me at the station as I was running late. It made me chuckle to see her innocently stood there reading amongst the chaos." He adds, "Once we got chatting, I knew she was someone that was going to be in my life forever."
Anya and Andy met at Anya's place of work when Andy started some building work at the offices. "We instantly got along and I looked forward to him coming in every day," Anya tells us. "I was attracted to his sense of humour because he always made me laugh. He tells me that he first noticed my smile and the sparkle in my eyes!" Andy adds, "Anya appeared to ignore me at first, missing my chat-up lines because she was wearing her headphones!"
The couple spent their first date enjoying an off-road drive in Andy's truck followed by lunch. "It wasn't long after the first date that we both realised that we had each found somebody special in one another and the spark was there," Anya says
Pabs and Adam met online, deciding to go on a date shortly afterwards. They talked for hours over cocktails and, Pabs says, "There was an instant connection between us. We both felt like we'd known each other for a long time."
Pabs hadn't been home to Sri Lanka for five years, so the couple planned a trip so she could introduce Adam to her parents. "I was really excited for him to meet them and to show him my country... I never expected him to propose!" she tells us. They booked a hotel in Kandy, Pabs' home city, overlooking the mountains. Then after her birthday dinner he popped the question. It was incredibly special to Pabs that he'd chosen the city she grew up in as the setting for such an important moment.
Catherine and Chris met at school. "Chris is a year older, so we didn't know each other, but we got talking on MSN and MySpace," says Catherine. "We hit it off straight away due to our shared sense of humour and love of watching movies."
Chris popped the question during a holiday to Somerset. "We had always talked about getting married, and although we weren't officially engaged, we had discussed 2022 as a potential date," shares the bride. "I was at university until 2021, so we always talked about getting engaged after that. I was surprised when he popped the question during a holiday in 2020. We booked the trip for my birthday and spent the week in a lodge near the town of Wells. We went for a walk to Ebbor Gorge, and overlooking the beautiful scenery, Chris got down on one knee!"
No one could have predicted how Tabs and Nick's first date would have started out seeing as she was supposed to be being set up with someone else! Not hitting it off with her date, Tabs asked to swap seats discreetly with her best friend, Eve, after the meal and ended up sitting next to Nick - the rest is history! Tabs tells us, "Nick's intelligence was one of the things I was most attracted to along with his sense of humour and how unbelievably kind he is. Nick was most attracted to my sense of humour - you can't take yourself too seriously!"
Grace and Ben met at a birthday party. "I'd just returned from Las Vegas, and Ben was travelling there in a few months, so we were chatting about things to do and places to go for the majority of the barbecue," says Grace. "After the party, I added Ben on Facebook. After several attempts and last-minute cancellations, we finally went on our first date 18 months later. The thing that attracted me to Ben was his sense of humour. I left the date with my jaw aching from how much I'd smiled and laughed the entire evening."
Naomi and Darryl met in Guernsey in 2010. "We were working in a hospital, and our offices were a couple of doors apart," says Naomi. "When we married at Oakham School Chapel in 2011, we promised each other that we'd make our vows again when we reached our 10 year anniversary. Little did we know what those 10 years would throw at us: trauma, loss, a miracle baby, long-distance working, two degrees, eight house moves, moving to another country and the pandemic!"
Following an unsuccessful date in London a disheartened Becca wiled away the journey home by scrolling through Tinder. Some might argue that this was destiny, as if she'd waited until she was at home she wouldn't have been in the same location radius as Jack and they might never have been matched. They got in touch and spent days chatting over WhatsApp before exchanging phone calls. "We knew at this point we had lots in common and the biggest tick of all was that we made each other laugh," Becca remembers. They met in Crawley for their first date where, having bonded over their Nandos order, they moved on to bowling and shots at the pub – the rest, as they say, is history.
Jonathan first met Cathryn at work, but it wasn't until she left the department that they started to miss each other. They began meeting outside of work and spent a lot of time chatting in coffee shops, restaurants and going on walks. Jonathan always made Cathryn laugh as they shared a similar sense of humour. He says, "One day, I gave an impromptu proposal which Cathryn accepted. It was such a surprise that I had to ask again in the kitchen on one knee, although she's still waiting for the ring!"
The couple set the date for November 6th 2021, and created an intimate day surrounded by their nearest and dearest.
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."
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.
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!
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."
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."
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.
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."
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...
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...
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."
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."
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.
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.
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.
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