Love is in the air for three romantic Oxfordshire couples
Three couples are ready to mark St Valentine’s Day with the ultimate romantic gesture: by getting married.
It’ll be hearts and flowers all around as Oxfordshire County Council’s Register Office in Oxford hosts the wedding ceremonies on the most romantic day of the year.
Superintendent Registrar Alicja Gilroy said: “We feel that St Valentine’s Day is an extra special day and we always find that couples come in with that added extra sparkle.
“We’re really pleased that they’ve chosen the Dexter Room as their venue.”
The Dexter Room is by far the most popular wedding venue in Oxfordshire, averaging more than 400 ceremonies per year.
As well as marriages and civil partnerships, the council’s Registration Service oversees the registration of births, deaths, citizenship and naming ceremonies among its many duties.
That service is all part of the county council’s commitment to thriving communities – helping people live safe, healthy lives and play an active part in their community.
Alicja says she always enjoys her commute to work on St Valentine’s Day.
“I travel in on the train and it’s always lovely to see people holding cards and gifts with a real smile on their face. It’s a day full of romance and there’s still a tradition for showing how much we love one another.”
‘We’ve been married to each other before’
Barton couple Marina Lupton and Steve Tomkins have chosen St Valentine’s Day to get married for the second time.
They were originally married at St Mary’s Church, Barton, on July 14, 1990. They had six children but Marina said work commitments took a toll on their relationship and they separated in 2008, divorcing five years later.
Marina, 53, said: “He was working away and I was working nights and it just became difficult. But we stayed in touch because of the children and were always civil to one another.
“Then in 2015 I decided I couldn’t live without him. I’d known him since I was 17 and he was 27. I just rung him and told him I was coming home.”
Marina took the lead again when it came to tying the knot with Steve, 62, for a second time.
“I’d been going on about us getting married again so I just rang the Registration Office and booked it. Then I told Steve: ‘I’ve got some good news and some bad news. The good news is we’re getting married. The bad news is now we’ve got to pay for it!’”
Following their wedding in the Dexter Room the couple will be joined by 200 guests for a party at Oxford City Football Club.
‘He’ll never forget the date’
Bianca Samoila describes herself as a romantic and wanted her partner Yasar Pekgoz to remember the date of their civil ceremony forever.
“I’m a bit sneaky and was responsible for picking the date,” she said. “I thought if I picked St Valentine’s Day he could never forget it!”
Bianca, 37, an intensive care specialty doctor at the John Radcliffe Hospital, met Yasar, 38, through an online dating app in 2014.
“Destiny brought us together. I’m from Romania and he’s from Turkey. On the dating app there was a picture of him with a stethoscope around his neck and I knew I had to meet him,” she said.
The couple met for their first date in Oxford and 12 months later Yasar, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon based in London, was proposing at the Sheldonian Theatre.
Bianca explained: “We’ve been talking about the wedding ever since we got engaged. At the end of last year we started talking about setting a date so I contacted the Registration Service and they were really helpful.”
The couple decided on today’s civil ceremony before starting preparations for a full-scale wedding in Romania in 2020.
“My mum and dad really want us to have the big frilly wedding,” said Bianca. “They live in a city called Constanța on the shores of the Black Sea. It’s beautiful so we’ll be heading out there for the wedding in either May or September.”
About 100 guests will attend their big day in Romania, but the St Valentine’s Day civil ceremony in the Dexter Room will be a more private affair with 20 guests.
“My mum, Dorina, is coming over and we will be celebrating our special day with friends,” Bianca said. “Then afterwards we’ll all be heading for dinner at the Acropolis Greek Taverna in Headington. It’s going to be a celebration of love.”
‘Samba band brought us together’
Musical sweethearts Fran Wheare and Chris Whalen are getting married in the Dexter Room today before a non-religious blessing in Convocation House at the Bodleian Library on Saturday.
Fran said: “We’re calling the civil ceremony our marriage and the blessing our wedding. We do celebrate St Valentine’s Day and it’s nice that we can share it with family and friends.”
There will be 16 guests in the Dexter Room today, but more than 90 are expected to join them in Convocation House for a blessing conducted by family friend Rev Elaine Dando. A reception will follow at Wytham Village Hall.
Fran 37, and Chris, 35, met four years ago after being introduced by a mutual friend, Katherine Fletcher.
Fran explained: “I had only just moved to Oxford and was trying to meet people generally. I worked with Katherine and she was in a band with Chris. She suggested that Chris and I met and we hit it off straight away.”
After playing together with Oxford’s Sol Samba band, Fran and Chris have since gone on to join the Afon Sistema in Bristol and Carnaval Transatlantico in Birmingham.
Fran, a senior development executive at the Ashmolean Museum, and Chris, a search and analytics consultant at Torchbox in Charlbury, will enjoy a short break in Paris after the wedding before heading to Italy’s Amalfi Coast in September for a honeymoon.