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Love story: Anne-Marie Marks & Terry Stimson

Haughley Park Barn was honoured to host nearly 40 weddings in 2019 and while all were beautiful and special in their own way, one particular love story touched our hearts – a story of second-chances, family and two people destined to travel the world together.

Anne-Marie Marks and Terrence Stimson met in Soma Bay, Egypt in 2017 and fell in love while exploring new places in their VW Camper van.

Though they had both been married before, their hearts were still open to the tradition and after one year together, Terry proposed – on the same day and in the same place that they had met just twelve months earlier.

Happily, Anne-Marie said ‘yes’ and they sealed their love with a romantic wedding ceremony at Haughley Park Barn on September 14, 2019 – a day full of emotional moments and surprises.

For Anne-Marie, the celebrations started at The Farmhouse where she and her bridesmaids stayed the night before and spent the morning getting ready and drinking prosecco.

For Terry, who arrived at the venue suit in hand, the wedding day started with a touching gift from his bride which saw him in tears.

Both dog lovers, the couple’s ridgeback, Leo, had sadly died earlier in the year and Anne-Marie had arranged for Terry to be presented with a gift made from the ashes of their beloved pet – a bracelet to be worn for the celebrations.

Later, as the official ceremony began, their remaining ridgeback, Ronnie, also made a surprise appearance and was guided down the aisle by the bride’s son, Thomas.

With Ronnie the Ridgeback. Photo: Patrick Stockley

Despite wearing a sign around his neck that said: “They didn’t trust me with the rings”, Ronnie completed the short walk without incident and, after an enthusiastic reunion with his human dad, was guided out again just as Anne-Marie’s daughter, Grace, started the official procession of bridesmaids.

Terry said: “Having both of our wonderful dogs there meant the world to me. I will treasure the bracelet forever and having Ronnie be part of the wedding too was amazing. Then, of course, I saw my beautiful wife-to-be and any hope I had of keeping it together completely went out the window.”

The bride, wearing a 50s style, tea length gown in ivory lace, entered the ceremony room on the arm of her father, Dennis, who was determined to walk his daughter down the aisle despite suffering from Parkinson’s. Later, that same determination would also see him stand to make his father-of-the-bride speech live, despite having recorded it just in case he was unable to do it on the day.

Anne-Marie and her father, Dennis. Photo: Patrick Stockley

Anne-Marie said: “Ever since booking, I hoped Dad would be there to walk me down the aisle and I couldn’t be happier that he did. It was the perfect father-daughter moment. Then, of course, I got the extra shock of seeing one of my best friends in the crowd. She had said she wasn’t coming but had flown in from LA to be there!”

And the surprises were not over yet.

Finally together on their special day, the emotional couple were guided through the ceremony by Suffolk registrar, Lynn, exchanging personal vows and rings before inviting the assembled guests to join them in singing A Million Dreams.

Then, as they signed the register to seal their nuptials, a final special guest made an appearance. The bride’s brother, Anthony, who is in the military and was unable to attend, had watched the entire ceremony via Skype and now offered his congratulations to them both via the phone screen.

Anthony congratulates the couple via Skype. Photo: Patrick Stockley

“I didn’t know that it was being broadcast to my brother and it was a complete shock,” Anne-Marie said. “I was in tears and overjoyed that he got to see the ceremony. I miss him so much.”

After the moving reunion-by-satellite she blew him kisses and said goodbye, dabbing her eyes ready for a few photos before, with marriage certificate in hand, the newlyweds walked out to the song So Amazing (Luther Vandross).

The wedding breakfast and speeches followed then Anne-Marie and Terry took to the floor for their first dance – not just the traditional slow dance but a fully choreographed routine to a song compilation that included music from Grease, Gangnam Style and the rather more romantic Amazed by You (Lonestar).

The first dance. Photo: Patrick Stockley

Anne-Marie’s final surprise for her groom was a stunning fireworks display over Haughley Park to mark the first step on their journey as husband and wife.

Their wedding cake, topped with an iced VW Camper van, displayed the message: ‘And so the adventure begins’ – we think it will be a grand one and wish them love and joy along the way.

The adventure begins…