Saturday, October 3, 2009

'We celebrated with a lemur and a skunk'; The Times has long been the place to announce a marriage or engagement. We asked some of the couples to tell USA, LLC

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Tania Herbert, 31, marketing manager, and Andy Surridge, 29, management consultant, were married on Sept 18 at the Mappin Pavilion, London Zoo, Regent's Park

"We are talkaholics," laughs Tania, recalling the house party, on New Year's Eve 2007 in Southampton where she re-met Andy. Five years previously they had worked for the same company, and were both in relationships with other people. Back then Andy had found Tania "quite standoffish".

At new year, however, the conversation flowed. "We got on like a house on fire," Andy recalls. Numbers and e-mails were swapped and a fortnight later, Tania came up from Southampton for a first date. "I was unbelievably scared," Andy recalls. "I had no conversation when we met at Waterloo station. Tania kept asking if I was all right." By the time they settled for a meal at Cafe Koha in Leicester Square, his conversation came back.

Within a month both "knew" this was it. "It was like a whirlwind," says Tania, "but we just got on so well. He has a big heart, and he cracks me up. We can talk for hours". "We have exactly the same tastes," Andy concurs.

Both describe the other as "generous and selfless". Tania "thinks about everyone else before herself," says Andy.

By last November, they had begun, says Andy, "to joke about having children".

As they opened their stockings on Christmas Day, he proposed. "We were going to Amsterdam at New Year but I thought I didn't want to do it there, but proposing while we were with Tania's family at Christmas was a great way to celebrate it."

Tania was caught by surprise. "Andy said he had another present for me and I was thought it was going to be a remote-control Audi GT, as I had been joking about getting the car," says Tania. "I was completely overwhelmed."

They married a week ago last Friday at the Mappin Pavilion at London Zoo. Tania explains: "All the invitations featured zebra print, because I've always liked zebras." After the ceremony the keepers brought out a lemur and a skunk, whose glands had been removed, for an "animal encounter" with the guests. "This was the highlight for me," says Andy. "In traditional weddings everyone there is like an audience, but we really wanted our guests to be part of it." While they sipped champagne, Andy and Tania's guests had the chance to stroke and touch the animals - as long as the animals felt comfortable with this. The keepers, meanwhile, explained how the lemur and skunk were cared for at the zoo. "It was good for the kids to hear that," Andy says. "It was really nice to have the lemur on our shoulders, to be that close to it and not see it behind bars," adds Tania.

"He was gorgeous! I did ask if I could take him home but they wouldn't let me."

"The thing that really made it for us was that any profit from the wedding will go to an animal conservation charity," Andy says. After a mini-break in Bruges straight after the wedding, they have planned a proper honeymoon - a month in Vietnam, Cambodia and Bangkok - this November.

'The proposal was about 15 years ago'

Caroline Radford, 47, credit controller, and Nick Fry, 46, IT manager, were married on Sept 18

After 18 years, Caroline and Nick are finally tying the knot. "Why not?" says Caroline. "We've been busy bringing up my two children. We wanted to have a nice day and now we can afford it. People assume that because we've been together for so long, we are married, so it will be good to be able to say 'husband', not 'partner' from now on."

They met through their local newspaper, the Herald & Post. "I sent in a notice as a bit of a joke," she says. "I said something like 'Tall, attractive mother of two lovely young children looking for friendship, possible relationship, good sense of humour and a non-smoker'." One of the responses she received was from Nick. Neither of them had responded to a friendship page before, but both had a marriage behind them and wanted to meet new people. "Her notice was simple, to the point and she didn't seem to be pretending to be anyone," says Nick. After speaking over the phone and sensing a spark, they arranged to meet.

A few years later he proposed: "It was about 15 years ago," Caroline remembers. "He did it on my birthday over dinner and I said yes." But life took over and the right time never came, until now.

"The first time you get married, everyone else takes over: it's more traditional, your parents might pay. I think I pretty much just turned up on the day. This time, we're much more relaxed about it," says Nick.

"We don't want anything to change in our relationship," says Caroline. "We have both matured and learnt things together and our feelings have grown stronger. I hope more wonderful and exciting times lie ahead."

'I lost it when she found the ring'

Lizzie Lightfoot, 24, reception manager, and Chris Davies, 24, chef, will marry today at St Margaret's Church in East Wellow, Hampshire

"We were friends for a year," says Lizzie. "He kept asking me out and I kept turning him down." When she finally decided to give it a go, Chris made it difficult for her. "She made it hard for me," he says, "so I did it back."

After seven years together it was time. "We were going on the maiden voyage of the Queen Victoria," he recalls. "She told me that if I didn't propose on the cruise she would reconsider."

"I was waiting for the perfect moment," says Chris, "but I lost it when she found the ring." She tried to forget about finding the ring, but she knew the proposal was coming, just not when. "We were getting ready to have cocktails and meet the captain," says Lizzie. "He just asked me to sit next to him and then held out the ring. He never actually asked me to marry him." Lizzie and Chris will honeymoon in Hong Kong for four nights before spending ten nights in Bali.

'He's not normally so assertive'

Courtney Birch, 24, graduate student, and Martin Bishop, 28, research fellow, were married on Sept 20

"He doesn't like me saying it, but he used to send me quite amusing e-mails to chat me up," says Courtney, who met David at the cross-country club while they were at Oxford. "He was always inviting me over for a cup of Yorkshire tea, because he's from Yorkshire, but I was too shy to accept."

The couple are as sporty as they are academic: they first met at training when Martin was just starting his PhD and Courtney had just begun as an undergraduate. The group they trained with was very "close-knit", but it took a varsity dinner and "crazy dancing" for anything to develop.

At the start of university, she was overwhelmed by the work and her sporting commitments: "Martin was so supportive." Martin had already completed an undergraduate degree in Oxford. "It was nice to have someone there who has been there and done that, someone to look up to. It makes you feel quite protected."

It was a shock to Courtney when he proposed while they were walking down a mountain on holiday in Austria: "He's not normally so assertive, so when he told me to go sit on a bench, I knew something was up," says Courtney. "You think about so many things on the run-up to proposing, the moment itself is quite unnerving," says Martin.

"We wanted to tell our parents in person, so I had to keep quiet until we got home," she says. The couple were married on September 20 in a service at Merton chapel, and their reception was held at Fallowfields country house.

'Do you know which bin is yours?'

Helen Knock , 29, marketing manager, and Matt Lear, 34, software engineer, were married on Sept 19

They met over the rubbish bins, each seeking the one assigned to their flats. "They were not numbered," recalls Matt. "I think I said, 'Do you know which one is yours?' ". Neighbours across the hallway, Matt and Helen began to chat properly when she prepared to move out.

Struck by this "tall, dark handsome man with a twinkle in his eye", Helen decided to send him a postcard with her telephone number while she holidayed in New York. "I thought I have nothing to lose," she says.

"I was completely taken aback," says Matt. "But I thought 'Excellent!' " He invited Helen out to a local pub. "I felt that I hadn't met anyone as genuine or as nice in my life" he says.

"Matt is the male version of me" says Helen, "although perhaps he is a bit more of a daredevil."

The pair enjoy walking, and Matt proposed last Easter on a walk. "Matt got out a box wrapped in gift paper," says Helen. Inside was a handmade chocolate egg. "He had iced my name on the front."

It was so cold that "Matt had to smash the egg open against the rock". Inside was a folded tissue paper and a curtain ring wrapped in sparkly paper. "I had gone to a DIY store and asked for a curtain ring. They gave it to me for free when I explained why," says Matt. They bought the real ring later, and marry today in an hotel in the Yorkshire Dales.

Source Citation:"'We celebrated with a lemur and a skunk'; The Times has long been the place to announce a marriage or engagement. We asked some of the couples to tell us their stories.(Features)." The Times (London, England) (Sept 26, 2009): 91. Academic OneFile. Gale. BROWARD COUNTY LIBRARY. 3 Oct. 2009

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