Isobel and Russell

How We Met – by the bride

Russ and I first got talking on the dating website Plenty of Fish. One day when I was at work I mentioned to one of my colleagues that I’d got talking to a guy called Russ whose profile said he worked in TV. As my friend’s husband also worked in TV, it sparked her interest that they may know each other, and after some probing questions it turned out they did! Knowing that we already had a bit of a link, and some mutual friends from University, it made me feel more comfortable about the two of us meeting.

On our first date we went to a pub called the Mailman Arms in Lyndhurst, in the New Forest. We had a few drinks, and I had to quickly get over any first date nerves about eating in front my date, after Russ’ suggestion of ordering some “nibbles” turned in to what I can only describe as a messy feast (potato skins, nachos, chicken goujons etc). I liked Russ’ big cheeky grin from his photos and he was just as friendly in person as I’d imagined, so I soon felt relaxed with him.

We met up again a week later to play at the local pitch’n’putt course at which point Russ witnessed my lack of hand-to-eye co-ordination. Russ video’d me spinning on the spot and failing to hit the golf ball a number of times, and even caught an innocent dog squatting down for a poo directly behind me whilst I was trying to take my shot, and so we spent most of the date giggling.

Our third date followed soon after with a trip to Basingstoke Ice Rink. As Russ is very good at skating, and I am not, he placed a supportive hand around my waist for much of the date, although still managed to knock me flying at one stage. It was on this date that I started to feel more of a spark between us, and our romantic feelings for each other began to grow.

how they asked – by the bride

Almost two years on, Russ and I had discussed getting married, and we knew it was something we both wanted to do eventually. It started coming up in conversation more and more, and we had begun to joke about it; if he bent down on one knee to tie up a shoelace or if MASSIVE boxes arrived in the post (“Is that my engagement ring??”) so I knew it was on the cards.

Friends had begun to ask, and kept suggesting it may happen on our 2 year anniversary (September), my birthday (October) or during our trip to India that we had planned (November). I began to get excited, but then in August, Russ seemed to go very quiet with the wedding/engagement talk. No more jokes or cheeky hints. I started thinking that he was either planning something or had gone off the idea completely!!!

Our 2 year anniversary weekend came round in September, and I’d known since July that Russ had booked us a night at a spa hotel in Hastings. However, on the journey down to Hastings he asked me if I wanted the good news or the bad news. Confused, I asked for the bad news first and he told me we would not be going to the spa hotel. The good news was that we were still going to Hastings?!…but what for??

Russ spent the rest of the journey giving me little clues, and generally winding me up about where we might be staying (camping?? a treehouse??) At this point I started to get suspicious, as it was clear he had something up his sleeve. We eventually arrived at a terrace of Georgian townhouses on a private road, in St. Leonard’s, a lovely part of Hastings. Reaching the front door at No. 5, we met Jude and Mark, a couple who ran their own boutique apartment (5 The Lawn) in the converted basement of their townhouse. We were led around the back of the house, through the garden, to the entrance of the apartment.

The interior was beautifully decorated, with a king size bed, pull-down home cinema screen, steam room and our own private spa pool (imagine a wet room with the door bricked up halfway, then filled with water!!) I think my eyes popped out of my head! We made the most of our new luxury home (for the next 24 hours), splashing in the spa and sipping on champagne, before Russ asked me to go and sit in the garden. Dressed in a white dressing gown, I was a bit confused why he wanted us to go outside, but just went along with it. He sat me on a bench, then told me he had to do something and he’d be back in 10 minutes.

As I sat there, nervously sipping on more champagne, my heart was racing. What was he doing? What was he going to do?? I desperately tried not to get my hopes up, as I thought even if he wasn’t about to propose, we were having such a good time and didn’t want anything to spoil it. Eventually Russ came back out to the garden, and led me back through to the lounge area of the apartment. I thought he wanted us to watch a film as he had pulled down the home cinema screen, but as he pressed play, it was Russ that appeared on the screen!

The film started with Russ talking about us saying I love you for the first time, which immediately got me welling up. Then he began pegging up photos of us on a string tied between two trees. I was confused at what he was doing at this stage, which kept the tears at bay, but I soon relaxed and started to enjoy watching some of our favourite moments from our 2 years together; including seeing me failing at pitch’n’putt on our second date! As the film progressed I was thinking ‘What’s all this for??’ and began wondering if this was more effort than usual for an anniversary weekend…

The film seemed to come to a natural end after all the photos were pegged up, however as Russ’ voice began again, I knew there was more to come. As I heard the phrase “so there’s just one more thing, before we finish this film, that I need to ask”, I noticed Russ reach in to his pocket, out of the corner of my eye. I kept my eyes glued to the screen so he didn’t think I was suspicious, although I think anyone would have been by that stage. On film, Russ then pegged up a final photo that said ‘Marry Me?’ in a gap that I hadn’t noticed in the line of pegged photos. At that point Russ got down on one knee and opened up a small box with the most beautiful platinum diamond solitaire ring I’d ever seen. I said yes immediately, but I was shaking like a leaf. We both blubbed for a while, trying to get our heads around it all, before FaceTiming our family and telling the story of how it happened over and over again.

Russ’ film was the most romantic proposal – beyond what I ever could have imagined. I loved that he had filmed and photographed so many of our funny little moments together, and as he is so creative with media, it was the perfect way for him to propose. I don’t think I’ll ever get bored of watching the film, and I love that we will be able to show it to our children, and maybe even our grandchildren one day.

how they asked – by the groom

I’d known from early on in our relationship that Bel was ‘the one’ so it was only a matter of time before I started thinking about popping the question. We’d been with each other about 16 months when I started thinking about ring shopping and how I was going to ask. I knew exactly the type of ring Isobel liked but I did drop a few hints just to confirm I was right. After searching for hours online and in local shop windows I couldn’t find anything suitable so booked a day off work and headed up to Hatton Garden in London armed with 30 odd pictures of rings and hand drawn diagrams! I had 4 appointments lined up but the first was all I needed. It was at the family run jewelers called Farringdons. We sat there for hours looking at diamonds through loupes and different types of settings for the ring before finally deciding it would be best to make one from scratch based on a ring I liked. The staff were great and their service and patience was exactly what you’d want when picking something so special. I walked away a happy man and would return four weeks later to pick up the perfect ring.

Now for the proposal! We were in the process of booking a once in a lifetime trip to India at the time so a beach in Goa seemed like the perfect place. After a few more weeks of thought I started getting second thoughts on how to propose; the idea of smuggling a ring through 5 lots of customs and carting it around a third world country for over a week filled me with dread. So I set about thinking of an alternative way of saying those four words.

As I work in television as a cameraman and director I thought it would be great make a short film with the story of how we met and a look back at our time together so far, ultimately finishing with me popping the question. I enlisted the help of my good friend Gwyn who is an amazingly talented film maker and we put our heads together over FaceTime to come up with a narrative for the film. We didn’t want a conventional slideshow of images so we thought about the idea of a string line where I could peg images of us whilst my voice told the story of our two years together; at this point I knew that our two year anniversary in September would be the perfect time to show the film.

I made my excuses and headed up to Wales for the weekend to shoot and edit the film with Gwyn. We had the most fantastic weather and Gwyn had found a lovely secluded area in a nearby park with two trees to string the picture line between. Gwyn interviewed me about my time with Isobel and we used shots of me hanging up various pictures to illustrate what was being said. I’d had square polaroid type pictures, about 100 of them, printed off a week before so it was just a case of getting them in the correct order. Once we laid down the audio of the story, popped some footage of me hanging the photos up and mixed in some romantic music it was finished, and amazing it was too.

All I needed now was to source a suitable location to show it. I wanted to whisk Isobel away for our anniversary weekend but didn’t want to just show the film on a small TV or laptop after all the work that had gone into it. Then I stumbled across 5 The Lawn on Chic Retreats; a private hideaway apartment in the quirky town of St Leonards-on-Sea in East Sussex. It was perfect. Completely secluded, with its own private spa, steam room, walk in shower, outside bath AND best of all, a 12 foot cinema screen where I could show the film. I spoke with Jude and Mark who owned the property and let them into my secret and they were so excited and were immediately on board. I booked us a table for the evening at a beautiful boutique restaurant; we were good to go!

Isobel knew we were staying away the weekend in West Sussex but didn’t know where until we arrived at 5 The Lawn. Jude and Mark showed us around and the property was breathtaking; better than I could ever have imagined. They put a bottle of champagne in the fridge for our arrival and we slowly sipped it whilst swimming in our private spa. I was getting a little nervous at this point, more about the technology failing than the actual question! I sat Bel outside in the garden whilst I set up the cinema screen and made sure it worked. I then filled two glasses of champagne and sat her down. As suspected I was in tears halfway through the film, as was Bel. When it got near the end I reached behind me and grabbed the box. As the film ended with the picture ‘Will you Marry Me’ I droped to one knee and presented the ring. Emotion completely took over and we were both in tears; it was the best moment of my life so far.

The rest of the evening was spent Facetiming family and friends and having a lovely meal at Pier Nine restaurant before walking back to our hidaway retreat to relax.

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Special Thanks

Still River Films
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