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Hitched at high speed: Wedding celebration onboard Avanti West Coast Marriage Carriage goes full steam ahead
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After 18 months of postponements and restrictions on weddings, yesterday saw the stress of lockdown lift somewhat for one lucky couple of train enthusiasts who were wed aboard the Avanti West Coast service. After having to delay their own wedding, first due to working through logistics to get gender recognition certificates, then postponed further due to the pandemic, the lucky competition winners finally got to walk down the Avanti West Coast aisle, in front of their loved ones, after almost two years of waiting to tie the knot.

Laura Dale and Jane Magnet were one of over 150 couples, who’d had wedding plans delayed by the pandemic, to enter a competition to be in with a chance of winning a wedding celebration on the iconic Pendolino carriage. The pair met on an internet video forum and quickly got to know each other through a shared love of video games and “very silly humour”.

Both huge fans of trains, they were excited at the chance of involving locomotives on their special day.

Their story caught the judging panel’s attention, made up of Jane Fry, Editor-in-Chief of Affinity Weddings Magazine and Avanti West Coast Train Manager, Paul Austin, who had the enviable job of reading nearly 150 heart-warming (and at times wacky) entries.

Before departing Euston station at 10:59, the couple enjoyed a reception in the Avanti West Coast First Class Lounge, complete with a Photobooth supplied by Bespoke Event Services, before being transported to the Marriage Carriage in-style, onboard a customised Network Rail Marriage Carriage passenger buggy. The Marriage Carriage was decorated with colourful flowers from right along the West Coast Main Line, sourced by North London based florist Florette Flowers.

Laura and Jane walked down the train aisle before being wed by Avanti West Coast Train Manager and ex-Clergyman, Peter Davis.

The ceremony saw the couple share their personalised vows and exchange rings in front of their nearest and dearest.

As is tradition, the couple sealed the deal with a kiss, before sitting down to enjoy a wedding breakfast provided by Avanti West Coast in First Class, followed by the cutting of a train-

themed sponge wedding cake, provided by The Pudding Compartment and toasts made to speeches from friends and family.

Arriving at Birmingham, Wife and Wife hopped off for a quick photoshoot before making the return journey back to Euston, where they pulled in as newlyweds at 2:18 pm.

Laura wore a stunningly individual, elegantly cut and embroidered wedding dress from Morgan Davies Bridal, while Jane wore her own, colourful dress.

Laura Dale said of the special day “As a huge train fan, today has been a dream come true, having Jane and our friends and family with us as we celebrated our wedding at high speed. Trains are a huge part of my life. The first time Jane and I met in person, we travelled on the West Coast Mainline to a video game convention in Telford, and we often travel onboard with friends to Birmingham Comic-Con. Jane used to travel to Birmingham New Street to see her Nan, so this route has a real place in her heart, and today will forever take us to our happy place as we think back to the ceremony.

“We have had to postpone planning our wedding due to the pandemic, finances and marriage logistics. And this followed years of working through logistics to get gender recognition certificates, a very slow and stressful process, so we could both be Wife and Wife on our special day.

Natasha Grice, Avanti West Coast’s Executive Director of Customer Experience, said, “It’s been a tough 18 months for everyone, including married couples to be. We wanted to put smiles back on people’s faces and what better way to do that than by helping one lucky couple finally celebrate their special day and reuniting them with loved ones they haven’t seen since before the pandemic?

“Having Laura and Jane, two huge train fans, celebrate their dream wedding onboard an Avanti West Coast Pendolino was incredibly exciting and heart-warming. This wedding has been a highlight for our team and will be fondly remembered for years to come.

Jane Fry, Editor-in-Chief of Affinity Weddings Magazine, said, “It’s been a tough 18 months for us all, and it brings me so much joy that friends and families are now able to get back together for wedding celebrations.

“Picking a winning couple to be wed onboard the Avanti West Coast Marriage Carriage, was tough, with hundreds of incredible stories shared from all corners of the UK. Laura and Jane’s story really brought to life all the struggles couples have faced and had to overcome, and seeing them with family and friends yesterday was heart-warming, especially given their love of trains! Yesterday was the first day that Laura had seen her two sisters since before the pandemic, and it was emotional, to say the least! With wedding restrictions now lifting, I hope all the other entrants can soon enjoy their special day, surrounded by loved ones.

The competition saw couples from Denbighshire to Devon, County Durham to Doncaster enter to win the chance to say “I do” onboard the Marriage Carriage, which set off from London Euston yesterday on a round trip via Birmingham New Street. Entrants included long-distance lovers, pub dwellers, internet daters, train enthusiasts and amateur dramatists, all hoping to be the lucky couple to unofficially tie the knot in style after having wedding plans cancelled, paused or postponed multiple times.

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