Cathy and Matthew Hall spent their first date listening to the sound of a fire alarm – but it was all worth it because three years later they heard wedding bells when they married in the company of 70 friends and family members.
In 2013 32-year-old Cathy, a mum from Portsmouth, started chatting with Matt, 45, over BlackBerry Messenger.
She says: ‘I’d always get a “good morning princess” text. We spoke for a year before we arranged to meet up and I think that’s because we’re like chalk and cheese.
‘I’m outgoing and Matt’s shy, but I knew there were some deep feelings there.’
The couple eventually met up at an Italian restaurant at Gunwharf Quays, when Matt came down from Dorset.
‘The fire alarm went off during the meal and we actually got evacuated,’ Cathy laughs.
‘But it was really good. Matt ended up staying down for the whole weekend and it felt like I’d known him forever.’
The newlyweds started seeing each other regularly and got engaged some months later in front of a Christmas tree at Port Solent.
They recently married at the Square Tower, Old Portsmouth, and had their reception at Southsea Golf Club.
Cathy has three children from a previous relationship: Owen, 11, Harold, 6, and Lilyann, 7. Matt, an assembly team leader, has two – Emily, 11, and Ben, 10. The couple also have a child together, one-year-old Frank.
‘The day was perfect,’ says Cathy.
‘People ask me if I would do it again but I wouldn’t, because I’d never be able to top it. My dad was singing and playing guitar as I was waiting to walk down the aisle.
‘He winked at me and I started crying, I couldn’t hold it in!’
After the ceremony Matt and Cathy had some pictures taken by themselves, at which point they took the opportunity to take everything in and gear up for the reception.
Shortly after, the couple went on a familymoon to Blackpool.
‘Our plans for the future are to be happy and go with the flow,’ says Cathy.
‘We’re very content and we have everything we need right now.
‘I can’t put my finger on what it is I love about Matt, it’s just one of those things that when you know, you just know.
‘I could spend forever talking about why I wanted to marry him.’