We all know someone – or even been someone – who has had to call on a friend to play a fake partner in order to shift an unwanted admirer.
For Louise and Lee Copus, who finally married last month after 22 years together, they encountered this familiar scenario at the now-demolished Havant pub The Dolphin.
‘I was known as quite an outgoing, crazy girl,’ says Louise, who was 16 at the time. ‘Lee had a girl who was quite interested in him but he wasn’t interested in her.
‘I had to pretend to be his girlfriend and give him a big kiss. Obviously the kiss did something because I could not shift him from my mind!’
Louise, now 38, promptly met up with Lee again for a trip to the cinema – where they watched sci-fi blockbuster Independence Day – and could distinctly remember his appearance for the date.
‘He was always very good looking, but he turned up wearing one of those Pringle diamond jumpers,’ laughs Louise, explaining that she usually ‘went for the bad boys’.
She adds: ‘He wasn’t necessarily someone I would’ve gone for, but he had a nice car and when he started showering me with things like flowers the next day, it did take me aback.’
Several more trips to the cinema and local banger racing events later, Louise proposed to her boyfriend – who was completely oblivious at the time – when they spent their first ‘anniversary’ at the Queen’s Hotel, Southsea.
Living in Leigh Park with their two children, Dylan and Mia, it’s taken the couple more than two decades to tie the knot.
Eventually, after Louise remarks that ‘everyone had given up’ on the notion of the wedding, she and Lee, 40, were pronounced husband and wife at Skylark Golf and Country Club, on the idyllic outskirts of Whiteley on August 11.
‘I was very, very, very nervous when I started walking in but as soon as I saw Lee I knew that I could do it,’ admits Louise, before adding that her groom was ‘so teary’ as he watched his bride walk up the aisle.
Louise beams: ‘Everyone at Skylark was so nice, it’s like a hidden gem there. It was so lovely, and it was a very personal day.’
Joined by 60 friends and family, 10-year-old Mia was one of her mother’s bridesmaids, while Dylan, 14, played the important role of best man.
‘Dylan was amazing, and Mia also got up and did a fantastic speech,’ says Louise of her ‘very family-oriented’ big day.
The newlyweds took along the kids for their ‘familymoon’ to Cyprus, where they all ‘had some lovely day trips’.
‘Lee is my world and my best friend, and he’s an amazing dad and husband,’ continues Louise.
‘The big joke between us which we included in our vows was that he’s “bloody good at Hoovering”. I even bought him a Hoover for Christmas!’
All pictures by Mark Robbins. For more information, visit markrobbinsphotography.co.uk