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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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Love is all around

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.

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."

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.

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."

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: Beth and Joe

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.

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