Our story, like many nowadays, begins online in 2014. We had both recently graduated and were embarking on our careers; Gillian in London and me in Crawley. We both signed up by chance to the same site, and to keep things simple, I had decided to only reply to people living in London. Luckily for me (although I didn’t know it at the time), Gillian thought Crawley was in London (it isn't) so when my profile popped up on her screen, I escaped her test. After a few weeks of online chat and getting to know each other, we finally decided to meet face-to-face, under the London Eye on Sunday 30th March, and head for a few drinks. As a safety precaution, I’d given my flatmate, Tara, all of his details, which thankfully she never needed.
I remember standing, waiting for ages, until this curly-haired figure appeared walking towards me, headphones in and looking away. Was this her? Am I getting my hopes up? Just as she got to me, out came the headphones and out came that Dublin accent - this was her. As I approached, my initial thoughts were wow! He really wasn't lying about being tall! He'd already picked out a cute bar under the Waterloo arches (the Archduke) for us to have our first round. All going well, we decided to head on for food and again, Steven had thought ahead and booked Las Iguanas at Southbank for dinner. The date was going really well; we clicked and had plenty in common to talk about. The date that was supposed to be a few drinks for a few hours had quickly become the rest of the evening. At the end we said goodnight and made plans to see each other again.
We planned to meet next to visit the Tower of London and tick off one of my many "things to do in London". I got to Tower Hill tube station as per the plan but Steven, “the local", had managed to make it to London Bridge Station instead, a 20 minute walk away. After some confusion, we finally made it into the Tower and again spent much longer than planned together. It was only then that I found out Steven was travelling in to London each time we met up – Crawley really isn’t in London!
As time went on we were seeing more and more of each other, and things were getting serious. Gillian met my family for the first time at Andrew and Alex’s 17th birthday at the Crown and Cushion pub in Fleet. Since she fared so well I threw her in at the deep end and invited her to my parents' 30th wedding anniversary party a few weeks later. Everyone was very friendly and made me feel at home, despite the rain!
Our First Photo
26th April 2014
Finally, it was Steven's turn to meet my family so we organised a trip back to Dublin. I was pretty nervous heading over; I had never been to Ireland and if it went badly I'd have to survive for a whole weekend! My worries were quickly laid to rest as I was warmly welcomed by the whole family. After spending some time with family and finally introducing Steven to Ruth Cooney, we headed straight onto Majorca, for the first of many trips abroad together.
I hadn’t been abroad as much as Gillian when we first met, but her love for travelling really brought it out in me. Her friends from Dublin were planning a trip to Japan in early 2015 so we decided to join them. We spent two amazing weeks travelling around the most popular island of Japan, Honshu, visiting all our friends based out there. Since that trip we’ve managed to visit about 12 countries on 5 out of the 7 continents together.
For all this time we were living apart and visited each other at the weekends. In August 2016, we decided to take the plunge and move in together - the last big relationship test! We spent a few months visiting towns in the southern belt of London before deciding on Surbiton. We found the close-to-perfect flat for our first adventure together. We managed to survive the stresses of furnishing our new apartment from scratch and un-packing. With time, we settled into a comfortable routine, cooking together, binge watching our favourite TV shows and visiting new places – around London and the world. To our surprise, there were no new bad habits uncovered in the move so we started to start saving for our own home!
Our Engagement - 25th August 2017
Almost a year went by and we had settled into the couple lifestyle. It was obvious that Gillian was the woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, so I started plotting the proposal. I knew I wanted it to be private, personal and to have meaning. The answer became clear - Millport, the small town on the Isle of Cumbrae off the west coast of Scotland where my dad, Alan grew up. We drove up on the premise of visiting my Gran at Millport and seeing my friends, Iain and Gavin in Glasgow. Little did she know this was a cunning ruse! On the Friday evening, we decided to take a stroll along the sea front, when Steven decided to bring me to some new spot. I started getting suspicious that something wasn't quite right when Steven kept fidgeting with something in his pocket and I guessed what was coming.
I got down on one knee on a rocky outcrop in the bay, looking out over the Firth of Clyde, took out my great-grandmothers ring and popped the question. I of course said yes, but I couldn’t hide my lack of excitement for the ring, which was not to my taste! Steven, knowing me too well, revealed that he had borrowed the ring – it was his great-grandmothers and was exactly 100 years old, with 1917 inscribed on it. He already had it covered and he revealed that our planned trip to Glasgow was not to meet up with his friends, but to visit the Argyll Arcade (Glasgow’s famous jewellery quarter) to choose a ring. This was the place his dad, Alan, took his mom Heather some 34 years previously. We kept our engagement a secret until Sunday night, when we decided to announce to our friends and family. My Gran was the first to know, before we took to the phones to let each family know in turn. Steven had hidden a bottle of Champagne cooling in his Gran's fridge ready to celebrate with her after the big reveal so we toasted together and enjoyed listening to the delighted squeals of my sisters down the phone when we told them the news.
Of course, we always planned to buy our first place together before we got married, so we continued to save up. Finally, in late 2017 with some very welcome help from our parents, we found the perfect place in Surbiton and put in an offer. To our luck, it all went pretty smoothly and by March 2018, we had keys and were roping in family to help us decorate – some even flying in from Ireland! We were happily settled together, and so our focus switched to the big day… 20th July 2019.