We are currently on holiday in Spain and last night went out for dinner in a beautiful Spanish town called Ronda. It was the first time we’d been back since Jon proposed to me on the stunning cliff side 12 years ago. I was telling the kids the story of our comedy engagement…
Some couples have amazing stories of how they met… how fate threw them together in a series of unexpected events. A chance meet on a delayed flight or an electrified moment of eyes meeting across the room and the heavens opening to reveal a beam of light shining down on them while chubby Cupid’s fly over head and harp music plays softly in the background.
Our meeting was far from an exciting star alignment and altogether very standard! I was invited to my friends 21st family BBQ and Jon was invited by her older sister. I knew no one there other than the birthday girl and almost didn’t go so I suppose there was an element of fate at play! I turned up and sat on the picnic bench in the typical Sheffield backyard with the other people who were ‘friends not family’ and therefore roughly my age! There opposite me was a tall, brown-eyed, dark haired man who was clearly nursing a hangover and attempting to drink his way through it!
I was 23 at the time. Looking back this sounds ridiculous but I’d got to the point where I had decided I would never meet any one and had started considering investing in cross stitch patterns and cats! All the way through University I was the single one. During my first year of teaching I was resolutely single, mainly due to the fact that I barely had time to sleep with the demands of my job, let alone meet anyone or actively search for love! I’d come out the wrong side of a series of disastrous dates, including one particular cracker where the bloke got hideously drunk, stood on the bench in the noodle bar we were in and announced really loudly to all who would listen that I’d just asked him to marry him and he’d turned me down! He then fell backwards off the aforementioned bench to cement his role as ‘probably not the one’! I had resigned myself to being the next Bridget Jones!
So the progressively drunken man who was sat opposite me at the BBQ held very little promise or hope of a happily ever after in my cynical mind! Plus he spent the entire evening ranting at me about how he’d been screwed over by women and was definitely off them at the moment before drunkenly confessing that he quite fancied me and would I like to go for a drink sometime?!!! For reasons I’m still not entirely sure of, I agreed and 15 years later that first date led us to here!
We moved in together after a few months; in part because it made sense because we were practically living together anyway and partly because we’d hosted a Halloween party at Jon’s flat and cleaning up was beyond our hungover capabilities so we decamped to my house just down the road and pretended the mess didn’t exist for a good solid week!!
3 years later Jon proposed in a beautiful Spanish town called Ronda after a series of comedy events! He had very gallantly asked my Dad’s permission to marry me; or as my Dad always jokes, he’d asked him if he could ask me; Maybe he wasn’t certain of my response! We were on a mass family holiday with both sets of our parents, my grandparents and one of my closest friends. We set off for the day on a trip to the town and drove in convoy through the hills. Jon had tipped my dad the wink that today was the day and asked him to run interference with my friend Fiona who was also on the day trip.
We’d all set off together but gradually splintered off into pairs and Jon began marching ahead. I was following but was very conscious that I didn’t want to leave my friend on her own or randomly out for the day with my dad (my Mum wasn’t well and had stayed at the villa). At this point Fiona commented on some shoes she’d seen in the window of a shop and my Dad literally threw her into the shop while Jon spotted his chance to throw our tail, grabbed my hand and started striding purposefully towards the cliff side! I skipped along while constantly protesting that we needed to wait and glancing behind me hoping that we’d be reunited through the crowds!
The city is built into a u-shaped cliff side and we reached the stunning bridge which unites the two halves. Jon sat down, I thought to admire the view, and started to mutter something while looking a bit clammy! I think he was just about to launch into his prepared speech when his parents walked round the corner and wandered over to us. Jon barely said a word, stood up and stomped off leaving me wondering what the hell was wrong with him!
I muttered apologies to his mum and dad and then attempted to catch him up while he strode along the cliff side like a man on a mission! Another beautiful vista appeared and again he sat down, once again appearing somewhat tense! He took my hand and was about to start speaking when I heard Fiona’s voice shout ‘look there they are!’ as she came hurrying towards us looking slightly panicked that she’d been trapped with my dad for half an hour who seemed to have developed a strange obsession with women’s shoes!! Once again he rudely wandered off but this time I held back and apologised to Fiona that we’d abandoned her. We meandered altogether for a while before my Dad somehow managed to manhandle Fiona into a wine making monastery for a guided tour! Jon sat down on the nearest bench, realised he clearly didn’t have long and seized the moment to very quickly propose!! After much squealing (and relief on Fiona’s part that she was now allowed out of the monastery and permitted out of my dad’s sight for a few minutes) we all reunited for celebratory drinks in a glorious Spanish square where my grandad muttered the now immortal line ‘well done lad! You can’t be happy all your life!’
A year later we got married on a glorious, blisteringly sunny day in July! We completely blew the myth that brides and grooms cannot get drunk at their own weddings and ended up attempting and failing the Dirty Dancing lift in spectacular style! The next day was considerably less glamorous and pleasant!