My friend Sarah met James when they both lived in New York and then spent a couple of years telling me how perfect he would be for me because we both like metal and have tattoos. They ended up in a flatshare together in London, and the first time I came to visit after I moved to England, she spent an evening discussing how I was ‘definitely James’ type’ while I protested that I imagined he definitely wasn’t mine and begged her not to do anything to make the weekend weird. When James first walked in I remember immediately thinking ‘ah crap...’ because I thought he was really fit. We got on straight away and stayed up most of the night chatting and, four months and a few dates later, officially became a couple. Not sure either of us will ever forgive Sarah.
Three years into our relationship James got offered a job in Dubai. I had just been promoted into a job I was really excited about, so the timing was bad for me, but it was too good an opportunity for him to pass up; so we decided he would take it and we would give things a go long distance. As it turns out, long distance relationships are really fucking hard...but they also teach you a lot about yourselves as individuals and a couple. I honestly think having to work with the distance made us stronger, plus it gave us the opportunity to travel to some amazing places, so I wouldn’t change anything.
We always said that we would take stock after two years apart, and as we approached that point, it was obvious we were both starting to need a light at the end of the tunnel - to know when we would be properly together again. We started to talk about the possibility of me moving to join him in Dubai, and the subject of marriage kind of naturally came up. We’re both a bit awkward and neither of us had ever been convinced that we were ‘marriage’ people, so we edged around the topic for a bit before finally admitting that actually, it might be quite nice.
So I wasn’t completely surprised when he asked me to marry him, but I was surprised by the proposal (and the fact that both my mum and dad had known for two months and managed to keep the secret). I had convinced myself it would happen when I went to visit him in November, but on the final day of his trip home last August, we went for a walk along the Seven Sisters from Seaford to Eastbourne. Just as the cliffs came into view, when there was nobody around, he asked me to stop so he could take a picture. One moment I was posing awkwardly, then the next thing I knew he was on one knee and had a ring in his hand. I grew up by the sea, so it is my favourite place to be. I also love astronomy and stargazing. James proposed with a custom-made ring made with a ‘galaxy grey’ diamond that looks like a solar system. As one of my best friends put it - ‘I thought I knew the perfect way to propose to you, but a galaxy ring by the ocean...he really is perfect for you.’
Given our shared awkwardness, we knew we didn’t want a really big wedding - but we did want to celebrate the occasion with all the people we love. We decided to have a laid back and super intimate ceremony at the Asylum Chapel in London, with just our immediate families and a few of my closest friends, and a feasting style meal at Brunswick House in Vauxhall where we all shared a roast dinner served along one big trestle table. In the evening, we moved down to the cellars of Brunswick House where all our friends joined us for drinks, dancing, temporary tattoos, late night snacks and lots of hugs. It was honestly perfect and we couldn’t quite believe that everything went off without a hitch.
Now we’re planning the next part of our lives together, in the same place, and I hope we get to listen to metal, go for walks by the sea, and stargaze until we’re old and wrinkly!