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17th Jan 2013

Louise & Paul's Love Story

August 16th 1996, at just after midnight, boy meets girl and they fall in love.  We were both very young, I was just 16 and Paul was 19.  We met on a night out and danced all night long, barely able to hear each other over the music but who needs words when you are in the moment and every look and action conveys so much more.

We quickly became infatuated and fell in love, in a way that only teenagers know how.  It was fast and hopeless, we were driven by teenage impulsivity and emotional intoxication.  He seemed like the perfect boy and I just could not get enough of being with him and learning about him, his ways, his traits, deciphering what a look meant, and how important each kiss was.

It was safe to say our feelings felt uncontrollable at times and we would love, laugh and fight with equal passion.  I was at school and Paul was working as a Chef.  We fell in love in the summer and I remember long evenings after school trying to spend every minute together.  There was just one problem though, I had a very strict Father who was extremely over protective and he really didn’t share my view about the merits of boys! When he found out about Paul, and that I had lied about where I had been and who I had been with, he forbid me from seeing him.  I was devastated, not because I would stop seeing Paul, nothing could stop that.  But because I thought Paul would want not want to be with a girl who’s Father could not accept him, why would he bother with the hassle?

In retrospect and all honesty, it is probably my Father’s behaviour that fueled us to want to be closer together.  August 1997 Paul told me he had a crazy idea but he wasn’t sure whether to share it with me. I wanted to know!  He said he couldn’t imagine us not being together and said he had thought about us running away and getting married.  We didn’t look back.  

April 8th 1998 we drove to Gretna Green.  I lived with my parents and was just about to take my A’ levels, so I lied and said I was staying with my big brother.  When we told my brother Neil we were running away to get married he didn’t judge, he knew we would get in a whole heap of trouble if our parents found out, but he knew I was determined so he said, “if that’s what you wanna do sis, I'm there.”  Fourteen years ago it was just us traveling to Gretna Green with a couple of close friends my brother and Paul’s sister, a Topshop dress, a bouquet only because Neil decided I had to have one, there was no cake, no posh venue, or fancy reception, it was just about us, perhaps foolishly, doing what we felt was right at the time.

Paul and I spent many happy years together. In the time we were together my Dad had come to accept Paul and my Mum loved him too.  We had always dreamed that one day we could tell everyone what we had done and we would have this big day where all of our friends and loved ones celebrated with us and we could finally be official and accepted. But we did not dare tell our parents about what we had done, the secret had gained momentum over time and felt so big that we feared the repercussions. We knew how much we would hurt our parents and we had finally found a balance in our lives.  

But we were young, albeit in love, but very young and things started to unravel.  After we had been together for 7 years we separated and stayed apart for 5 years.  However, we couldn’t let our love story end there, not without a fighting chance of a happy ending. February 14th 2009, I sent Paul a letter asking him to meet me at the airport, I wanted us to get far far away and see whether my heart was right all along; he came and it was.    

We grew older and braver and knew what we had to do, it was time! After all these years we had to confess to our secret and hope we would not disappoint our loved ones too much.  We booked a date at the beautiful Buxted Park Hotel and told our parents we were getting married...again! It was overwhelmingly emotional but we couldn’t have asked for a more accepting response.  All our fears over the past 14 years had been allayed and the conversation we had replayed 1000s of times in our minds had finally been spoken out loud, and our fears turned out to be far worse than the actual reality.  That feeling of relief will stay with me forever.  

When we met with the registrar to discuss the ceremony she commented “but why did you go to all this trouble to run away, you could have just waited 4 months until you were 18?”  I sat still, a little taken back, I didn’t have an answer, it shocked me that all these years had passed and it had just never occurred to me.  Something inexplainable must happen with the concept of time as a teenager, because it just felt like we didn’t have enough time and we were compelled to do it.  

This time however, we had the posh venue and a cake and of course the dress!  I did not believe that there was such a thing as the perfect dress until I fell in love with a beautiful vintage style Jenny Packham design.  I do not think that I dared dream that I would find a dress so stunning but it honestly made me feel like I was in a fairy tale.  The name of the shop was White Mischief and it just seemed so apt and made me smile.  

Fast forward to August 16th 2012 and our long awaited wedding sequel arrived and we renewed our vows.  At midnight that night I had known Paul over half of my life.  It was the most incredible day flowing with emotion and happiness, who would know all those years ago that our unusual love story would make for such a happy and funny event.  When our adult ears heard the registrar say that we ran away and were so young, it makes you giggle with that teenage nervousness, because we both knew that we were crazy and impulsive to go through with it.  We could just never have known all those years ago when we were living with the risk and fear that we would be caught out, that our impulsive actions would lead to such a fairy tale theme for our big day.  From our vows that we had written ourselves, to the speeches, to the conversations we drifted in and out of and over-heard, it all reflected this theme of forbidden love that had triumphed in the end.  My brother made a vintage style slideshow of our original wedding photos and it was so amusing yet emotional to see our families and guests looking on in amazement at us all those years ago. 

It would have been easy to get carried away with all the paraphernalia of the day, all the wonderful stuff that goes with the big occasion, the sparkles of the day, and trust me, I can easily get carried away with all of that stuff.  But really what it all comes down to is just so simple and doesn’t cost a single penny; 16 years ago on 16th August 1996, at just after midnight, boy meets girl and they fall in love. 

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Photographer:
Dress: Saskia by Jenny Packham at White Mischief Bridal
Location: Buxted Park Hotel
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