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Why we’re just like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt

The couples who wait to set a date

Jane Hardy and two NI women tell why they delayed getting wed.

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are said to be planning a May wedding — eight years after they met on the set of Mr & Mrs Smith. At the time Pitt was still married to Jennifer Aniston.

While it used to be customary for couples to walk up the aisle within a relatively short period of their romance beginning, more and more couples are following the example of Jolie and Pitt — known by the shorthand of Brangelina.

The couple have six children, three of them adopted and three from their relationship and are now probably the best known celebrity couple in the world.

But will getting that ring on the fourth finger of their left hands really alter anything?

Three Northern Ireland women tell why they waited for many years before getting wed, whether it changed their relationship — and whether the long walk up the aisle is a good idea.

‘Spark had gone ... then he gave me a Haribo ring’

Lucy McCormick (30) married Davy (42) after a romance of seven years. The couple live in Belfast. She says:

We met, as you do, in a Belfast bar. It wasn’t a set up date, we met through mutual friends. I didn’t fancy him at first but we began to chat and he amused me. And I realised he was very intelligent and felt drawn to the older man.

To be honest, I did most of the chasing. I texted Davy, emailed and rang him — it was borderline stalking! So we got together, saw each other for nine months, then it fizzled out. He was anxious about the age difference, although most of his mates were jealous that he was going out with a younger woman. It was more of a fling than a serious relationship at that point.

But I was devastated when we split. After two months, Davy turned up to my leaving do at Stirling University. Before that, he’d come over every two weeks to see me and I would go over to Belfast.

My parents were initially a bit dubious about the age difference but eventually changed their minds. And my friends fell in love with him when they met him. In fact, my bridesmaid and best friend Sarah says she wants a husband like Davy.

We lived together after graduation and I moved into his house. He’s incredibly house proud and I’m not the tidiest person, but it was lovely being together. We went on for seven years happily, then split up for a year. It’s a cliche, but I think it was the seven year itch. Nobody else was involved but the spark had gone a bit.

We stayed in contact, though, which my friends thought was weird. Then on Christmas Eve, after a romantic encounter over a few drinks, we got back together. It was like everything was different. The plates had shifted and I realised I’d never meet anyone like this. It was really poignant — and it wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t split.

The spark returned, burning more brightly than ever and it was just like the beginning of the romance. Davy proposed exactly a year later, on Christmas Eve, the anniversary of our getting back together. He wrote me a long essay and gave me a Christmas card because he hates romantic cliches. I got a Haribo ring before we bought the real one.

I think Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie should do what ever they want but I think waiting can be good.

It just isn’t true that living together before marriage leads to break-ups. I’m so glad I didn’t just marry Davy at the beginning. When we did decide to get married, I knew 120% he was the right person.

If you marry quickly, sometimes it can be a knee jerk reaction to the first couple of years which are anyway dominated by lust. My wedding took place on June 1, 2012 and I had Etta James’ At Last played for the first dance as a bit of a joke.

But there’s something nice and formal about getting married whether you do it two or 10 years after meeting. We had a civil ceremony at the City Hall for 70 people then went to AM:PM for fish and chips and lots of Champagne.

I fell into bed that night thinking ‘What a brilliant day’. We’d had everybody important with us, but it wouldn’t have mattered if it had just been us. We’d like children but there’s no hurry as I’m young.

I recommend taking it slowly. It takes a lifetime to know someone properly.”

‘I’m becoming excited now thinking of us getting married’

Vanessa Samuels (34) is marrying Colm Oates (37) in April. They own the Garrick bar in Belfast, which Colm manages, have two children, Daniel (9) and Laila (7) and have been together for more than 16 years. She says:

I met Colm when we were studying in Edinburgh. I was at drama school and he was doing hospitality and management. It’s maybe a bit like Brangelina, but I feel each to their own.

We’ve done everything back to front. We did a lot of travelling after college, working in Spain, Greece and Switzerland. We came back, had the children, then got the business, bought a house and now we’re getting married. on April 4.

It’s something we’d discussed for a while but I always thought I’d like a totally romantic proposal with the Cristal Champagne on ice, rose petals on the bed, and him saying I want you to become my wife. Colm thought that was OTT, so it wasn’t quite like that.

Our favourite restaurant is Deane’s and that’s where we’re having our wedding reception. One night last March we’d just eaten at Deane’s, came out and saw the City Hall lit up, and Colm had the ring. I said to him ‘Is this a proposal? Get down on one knee’. So he did.

We’re having a civil ceremony at the City Hall, then the meal, then we’ll go over to the Garrick, close it down and have it transformed with flowers and candles for about 150 guests.

Once I had the engagement ring on my finger, it did seem to change the relationship. It became more concrete and I felt different.

I get excited now thinking ‘Oh, I’m actually getting married’. We’ve been wedding planning and make sure we have lunch together and a small glass of wine on Thursdays. It’s our wedding countdown.

The children already have Colm’s name and I’m often referred to as Mrs Oates. But this next step has had an effect, it’s made us more emotional if not more romantic.

When Colm phoned my father in Scotland to ask permission, he was lost for words. But everybody is really happy for us. Laila has decided she’s making a speech and Daniel is ring bearer and will have a little suit. It’s their day as well. The two of us will honeymoon for a week in the Maldives and then we’ll have a family holiday in the summer. It’s been worth the wait.”

‘After my sister died something changed in me ... and I proposed’

Belfast Telegraph feature writer Jane Hardy on making her courtship official

I married Michael and became Mrs Conaghan 10 years ago this June although we didn’t exactly rush into it, as everybody pointed out. In fact we met 20 years ago.

Funnily enough, my relationship with Michael began fairly speedily. It started with a kiss, 10 weeks after we’d met and a couple of weeks after he’d stopped being my student at a creative writing class I taught.

It was at the end of our first date which came about because I couldn’t find anyone to accompany me to a quiz night.

After my sister and another friend declined, I had given up on this evening of excitement until I received a letter from Michael. Never one to miss an opportunity, I rang him, we gave the quiz a go and spent the rest of the night at a local restaurant consuming crab salad, chips and white wine. Great craic, as I hadn’t learnt to say at that stage.

Within a month, we were an item and a year or so later, we moved in together. Then began a good relationship, surfing life’s downs and ups like our neighbour the windsurfer.

Over the years, the bond matured but we didn’t talk about marriage. Was it fear of commitment or just a reluctance to change something good? I don’t quite know. But I do know that after 10 years, when I lost my sister and mother within four months, something shifted for me. I felt a need to bang in the tent pegs, to cling onto what was good and comforting and important in my life.

So I did a bold thing the following Valentine’s Day, bought a card and on it, alongside the usual blandishments and crosses, I proposed. I wrote something like ‘What about it, Mr C? We’ve good a good thing going, let’s make it official’. Amazingly, deliciously, he said ‘Yes’. This could also have been because his father was keen we formalise things. Did it change things? Yes, it did. Love grew and when challenges came, and they did, I felt we were more of a team.

The wedding itself was fabulous and after the register office and cathedral blessing, we went to Whitstable in Kent for a magical evening on the beach with family and friends. There was a magnificent sunset, one of the ones Turner painted, and that remains with me as a symbol of what our day was all about.”

Slow walk up the aisle

  •  Statistically, around 40% of couples who live together get married within three to seven years, according to American research.
  •  Eamonn Holmes and Ruth |Langsford (right) got married after a 13-year relationship. Their young son Jack was a ring bearer at their 2010 wedding. Eamonn, who |proposed by text, said at the time that approaching 50 had made him want to formalise things. “If something happened to me, I didn’t want to be referred to as the boyfriend.”
  • US TV presenter David Letterman married girlfriend Regina Lasko (right), with whom he had a son in 2003, on the show in 2009 after a 23-year courtship. Just six months later, he admitted infidelity.

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