Racing car driver Richard Lyons met the love of his life at a New Year’s Eve party... in Japan. The 33-year-old, from Hillsborough, Co Down, got talking to Florida-born Abercrombie & Fitch manager Gina Greco at Geronimo’s bar in Tokyo and arranged their first date.
They fell in love and then, on April 23 last year in Galway, Richard asked Gina to marry him, proposing with a diamond ring he had made specially.
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“It was a bit of a shaky proposal,” Richard said. “I had planned the flights, spoken to her parents using Skype and had the engagement ring, but I hadn’t worked out what to say.
“I muddled my way through it and Gina said ‘yes'.”
The couple decided to marry on September 5 at Castle Leslie, in Co Monaghan, and hired Angela Hunter as their wedding planner.
Eighty guests attended the wedding service, at St Salvador’s Church in the grounds of the Estate, which was followed by stunning reception.
“We had an amazing day,” Gina said. “It was a fairytale.”
Richard added: “Angela delivered an awesome wedding. She did such an amazing job for us.
“Everything ran like clockwork. It was the best day of our lives.”
The new Mrs and Mrs Lyons had planned to honeymoon in Italy, but two weeks before the wedding Richard was called to race in Japan.
“I had to leave the day after the wedding,” Richard said. “So Gina’s honeymoon was at one of my races. We are planning to head away together somewhere next spring.”
Gina added: “Even though we didn’t have a honeymoon, we still got to spend time and celebrate and be alone together.”
The newlyweds love being husband and wife and they enjoyed their wedding day so much that they want to celebrate in some way with loved ones on September 5 every year.
“We are so thankful to all our close friends and family that came to the wedding,” Gina said. “We spent it with the most special people in our lives. Married life is amazing. It’s really nice.”
Richard said: “Being married is everything we hoped for. It’s fantastic. We look forward to next year and having a big celebration every year on our anniversary.
“It’s nice to know we will be doing those things together.”