Real weddings and wedding ideas

See how other local couples celebrated their big day with wedding stories and ideas from Your Sussex Wedding Real Weddings features.

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."

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.

Opposites attract

When April and Lee met up for their first date at a pub in Brighton they quickly felt at ease in each other's company. So, it didn't take long for their relationship to blossom from there and they moved in together six months later. April says, "We're like chalk and cheese, but I think that's why it works so well – being so different brings balance to the relationship. We do have lots in common though, including a shared love for our adopted Birman cat, Larry."

In the country

Having both ended previous relationships, Becci and Ed moved back in with their respective parents, who happened to live opposite each other. Becci's dad would often enjoy neighbourly chats with Ed in the front garden. One day, Becci's sister thought it would be hilarious to tell Ed that Becci fancied him, despite nothing of the sort ever being discussed. Mortified when she found out, she announced to Ed, having bumped into him on a night out, that it had all been a prank. Nevertheless, a few days later he asked her out for a drink and the rest is history. "Seven years, one wedding, three kids later and here we are," Becci says.

From this day forward

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,

A touch of elegance

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.

Anyone for tea?

Emma and Joe met in Bali. Emma was travelling solo and Joe was on holiday with friends. They were staying in the same hostel and the evening before Joe was due to head back to the UK they had dinner together and danced all night. They exchanged numbers before he left and Emma continued on with her adventures through Indonesia and Australia. "We fell in love during those eight weeks," Emma says. Due to the time difference, the pair would wake up in the middle of the night to talk to each other. When Emma arrived home, they couldn't wait to be together again, and she drove to Catterick, where Joe was based as an army captain, the very next day. "We've been inseparable ever since. Within eight months we'd bought our first home and our cat, Martha," Emma tells us.

Teal death do us part

Laena's first impression of Jonathan, on overhearing him converse fluently in another language at a mutual friend's birthday party, was that of an exotic Italian gentlemen. However, once she'd headed over to speak to him, it materialised that he wasn't Italian at all! Nonetheless, their connection was instantaneous, so much so he proposed to her that same night! It only took Laena seven years to say "yes."

Lights, camera, action

Melissa was 15 minutes late for her first date with Jim, leading him to believe he'd been stood up and mistaking a speaker for a seat in his distress. "He quickly realised though that a quarter of an hour is practically early for me," Melissa laughs. Despite her time keeping and his seating incident, they both had a wonderful time and set their second date for Valentine's just a few days later. "Jim met me off the tube with a rose and a bag of dolly mixtures," Melissa explains. That's true love for you!

Falling for you

Despite attending the same school, Chloe and Luke never shared more than the occasional chance meeting at the time. It wasn't until a mutual friend encouraged Luke to join him at an Explorer Scout meeting, which Chloe was leading, that the pair started to get to know each other. They quickly hit it off and were out on their first date a couple of months later. Although they'd discussed the idea of getting married at some point in the future, when the proposal did come it was nevertheless a surprise for Chloe. "We were on holiday in Suffolk and visited Eye Castle where we ventured to the top of the viewing platform. I spent five minutes trying to read a plaque there, and by the time I turned round Luke was on one knee," Chloe remembers. Fortunately, his joke over breakfast about her having something sparkly by the end of the day had completely passed her by!

To new be-GIN-innings

Joe's cousin had no idea that one day, he'd be welcoming Fran into the family, when he introduced the pair. They were school age when they met and their first date involved Joe getting on the local bus to visit Fran, who says, "I knew straight away that he was a genuine and caring person, which is what drew me to him." Four-and-a-half years later, Joe organised a surprise trip to Barcelona for Fran's 21st birthday.

All you need is love

Rosalind and Alex were the first couple to say their vows at Southend Barns since it was forced to close for events due to the Covid-19 pandemic.The pair enjoyed a small ceremony with just eight close friends and family in the setting of The Secret Garden, the venue's fully licenced outdoor wedding area.

The perfect day

Jessica and Martin tied the knot at Swallows Oast in Ticehurst on 30th August, 2019. Although Jessica and Martin's initial attraction was purely physical when they met on a Saturday night in Hastings, a deeper relationship soon blossomed once they began dating. Jessica worked for TUI and it wasn't long before she needed to work abroad for six months. However, absence certainly made their hearts grow fonder, and they haven't been apart since.