Marry me? Couples reveal how they popped the question
Love is in the air and, ahead of the Wedding Journal Show in Belfast this weekend, Kerry McKittrick asks a quartet of brides-to-be how their partners proposed.
Everyone loves a wedding, whether it's the pomp of the bridal procession, the tear-jerking 'I do' moment or being able to let your hair down afterwards.
And there will be magic in the air this weekend as the Wedding Journal Show returns to the King's Hall in Belfast, with more than 250 exhibitors, featuring everything from fairytale wedding venues to the best bridal transport the province has to offer.
This year, the new Bridal Catwalk features wedding designers from Northern Ireland and beyond, as well as a plus-size bride show on the Citybeat Style Stage.
In the VIP area, there will be complimentary bubbly, chocolate from Hotel Chocolat, taster treatments from the spa at Enniskillen's Killyhevlin Hotel and entertainment from gypsy jazz band Manouche Swing. Future brides and grooms will also have the chance to win the wedding of their dreams worth £25,000.
This includes a reception at Cabra Castle, a honeymoon to Miami and Turks & Caicos, wedding and bridesmaid dresses and room dressing. But before the wedding plans can start, there has to be an engagement.
We talk to four local brides -to-be about how their fiances popped the question.
'The next thing I knew, he had got down on one knee!'
Aine McKay (24) is studying counselling and lives in Belfast with her fiance, Paul (33). She says:
Paul and I met on a night out in Belfast about five years ago. I was in the Stiff Kitten in Belfast with my friends and he was out with his friends, and we've been together ever since.
We now live together in Belfast and in February last year we had a normal night - went out for dinner and then home to bed.
Paul woke me up in the middle of the night by hitting me - he was actually having a fit. For some reason, I thought he was having an asthma attack, but all of a sudden he stopped dead and wasn't breathing.
Luckily, I have a little CPR training so I rang an ambulance and started doing that while the people on the phone talked me through it.
Paul was without pulse or breath for 24 minutes until the ambulance arrived and started to 'shock' him. We did CPR to keep the blood pumping. If I had gone to the neighbours instead of doing CPR, he wouldn't have made it.
I think I was in shock because I was so calm in the hospital. The doctor took me into a side room and told me I should call Paul's parents because he was very ill and they were only giving him 24 hours.
The next day, Paul was brought to intensive care and was put into a medically-induced coma. The doctor came to talk to us and said that Paul had no brain activity, because he had been starved of oxygen for so long. They reduced his sedation after a week. What worried me wasn't that Paul would need care, or looking after, from then on, but that he would wake up a different person from the one I fell in love with.
He was shaky for another three weeks or so and kept having to ask where he was, but he's now made a full recovery.
They discovered that Paul has a genetic condition called Brugada Syndrome, which can also be known as Sudden Death Syndrome. Paul now has a device in his chest to shock his heart if it goes too fast.
I never thought I was the marrying kind of girl. Paul and I always knew that we were best friends and we were going to be together. I think I assumed it would happen down the line, but I didn't give it much thought.
Before Paul's attack, we had booked a holiday to Las Vegas with two other couples and we went off in June last year. Paul thought he was ruining my holiday - he couldn't sunbathe, as he's not allowed to get too warm. To make it up he said he would take me out to dinner at the Bellagio Hotel. When dessert came, all I heard was Paul's chair going back and the next thing I knew he was on one knee in front of me. He asked me to do him the biggest favour and spend the rest of my life with him.
He even produced a ring that he had ordered before we left home and picked up out there. He also thanked me for saving his life.
We've decided that we're going to get married by ourselves in Central Park in New York. Hotel weddings are very nice, but they're not us and this will suit us instead of accommodating everyone else. We will have a reception for everyone when we get home, though.
I want my wedding day to be just me and Paul, and very relaxed. The plan is to do it in the autumn and we'll have our reception on the Belfast Barge, as it's our favourite restaurant in Belfast."
'He ran up the beach with a box of chocs and a ring'
Tracey Orriss (36) lives in Silverbridge with her fiance, Gareth Kelly (38), who works as a bus driver and bouncer. They have two children, Lindsay (6) and Ciaran (4). She says:
I was living and working out in Spain when I met Gareth in a nightclub 11 years ago. He took my number and said he would keep in touch and when he got home he rang me, which was the last thing I expected.
We kept in touch, then we started to go back and forth between here and Spain, which we did for a year.
The plan was that Gareth would move out to Spain with me, but the economy turned and the work started to dry up. He had a good job in a leisure centre back then, so I ended up moving over here.I got a job in insurance and then the children came along. It's all just been a natural progression.
We knew we'd end up married at some point, but we weren't in a rush.
Then I lost the feeling in my big toe in June 2011. By that September, I was essentially paralysed from the ribs down. Eventually I was diagnosed with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis. After I relapse, I hopefully get better with medication and return to how I was. I have relapses, but never as bad as the first time.
We went to Haven Holidays in Wales last June, because I have such wonderful childhood memories of family holidays there.
It was the final Saturday of our holiday. Gareth got the children ready and told me to take my time to get myself ready for dinner while they went off.
He called me a little while later and asked me to come over to the beach for dinner. It was close by so I walked over and discovered a picnic area decorated with blankets, lanterns and umbrellas.
Gareth asked me to sit and watch the sunset with him.
The next thing the kids arrived with flowers and chocolates and a card saying thanks mummy for the best holiday ever. We sat on the beach for a while and then Gareth went off to fetch something from the car.
I didn't think anything of it until a figure in black came running out of the water - it was Gareth in his wetsuit running up the beach. He came up to me and got down on one knee with a box of Milk Tray and pulled a ring out of his wetsuit and asked me to marry him. That the kids were there made it so special, as it was just us as a family. Gareth had a hamper with champagne and he even bought scented candles for the lanterns. He did the whole thing by himself.
Gareth could have walked away a long time ago, but it never crossed his mind. He had been thinking of proposing for a long time, but was waiting for the perfect moment."
'He'd set it all up ... there had even been a rehearsal'
Victoria Cahoon (21) is a student at Stranmillis College in Belfast and lives in Lisburn. She is engaged to Jason McKee (23), also a student, from Tandragee. She says:
Jason and I met at a church event just over three years ago. I wasn't expecting a proposal at all - the whole thing was a shock. That it was on his birthday threw me totally.
Before his birthday, I asked Jason what he would like to do to celebrate and he said something low-key, like going out for dinner. Somehow he managed to steer me into suggesting dinner in Hillsborough by dropping hints about somewhere not too far away - I even phoned and ended up booking my own engagement dinner. The day of the proposal - Saturday, November 8, 2014 - was a horrible day. It rained and rained.
I should have caught on that something was going on because my mum kept checking the weather forecast. She even kept telling me I could still dress up if the weather was bad.
Eventually the weather began to clear and Jason suggested going for a walk before dinner. We headed out to Hillsborough and it was pitch black. As we walked, I started to see fairy lights twinkling in the distance. I thought it was a festival of lights or something, but the closer we got I could see it was a small set-up.
The lake in the park was surrounded by lanterns and there was an archway covered in fairy lights. I said to Jason that we should leave, that we were walking into someone's proposal. Jason kept walking and only when he said nothing and started getting something out of his pocket did I realise what was going on. He got down on one knee with a little speech and produced a little ring box that, when it opened, started to play Pachelbel's Canon in D - a real favourite of mine.
He had the ring picked out himself - he had even made the box. I said yes, of course, and then all of a sudden my brother and brother-in-law came out from behind a tree - they had helped set the whole thing up. There had even been a rehearsal about three days before.
We've set the date for December 23, 2016 and we're planning on having it at the Slieve Donard in Newcastle. By then, we'll both have graduated."
'We drank Champagne under the stars, it was just perfect'
Robyn Jones (25) is a learning disability nurse. She lives in Kells with her fiance, Rab Smith (24), a tax technician. She says:
Rab and I met on a dating site in April 2012. At that point, I had gone off the idea of meeting someone online, but I liked the messages that he sent me. We chatted online for ages and then went for a drive and got on really well. We've been together ever since.
We didn't talk about getting married before he proposed, so I didn't even have a clue. So he could buy the ring, Rab left a ring-sizer at his mum's house, pretending his sister was having her engagement ring resized. He knew fine rightly I would try it on as a joke.
Last June, we went off to Enniskillen for our holidays. He had bought a weekend in the Killyhevlin Hotel as a Christmas present for me and then we planned to borrow my granda's cabin cruiser and travel round Lough Erne. The boat was out of action, though, so we decided to camp instead.
We went over to Devenish Island. I love Devenish - it's my favourite place on earth. But instead of going over just the two of us, we had to go with a boatload of tourists.
We walked up to St Mary's Augustinian Priory, where I stood and took lots of photos. I turned round and Rab was getting something out of his pocket and I turned round again to find him standing there with a ring in his hand.
I was absolutely delighted when he asked me to marry him, but it occurred to me a little later that he hadn't gone down on one knee. He said I turned around too quickly and he didn't have time.
That night we went back to our campsite and cooked dinner on our little stove. We sat drinking Champagne under the stars and it was just perfect. When we got home to see the family, we discovered that Rab had chosen the exact same ring as my great-granny had when she got engaged.
We're planning on getting married in 2018, as we want to save up for a big white wedding and we would like to build our own house."
Get your Wedding Show tickets now!
The Wedding Journal Show 2015 will run at the King's Hall in Belfast this Friday to Sunday, January 23-25
Tickets cost £8 each, or for £18 you can gain entry to the event's VIP lounge
For tickets and information go to www.weddingjournalshow.com