After a 10-year relationship that brought them two beautiful children, Geordie girl Nicola Cooper finally tied the knot to Stephen James aboard HMS Warrior in Portsmouth last month.
The couple, who now live at Fareham, met on board HMS Kent in 2006, where Stephen was a Chief Petty Officer weapons engineer and Nicola an operator mechanic communicator.
The pair struck up a friendship before going on a few dates, but naval rules meant they could only spend time together properly when they were off duty.
Nicola, 28, and now an able seaman, says: ‘Our first date was in Bahrain.
‘We went to a pub and had a couple of drinks and something to eat.
‘We couldn’t really see each other on board so it meant we were spending our time dating by drinking cocktails and being by swimming pools, it was really nice.’
The couple were in a relationship for about a year when 35-year-old Stephen, originally from London, left to join another ship. He is now a sub-lieutenant.
The pair remained together, seeing each other when they could, before Nicola left HMS Kent at the end of 2008.
On the day of the wedding Nicola and Stephen married on the ship at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard at around 5pm, they also had their reception on board.
They were joined by 74 friends and family members, including Nicola’s two sisters who were bridesmaids, and Stephen’s brother and two sisters.
The couple’s daughters, Isabella, five and Charlotte, 21 months, were flower girls.
‘It was a fabulous day, the weather was beautiful, we were lucky because the day before and after we got married it was raining,’ says Nicola.
‘My favourite part of the day was probably dancing to the band after everyone had eaten and had a drink or two.’
‘Stephen and I are really happy, we’ve been together for 10 years now and we have two children together, so I’m ecstatic to be married to him – it’s been a long time coming,’
The newlyweds are heading to Gambia today where they will spend 10 days honeymooning.
n Pictures: kimcollinsphoto.com.