Who gets married on Valentine's Day?
Incurable romantics like Martin and Shannon, that's who!
Imagine the scene.
Martin's sitting on his Silver Sony Via, dreaming about going to Uni in Edinburgh, and he sees this blue-eyed blonde on Facebook who lives just 2.5 miles away, so he has a wee creep at her photos and goes in for a poke.
And a few more pokes...
before eventually his friend request is accepted and Shannon agrees to go to see 'Shrek Forever After' at the cinema, followed by a Quarter-Pounder Cheese and a McChicken Sandwich Meal.
The date ends with a hug and a smooch - but no pokes.
They go to 'Facebook Official' they do 'Long-Distance Love' for a year, and the following summer, the 18-year-old Shannon quits her job at the hairdressers and takes the ferry from Belfast to start her new life in the big city.
Will it work out? Will Shannon get a job? What will she do while Martin is at Uni?
Relax: it's a romance, so of course there's a happy ending. Shannon gets over the homesickness, she gets over being lost on a bus, she gets a job, and she meets two of her bridesmaids on her first day at work.
Time passes. Martin is now in 3rd year. He decides the time has come to get serious, so he pleads with no fewer than five banks to get the overdraft he needs to buy Shannon the ring he knows she wants so much! It's a good thing he's Irish. So is one of the bank managers - result!
Martin enrols his mother to size up the third finger on Shannon's left hand. (Grooms, mail me, and I'll tell you how it's done...) There is a three-month wait while the rock is crafted in the US of A.
When it arrives, Martin is out, Shannon signs for it. She asks what's in the parcel? He says, 'it's a secret', they have a row and it all goes a bit frosty...
The next again week, at home in Tandragee, Shannon's dad Allen is surprised to open the door to a visibly shaking Martin who says 'I need to talk to you about Shannon'.
Allen is subsequently very pleased to hear that Shannon isn't pregnant. Plans are made for the proposal to take place when both families are in Disneyland next year.
Martin flies back to Edinburgh, realises that he can't possibly wait that long, so he goes out, empties his bank account, buys six bouquets of roses, a bottle of Moët & Chandon and the largest teddy bear the Disney Shop can build, leaves a trail of rose petals through the flat and hides in the spare room for what feels like a lifetime before Shannon comes in completely oblivious and I think you know how the rest of the story goes, don't you?
I had a lot of fun telling the story of Martin and Shannon, as you may well have guessed by now, and I was really pleased to get these great photos from my old pal, the indefatigable Derek Christie, and this note from Martin who said,
"Thank you so much for the unforgettable ceremony - and the decent Irish accent 😉.
We have just watched the video and it's amazing how much you miss.
It feels like you are in a bubble on the day, looking from the inside out but after the event it's the opposite...looking from the outside in!
Thank you again for an unforgettable day! You sucked the guests in from the get go and put me and Shannon at ease!'
Martin - It was a total delight from start to finish. Or - as I said on the day -'I'm lurred!' Don't lose touch and thanks again to you and Shannon and Derek Christie for giving me such a great story to tell!