Southsea childhood sweethearts tie the knot

Natalie and Jay Willis on their wedding day. Picture: Mark Robbins Photography
Natalie and Jay Willis on their wedding day. Picture: Mark Robbins Photography

‘Even now he still makes me laugh,’ smiles Natalie Willis, as she describes her perfect wedding to childhood sweetheart Jay.

‘We just get along so well.’

Natalie and Jay Willis at the Square Tower, Old Portsmouth. Picture: Mark Robbins Photography

Natalie and Jay Willis at the Square Tower, Old Portsmouth. Picture: Mark Robbins Photography

Jay and Natalie, both 29, met when they were 15 years old while Natalie was serving ice cream at a shop in Southsea.

‘He knew a close friend of mine and she came down with him. We just got on really well,’ explains Natalie.

The couple got engaged when Natalie was 18 while they were on holiday in Spain and it wasn’t long before their first daughter Lacie-Mae was born.

‘We always wanted to get married but when the girls came along it just went on the back burner.

Natalie and Jay with their daughters Poppie-Rae, left, and Lacie-Mae. Picture: Mark Robbins Photography

Natalie and Jay with their daughters Poppie-Rae, left, and Lacie-Mae. Picture: Mark Robbins Photography

‘ After I had Poppie-Rae later, we thought we would wait until they were old enough to remember the wedding,’ says Natalie.

‘Now they are eight and four years old so we decided to make it happen. I was quite organised.

‘But it was only when we were sorting out the smaller details that it actually dawned on us that we were finally getting married.’  

Natalie and Jay, from Southsea, tied the knot at Portsmouth Registry Office with 50 guests and their daughters watching on. The reception was at the Square Tower in the evening.

Pictured (from left) Jay Willis, Natalie Willis, Taneisha Graham, Gemma Willis, Lacie-Mae Willis, Harry Smith, Lyla Smith and Poppie-Rae Willis. Picture: Mark Robbins Photography

Pictured (from left) Jay Willis, Natalie Willis, Taneisha Graham, Gemma Willis, Lacie-Mae Willis, Harry Smith, Lyla Smith and Poppie-Rae Willis. Picture: Mark Robbins Photography

‘It was so exciting. The girls loved it which was lovely to see. They had never been to a wedding before and I’m glad their parents’ was the first one,’ she says.

Although her wedding day was ‘beautiful’, Natalie, nee Archer, said the biggest moment for her was when her name changed.

‘When my name changed to Willis it made it seem like we were a proper little family because we all had the same name. It felt complete,’ she explains.

‘Jay is my best friend and we know everything about each other.

‘We always listen to one another and that’s important,’ adds Natalie.